The Songs of Seið

For these next four blog posts I am going to dicuss the Importance of song to the very unique practice of Indo-Eurpoean Shamanism known as Seiðr.

We begin this first post explaining  the most crucial of all songs in seiðr. Within this post, we will learn the art of “vardlokkur” and how this song was used by our ancestors to sing their way into weaving wyrd and thier passage into the other worlds of spirit.


“The women now formed a circle around the platform on which Thorbjorg was seated. Gudrid recited the chant so beautifully and well that no one who was present could say he heard a chant recited by a lovelier voice. The seeress thanked her for her chant, adding that many spirits had been drawn there now and thought it lovely to lend ear- spirits who had before wished to keep their distance and give no hearing. And now many other things are apparent to me, which earlier were hidden “- Erik the Red, Other Icelandic Sagas

What is the vardlökkur?

This is the chanting or singing, that occurs most notably during seiðr séance (but can be used for Utisaeta, as well as some other shamanic rites) in the Northern/Norse tradition. The word roughly means “spirit attractor” or “spirit caller”.

A vardlökkur is what actually lures in the spirts that witness a working Spa session, AND it gains us access to the well of urd, where ALL spa kennings come from.
Vardlokkur is a song, made up on the spot for the occasion, and is essential to the success of a seiðr séance ritual that is performed. Remember, the key of seiðr is reaching an altered state leading our Fylgja (fetch) into other worlds, and singing a good vardlökkur gets us there. This “soul singing” above all things is the Norse Traditions “direct line” to that state. It serves the role of calling to the spirits and giving them the energy they need in order to communicate and interact with the Völva.

How it works is that the soul generated song “wakes” the spirits, and gets them drawn to The Völva(s) singing it.

A vardlökkur also serves the role of guiding the Völva through the seiðr séance via a sung INTENTION, that was created at the time of the Workings for a particular and specified reason. This sacred song helps a Völva (whether working alone or with a ‘posse’ of Spa workers)through their trancework and journeying, allowing them to “see” more clearly whole faring forth. The singing of a vardlökkur allows a Völva to tap into the roots of Yggdrasil in a more direct manner, and she then can get more productive recourse from the access of The World Tree.

The final component to vardlökkur (and any song sung out loud for seiðr) is that it involves breath (also called Önd) which is scared and magical under the concepts of the Norse Mystical tradition. By using your Önd via singing a vardlökkur of your magical intention, an impromptu song becomes a very powerful thing. The more involved a vardlökkur is in a ritual, the more it was traditionally believed to ensure the ritual would have success.

It has been discovered that THE song of seiðr, the vardlökkur, has three predominant traits:
One: It is sung while entering and then maintaining an altered state of consciousness, or trance state.
Two: It is shamanic- having a definite purpose and a clear goal (known as intention).
Three: It is not composed or constructed.

So what does this mean? How then does one DO vardlokkur? I have found the easiest way is to condense your intention into a three syllable phrase and then possibly intone those syllables, making your song a type of audio sigil. For example; say your intention is to visit the well at Niflheim. You (or your Spa sisters if working within a group) would take your basic intention worded like this; “Disir come to me, at the well I wish to be; disir aid me so, Niflheim is where I wish to go.” Then reduce it to three syllable phrases: “Disir to me, Well I’ll be, Aid me so, Niflheim I go!” That’s your intention spoken in roughly 3 syllable phrases, but we will alter it more, for as you go into trance you will begin to give each phrase a melodic tone so you can easily carry the intention with you via song or intones sounds, meaning: you will choose a melody or set of tones that makes it easy to sing these phrases to a simple song or sets of tones you can remember and sing for a period of time until you arrive in the other worlds and your journey begins. For example, you may sing the above 3 syllable phrase to “row-row-row-your boat” or a simple lullaby type melody. Or you can simply use intone sounds so you just use the old Norse vowel sounds taken from each word once (the dominate vowel from each word in each line) each word pronounced as shown in last month’s lesson by Kari Tauring. (Example: the first line “Disir to me” would sound like: DEE-sarrrAHtooomeeee..all sort of flowing into one another, and so on. Below is some information that further explains vardlokkur, as well as examples of trance chant from other sources.

See Also:…/ritual-technique-trance…/

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