“Before the existence of deities in human form among the early tribal
communities with shamanic practices, the symbols of power and spiritual
guidance were the animals. Each person or a group of people had a totem,
that totem could be an animal or a plant, and the individual was bound
to the totem and they were in a mutual spiritual relationship. The totem
was generally held to be a guardian or even an ancestor, and one way or
another, the totem was effectively a part of the human-self.
This kind of spiritual practice was known worldwide, but when talking about “Totem” we often visualise the American Indian tribes or the peoples from Alaska or the Inuit folk. But all over the world, this was one of the first spiritual practices to be held by many cultures, and seldom does the Norse culture comes into argument when speaking of Totemism.
To the Norse and other Germanic peoples, totemism is manifested in two specific prominent and powerful areas which are, the [soul essence of] animal helping spirits, known as Fylgjur, and the patron animals of shamanic military societies who had their own rituals turned to warlike events.” [called Berserkers] ~Arith Härger, Wight of the Nine Worlds; bracketed mine.
As I have discussed in previous posts, the word Fylgja means to me via etymology and literary description “soul essence.” To assume and assimilate the essence of another beings Fylgja or soul essence is very deep occult work with a multitude of uses; and to figure out why a Volva or Vitki would want to utilize this skill set needs to be approached from the two questions of: 1) in what context is a practitioner of Norse occult is using a ‘borrowed’ fylgja, and 2) in which esoteric branch of heathenry is the work being done, -as well as for what purpose?.
For question 1 and 2, I would personally answer it thus: I am a Volva, (branch of heathenry) and I am about to sit upon the high seat in a public rite known also as a seidr seance (context). I must go to the well of urd to be enlightened (and perhaps even possed) by the Norns who will speak to/through me. I obviously can’t go via my fleshy body; so i must send my soul essence or “Fetch” to do my work for me. As I will be traveling through the nine worlds to get to the well of destiny and Wyrd, I will travel through some areas that may not be “human friendly” so I might choose to assume a shape and essence of animal allies whom I have come to know, respect, revere, look after, and thereby converged within a working relationship; so I can authentically ‘wear’ their form.
Moreover, once arriving at the well of Urd, The Norns might wish to access my body sitting quietly upon a chair in Midgard, absent of its fylgja (my soul essence is within the Wyrd Sisters domain remember) so my fylgja will sit by the well’s rim staring at flashing images of Wyrd, while one or more Norns send a essence of their soul selves to take up temporary residence within my lyke (body) and speak through my physical mouth.
None of this amazing occult work could transpire if all involved didn’t have a sound secure working relationship with one another, based on mutual consent and intimate cohesive understanding of the context and branch of heathenry each person is working from.
Now, say I am a berserker; (yes, this IS a branch of heathery, and it has a modern day use: see: *http://www.uppsalaonline.com/berserk.htm) and say as the author WAYLAND SKALLAGRIMSSON states within his website: “I am preparing described as the berserkergang [which] is the ecstatic state of Odin as Wod, the Furious, the Raging, the Possessed, the Inspired. It is a fire in the mind and the blood.(context) But this is actually only one stage, and only one kind of unitary state. The other kind involves deafferentation of both parts of the OAA, resulting in an experience in which there is neither sense of self nor of anything else at all, even space or time.”(context AND branch of heathenry) So, the flyja of the Berserker is now merging with the power of Odr, as well as most likely merging with a power animal whose fylgja lends the practitioner its fearlessness, strength and power; thereby benefiting the larger community-both seen and unseen. How? Again “there are two ways this is possible. One is that such practices serve as “release valves” for those born too different to fit into society, who might otherwise employ their energies in a destructive manner. (context) But the other use is the more important one, for it is the very function in society that Odin serves (his function as Lord of Valhalla is actually incidental and only secondary). This is the role of the seidh-man, the warg, the outlaw, a person who deliberately lives outside of society in order to grow along a different path.*” (branch of heathenry)
Merging with a Totem is a very pritioval part of my seidr practice as a volva, and is accomplished when we choose to open a working relationship and dialogue with all other beings in the realms of the occult and the spiritual plane of existence. These doorways are opened much more easily when we realize this work is also to be done on our very real physical plane as well.
All the nine worlds are inexplicably entwined, so don’t for-go one in preference to the other!
Thoroughly get to know your path and your allies; then you will understand the use of your flyja. (as well as those of a totem ally) Your experience and intentions will manifest with astounding accuracy, because as the old saying goes: “ as with knowledge, comes power! “ ~Know and be a powerful Heathen!