Sorry boys. Seidh is for women (and gay men). It always has been. I’m always puzzled when I meet hyper-masculine men, devoted to the old gods, leaders in their communities, and then they claim to practice seidh.
Doesn’t it seem that if you’re reconstructing an old religion, particularly one that prides itself on its scholarship, you might want to preserve its basics? Even if they conflict with your own prejudices? Maybe particularly if they conflict with your own prejudices.
The goddess Freyja was the first practitioner of seidh. It’s one of the arts of women, probably because it’s association with spinning and weaving. The practitioner (seidkona = seidh woman) would use magic to foresee the future, then re-weave that strands of destiny. We don’t understand much about how it worked originally, but it likely involved a ritualized act of spinning and very likely also had some sexual element, perhaps including penetration.
I’ve seen it suggested that in a warrior society the use of magic might have been seen as unmanly. A real man would confront his adversaries with force of arms, not sneak around with magic. It’s an intriguing idea but I would want to see clearer evidence.
In our modern world there is nothing unmanly about weaving or spinning, and no shame to being gay, but in something that involves re-creating their religion we might prefer to preserve the old ways. The Rígsþula §28 says Jarl was taught the runes by his father Rig. Modern men who want to practice magic should be leaning on that passage as their authorizing verse.
January 27, 2021: Jackson Crawford has a new video about Norse attitudes to predicting the future (see below). “The Norse have a really weird attitude toward knowing the future. It is awesome and a mark of your incredible wisdom if you can do it accidentally, without trying. But if you try, you’re at minimum a weirdo, and probably a foreigner if you’re a woman, and you’re a pervert and among the worst people living if you’re a man.”
- Jackson Crawford, “Seiðr Magic and Gender“, YouTube (Dec. 6, 2018), visited Oct. 27, 2019.
- Jackson Crawford, “Good and Bad Prophets (among the Norse and Us)“, YouTube (Jan. 27, 2021), visited Jan. 27, 2021.
- Arith Härger, “#1 Spinning and Weaving in Seidr“, YouTube (July 25, 2018), visited Mar. 25, 2019.
- Arith Härger, “#2 Spinning and Weaving in Seidr“, YouTube (Aug. 25, 2018), visited Mar. 25, 2019.
- Arith Härger, “#2 Divination in the Germanic World – Seers & Oracles“, YouTube (July 10, 2019).
- Arith Härger, “Terms for Magic-Workers in Nordic Paganism“, YouTube (June 12, 2019), visited Oct. 27, 2019.
- Arith Härger, “The Magic of Seidr“, YouTube (July 18, 2018), visited Mar. 25, 2019.
Revised January 27, 2021