We’re referring to the word shamanism in its most broad connotation here whereas a shaman is someone who, through a state of trance, contacts spirits and travels through spiritual worlds to thrive on knowledge. That knowledge is through direct revelation, from the God/Goddess, or spirit guide. Information given to Shamans, is directly associated to the akashic record, where all the knowledge of the world is located …..and no they do not know everything. Information is only revealed as the Shaman grows spiritually, releases his/her ego, and as the God of her understanding see fit.
All societies around the world had their own shamans whose role was to heal, reveal what’s hidden and communicate with the nether world.
In ancient Scandinavian and Germanic tribes, long before the Vikings appeared, Volvas have walked the earth.
Some men have practiced Seidr too, although it was considered to be unmanly, and being unmanly was one of the worst insults for Vikings and Germanic warriors.
It was so because in order to practice Seidr one had to be in a receptive state which was considered to be an overall feminine trait.
However, the paragon of men practicing Seidr is none other than Odin himself who learned this form of magic from Freya, the Vanir Goddess of love, war and fertility that went on to live with Aesir Gods as a hostage.
Seidr was a hermetic practice that discerned the destiny and chain of events and weaved new paths in the grand scheme of fates. Seidr literally means to bind.
The other archetypal protectors of Seidr were the three Norns, maidens that lived under the sacred Yggdrasil and weaved the fate of the world through runes that carried out the fate of the Nine Worlds through Yggdrasil.
This relates Volvas to their Mediterranean Sybil cousins – Moirai.
Thus, we see that the Volvas were seers, sages and prophecy givers and according to the Norse mythology, even gods consulted with Volvas.
Volvas could speak about distant future – Ragnarok or even distant past near creation. They spoke of the very world’s birth, death and rebirth, but they spoke of the events as if they were part of their personal memory. That memory came from what we call today past life regression.
That means that the Volvas essentially knew how to tap into the memories of Yggdrasil itself.
Volvas were nomadic and they traveled alone through many places and cultures, unencumbered by worldly matters. As such, they were intermediaries between the tribes.
Even though they were honored and feared, on some rare accounts, they were despised.
Their rituals would sometimes involve entire communities that would gather in a circle, drum and chant alongside the Volva, helping her get into a trance and journey on to retrieve wisdom.
They would lift her up sitting on a chair and then, after the trance would take place, one by one, mighty warriors would come to her to seek counsel.
It was said that Volvas could read the fabric of fate surrounding each individual person which merged with the fabric of the whole community thus deciding on the relationships in the tribe.
Seidr practitioners were also said to be able to raise storms, transform into animals(shape-shifting) or send nightmares to kill someone in their sleep, or heal and cast love spells.
In some Myths, Volvas (which meant wand carrier or carrier of a magic staff) delivered prophecies and performed magic in exchange for compensations such as shelter, food, etc.
They were described as old women who appeared late at night. They were dressed in dark cloaks and it was sometimes said that their wands had the power to cause people tapped with them to forget.
Some sources state that Volvas carried hallucinogenic plants medicine, mushrooms, and poisons made from plants and lead with them so as to poison or bewilder themselves or others.
That only shows that they were initiated into the secrets of alchemy to an extent as well.
When Norse folk accepted Christianity, the persecution of the Volva started and it marked the end of the Viking age. Magic practitioners, shamans, sages, staff bearers, and volvas were persecuted.
The very use of staff was outlawed by Christian inquisitors.
While shamanism was honored in Norse culture, Christians didn’t hold occultists in high regard which eventually lead to the disappearance of Volvas and Norse shamanism and magic… almost…
Since some Norse sages and Volvas still remain and walk the earth as we speak.
As always, their intention is to accumulate hidden knowledge and put it to good use (mainly) of healing the earth as well as healing all who need it.
As such, Volvas belong to the universal calling of women shamans, sages, prophets, seers, occultists, mystics, mages, druids…
Whatever you may choose to call them, the calling is the same – to bring culture back into the realm of sacred nature and spirituality which nurtures values beyond this world.
As the saying goes, it’s to be in the world, but not of it. Not entirely that is. In the same manner, Volvas belong to 2 worlds, to say the least.
They are then and now… mending the continuum of past, present, and future, connecting here and there, roaming and intersecting cultures and collecting knowledge…
… the knowledge that they will use as ingredients to boil into a one, sacred, mystic potion that will allow all of humanity to drink from the same cup (could this be mushroom tea) and taste the sacred world of spirits and gods.