The Seiðman Rants:
We are the seiðfolk. We exist. Not in large numbers, only by the handful in any given region, but we exist. Where Ásatrú-folk may number in a plurality of thousands, we might barely reach one score, but we exist.
Seiðfolk traditionally were treated poorly. The ordinary folk mocked us, called us names, bullied us, passed around rumors about us, and killed us. Eirík Bloodyaxe, son of Harald Fairhair, killed his brother, Rognvald Rettilbeini, along with eighty sorcerers in Haþaland because he and Papa didn't like sorcerers. Well, it's obvious: some things never change. Even though we're no longer being killed, all the other nasties still apply. Go for it, guys! Bad pennies have been around for eons. For us, a true bad penny is the sacred symbol of our lives. We didn't go away!
Every country has a handful of us. We go by different names, have different functions, play different roles, have different belief systems, worship different Gods. Some of us remain celibate, some of us have multiple partners. Some of us are even Christian. Seiðfolk are not the same as shamans which are not the same as sadhus which are not the same as yuwipi, or houngons, or taltos, or noaides. We are seiðfolk!
Even though there are cultural differences, enough so that the systems are not directly translatable or mutually understandable, there are also some similarities. We are not trusted by the general populace, for example. Some cultures have a penchant for putting us up in the center of the community so that we can be closely watched (they say that they are "honoring us for our power". . . .yeah, right.) When this happens, we don't mind because we give you ceremonies, personal names, and public healing. We heal your fields so that they will bear, and we get rid of your damned ghosts so that they don't bug your sleep, mess with your cars, kill your livestock, or make your kids sick. We will even make a public show out of damaging your enemies. Really, we don't mind being in the public eye. (It pays well for the most part.)
However, some cultures, like the northern European which gave birth to Ásatrú, have treated us as if we were a public embarrassment. They call us despicable names, pass around rumors about us being homosexual (some of us are), baby-killers (doubtful, but we don't mind the reputation; keeps the riff-raff out), charlatans (actually, not one of usbut one of "you" pretending to be one of us!), insane (see below), or evil (see "baby-killers" above). We are kept on the fringes of society. Interesting set up, too. You leave us alone for the most part, we leave you alone for the most part. When we do get together, it's like the annual Shriner's Circus. You get to see the freaks perform, and uswell, we get to laugh at you (in secret, of course, wouldn't want to hurt your feelings. . . .).
In every culture, in every age, there is a major segment of the population who insists that the reason that we do what we do is because we must be having a difficult time dealing with reality. Au contraire, mes freres! We have quite a good time with reality! The ones having a difficult time are those of your segment of the population who can handle neither consensus reality nor seiðr. Oh, we have our misfits, too, but when we can't deal with consensus reality, we have any number of others from which to choose. We're lucky that way, I guess, because we don't take any of them particularly seriously.
Honest answer, though? We don't have any more idea of what reality is than you do. We just use a cosmology as a map. The major difference between a seiðman and the average Joe-Blow is the fact that we know that we're stupid and accept it; on the other hand, poor Joe-Blow goes around flappin' his catfish yap about how sillyand unscientific we are, and he doesn't even have the slightest clue that he doesn't have a clue. That's all right, though. We're always on the look-out for fresh comedy material.
"Yessiree! Look at the silly fools running around seeing ghosts in every tree, Jötunar in mountain caves, ancestors in the graveyards and tompts in the cellar! Pretty crazy. . ."
Seiðfolk's silliness ranks right up there with theories like passed on genetic traits, racial superiority, quantum mechanics, and conspiracies in comic books, though. All theories are unprovable EXCEPT when you use a theory to prove a theory (clue: maybe that's why they're called theories), but they are accepted by many as being a chunk of reality. At least in our case, we present our theories for what they aretheories, figments of our imagination, which help us traverse the unknowable seas of reality. But we don't confuse the map of the ocean with the ocean itselfthat's our strength. Your theories are just as crappy as oursyou are just not always capable of realizing it, that's all!
Ever notice that seiðfolk do not seem to take too many things seriously and seem to get some kind of perverse joy out of baiting others? Know why? Because we don't, we can and we enjoy it, that's why! We know that politics are a joke, the bones of the Kennwick man are a joke, entropy is both a joke and a theory. Oh, we enjoy moments of seriousness, but these don't have so much to do with the interactions between men; they have more to do with the flowing of the Waters out of the Spring of Urð (yep, la-la-land is often more serious than whether homosexuals are ruining the country). That is our fate.
We love this Midgard. Our time here is precious. (Oh, back down ye warrior-types! Ye ruffle your feathers only for the sake of ruffling!) Ye spend much of your time doing glorious battle against Email letters which come across your machines believing that each letter is a real person. One of you is famous for the "kill-file." A "kill-file?" A battle glorious term to mean only "I'm going to ignore this letter." (The only person involved is the one reading the type on the machine, and reacting to it; at least, Don Quixote had a windmill to mash!)
Riddle #1: Who is "pretending" more? The man or woman arguing with $2000 worth of machinery, or the seiðman traveling the skies on the back of a storm-jötun?
Riddle #2: What is more serious: the neighbor's interracial marriage, or the fact that it's herb-gathering time?
Midgard truly provides us with an endless source of entertainment.
We see this world differently than you. Things hold a different meaning for us. That's because we are what we are: seiðfolk. Call us names, laugh at us, "kill-file" us, whatever. We don't go away. We exist and will continue to exist. When one dies, another takes his or her place. We are a minority. We're misfits, and we don't even care!