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Where Does a Seiðman Go?

It  comes up periodically:  "Where does a seiðman go when he dreams?"  It's an question with a lot of bad answers.  The answer really depends on who you're talking to.  If you talk to a person with a Psych. 101 background, he says "Into the recesses of the mind."  Another versed in the New Age  says "Into the Land of Dreams"  ("Oh, boy," says the seiðman as he rolls his eyes.)  The ever-wise skeptic will say "No place. You're hallucinatin', bud!"  Yep, everybody's got an answer, and only about 2-5% have got a clue.

    There's a variety of things that happen to seiðfolk when they're seething.  Well now, there's a term that might require some explanation: seething.  Seething is a thing that happens to us.  It is like the point where you drop off to sleep.  The eyes roll upwards, the body releases, there is a coolness or heat, and a hot chill up the spine knocking the joints apart.  It is a flow of power out of the depths of Hvergelmir.  It is the only luck we have, and it happens to us.  It comes unbidden.  It is a falling and flying at the same time like when der Glückspilz washes over us.  It is like the icy waters which forever boil up out of the original Well, and, at the same time, the warm summer rains which wash back down to the Land of the Ancestors. 

Seething comes from outside, a wind blowing into us.
 Seething washes our soul out through a hole in the back of our neck.
Seething shakes out our spine like a dusty rug.
Seething jerks the arms from the sockets.
Seething flows the Waters through the top of our heads out through our asses.

But what do I know.  I only experience it; I'm not the guy watching.  I'm just the seiðman, not the shrink.

    Seething is a weird thing, a wyrd thing.  Some feel it as a heat and, indeed, when I work a healing it does feel like a heat.  From the top of the head, down between the shoulder blades, down through the triceps, over the bulk of the forearm, and out through the hands.  It is not just heat, though; the hands grow in size, the palms become thick and hot and the fingers extend: 6 inches, 1 foot, 3 feet, sometimes.  Some feel seething as cold.  For this seiðman, cold is the norm.  A cold heat might even be a better description.

    Seething comes of its own accord.  Sometimes, we sing and it comes.  Sometimes we are in a special place and it comes (I hate to use the term holy place because it may actually be in the J. C. Penney's tie department or in an alley by a dumpster).  We speak of seething as if it's a thing, but really it's not.  It is a relationship between a seiðman and this weird (wyrd) fluidlike wind.  Seething is not the wind nor is it the "shaking" that comes over seiðfolk; it is the interaction between the two like the drunkenness that comes from the interaction between a man and a bottle of good whiskey.

    Seething is a loosening.  The shaking that comes with the seething loosens the seiðman from his body.  (This is where the Psych. 101 students chime up, "A quantifiable shift in consciousness, an altered state!")  The Castaneda followers like to call it "a heightened state of awareness."  The rainbow colored neo-shamans like to broadened the scope a little and mix daydreaming, dreaming, imagination, guided visualization, and meditation all into one nice  Alice-in-Wonderland bottle labeled:

Instant Journey"

 Fortunately, for me at least, they are all full of crap.
    The Sami noaide calls it "diving";  the Old Norse called it hamfarir, "shape-" or "shadow-faring."  The hamr is variously described by a number of folks, but basically it is a shade or shadowbody of a person, animal, or a thing.  It's home is in the Otherworld, but its shape dictates more or less how a thing (or person, or animal) looks in the world of man.  As a seiðman, I travel in the Otherworld.  I do things there: make things, play music, make friends (and enemies), visit folks (some are dead and some were never alive).  An analogy might be apropos here: ham-faring is like playing baseball with the rest of the gang, dreaming, guided visualization, etc. is like looking out the window at the gang playing baseball.
   As a seiðman, it is fairly easy for me to tell the difference between real players with the Trollmenn's team and the ones who always sit on the other side watching the game through glass windows.

There is a distinct difference between a man who farms and a man who reads about farming.

    Sometimes , when I leave, my body will sit and sway back and forth waiting patiently for me to return.  Sometimes, it falls to the floor like its asleep.  Sometimes, I don't bother to leave it because I am using it especially during a healing session; I just stay inside it but extend the shadow body out the hands, the chest or stomach.  Often I leave to roam in the Otherworld.

    The Otherworld is a shadow-place.  It is this world but with something extra kind of like watching a puppet show but also getting to see the strings, the props, the puppet-masters, the moving hands.  The Psych. 101 student makes the mistake of thinking that seiðfolk operate in a world of symbols.  This is pretty far from the truth.  Seiðfolk are able to leave the world of symbols at least temporarily; we are able to see behind the illusion to find an answer, then we translate back into symbols so that the Psych. 101 student can understand it.  He believes the illusion of his life and believes he sees reality.  Being the good folk that we are, we don't usually tell him he's mistaken.

    The skeptic probably has the best answer because he says, "Seiðfolk don't go anyplace."  It's true (sort of...), we don't go anyplace.  The only difference between a seiðman and an ordinary man is that the seiðman operates in a world with all the doors and windows open, and the ordinary man doesn't know that the windows and doors even exist.  He believes that the puppet on the stage is moving of its own accord and from his perspective, that's true.  To understand how it's possible for puppets to move, he creates sets of symbols and rules for manipulating those symbols, and by juggling these abstracts, he infers the reality behind the movement.  The seiðfolk simply go and readjust the strings.

    Well, it's not really quite that simple.  Seiðfolk do go places, but it's not that big of a deal, at least not like the rainbow colored neo-shamen present it.  We're just the hired hands that go behind the scenes to untangle knots, pick up props, clean up messes, and act as bouncers when some of the other stage hands get a little tipsy.  I have friends who only live in the Otherworld (who have no existence in the world of man), and I have enemies as well.   We go places like anybody else: we go to the store, we go to work, we go visit the family inside the mountain, we go to Taco Bell, we go to the Land of the Dead.  We see the same things that everyone else see; we just see a lot more of it than the average folk–that's all.  Every single person  interacts with ancestors, alfar, jötnar, and trolls of one kind or another every single day.  It's just that the interpretation by the average person is usually in terms of good luck or bad luck.  We, on the other hand, can see the puppet strings.  That's just the way it is.  

    The Otherworld is large.  There's beings all over the place.  Whereas in the world of men stands a peaceful graveyard is an entire village of people waiting to see who the next to visit is.  Whereas in the world of men is an open meadow stands an evil pit filled with snakes (Ever have an unexplained infection?). Yes, the Otherworld is large and filled with Otherworld folks.

  There's this little blond-haired gal who lives in a cabin southeast of here. . . . well, that's a whole other story.

Siberian Shaman under the influence
of  the Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria var. musc.)

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