"T he women now formed a circle around the platform on which Thorbjorg was seated. Gudrid recited the chant so beautifully and well that no one who was present could say he heard a chant recited by a lovelier voice. The seeress thanked her for her chant, adding that many spirits had been drawn there now and thought it lovely to lend ear- spirits who had before wished to keep their distance and give no hearing. And now many other things are apparent to me, which earlier were hidden "- Erik the Red, Other Icelandic Sagas
What is the vardlokkur?
This is the chanting, or singing, that occurs during seidhr(mainly) and some other shaman rites in the Northern/Norse tradition. The word roughly means "spirit attractor" or "spirit caller". They can be essential to the success of a ritual that is performed. The key of Seidhr is the altered state. And this is a "direct line" to that state. It serves the role of calling to the spirits, and giving them the energy they need in order to communicate and interact with the Seer. It's the idea that the song "wakes" the spirits. It also serves the role of guiding the Seer through the seidhr rituals. It helps them through trancework, journeying, allowing them to "see" more clearly and allowing them to tap into the roots of Yggdrasil in a more direct manner. Breath is scared and magickal under the concepts of the Norse tradition. Thus, this singing and chanting is a very powerful thing. The more involved it is in a ritual, the more it is believed the ritual will have success.
It has been suggested that the song of seidhr, or the vardlokkur, has three predominant traits:
One: It is sung in an altered state of consciousness, or trance.
Two: It is shamanic- having a definite purpose and clear goal.
Three: It is not composed or constructed.
Throughout the singing of the vardlokkur, you want the song to channel through you not the other way around. You want to breathe the song, move the song, dance the song. It is meant to be ecstatic. You let your control of yourself give hinderance to the power that comes from this, allowing it to flow through you and out of you. It is sung to open up the gates, to allow you to see into the "otherworld", to call to spirits. The words should be inspired: "They are found, heard, gotten, when we are in-spired. They arrive, arise, unfold. And then they burst from me, when I am full, full, and cannot contain them any longer. The songs visit us. Sometimes they stay with us for a long time, sometimes they leave again fast. Sometimes they have words, sometimes just sounds."(Annette Host)
This type of working, the magickal singing, has its own category- Galdr. Normally galdr is seen as the vocalization of the runes, but it is not limited to the runes only. It is the singing of any spell, or ritual, which this falls under.
Here's an article on Galdr:
And an article on Seidhr:
What does it sound like?
Traditionally? We have no idea. There are no songs that have been handed down. The literature concerning this is very vague, and some is flat out missing. From looking at the Sagas, we can get an idea of how others interpreted it. And sometimes there are contradictions. The Greenland Saga calls it "lovely and beguiling". The Gongu-Hrolf's Saga calls it "terrible sound". It can be very hard for reconstructionalists to answer how it traditionally sounded like. However, based off our understanding of traditional songs, poetry, and music from those areas, we can piece together something that suits the role intended by the Vardlokkur and create something functional which, to us, would sound similar to how we believe it should sound. Today, it typically is a melody chanted, hum, sung, improved vocalizations (though sometimes wordless) with the accompaniment of a drum.
Seidr- The Gate is Open by Katie Gerrard