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What a norse shaman is.

Forums ► Norse Paganism ► What a norse shaman is.
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What a norse shaman is.
By: / Beginner
Post # 1
Someone had recently asked me what being a norse shaman meant. When this person asked me i had tried to understand and comprehend the best way to explain it to him and i think this is my official response:

A norse shaman is someone who follows the old methods of the norse medicine men. In norse tribes same in native american tribes there were men who specialized in the art of natural and spiritual magick. The difference between normal magick and shaman magick is that shamans don't recite spells or use candles but rather burn herbs and make offerings to the gods that she or he believes in or chooses as his or her pantheon. Norse shamans specialize in using and interpreting runes as a way of contacting our ancestors and the spirits that guide us. Now that we have got the basic idea of what shamans practice in general let me try to explain what norse shamans do. Norse shamans typically read books and spend and dedicate a part of their life learning about norse mythology. By reading about and delving more into our gods and goddesses we are able to incorporate old methods of healing and casting spells on an astral and aethral level into our practices. In the end norse and regular shamans are not so far apart the only differences we have are the pantheons we choose to follow. Native american shamans are probably the most commonly known but that doesn't mean they are the only type of shaman. I hope this has helped answer my friends and you existent or non existent questions about norse shamanism. - Thank you for your tim - Draconius
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Re: What a norse shaman is.
By: Moderator / Knowledgeable
Post # 2
This thread has been moved to Norse Paganism from General Info.
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Re: What a norse shaman i
Post # 3
As a norse shaman working with dieties what wayz would someone who has been linked to Loki and Sigyn for the last ten years, become closer to them besides praying about it daily and performing full moon ritual?
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Re: What a norse shaman is.
By: / Beginner
Post # 4

I would not consider "Norse Shamanism" like you have stated it is. What you have stated seems to be a poorly understood idea of Shamanism and where the term shaman comes from, as well as what makes up a classic shaman rather than a core shaman.

Calling anything Norse Shamanism is limiting, as what we see as Norse mythology is not purely Norse mythology, but also other areas including Finland, Sweden, and a bit of Anglo-Saxon as well. This is why "Norse Shamanism" is usually called "Northern Tradition Shamanism".

"The word shaman comes from the Evenki and related Tungusic languages such as Manchu, where it also appears as samaan or saman . European invaders and travellers picked it up in the late 1600s. Later, Russian ethnographers and European anthropologists began to use the word beyond its original ethnic context, since names for this concept had been excised from most European languages during centuries of religious persecution in Christian Europe."


You seem to be under the common misimpression that shaman is a Native American term, and that shamanism is mainly performed by Native Americans, however as the above shows, it comes from Siberia, not the Americas.

Generally speaking, there are two forms of shamanism, core shamanism and classic shamanism. The core shaman will generally be a book taught shaman, s/he will learn based on what others have written of the paradigm that others have written out for him/her, and will work within the constraints of said paradigm. In Northern Tradition Shamanism, this is the people whom read books and dedicate portions of their lives to learning the mythology, then applying it. They will use methods that classic shamans will use, however it will be limited as they may or may not have the help of the spirits involved and they sometimes take an atheistic and unspiritualistic world view. Classic shamans, however, will be chosen in one of two ways: by the spirits or by heritage (though sometimes it is a combination of the two). Classic shamans whom are chosen by the spirits will undergo a shaman's sickness, where their physical, mental, and/or emotional condition become erractic, unstable, and/or damaged. They will sicken and regardless of medications taken they will continue to sicken until the spirits make an appearance to rearrange the person to become a shaman or else they die. Classic shamans can also be family chosen and be set through tests which cause and/or replicate shaman sickness, in which they, again, become ill and require the spirits to reorganize the bodies of the person in order to be an effective shaman. (Bodies being mental, physical, spiritiual, etc.) It is a classic shaman in the Northern Tradition that lives the mythology, rather than uses the mythology as a learning curve. Classic shamans have the benefit of learning directly from the spirits, which core shamans do not.

There is no difference between normal magic and shaman magic. Shamans can and do recite spells or use candles when they and/or their spirits deem either necessary. Some shamans will find that they and/or their spirit allies do not want to burn offerings. Also, not all shamans believe in god/s or make offerings to them. In my research, Northern Tradition Shamanism tends to occur with work with the Jotun (whom many consider not gods), rather than merely the Aesir/Vanir (whom many consider gods). It has been stated before in my research that oftentimes the Jotun introduce a person to the path.

Not all Northern Tradition shamans use and interpret the runes as a way to speak to ancestors and spirits. Shamans, in order to perform their work as shamans, often find that they have an open line of communicate between them and their spirits, and that while divination can prove useful to their work and can be used to confirm that they got the message right, they are not used as the main form of communication.

There is limited knowledge of what these old methods of healing and casting spells are, because nearly all of the information known about these beings was written down long after their homelands became Christianized and thus many of the stories written are written from these perspectives. We also have the loss of some of the words used in what was written down, and as such we are unable to know for sure what the original shamans of the North called themselves, or what tools they used in order to fully fulfill their duties to their communities and their spirits.

I hope that you take away something from this, otherwise I shall feel that my time has been wasted in an attempt to help another learn.

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Re: What a norse shaman is.
By: / Novice
Post # 5
awesome post Boddasdottir. Thank you.

Time not wasted
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Re: What a norse shaman is.
By: Moderator / Knowledgeable
Post # 6

I think Bodasdottir hit the nail on the head with her response.

Historically, I don't believe there was ever actually a traditional practice of "Norse" shamanism. The closest thing to shamanism there was would have been the volva, and the seidhr-men/women. You'd be surprised, but unlike in Native American culture- the idea of a male medicine man was far less common. Women tended to be the shamanic practitioners in Norse culture, and they focused less on purely medicine as much as working with the land and the wights.

From my personal experience practicing Northern Tradition Shamanism, I can tell you a few things about it. Northern Tradition Shamanism focuses less on deities, and more on wights (spirits) on the large scale. All deities are viewed as a type of wight and worked with as equally as one would work with other types of wights. The jotunfolk, the rokkr group, the aesir and the vanir are all worked with- generally without bias. Sometimes the shaman has a particular favorite, which comes with anyone's personalized working. The landvaettir are an important part of the practice, and with that comes a knowledge of the land.

The practice of a Northern Tradition Shaman is very varied, however. Each person has their own way of doing it, since there is not a traditional way. Sometimes other pantheons are incorporated into it (as Bodas said). Sometimes runes are used, sometimes they aren't. From a personal standpoint, I don't actually use runes in about 99% of my workings. And there actually was a type of "spellwork" incorporated into it. One could make the point that galdr is a form of verbal incantation, and several of the volva historically knew galdr. The practice is partially reconstructed, due to the loss of original practices, and so it varies from person to person. There's no "one way" or "right way" of being a Northern Tradition Shaman.

I think you took the over-generalized view of what people think shamans are and slapped the word "norse" at the front of it so that it would seem that it was the same practice as Native American cultures had but with a different pantheon. I'd say that the two are very different, as Bodas post also suggested.

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Re: What a norse shaman is.
Post # 7

I appreciate you two clearing that up for us.

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Re: What a norse shaman i
Post # 8
Please tell us more about galdr.
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Re: What a norse shaman is.
By: Moderator / Knowledgeable
Post # 9

I am in the middle of working on some posts concerning galdr and seidhr, but here are some links:



And a video I made where I discuss galdr a little:


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Re: What a norse shaman i
Post # 10
Are those posts in the norse paganism posts? If so what is the date. U tube and urls for som do not work on my phone. Cheesy i know but i am in between computers but i do want to learn about galdr. Thanx personified. ~blessed be~
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