Using Seidr for Healing

There are many instances in the sagas of people healing with a combination of herbs and holding on to the wound with their hands to cure. From personal work and experience, there is usually some sort of energy transfer in that process.

Whether or not this is seidr is an argument for those people that are interested in nitpicking the sources and “proving” it. For me, since the technique was taught to me by my deities of choice, Freya and Odin, seidworkers, I’ll assume that’s what it is. But no matter what it is called, it works.

I use seidr to determine if someone has lost a piece of themselves or picked up something that wasn’t theirs. That is a more shamanic way of thinking about disease and injury, but I find it works very well.

This entails “sniffing” or scanning the person’s physical body or lich  and energetic bodies:  hame; astral or air, litr; energy or fire, vili;will or earth, mod; emotional or water and gothi; spiritual or higher self, and with the help of the client,  determine what parts are missing, what parts are extra, and what parts aren’t working. I use the names given to these energies by Raven Kaldera for his soul reading map, they work very well.

Once the issue is diagnosed, it is my job to talk to the client to understand whether or not they want the issue changed. Some people get rid of pieces that no longer serve them or are linked to trauma, and some people pick up other energies to help them. If it is something they want changed, then I help them change it.

Then I’m using the journeying component of seidr to either take them where they left their piece or to find and help them remove the piece that isn’t theirs. I will also take them through their physical and energetic bodies so that they can change how their energy flows. It is very important to take the client with me. If I were to go in and “fix” things without their help, that issue will just return. This can also be done with their spirit guide,fetch, fylgja or family disir. In those cases, I just help them call their spirit helper, and make sure they get back safely.

I have picked up different techniques from ceremonial magic, Wicca, Saami and Siberian shamanism, Inuit shamanism, Northern European spirit work, the sagas, the Kalevala as well as deity taught seidr. Since most of my  paragraphs have ended, “work very well”, you’ve probably picked up that I care about what works. I don’t care about scholarly purity, I care about what will help a client fix an issue.

Your mileage will most certainly vary.

Sources

Trance-portation Diana Paxson

Soul Map Raven Kaldera

Kalevala

Saga of the Men of Vapnfjord

Egil and Asmund

Anglo Saxon Charms

 

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Urban Roots

Our version of North European practice is influenced by our culture, American virtues and values. For instance, instead of a movement away from the negative aspects of civilization, we could and should work to change those aspects to positives.

One of the things we are working on here at Weaving Wyrd is to revere nature within the urban world that we live in, to see the spiritual in all things, the city park as well as the mountains. We want to recognize the coyote or fox in our backyard, the prairie dog in our green belts, the Canadian goose, sparrow, peregrine falcon and pigeon alike.

Sometimes that’s hard. Here in Denver, we live in the skirts of the Rocky Mountains, and as we walk the crowded sidewalks, breathing in exhaust, those mountains seem so much better, purer, more spiritual than the glass, brick and concrete. But that is an ingrained perception, based in a hundred and more years of the dislike of urbanization. From the pollution to the moral destitution, cities are seen as unnatural places.

But we built them. We planted trees and built parks. Now we have to fix them, just as much as we have to fix oil spills, over-logging and poaching in more wild places.

Denver is becoming green in interesting, if slow, ways. New buildings that are built are more environmentally friendly, with planned communities and green space. The light rail eases the pollution of cars for the commute around the southern part of the city. We have incentives to be greener and cleaner here in Denver.

According to the Nature Conservancy, one of my favorite charities, “If there is a future of the environmental movement, it’s one that’s more diverse and one that has more people from urban areas in it.”

82% of Americans live in cities.

Only 45% of people born between 1980 and 2000 believe that all people should be connected to nature.

Direct experience with nature is the number one factor influencing a positive outlook on the environment.

As Peter Kareiva, chief scientist for the Nature Conservancy put it, Conservation should be a walk in the park, not just the woods.

Your mileage will most certainly vary.

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Another Icelandic Perspective

I really look forward to Dr. Karl E. H. Seigfried’s interviews of practitioners in Iceland. They clear my spiritual palate, so to speak, and refresh my faith in my faith.

His latest interview was with Hilmar Orn Hilmarsson of the Asatruarfelagid or the Æsir Faith Fellowship, an Icelandic pagan group reviving the pre-Christian religion of Scandinavia. Founded in 1972, it was recognized as an official religion by the government of Iceland in 1973.

Hilmar Orn Hilmarsson  has been involved since 1972, and is now the high priest of the organization.  From Dr. Seigfried’s biographical blurb at the beginning of  the first part of the interview, Hilmarsson is an interesting and well rounded person.  And like Johanna Haradottir,  Hilmar Orn Hilmarsson  has some interesting perspectives about faith and practice for Northern European practitioners.

Hilmarsson’s interview jumps from topic to topic in an engaging way. He discusses Crowley, Lovecraft, music, the Eddas, Edda scholarship, and the Aesir Faith Fellowship as a group.

The best and most important bits for me are in Part 2 of the interview, where Hilmarsson talks about polytheism and monotheism. “Monotheism is one truth for the masses, but polytheism is many truths for the individual. In a way, it’s just turning the tables. Basically, you can believe in whatever god or goddess you would like at any given time. You may have a need for Freya on Monday morning, and Thor may be absolutely essential for you on Tuesday afternoon. Nobody can teach you. You have to find it yourself.”

One of the things that Hilmarsson addresses and  one of the major issues that we discuss here at Weaving Wyrd, is the American Asatru insistence on orthodoxy.

Hilmarsson says,”  If you look at the way that people looked at the gods – they could mock their gods, like in Lokasenna, where they are making huge fun of the gods and Loki’s talking about Odin being a cross-dresser banging a drum and probably f**king some males, as some say. It’s total irreverence. At the same time, people felt good about their gods. They were their friends. They’re not the Other – they’re not different from us.”

It’s an interesting perspective from the land of the sagas.

Not only that, it is a model for what our community could be here across the water. Somewhere where, as Dr. Seigfried says, “When I visited with the members of the Ásatrúarfélagið here in Reykjavík, there was a great diversity of beliefs and difference of interpretation among the members.”

No infighting, no “my belief is better than your belief”. Just people working together to make their part of the world a better place.

Your mileage will most certainly vary.

 

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[Admin] Updated

The software running Weaving Wyrd has been updated. As always, let us know if you experience any weirdness.

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June Link Roundup

Various links of interest from around the web:

In other news, US citizens might be interested in a new service called POPVOX which aims to improve the signal-to-noise ratio that Congressional representatives have to deal with for their local areas, and make it easier for people to be heard. It aggregates information on your support or opposition to various bills and reports that to your specific Congressional representatives.

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New on the Blogroll: The Norse Mythology Blog

Back in February, I wrote a post about the Icelandic perspective in Heathen thought, based on an interview with Johanna Haradottir.

The interviewer, Dr. Karl E. H. Seigfried, has a blog of his own, with other interviews as well as scholarly discussions of the lore. His questions are thought provoking, and his scholarly bona fides are pretty impressive.

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Huginn 1.2: The Work

The midsummer 2011 issue of The Huginn has been published. This one covers the issue of the work with all that it entails and has a variety of viewpoints from different parts of the community.

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Orthodoxy and Orthopraxy

To many people who were born and raised in the United States religions are viewed as being focused around something that you believe. You believe the correct beliefs, and that is what defines you as a member of that particular religious path. That religions have a set of orthodox beliefs or dogma that are shared by all members of that path.

The marks of this are particularly clear in the history of the Catholic church. For example, in the Code of Justinian it states that:

Let those who do not accept these doctrines cease to apply the name of true religion to their fraudulent belief; and let them be branded with their open crimes, and, having been removed from the threshhold of all churches, be utterly excluded from them, as We forbid all heretics to hold unlawful assemblies within cities. If, however, any seditious outbreak should be attempted, We order them to be driven outside the walls of the City, with relentless violence, and We direct that all Catholic churches, throughout the entire world, shall be placed under the control of the orthodox bishops who have embraced the Nicene Creed.

This does not have to do with the behavior of these individuals, but specifically pertains to that they have the correct belief and directs that all Catholic churches be placed under the control of someone who believes in a very particular doctrine on the beliefs of the Church.

Many Neopagan and Mesopagan groups also have their own forms of orthodoxy. Some of them will state it outright: if you do not believe a particular way, you cannot be one of us. Others have been gradually–or not so gradually–shifting that direction. It is a notable feature of many US Ásatrú organizations (though not necessarily European or Icelandic groups such as the Ásatrúarfélagið) that they have been embracing a fair bit of orthodoxy with respect to their lore.

When Raven Kaldera wrote On Being A Neo-Pagan Fundamentalist he was taking a fairly Orthodoxic point of view, for example:

1. The first, and most important tenet, is that a Neo-Pagan fundamentalist actually believes in the existence of every single deity that s/he worships. Deities are not merely theoretical archetypes, nor vague energy forms that can be ordered about by the human mind, nor merely parts of our own deep selves. […]

2. A Pagan fundamentalist is a strict polytheist. Not only do deities all exist, but they are not all merely faces of the same big deity, or even the same sort of deities. […] (As a corollary to #2, there is also that the Otherworlds are real as well, although what we know of them may be riddled with misinformation and assumptions.)

Both of these statements lean toward orthodoxy. The idea that the belief itself is what is definitional about being on a particular path. This allows for differentiation of path based on the simple statement what do you believe.

There is nothing wrong with orthodoxy for religions or practitioners. It has its place, and it is likely that most–if not all–religions incorporate at least a little of it in their tenets or their assumptions. I also have no complaint with Raven Kaldera’s statement of belief: It does not perfectly describe me, but it is an accurate reflection of a valid approach to the gods.

It should be noted, however, that any form of strong orthodoxy is not a universal attribute among religions, and that there are many religions that–at their core–could have most if not all of the orthodoxic elements stripped and still remain in many ways functionally the same.

Enter Orthopraxy

There are concepts of Orthopraxy (right practice) where the focus is on how you life your live and its partial subset of ritualism, where the focus is on actions done during ritual (usually group ritual). This is often not done to the exclusion of some orthodoxy, but for religions that are predominantly orthopraxic what you believe is not nearly as important as what you are doing.

Many branches of Buddhism, for example, have a much higher focus on the continued practice than on any specific beliefs that the individual might hold. Many people in Japan do not believe in Kami as spirits, but they still attend the seasonal festivals, their names get recorded in Shinto shrines, and many of them keep personal altars in their houses as a matter of social ritual. Judaism is well known for having strong orthopraxic elements relating to the culture that are independent of what is believed or not believed by the individual.

As an example in the Neopagan world, Wicca tends to be highly orthopraxic: What defines a Wiccan is the practice and the ritual, not the beliefs of the individual members. If you ask 10 Wiccans (especially from different traditions) What is your belief regarding the nature of Divinity it is likely that you will get at least 11 different answers, most of them involving some form of Goddess principle, but with the–very important specifics–varying wildly. This is not because Wicca is poorly defined on the whole (though one could argue that Neo-Wicca can lean that way), but because Wicca is largely defined by the praxis as opposed to the doctrine. Different traditions tend to be reflective of differences in practice, and if you ask those same 11 people about the wheel of the year for when rituals are held, many of their answers are going to be identical or only slight different based on their specific tradition.

We see this in a few Neopagan groups. The running statement in Kemetic Orthodoxy is that it is really is Kemetic Orthopraxy, but it was considered that not many people would know what orthopraxy meant.

Historically speaking, many older pagan religions appear to have been orthopraxic in nature. The specific gods followed are not nearly as important as the practice, though some modern reconstructions lean strongly orthodox, getting heavily involved in the question of proper belief.

My Approach

My approach to Northern Tradition Paganism is Orthopraxic in nature. To me, it doesn’t matter if you view the gods as Golden Dawn-style Godforms, aspects of our higher selves, manifestations of a greater Divine Essence, strictly separate entities that came about exactly as described in the lore, or anything else. What matters in my interpretation is that you treat them as independent entities and treat them with respect that goes with such an entity. If you practice in such a manner, I do not personally care how your internally model them.

The same is true of matters of the soul in the afterlife, the existence (in any form) of the planes, and what exactly you think is going on when journeying.

To me, all models are wrong, but some are useful. It is possible that your model is closer than mine. It may be that mine is closer to accurate. In the end, neither of us is going to be able to prove it to the other and the specifics of those beliefs do not especially matter. To me if we both are practicing the same way or in very similar ways, it doesn’t matter how we choose to model it. To me, while I recognize that how each person models the gods will impact how they treat those gods, I define what is in or out by the way the practice manifests, rather than making stipulations about how the entities in question are modeled.

Do I think everyone should be this way? Not really. Orthodoxy has its use, and such strong orthopraxic tendencies does have some strong disadvantages, which I may get into later, along with some areas that I tend to focus on beliefs as well. It is simply reflective of my personal path and approach in general and, as Piper likes to say, Your mileage will most certainly vary.

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Finding a Therapist

Recently at the House Kheperu Gather there was a panel on Psychology and Magic. One of the questions put forth by the presenters and then discussed at the end of the presentation was I am a member of an alternative subculture, how do I go about finding a therapist?

This is a big question for us as Spirit Workers and Occultists. Israel Regardie famously remarked that anyone considering studying occultism should first go through a course of therapy, stating that:

Over the past fifty years I have insisted that the serious magical student seek a course of therapy as a safeguard against some of the catastrophic results which appear to overtake too many of our promising students.

Similarly, when we engage in journeying, either for ourselves or a client, we are engaging matters of the human psyche directly, in a way that is not dissimilar from how certain modern therapists are using the technique. In confronting these parts of our own and clients’ psyches–and in the process of doing shadow work–we will frequently come across things that make seeing a therapist a very good idea.

With the parity between psychological and physical health conditions brought by the passing of the PPACA (the health care reform act) debated through 2009 and signed into law in early 2010, it has also served to make therapy more readily accessible to anyone with insurance. Rather than having a very low number of limited sessions, if you have insurance you can now frequently see a therapist for a copay for as long as you both agree that you need it. Pre-tax flex plans will also frequently cover your mental health expenditures.

The question becomes: How does one go about finding an effective therapist who will either work with–or at least not work against–your spiritual work.

Generating a List

One of the first steps in finding a therapist is getting a list of potential candidates who you can then narrow down to a short list and talk to.

If you are not picky about their exposure to your subculture(s) but are looking for a specific modality, you can try your own insurer’s website (if you have one that covers mental) or go to Psychology Today’s Therapist Directory is good and gives a variety of options for narrowing down the list of therapists.

After that you can check to see if your subculture has a listing of friendly professionals. There are a few different ones for polyamory and kink, for example, and there are a variety of local-specific ones for Pagans. If you can’t find one for your specific subculture(s), then poly, pagan, or kink-aware professionals are going to be good bets since there is a fair chance if they are a good match for one they are a good match for all three and for a variety of others besides. Asking around in the local community can also be a good approach for those that are comfortable doing so.

Those who are in school can consider checking out their school’s counseling program. Good or bad, it probably exists and will provide a relatively inexpensive mechanism for getting counseling. Some areas also offer clinics that have inexpensive mental health services.

While it isn’t essential, it can also be a good idea to look for transpersonal and Jungian psychologists, since they are also likely to be capable of working within your culture, religions, etc contexts.

Trimming the List: Interviewing Your Therapist

Finding the right therapist is key to having a successful experience with psychotherapy. Horror stories abound in the Pagan community from people who have had bad experiences with therapists, especially therapists during their teenage years that their parents would choose. It is also abundantly clear that therapists can sometimes bring their own biases to the table, making it difficult to establish an effective relationship. In therapy, the strength of that relationship is key, and so if you don’t have a good working relationship with your therapist, then therapy is a lot less likely to be effective.

This doesn’t mean you have to like your therapist or that your therapist has to be the sort of person you would go out to a bar with, but it does mean that your therapist needs to be someone that you can establish a good therapeutic relationship relationship with.

So remember that when you do your initial phone screen and intake appointment that you are also interviewing the therapist. It isn’t just a matter of does this therapist think they can work with me and also do I think that this therapist will be a good choice for me? Even if they seem in other ways ideal in terms of their experience, if you do not feel like you can build a good therapeutic relationship with this individual you may have better luck a therapist who is maybe not quite as experienced with your particular subculture, but who you feel that you can establish a better therapeutic connection with.

Educating Your Therapist

If I am going in for anxiety–regardless of the root cause–they probably do not need to be well versed in Core Shamanic practices and I may find such counterproductive, since I have already been exploring options in that regard. Similarly, if I am going in for depression which is tied to my workplace, it is probably not necessary that they have copious experience with polyamory.

On the other hand, if I am going in because I need counseling with relationships, I may strongly prefer one who has previous experience with polyamorous individuals but may not be able to find one. Or I may find one, except that they aren’t experienced with my particular flavor of polyamory.

In these situations the problem is not usually insurmountable.

One of the first things you should do if you choose to continue with the therapist is give them a packet of information on material that is material to you. This does not mean print up your private livejournal posts for the last 5 years or provide 20 pages of your own personal mythohistory, but rather to give a summary with clear, concise, and precise information to bring the therapist up to speed on the aspects of you that are material, but which they may not be as familiar with.

For example, if you are Polyamorous and relationships are likely to come up in your therapy, then Xeromag has several excellent polyamory resources along with a secondary’s bill of rights that you might subscribe to. If you are in the BDSM scene then there is a similar one for BDSM. There are also short FAQs ones out there for Wicca and a variety of other magical/religious traditions. If all else fails, you can write your own if you feel that it is important that your therapist know about that part of your life.

Conclusion

Underlying all of these are two key points that I have’t stated explicitly so far:

  • Find a therapist you are willing to work with early.
  • Don’t give up.

For the first point: It is frequently difficult in the depths of a problem to devote the time and energy to finding a good counselor/therapist, yet that is when you need them the most. It is also not a bad idea for all occultists/spirit workers/witches/etc. to undergo therapy when their resources allow for it, for many of the forces we interact with are intimately connected to the state of our minds. So start early: Even if you lack the resources at the moment, you can proactively work to generate a shortlist and find the appropriate resources to give your therapist.

For the second: There are a lot of people who have been burned by therapists in the past, or who live in areas where finding a tolerant and qualified professional can be extremely difficult. Don’t give up due to a bad experience or because you are having difficulty finding one in your area. There are options (including some who will work long-distance), and if you need a therapist at some point–due to either life circumstances or things brought up in therapy or shadow work, even if you don’t feel like you need it now–having that name in your pocket will be well worth it.

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May Link Roundup

Some various links of interest:

Sadly my computer was on the fritz for the past week, so I didn’t get a post up on the Joplin Missouri tornado and potential charities, but Charity Navigator has a good list up and many of the charities I listed for the southern tornados have also been engaged in Joplin. The Joplin humane society has also been engaged for those who are looking for an animal-related charity.

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