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Posts Tagged ‘seership’

8.    Discuss the relative importance and effect of divination within your personal spiritual practice. (minimum 100 words)

In my personal spiritual practice I use divination on a fairly regular basis. I try to do weekly readings when I make offerings, out of a desire to see what elements of my life or work I should be focused on (or perhaps warned about). I also do divination for my study group when we do rituals, to determine the blessings we receive in return for our offerings. As well, I do divination before I attempt any magical working, to determine the probable outcome. While it was not a runic divination, I have called off magical workings in the past if a tarot reading was decidedly unfavorable to the work I was intending to do. For me, divination is a way to check in with my gods and spirits to see what they think is important for me to pay attention to, so I try to do it whenever I am doing anything of religious significance.

9.    Discuss your view and understanding of the function of the Seer. (minimum 100 words)

The function of a seer is to take omens and – most crucially – to interpret them, using a combination of knowledge, experience, and intuition. Divination rarely gives a clear-cut answer (unless you’re flipping coins for a yes/no question), and it is the function of the seer to take the symbols as drawn and turn them from esoteric symbols into something of meaning for the audience of the divination, whether that’s in a private consultation or a public ritual. A seer can be called upon whenever a querent has a difficult question on which they would like the spirits and Kindreds to weigh in, and as such they take on a consultory role within the community.

10.    Discuss the importance and value of divination as it relates to ADF. (minimum 100 words)

Divination within ADF is critical to the practice of our basic order of ritual, as it provides a method by which the Kindreds can express their pleasure (or displeasure) with our offerings. It lets us know whether we have done right by the spirits we set out to make offerings to, and it gives us feedback in the form of the omen to know what the spirits will offer us in return. Within a ritual, the seer’s job is extremely valuable, as their knowledge, experience, and intuition determine whether a ritual has been done properly or not (which may include signs or symbols other than just the omens that are drawn) and whether additional offerings need to be made or the ritual format changed before the next ritual takes place. Divination gives us the response we need from our Kindreds to know the specifics of the exchange of gifts that we are partaking in. A skilled seer takes an invaluable place in the ADF community as it is their job to interpret the omens given by the Kindreds in ritual, to determine if offerings have been accepted and what blessings have been given in return – and not just what the blessings are, but if any actions need to be taken as a result of those blessings.

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Discuss both the role of seers within at least one Indo-European culture and the relationship of seers to other members of the society, including in that discussion how seers or visionaries would have supported themselves or how they would have been supported by their people. (minimum two paragraphs)

The implication in Scandinavian and Germanic societies is that seership is a woman’s art (born out by other references to seership, and by Loki’s calling Odin “unmanly” for practicing seidhr), and that even in the age of Christianity, women still knew and practiced the art of seeing. Leif Eriksson’s Saga (ch. 4) states that Thorbjorg was one of 10 sisters, all of whom had the gift of prophecy, and she traveled from farm to farm, looking into the spirit world and into the future for people. Clearly she is held in great esteem, and her position puts her “above” the rest – she sits on a high seat to see into the spirit world.

It was clearly highly valuable in the society, as the seeress was treated with great respect and given a place of honor at the farm. As well, Odin himself consults a seer (a volva) to find out what the fate of the Gods will be in the Voluspa. Most of these seeresses seem to be older women who are somewhat outside the bounds of society – they are no longer raising children or helping husbands – but the women who help them can be of any age. Freyja, who is said to be the one who teaches Odin the art of seidhr, is similarly a woman outside of society – her husband is gone, and she is clearly mistress of her own affairs. While the majority of women probably had mundane jobs and only occasionally helped with seeing, at least in Thorbjorg’s case she seems to spend a lot of time traveling from farm to farm, exchanging food and shelter for her skills in prophecy. This may be a purely practical concern (it would be hard for a woman with a house full of small children to devote any time to a practice that required trance work or substantial travel), and it makes some amount of sense that any woman who was devoted to spending a large amount of time on seership would need to be supported by her community, or she would quickly starve.

In other stories, seers get brought back from the dead in order to continue their work of seership (Odin with Baldr’s Dream, Odr’s Saga), which implies that they are valued for their gifts, and also that they are valued for being “outside” of society. If the best way to get a good seer is not to go to the one down the street, but to raise one from the dead, they are clearly a specialized group. (This does not take into account the possibility of them receiving greater knowledge from having passed into the Otherworld, or that their “otherworldliness” is part of what sets them apart as talented seeresses.)

According to Tacitus, divination of a more mundane sort (by casting of lots) was done by a priest or the father of the household (Germania 10), so there may be a division in the society by gender (or perhaps Tacitus’ bias is showing).

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