Women And Magic In Norse Sagas

Woman and Magic in the Sagas

In Norse society, magic was considered to be a woman's profession. We must be careful in using interpretations of the Sagas which were written from a Christian perspective, as they often skewed the interpretation to coincide with their own viewpoint. The Norse practitioners of the various arts of magic were highly respected professionals whose services were valued by their communities (Jochens, 307; Ellis-Davidson, 37). Magic was an accepted part of the world in which we live. Many of the most important cult practices of the pagan Norse religion occurred in the housewife's domain, where the woman of the house would act as priestess or gyšja (Steffensen, ...

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the appearance of ghosts and the three witches is seen as a sign of peril or doom. In the Norse writings these types of occurrences are seen as a part of life, a natural as milking a cow. This paper will discuss magic as a part of women's daily lives in the Norse sagas.
Magic in Norse society was divided into four main categories seišr, spį (spae), galdr, runic magic, and quite possibly other categories of magical arts that the saga writers failed to discuss. They may not have included them as the sagas were written by men who did not properly understand all of their aspects, as they were the province of women. Of the four main categories, seišr is the most common, as well as the most difficult to define by Christian standards. The term seišr is most commonly translated as "witchcraft," and is used to describe actions ranging from shamanic magic, to prophecy, channeling the gods or the gods' voices through a human agent, performing magic that affects weather or animal ...

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poisoned ale from the festive horn (ch. 10). The seišr of forgetfulness is typical of the art, which seems at its root to act on the mind of the victim. In Njal's sage we find, "Far from it," says the earl, "and yet I cannot tell why we cannot find him, but methinks I see through it all when I come on shore, but when I come here, I can see nothing" (Njal's Saga, 87-101). This is an excellent example of the use of seidr to disguise and hide.
Seišr was a solitary art, where the seiš-witch was not a member of a coven, as in found in other European witch traditions, although a seiš-practitioner might have attendants or a chorus to assist her in the practice of her magic. In a very few rare ...

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Added: 7/26/2015 02:35:56 AM
Category: English
Type: Premium Paper
Words: 2291
Pages: 9

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