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Thread: Galdr

  1. #1

    Galdr

    I've come across references to galdr in a few threads here. Google tells me it's a form of magic that was sung and/or chanted (references to both pop up in the same links).

    Are there good sources for more information on it?

    How is it related to seidr?

    Is there any interaction between galdr and the runes?

    I'll probably find more questions about galdr in general over the next few days. Right now I'm not sure I know enough to have good questions.

  2. #2
    Opinionated Rae'ya's Avatar
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    Re: Galdr

    Yay Heathen-ish people coming back again Ask away, Keldorn... we love questions!

    Quote Originally Posted by Keldorn View Post
    Are there good sources for more information on it?
    Most sources I tend to recommend are books rather than websites, simply because I haven't done extensive website research (I get bored reading off a screen). I like Edred Thorsson for info on Galdr, despite the fact that some reconstructionists consider him a controversial source (they don't like that he was also a ceremonialist and started off as a practitioner of a Left Hand Path). He has a book called "Northern Magic" that has a nice little overview, though most of the practical stuff is specific to rune galdr. Kveldulf Gundarsson is also a good source, but again, specific to rune galdr. As always, the Poetic Edda is the closest we have to 'direct from the source', but it can be difficult to jump straight into the Edda, so reading some modern authors first, then taking what you've read there with you into reading the Edda can be helpful.

    The reality is that we have very little specific evidence on exactly how galdr was performed... just that it existed and it involved 'chanting' or 'singing'. Many authors assume that it was used with runes, because there is some mention of rune songs in the Poetic Edda... but there's actually nothing specific that proves this. Interestingly, there is actually more evidence for non-rune galdr than for rune-galdr, especially when you factor in skaldic poetry and the importance of specific poetic forms and kennings. There's a whole section of the Poetic Edda (in the Havamal I think) that talks about songs/charms for a whole range of things, which don't mention runes at all. Then we have Groa's Charms, which also don't involve runes at all. Poetry, 'songs' and chants are all over the place in the Lore... not always explicitly labelled 'galdr', but often enough to suggest that it was the primary form of working magick in Viking Age (and pre-) Scandinavia and Germania. Luckily, it translates very well into modern interpretations, which means that you can pretty much perform it however you like and it will probably work.

    Quote Originally Posted by Keldorn View Post
    How is it related to seidr?
    It's not. At least, not in any appreciable way. Galdr is spoken/chanted/sung incantations and charms... spellwork if you will. Seidhr on the other hand, is about trancework, oracular prophecy, journeywork, communication with the dead and similar things. I used to describe them as the 'high magick' and 'low magick' of Northern paths... but that's far too simplistic and doesn't do either path any justice. Galdr was something both men and women could perform without judgement, while seidhr was 'women's work' and men were considered 'ergi' if they performed it (ergi is roughly... unmanly... but it's a complicated concept). Odhinn had to learn seidhr from Freyja, and then he had to dress in women's clothing and spend time with her and her handmaidens to do it, an event that Loki brings up in a later argument as something to be embarrassed about.

    There are chants in some forms of seidhr... specific chants and sounds that assistants and onlookers chanted in order to allow the volva (an oracular seidhrworker... or close enough) to enter her trance and communicate with the gods. But these chants are considered different to those used in galdr... they are specific to seidhr and are an aid to altering consciousness rather than a spell in and of themselves. But it goes to show the diversity of using sound and voice for magick in the Northern paths.

    Quote Originally Posted by Keldorn View Post
    Is there any interaction between galdr and the runes?
    Yes. As touched on above, rune galdr is a very common and popular practice amongst modern runeworkers. Whether or not it's an 'original' form of galdr we don't know. But it works for a lot of people. Most rune galdr you'll see has evolved from Edred Thorsson's rune galdr (best found in his book, Futhark), but the authors may claim otherwise. It involves chanting the sounds of the runes, sometimes as a whole word, sometimes as an initial sound with different vowels on it. I don't personally like this form of rune galdr, but then I have a slightly different relationship with the runespirits. There are all sorts of ways to do this... mostly because there are no actual instructions or explicit indications in the Lore that tells us how to do it.

    Is rune galdr the only form of galdr? No. But it may be the only form that you can find when researching galdr, at least initially and on the surface. From what I've seen, it's the most popular form of galdr in modern times, but I don't think that's a trend that is supported in the Lore.

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    Silver Member Tylluan Penry's Avatar
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    Re: Galdr

    The Anglo-Saxon charms show that many were sung - especially in weather magic and healing. Mind you, singing a charm over a boiled egg seems a little extreme.
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    Phantom Turnips never die.... they just get stewed occasionally....

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    Re: Galdr

    Quote Originally Posted by Rae'ya View Post
    Yes. As touched on above, rune galdr is a very common and popular practice amongst modern runeworkers. Whether or not it's an 'original' form of galdr we don't know. But it works for a lot of people. Most rune galdr you'll see has evolved from Edred Thorsson's rune galdr (best found in his book, Futhark), but the authors may claim otherwise. It involves chanting the sounds of the runes, sometimes as a whole word, sometimes as an initial sound with different vowels on it. I don't personally like this form of rune galdr, but then I have a slightly different relationship with the runespirits. There are all sorts of ways to do this... mostly because there are no actual instructions or explicit indications in the Lore that tells us how to do it.

    Is rune galdr the only form of galdr? No. But it may be the only form that you can find when researching galdr, at least initially and on the surface. From what I've seen, it's the most popular form of galdr in modern times, but I don't think that's a trend that is supported in the Lore.
    How does the concept of Galdralag fit into this? Is it set on a back burner (most references I've seen to it are also talking about Snorri and his reliability is often treated as spotty)?


    Tylluan, a charm over a boiled egg... that might be overkill. Now a charm for a scrambled egg is perfectly justified if it gets me a good egg

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    Silver Member Tylluan Penry's Avatar
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    Re: Galdr

    Quote Originally Posted by Keldorn View Post

    Tylluan, a charm over a boiled egg... that might be overkill. Now a charm for a scrambled egg is perfectly justified if it gets me a good egg
    the Anglo-Saxons were very fond of singing their charms. I'm assuming it was a tradition they brought over with them from Northern Europe during the Great Migration. Wish they'd kept the melodies though!
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    Phantom Turnips never die.... they just get stewed occasionally....

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    Loud Mouth Heka's Avatar
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    Singing spell work. Now that would technically be my thing. But I would feel so insincere. Like a total phoney. Where the bloody hell would I start? I understand kennings and poetry, but not in any appreciable way that means I could replicate it.

    I honestly reckon ive seen stuff that links rune galdr to frequencies/pitches and then like chakras and stuff.
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    Opinionated Rae'ya's Avatar
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    Re: Galdr

    Quote Originally Posted by Keldorn View Post
    How does the concept of Galdralag fit into this? Is it set on a back burner (most references I've seen to it are also talking about Snorri and his reliability is often treated as spotty)?
    Galdralag is one of the forms of Norse poetry (of which there are a ridiculously high number... Norse poetry is enormously complex and confusing). It's got to do with metrics and the number of lines, and which lines rhyme with which other lines, and which lines have the same number of syllables as which other lines... it's all well beyond my scope of knowledge (or to be honest... care factor). My eyes start to get crossed whenever I start reading about Norse poetic forms and I lose interest after about five minutes.

    What does this have to do with galdr? Nothing really. Galdralag is a form of storytelling, not a form of magic.

    You may see it linked with Snorri in the 'he's unreliable' sense because the word appears in his writings and because some Heathens and NT'ers like to discount everything Snorri says out of hand. The thing with Snorri is that he was an Icelandic Christian historian and poet. His writings on the metrics and forms of Norse poetry are actually fairly accurate as far as I'm aware (keeping in mind my limited understanding of poetry in general). It's his retellings of the folklore and tales that we need to take with a grain of salt. If you've ever read Snorri's Prose Edda, you'll have noticed that in the introduction pages he's very clear about the fact that he's writing these tales for his fellow Christian priests, to give them a better understanding of the local beliefs so that they can better convert the locals. He has a hidden agenda in retelling the traditional Edda, and he doesn't actually hide that fact. Printed with his Prose Edda is a section explaining the forms of Norse Poetry... again to help educate his fellow priests about the local storytelling traditions... this is where we hear about 'galdralag' from Snorri.

    But again, galdralag is poetry and storytelling, not magic. So it's not relevant to a large proportion of Heathen and NT folks. The unfortunate thing is that many people don't know why it's not relevant to them. The other unfortunate thing is that technically, it should be relevant to reconstructionists, because poetry and storytelling was incredibly important to our Viking Age Scandinavian ancestors (less so to other Northern groups). But it's confusing, so I understand why they tend to sweep that little bit of tradition under the rug.

    Quote Originally Posted by Heka View Post
    Singing spell work. Now that would technically be my thing. But I would feel so insincere. Like a total phoney. Where the bloody hell would I start? I understand kennings and poetry, but not in any appreciable way that means I could replicate it.
    This is the problem... there are no clear instructions for it in the Lore. We know that they did it, because the Lore tells us that they did. It just doesn't tell us HOW they did it. Which is the problem when oral traditions are written down by people observing rather than by people doing. Personally, I don't think that it really matters how 'authentic' it is. There is enough evidence for voicework in enough different and disparate magical traditions that there is clearly no one 'correct' way to do it. Even the reconstructionists haven't managed to formulate a method that they all agree on (and some just pretend that it doesn't exist and don't bother with it). A lot of NTers have been exploring this with the gods, spirits and ancestors, but it'll vary as to whether they actually share the 'melodies' or not.

    Quote Originally Posted by Heka View Post
    I honestly reckon ive seen stuff that links rune galdr to frequencies/pitches and then like chakras and stuff.
    You probably have, because this was a big thing during the 'Runic Revival' (I think during the 1910's-30's... pre Nazi war), mainly due to the writings of Guido von List. This is where we have rune galdr start to show up... the runic scholars of the time mixed traditional Lore with their background in Theosophy, some ceremonial magic techniques and the increasingly popular Eastern influences. Rune 'yoga' or 'stadhagaldr' showed up here, as did our modern forms of rune galdr... where the Gladr for Fehu would be to chant 'f...f...f...f...fa...fe...fi...fo...fu...f...f... f... or something similar. Edred Thorsson's book 'Futhark' is heavily influenced by this era, and in turn it heavily influenced many modern rune writers (who will simultaneously slam Thorsson AND unashamedly pass on his writings on galdr and stadhagaldr). Some of his more obscure works have instructions for the pitch and tone of the galdr and whatnot. Either way, none of this is 'traditional' in the sense that we have any evidence for it in the Lore, but it's something that the esoteric runic scholars picked up, and modern runic people have run with it.

    It would be really interesting to see Rick weigh in at this point, as he probably knows more about rune galdr than I do (I don't actually practice it... I just studied it).

  8. #8
    Copper Member Rick's Avatar
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    Re: Galdr

    https://youtu.be/6kIlhoJk_j8

    This is Freya Aswynn chanting runes. It's kinda cool and kinda creepy. Galdr is a part of my runic magical practice. As with Rae'ya, I find the study of Nordic poetry's meter and style to be tedious and mind-numbing. It is probably important to understand that there are differences, but these differences don't affect my daily life.

    One might also check out the Galdrabok for examples of written galdr spells.
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  9. #9
    Loud Mouth Heka's Avatar
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    What was the word we were using for personal gnosis? There was an abbreviation.... I wonder whos got in touch with ancestors etc for some of this. It'd be something I'd be interested in...

    Lol speak and he shall appear!
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    I have never been across the way
    Seen the desert and the birds
    You cut your hair short
    Like a shush to an insult
    The world had been yelling
    Since the day you were born
    Revolting with anger
    While it smiled like it was cute
    That everything was shit.

    - J. Wylder

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    Opinionated Rae'ya's Avatar
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    Re: Galdr

    Quote Originally Posted by Heka View Post
    What was the word we were using for personal gnosis? There was an abbreviation.... I wonder whos got in touch with ancestors etc for some of this. It'd be something I'd be interested in...

    Lol speak and he shall appear!
    UPG. Unverified Personal Gnosis. lol

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