Seidr

The vikings believed in concepts that existed outside the material world. Gods, magic and myths mingled with the everyday of raiding, farming, living, fighting and loving. This was Old Norse philosophy in practice and vikings sought to change their fate and raise their fortunes with a concept called seidr.

In Old Norse, seidr translates to cord or string. It’s a magic-based ideology that looks at fate as a flowing, malleable object. It’s about symbolically changing the course of one’s life and bringing new events into reality. 

To do this, seidr practitioners relied on specific objects to bring them closer to the gods. They needed to enter a trance in order to enter the world of the spirits. 

The following photo collection tells the story of seidr through Norse objects and viking runes.

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Old Norse Philosophy: Untangling The Strings Of Seidr

Of the many fascinating things about philosophy, different cultures interpret it differently and the vikings were no different. Old Norse philosophy has many similarities to the practices of ancient Greek and Roman cultures in the sense that the philosophy emphasised happiness through living a life of virtue.

Characteristics of wisdom, self-control, bravery and personal independence were all valued within Old Norse philosophy. But as Norse Mythology Org points out, the vikings didn’t express their worldview through the logos, i.e. universal concepts of rationality and theoretical exposition.

Rather, Old Norse philosophy had its foundations built on mythos, a story-based worldview of gods, heroes, myths and legends. This distinction is important when seeking to understand how the vikings approached life and I’ll be delving into different concepts across the culture and bringing them into a philosophical perspective.

The first concept is seidr.

Continue reading Old Norse Philosophy: Untangling The Strings Of Seidr