5. Discuss three key magical techniques or symbols from one Indo-European culture. (minimum 100 words each)
Thorsson talks about the need for the vitki to “… undergo a period of preparation before the right pathways can be followed” (Thorsson, Northern Magic - Rune Mysteries & Shamanism 6). This could very well be seen as the first technique within the Norse tradition as it prepares the vitki with the lore and the inner landscape to then begin working with the Runes in magical use. In the Elder Futhark, the oldest form of the Runes, there are twenty-four symbols. The Elder Futhark consists of eighteen consonants and six vowels, each with their own sound and meaning. These twenty-four letters are broken down into three sets of eight: 1st Aett, 2nd Aett, and 3rd Aett. (D. McCoy, Runes). Because of their universal cosmological origin, it was believed that the phonosemantic, the idea that sounds carry meaning in and of themselves (Wikipedia), of the Runes works also as a tool for communicating not only with other humans but with “… nonhuman beings, they could facilitate communication between humankind and the invisible powers who animate the visible world, providing the basis of a plethora of magical acts” (D. McCoy, Runic Philosophy and Magic). Through studying the Runic lore, their meanings, and their sounds a practitioner becomes well versed with the power of each individual Rune. The vitki would first explore what can be called Troth which is this learning of the deep meaning of the Rune lore and working with the gods. It can be seen as the magico-religious aspect of the Norse tradition (Thorsson, Northern Magic - Rune Mysteries & Shamanism 12-14).
The use of Rune-Galdor is the “… magical technology of reshaping the (inner or outer) world in accordance with the will of the magician” (Thorsson, Northern Magic - Rune Mysteries & Shamanism 14). The practitioner of Rune-Galdor would work closely with Odin as it takes a great wisdom and inspiration to make this form of magic work well. Rune-Galdor centers on the revealing of the etymology of the words. “It is derived from the word used to describe the sound of a raven’s call…” (Thorsson, Northern Magic - Rune Mysteries & Shamanism 15). The call of the raven refers to Odin’s two ravens which were his eyes in Midgard, Huginn and Muninn. This can be seen as the vocal and incantation of Runes and Bind-Runes in magical working. The basic cycle of this technique is to listen, then understand, and final out the “words of the ravens” in to work in the world. As Thorsson sees it, the self is the center of this working that oscillates between the mind and memory which is ruled over by the divine inspiration of Odin where wisdom arises. Through this wisdom the actions of the Rune-Galdor is the laid out before him/her and making the results intelligible in the real world.
The Seith magic is ruled by Freyja and can be seen as the magical technology of the body. It was not originally linked with Rune or Runeology as it was not basic off the linguistics but more along the lines of the unconscious mind. The Galdor magic can be seen as revealing the unknown to make it known, such as in divination with Runes, is ruled by Odin. Seith magic works to become woven into the realm of the unknown, to alter the very fabric of the universe to align with the will of the practitioner. Instead of incantations like in Galdor, the Seith tools are things such as potions, herbs, and ointments. It is a form of Shamanistic trance work. In a way this is very similar to the Shamanic practices talked about in “The Way of the Shaman” by Michael Harner. According to him, the “… shaman specializes in a trance during which his soul is believed to leave his body and ascend to the sky or descent to the underworld” (Harner 38). Harner talks about how the shaman collects all kinds of insects, plants and other objects to become his spirit helpers in healing the body (Harner 35). This makes Seith a more natural sort of magical working.