Galdr & Seiðr How-To's, Historical Magic

Composing Galdr (Norse Magic Spells) in the Meter of Galdralag

A Vǫlva’s Distaff by Svein Skare / University Museum of Bergen

A while ago I wrote a post on what galdr is, and I’ve also posted some of my own galdr, along with a photo of my own distaff. This post is on how to compose galdr using specifically the “meter of magic spells,” called galdralag. It’s entirely possible that galdr does not need to be written using this meter, but I personally find that the structure helps.

Before you can begin composing “real” galdr, you must first decide whether or not to employ galdralag and a tune in your poetry and its vocalization. Due to the uncertainty of the nature of the use of galdralag and the uncertainty as to whether melodic chanting was used at all, I cannot tell you whether you should use these things or not, as that is a decision that will vary from person to person depending on their conceptions of risk versus reward, ease of use, and aesthetics, among other things that don’t really need to be listed here. I can tell you though that you might want to compose a few practice spells, some employing galdralag and some not, and then similarly chant them using a tune sometimes, and other times not, so that you can get a feel for the meter and musicality yourself and make it easier for you to decide on your methods.

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Galdr & Seiðr How-To's, Historical Magic

Defining Galdr

Please note that this post is subject to change as I learn more about galdr, and the version you read now might not be the version that will be available later. I am posting this quite tentatively because it is undoubtedly unfinished, but all the same, I promised to post new articles on galdr/runic divination semi-regularly, so here we are, and here this is.

So what is galdr?

Odin and the Völva, Lorenz Frølich

To put it simply, galdr is the Old Norse word for poems that were possibly, but not for certain, composed in the meter of Galdralag (lit. “meter of magic spells”), and the chanting of these poems was typically accompanied by an action or elaborate ritual meant to bring about a certain effect, like creating a storm, inflicting madness upon a person, causing coins to spontaneously appear in the skinned remains of a dead man’s scrotum (no, that’s not a joke), or making the process of childbirth smoother. Ceremonies involving galdr were performed by vǫlur (singular “vǫlva”).

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Galdr & Seiðr How-To's, Runic Divination

My Method for Achieving the Best Possible Frame of Mind for Runic Divination (Bragiteilen’s Galdrbook)

Hans Erni - Tanzendes Paar mit Früchten im Haar (1952)
Tanzendes Paar mit Früchten im Haar (Hans Erni)

Hello again! Before I begin, I want to say that starting today with this post, I will be posting either weekly or once every two weeks a new piece on runic divination from my Galdr-Book. I hesitate to propose any sort of posting schedule for this at all, due to the work itself being unfinished, but recently I’ve been extremely cognizant of just how little time I have to learn and teach, just because the breadth and depth of the topics I want to explore is so enormous. No matter how much understanding I achieve in this lifetime, I will undoubtedly reach the end of it wishing I had learned more.

Sorry. I don’t mean to be morbid or depressing. The point of this article is to uplift, not to bring others down. With that goal in mind, I happily present the fruits of tonight’s labor, which is essentially a set of (offered, not demanding) instructions on how to get yourself into a good state of mind for divining and conversing with whatever divine forces you choose to connect with. Especially if you’re having trouble manifesting that connection, this guide is for you. It is all based on my personal experiences, so I can say for certain that my methods work for one person at the very least. If I’ve done my job right, they will work for you too.

In the reading of runes, one seeks to attain mysterious and divine knowledge—from the gods, from dead relatives, from local spirits, or from the Akashic record itself, if you believe in that sort of thing. If one wishes to seek out what is hidden, a good state of mind for finding and interpreting information must be maintained. This can be achieved through what is ideally a series of consecutive actions, which are as follows. (Please note that I do not wish to present this as the only valid method, though; there are as many methods as there are people who practice runic divination.)

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