Viking Volva/Seeress in Norse Mythology and in Real Life

In Norse mythology, there was a female seer (someone who could see what the future holds) called Volva. So this means that a Volva was capable of seeing the fate of each and every creature in the cosmos.             

When it comes to the meaning of this word, the word Volva means  "the carrier of magic" or "the wand-carrier." Not only that, it had another name called "fjǫlkunnig" (having lots of knowledge). 

Based on these,  a Volva wasn’t just someone who could predict what was going to happen in the near future, but they were also practitioners of seidr and shamanism.        

Since Volvas were very knowledgeable, they were highly regarded and respected in society. In fact, Goddess Freya was a Volva, and being a magic practitioner was one of the reasons why the Aesir-Vanir war began. 

As a Volva, Goddess Freya wandered and travelled to different places and realms to practice her magic. This made her famous and her stories even reached Asgard.            

Once she got there (she disguised herself as someone else), the Aesir gods from Asgard got excited and asked her to do magic. After a while, they eventually revealed their weaknesses and shortcomings to her.

They later found out she was Goddess Freya from the Vanir tribe. Upon knowing that, they called her a witch and believed this happened (secrets revelation) because she used her magic on them. This realization infuriated them and this made them decide to burn her thrice. Surprisingly, she was able to successfully get away from the burning fire without any damages. 

The Aesir-Vanir war eventually began once the Vanir gods found out what the Aesir gods did to Goddess Freya.      

Volva in Real Life

Volvas were believed to be real. In fact, archaeologists in Denmark found a 9th century Volva grave  (specifically at the ring fortress of “Fyrkat” near Hobro) in 1954. 

The Volva on this grave (placed on the top of a horse-drawn carriage) was wearing a trendy red and blue dress (considered luxurious during the Viking age). She was also wearing a silver toe ring which was uncommon at that time. Aside from that, she was buried with a wand (used in Seidr magic rituals) and other precious and extravagant items.                 

Based on what they saw, it’s safe to say that the buried Volva wasn’t a commoner. They even saw that her grave had a bowl (believed to have been used to create Volva magic recipes), and a purse containing poisonous seeds that could cause hallucinations.                        


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