I first encountered Norse magical practices, including the oracular rite called spae, while researching my novel, Brisingamen. I thought it would be wonderful if we could recover some of these interrupted Native European traditions, but it was not until I unexpectedly encountered the Norse god Odin on a journey in a shamanic workshop given by Michael Harner that I took the first steps toward doing so. I had asked for guidance in figuring out how the spirit workers of the Viking Age did the work of an oracle, and when the Rune class had given our group a good grounding in Norse culture, I asked who would be interested in working with me to develop a contemporary practice. Being the wonderful people they were, they responded with enthusiasm. Several of them had considerable training in trance work from other traditions, and once I had figured out a process, we found that it did indeed enable us to get answers to questions. The origins, rationale and ritual for the Old Norse style oracle I do are detailed in Part II of The Way of the Oracle.
The thing about oracular work is that you have to have people who will ask questions, and even a large kindred can only come up with so many. One of my major goals for developing the practice had always been to create a group that could travel to festivals and serve the people as the itinerant seers had done in Viking Age Scandinavia, and in the summer of 1991 our group presented the first public Oracular ritual at the Ancient Ways Festival in Lake County, California. We became regular presenters at the festival, and the next year did the ritual at Trothmoot as well.
As the word got around, people in other parts of the country got interested, and I began to teach week-end workshops wherever a group would pay my way. I found that people who already had trance training could pick up the techniques fairly readily. The training techniques I developed to prepare the novices became the basis for my book, Trance-Portation. In addition to the U.S., I have taught in Britain and the Netherlands. As a result, the idea has spread, and there are now a number of individuals and groups practicing their own versions of the tradition. As a result, when I wrote The Way of the Oracle I was able to survey a fair sample of modern seers.
Seidhjallr, named for the high seat in which the seer sits, is the oracular group attached to the Hrafnar community. We present a large oracular session in the Norse tradition each Presidents’ Day weekend at PantheaCon in San Jose, and four smaller sessions at the Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists’ hall on the second Tuesday evenings of January, May, August, and November at 7:30 p.m. I often present an oracular ritual when I appear at conferences and festivals in other parts of the country as well. Training workshops can also be arranged by request. For information, see our website.
For dates of oracular workshops and presentations, see the Calendar.