völur

A profession in small spiritual mining town of Faroe.

To become one of the völur, a girl* usually follows various established völur around of her own accord, learning what it is that they do and how they live. She then approaches a senior seiðkona and asks for her patronage. If accepted, she begins her apprenticeship learning simple spells (galðrar; singular, galðr or galdr) and assisting her master in her work. This stage of the apprenticeship has no set time limitations, but typically takes between 5-10 years. The next stage depends heavily on both the seiðkona’s preferences and the preferences of the apprentice herself: it functions as some kind of prolonged test of the apprentice’s abilities and also as a period of study in some degree of isolation. Rúna spent two months chanting to the wolves on a nearby mountain, learning their stories. If the master deems the apprentice acceptable, the apprentice becomes a journeyman. As a journeyman, it is expected that the student explore the world. She is given guidelines and often specific instructions from the seiðkona and sets off on a rite of meditation. This is intended to give greater focus to the role of this trip in the journeyman’s life, the journeyman’s profession, and history as a whole. In Rúna’s case, she spent nine days hanging from a tree in order to study the runes, following in the footsteps of the Allfather. The journeyman then begins her main test: the journey itself. This is a different experience for every student. Many drop out at this point, particularly because of the dwarven focus on the home and community. Dwarves think of themselves as integrated into a particular culture; alone, they are cut off from their familiar connections. It is difficult for many to adapt. However, this very adaptation is a necessary part of training, as the seiðkona must be the most flexible and independent in their communities. After this odyssey, the journeyman returns to her master and unless she has grossly violated the terms of her quest, she is declared a new seiðkona and joins the ranks of the völur. Most new seiðkona settle in their hometown; about 20% return to some place they have met and loved on their travels, and about 5% become wandering völur for at least a little while longer.

*It is possible for men to become seiðmaðr, the masculine form of seiðkona. However, the practice of seid is associated with unmanliness and often considered ‘women’s work.’ It is thus fairly uncommon for a young male to wish to become one of the völur strongly enough to overcome the stigma. In four thousand years of remembered history, there have been five seiðmaðrs, not including the Allfather.

völur

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