The Northern Way


“Varδlokkur refers to that special song used to recall the soul of the one shamanizing to the body lying in a state of ecstatic exhaustion.” < Strömbäck 1935-139>

  In 1874, Gubbrandur Vigfusson offered the following explanation for the term `Varδlokkur: feminine plural form (Scottish, warlock), a ward song (varllsdngur), a protection song (verndarsdngur).' He hypothesised that the Scottish word `warlock', used to describe a male magician or sorcerer, was a term derived from the Icelandic word `vardlokkur'.Dag Stromback took up the same topic in his book Sejd (1935), where he discusses the behaviour of shamans after their magical per­formances. He describes the shaman upon completion of a ceremony as being in a state of near lifeless exhaustion, and notes that a young girl would be required to recite a poem until `life returned' to the shaman's body again. He found parallels between this kind of recital and the one performed by Guðriðr at the seidr ceremony in Greenland. According to Stromback, the purpose of the poem that Guðriðr per­formed was to call the soul of the seeress back to her body after its journey outside the body. On the basis of this, the term `vardlokkur' would therefore have been the original name of Gubribr'S song.

Trolley (1995a:61) suggested that vard is derived from vordr (pl. verdir) meaning guard, watch protector and lokkur suggests either fastenings or entice.
Vardlokur… spirit fastenings….what locks the spirit in under the power of the summoner
Vardlokkur… guardian spirit enticements….what lures the spirits to be present ~Ref: Eriks saga Rauda Jansson’s 1944 edition
  Vard is the stem (used in compounds) derived from vǫrδr 'guard, watch, protector’. In so far as the word designates a spirit it must therefore be a 'guardian spirit’; such a use is found in modern Norwegian vord and Swedish vård (Pering 1941, 131-4). Thus an independent spirit is implied, who in some way acts as the guardian of the summoner. The plural form -lok(k)ur is to be explained as referring to the kvoeði as a collection of verses. Forms with both k and kk occur in the MSS, making two etymologies possible: lokur is the fern. pi. of loka ‘fastening’; lokkur is not recorded as an independent noun: we must assume it is a fern. pi. noun from the verb lokka ‘entice’, thus ‘enticements’.Two meanings for varôlok(k)ur are therefore possible: ‘guardian spirit fastenings’, i.e. what ‘locks the spirits in’, under the power of the summoner; and ‘guardian spirit enticements’ — the song entices the spirits to be present; it is in this sense that the author of Eiriks saga appears to have taken the word. There is little difference between these interpretations in practice, as the implied effect of summoning the spirits for consultation is the same.
Strömbäck (1935, 138) argues that the meaning is the 'free-soul’ sent out by the seiðkona. He cites the parallel between the one girl in the Norse account who recites the verse, and the single girl in the Lapp accounts w ho is responsible for recalling the shaman’s spirit. However, that there is only one girl singing in Eiriks saga is specifically mentioned as unusual, and her role there is clearly not to recall the seiðkona’s spirit. Moreover, there seems no reason why a free soul should be designated by a word meaning 'guardian', for which nomenclature no evidence exists from the Old Norse period (later uses of vǫrδr, as noted by de Vries (AR § 160), no doubt result from confusion betw een independent spirits and the soul, probably under the influence of Christian antipathy to the idea of independent spirits employed by witches).
  In Gg 7 Gróa sings a charm called 'Urdr’s lokur : lokur here implies the sense 'spells’; the poet also plays on the sense of 'lock, hold fast’, for the next word is halda ‘hold, keep safe’. Urdar lokur is similar in sound to varðlokur, it is likely that the poet has deliberately remodelled a no longer understood traditional word vardlokur (or perhaps by an even closer *varδarlokur: in com pound forms the genitive ( vardar) could as well be used as the stem (vard)) bringing in fate in the person of Urðr (the poet’s mention of Urôr is deliberate: she is m entioned again at the end of the poem , indicating a structural use of fate)Young girls were in my opinion selected and trained from a very early age as all the knowledge of her mentor took many years to master and become accomplished in. This remains in vast contrast to the 101 vodoun later day occult role players who attempt to pass themselves off today as seiδkonas after only a few choice lessons at play-acting being possessed by a late Iron Age Nordic god/goddess on a so called improvised "High-Chair". What is important to know is that the Greenland Saga does nor support modern day claims of being possessed or falling into a trance spirit possession state. This is a hybrid modern addition and noting to do with the seerest of that account. It's pure fabrication. Note also that the knowledge of these early holy healers varied by time, place and personal experiences of each and ever historical Vǫlva. Just as there are really good doctors out there today as well as some lesser talented ones~when you consider for a minute that modern medicines and treatments was done by trial and error over several generations, the same must have also applied back to those early days.