The Tree Of The Soul Grows Deep And Wide: A Retroactive Enchantment Experiment
Photo by Joshua Sortino
New year, new blog, new magical experiments abound!
After being severely disappointed with the interface of Squarespace - and not wanting to leave my intellectual property directly on Patreon, because they’ve demonstrated they can’t be trusted - I decided to set up shop on the Svbtle network for all of my blog posts for the time being.
This post is a comprehensive explanation + reflection on a magical experiment that is currently in progress involving a mechanism for retroactive enchantment, and the implementation of some modern versions of seidr.
In my own words:
essentially: i’m going to rewrite my childhood and uh, for lack of a better way of describing this, ‘weave over’ my actual childhood.
obviously my actual childhood will still be there, but the holes/damage it left behind and the memories/patterns of trauma and not-helpful-ness will be covered up with something new and beautiful that brings me closer to who I actually want to be. the best way i can describe this is like, re-embroidering over a tapestry with holes in it - you restore the parts that are the original that you want to keep, and you take liberties with the rest, but the original tapestry is still there.
And of course, I will engineer those reweavings in a way as to keep what I want to keep and scoot the rest on out the door, and engineer the story in a way where it leads to the point in time I’m at now but without the le garbagé of unnecessary madness.“
After I made this post on my personal Facebook, I received several clarifying questions and a few requests for more information.
While I’ve certainly never been totally secretive about my spiritual or magical practices, as a Black queer woman who plays in ponds traditionally dominated by white men, I have generally been shy about discussing my work, especially those things grounded in pre-Christian Nordic & Germanic beliefs. Further, I’ve never felt ready to accept the responsibility of putting this type of information out into the world in detail, and it would require me to - in some areas - explain personal gnosis that I was embarrassed and felt weird about disclosing publicly, lest people think I’m nuts in the non-ableist kind of way. I can say that, I’m not even neurotypical anyways.
But, it’s a new year, and after doing some digging and reflecting, I decided that I was ready to accept the responsibility of sharing this type of knowledge, and the potential consequences of being visible in doing so.
So here we are.
Background, Pt. 1: Where I’m Coming From, And Why I’ve Been Here Before
The foundation of this work was heavily grounded in my knowledge of Northern traditions and their various sorcerous arts and sciences. I swore a life-oath to developing an understanding of the ways of the Old Gods in the fall/winter of 2012, after prolonged period of visions and visits from Norse spirits while worldwalking (i.e., going into trance and walking about the different dimensions of existence and layers of this reality.)
As someone who discovered myself as a baby witch as a pre-teen, and had a wandering path relationship with the Pagan world writ large, this was my first real experience with Deity. I never felt or saw the ripples of the God & Goddess of Wiccan paradigms (which I now recognize, in more-often-than-not instances, are used as an excuse to abuse the Indigenous beliefs of colonised and whitewashed histories of people of color - like a mix and match candy shop, vending machines of gifts and feel-good-positive-only-namaslay vibez) and had relegated myself to what were essentially Chaos magick lite techniques every now and then and divination.
So when Eir first came to me, I was skeptical and reticent to go along with the whole shebang - but I couldn’t deny that there was absolutely no way, even with my voracious reading habits, I could’ve known who she was. But I still had this idea that most Norse Pagans were white supremacists (bad branding sticks!), I was struggling with my relationship with my own Blackness, and it just seemed like a very bad idea. But after awhile and several ‘you can’t fake that or project onto it’ incidents, I gave in and I started reading, studying, and talking to the spirits who came to me. Of course, Eir was the first, and she and Freyja have joint ownership of fulltrua (again: this is UPG; traditionally you’re only supposed to have one) with me, which was divined/confirmed for Freyja, at least, through traditional means. There were also a couple of terrifying appearances from the All-Father for good measure. I ‘converted’ and formalised my studies right as I came into community with a plethora of anti-racist, non-shitty Germanic practitioners.
About a year and a half into this journey (and, admittedly, being a crappy student), I entered trance-state on behalf of a client. My primary guiding spirit informed me that they had something to show me, and I was brought from my usual point of descent to what I later realised was Yggdrasil. I was guided into the roots of this mighty tree to a round platform, where I was instructed to sit, as I was surrounded by my guide, Freyja, and Eir. From there I basically saw my physical body go poof, and melded into the frequency of the tree for several moments before coming back into a conscious-unconscious awareness. From here, my guide led me to a tree and proceeded to explain that it was my client’s ‘soul’ and that the different aspects of the tree would tell me different parts about their life, memory, and experiences, along with showing me how to ‘reprogram’ it. This mechanism of work was something I called Soul Rooting at the time, not realising that I was actually engaged in a current of seidr.
Now, at the time I only had nonsensical New Age woo-speak in my vocabulary, so I was rolling with absolute faith that this was all gravy. After performing this ceremony for a couple of other willing participants (I know, wildly irresponsible) - I did it on myself, and it dramatically shifted not only the fabric of my personality, but also the course of my life for the better. Again in hindsight, I see that this seidr was aimed at restructuring/shaping what the Norse would characterise as, *"What Is Presently Coming Into Being” and *“What Shall Be” - or, as we would call it, my present & future self - as this idea of fixed, linear time wasn’t a concept they held.
This recent experiment appears to be a complement to the work I started 4 years ago, and progressing it to its next chapter.
Background, Pt. 2: Self & Seidr
There are actually a variety of different magical disciplines the peoples collectively designated ‘the Vikings’ practiced - and in Germanic and Northern pre-Christian beliefs outside that designation, too - and seidr is one of those practices.
However, seidr is NOT - I repeat, straining myself - NOT witchcraft, despite many common sentiments.
It’s 👏🏾 not 👏🏾 witchcraft 👏🏾
I am being very firm on this point because Neopagan/Wiccan shenanigans have done a lot to agitate the issue of white supremacy and colonisation, which includes aggregating, flattening, and misrepresenting pre-Christian European practices. Seidr is also not really shamanism - at least to me - although it’s probably a cousin or a descendent of those practices in some way. And by shamanism I mean literal Sami indigenous practices, not white supremacist hooliganism that gets pedalled at expensive weekend seminars.
*** Seidr, therefore, can be best described as seer-sorcery: time-space based magical operation and metaphysical science meant to alter the layers of reality and different dimensions of experience, so as to manifest specific objectives of change.***
When one performs seidr, they enter into a trance state and engaged with the weave of the Wyrd (veer-d; “collective fate”) and how it interacts with the orlog (or-leg; “individual fate”) of those involved, using tools, galdr (rune chanting), and other mechanisms. For more on the nature of wyrd and orlog, check out this post and this post.
Seidr is an incredibly potent form of building animistic relationship with the very fabric of the Universe and the concept of time itself, and it cannot really be overstated how important it is that one approach this type of enchantment with discernment and clarity.
Process Breakdown, Pt. 1: Sketching the Pattern
So, to begin, if you’re planning on attempting to replicate this work in your own practice and paradigm, I’m going to advise the following:
You MUST be comfortable working with using divination for yourself, and have deep experience with at least one, preferably two, divination tools.
While it’s true that you do not have to be a master at divination to be an effective sorcerer or magic worker, if you are going to do change-your-life-not-just-fill-the-holes magical work, it just makes practical sense. This is both so you have an idea of where you’re going and what you’re doing, but also because divining well teaches you how to notice and feel more + ask better questions about what you’re noticing and feeling. After many years of work and practice, I have arrived at a place where I’m generally able to read with my whole bodies - both bodies, energetic and physical - and that makes it easier (most of the time, at least) to be more precise with my magic.
Because so much of the body of wisdom + symbolism is built around weaving and textile work, I’m going to use those metaphors. This whole process for me started with a series of divinations - in my case, using a combination of dice and Tarot - to chart out the pattern I’d be weaving around when in trance and doing any other magical work involved with this operation.
The first thing I divined for was defining the ‘starting’ and ‘ending’ points for the window of experiences I should be targeting. After cleansing my space and calling up my helper spirits, I used my dice to calibrate the age range I’d be working on top of. In my case, it was from age 3 to 25. This makes sense, because 3 is about the age we start having formative, long-term memories, and 25 is about when our brain finishes fully developing. 2016 was also the year that my second custodial parent & primary antagonist as a child committed suicide, so it was a turning point in my life and experience. On a sheet of paper, I drew a large rectangle, and on each shorter end I wrote out the date for the year of each - to represent the span of time I was working in. I marked out this timeline on a piece of paper as a literal representation of the years (which I don’t have a picture of because I wasn’t planning on writing out this overview.) From there, I sectioned off the rectangle into two (2) sections just to make actually doing all the energy work easier, and dated that dividing line accordingly.
Once I had the range of time I would be working in, the next step was identifying certain milestones, experiences, and traits that I wanted to preserve. If you’re someone who struggles with traumatised memory - wherein most of your memory feels whited out or like a void - you may recall certain instigating events, experiences, in flashes of pockets of memory that are pleasant or at least integral to . There are certain experiences I had as a child and young adult that felt like important ‘fixed’ points for me and my fate, and I plotted those out as necessary with diamond shapes on the timeline I drew up in roughly the area in which I felt they should go in this visual map I was building.
Once I had this done, I moved on to the next stage of prep.
Process Breakdown, Pt. 2: Spinning the Threads
Once the divinations were done and I had my pattern sketched out and the pin points roughly fixed, the next step was spinning and coloring the threads - i.e., deciding what pattern I would be stitching into place instead.
Because all of this is going to be an unconscious process anyways, there’s no need for anything to make any actual sense in terms of the narrative of my life itself. I’m not trying to replace my conscious recollection (albeit mostly blacked out) of my memories, I’m trying to get a different constellation of personality traits and tendencies to fluoresce and stand out within the course of my life by shifting things in a deep part of the constellations of threads that have formed my experience of self. It’s about refining the frequency and changing how the threads of fate are intermingling, in order to generate specific types of change in what the Norse would designate as ‘What is presently coming into being’ and ‘What shall be’ (i.e., present and future.)
The point of this is so that I know more precisely about where to aim my conscious action steps and integrative, practical action-oriented magic and work. In my case, I was searching for clarity about my talents and best-suited-to-best-self career path at this point in time, repairing some less-than-desirable experiencing in relationships, and to repair some trauma-induced personality traits and impacts on my sense of confidence.
There are a few of ways you can go about this. The way that I chose to go about this was to start with a consciously constructed starting point/first phase. This narrative of this initial story would unfold as I worked, and I could then make adjustments - consciously - as I went along. This way, the changes felt more organic/realistic to my deep unconscious and easier to make ‘stick’ as a result. Regardless of the way you do this, you should be in some type of deep, receptive trance/channelling state so you are able to receive the story details you need to generate the shifts you’re aiming towards.
I spent some time in deep-trance meditation and visioneering, taking notes to spin into a starting story. I already had some of this information with the help of my Mama D, who is my adult-adoptive mother/mentor-mother. I had a bit of an advantage as I know her personality and experiences, and because I was weaving around the idea of her birthing and raising me from the jump and how my life would’ve differed, I had a reasonable of the qualities she would have as a parent, her quirks and where we would’ve had clashes, etc., so it’s not an overly-idealised paradigm of change.
Once that had all be consciously scribbled out, I translated this visually as sigils, doodles, and words onto the map, while focusing on the feelings and emotional experiences of this new narrative and pouring that into the pattern to give it color, dimensionality, and texture.
Process Breakdown, Pt. 2: Weaving the Wyrd
I am intentionally leaving this section sparse, both for the sake of the brevity of this piece, and because this is not something I feel comfortable teaching or transmitting to other people at depth at this time.
After the prep was done, the next stage was, of course, the weaving.
Traditionally, seidr is performed in a group. The völva sits on a high seat in the center of a group of people who are responsible for guarding and protecting her/their body, maintaining the trance-inducing tempo, and singing the galdr chants and songs necessary for the völva to complete her goals. There are ways that contemporary practitioners modify this practice that involve the use of self-chanting, or listening to tracks designed and recorded by a group for these purposes, or using some other type of method to induce a deep and precise altered state of consciousness. The völva is typically equipped with specific tools - her hood, her stav, and a distaff or wand.
Because I do not have a wooden chair that I use for this purpose yet, I will sometimes stand with my stav. I will also sit on my kitchen counter, because my stav is a 6’ tall walking stick, so it readily reaches the ground. I also don’t have a formal hood, so I tend to just drape one of my scarves that I use to cover my head when I’m divining over me like a veil if I truly feel like I need it to help me focus. Once I have prepared my space and my body to work, I hold my stav in my right hand and my wand/distaff in my left, and I start the process.
As I usually work alone, I pre-script my music in the form of a custom playlist with an descending intro and ascending outro (to bring me in and out of trance), with music/chants/beats/etc. in between based on the function I’m performing with my music - a lot of the times this is Wardruna, because they did the amazing job of creating tracks for each of the Norse runes. The way that I do this is one again through divination: I call upon the specific spirits I work with to enliven my runes, I cast them, and from there I chart out the order of the playlist.
When I am seething, I go into a very, very, very deep trance state and I tend to spontaneously start swaying, shaking, and rocking. As the intro beat brings me into trance, I navigate to where I need to go to commence the process as I start moving my stav and distaff/wand. During the work itself, I will often times perform spontaneous galdr - rune chanting - as I work with my stav and distaff/wand.
Once I completed the weaving work - which took two sessions, because again: course adjustments - I completed the pattern map visually, and proceeded to use it as a means of furthering anchoring these changes into material reality.
My procedure for doing this was simple: I got a large, cast iron pot and filled it with water, a stick of incense, my ritual knife (with a long blade), a tealight, and my lighter. I light the tealight, before using it to light the incense stick. I then folded up the map up - holding it securely with my ritual blade - and wafted it through the incense, calling upon the elemental intelligence of Air. I then set it alight (SAFELY) with the tealight super close to the water pot, saying a prayer to the elemental intelligence of Fire, as I quickly deposited the flaming and depositing the burning map into the water below. Once the map hit the pot, I called upon the elemental intelligence of Water. Because I live in an apartment, I added salt to the water/ash mixture to call upon the spirit of Earth - but if you can, you should take the ash/water mix and pour it on the ground at the base of a tree or a bush wherein there’s some exposed soil. Once I added the salt, I dipped my finger in the mix and anointed my hands, feet, heart, and forehead to anchor the work to my physical body and reality, before disposing of the ritual bits accordingly.
I am still waiting to see the full effects of this working - which I will not know the full extent of for at least a year, if not several. This type of magic is long-term and requires a lot of discipline, stamina, and self-awareness to really see it through and maximize its potential.
That being said, I’ve already experienced some noticeable changes in my life and sense of self-ness. I received immediate clarity about my career path for specific areas where I have been struggling for months, and shifts in some long-standing internal experiences that had been stubborn for me to work with and chip away at. Although it might seem like these things happened like a ‘boom’ - it was actually more like a gentle, subtle ‘click’ into my awareness and lived experience. Big clicks, of course, but not in a flashbang kind of way that would make me suspicious about its sustainability or impact.
I hope this long-winded glimpse into this process is helpful or inspiring for your own process. I will definitely do a retrospective on this later in 2019.