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Nordic Magic Healing:
runes, charms, incantations, and galdr


Chapter Summaries for 
Nordic Magic Healing 
Volume 1: Healing Galdr, Healing Runes 
by Yves Kodratoff 

Since Chapter 1 and Chapter 4 are already included on this site, I am only including here the remaining chapters of the book.


Chapter 2

The Healing of Väinämöinen and Lemminkäinen

In this chapter, we will study three examples of the magical healing of three different injuries or illnesses: the physical wounds of Väinämöinen; the death of Lemminkäinen, miraculously revived by his mother; and the psychological wounds of Lemminkäinen. These three examples show the importance of the pleas associated with the healing treatment. When we take back these pleas, these poems, it will be, evidently, to associate them with a galdr, runes that are sung or screamed, as we will see in chapter four. We will also look at several examples of poems that must join all magical workings, particularly those of healing.

These healing cases are found in the Kalevala, a collection of legends and songs gathered from the beginning of the 19th century, in Finland and in the region of Saint Petersburg, by a Finish doctor, Elias Lönnrot, who reconstructed this oral knowledge into 50 songs arranged to tell a sort of epic that all scholars agree to call a Nordic Odyssey. As this beautiful text is pretty much unknown to the public, it gives me great pleasure to cite long extracts, that I hope will convince you of Kalevala’s extraordinary poetic qualities. It constitutes the only text written with so much detail about magical healing. The ninth song of the Kalevala, dedicated to the healing of Väinämöinen makes up the sum of the medicine that was practiced at this time ... with joined magic and good sense. The fifteenth song, dedicated to the resurrection of Lemminkäinen, describes the greatest medical deed: how a corpse can be made to live. This last song, however hardly credible, presents characteristics that are common to the previous one, which allows us to make certain interesting generalizations. The fourteenth one, dedicated to Lemminkäinen quest of a ghost elk, also describes a healing in my opinion, that of a psychic illness, done with good sense, with a sort of admission of the existence of the patient’s delusions that we would like to meet more often these days.

Here are the conclusions reached in this chapter:

The 12 stages of physical healing are as follows, not necessarily in this order:
1. The patient tries to use his own strength to heal himself.
2. When failing to do so, he finds someone capable of healing him, a healer, and asks for his help.
3. The healer searches for the Origin of the illness. He can ask for the assistance of other individuals.
4. He utters the Origins of the illness, in a solemn manner. This may or may not be accompanied by pleas to the cause of the illness.
5. He provides first aid to the wounded one: cleaning the wounds, cooling off fever, etc.
6. He makes a plea to the manifestation of the illness, to the symptoms.
7. He makes the drugs from a variety of herbs. It is after several tries that a satisfactory result is achieved. He performs a shamanic journey to bring back as well the spiritual components of the drug.
8. After having tasted the remedies, he applies them to the entire body of the patient (not a local treatment at this stage)
9. He declaims a poem whether it is destined to the Gods, or to the sick one, to assure the success of his remedy.
10. He finishes his treatment with an action that allows the sick to regain control.
11. He makes a final plea to the Gods to assure that the patient regains control.
12. Finally, the patient himself performs an action of grace to the Gods, to thank them for the healing.
In conclusion, we can describe the healing of mental illness with nine stages:
1.  Discovering the patient’s illusion. (This corresponds to the stage of discovering the Origins of the physical illness: The illusion is the spiritual Origins of the ill.)
2.  Know the land where it lives.
3.  Mark out the paths there.These two stages are again linked to the characterization of the illusion of the patient, inasmuch as it treats the environment in which evolves this illusion. They will require many shamanic journeys of the healer before he completely recognizes the Origins of the illness.
4.  Explain his problem to the Gods of this land.This corresponds to the stages of announcing the Origins of the illness.
5. Make some allies.
6. Understand the point of view of the divinities.
7. Propose a compensation. These last three stages are completely particular to mental illness, but correspond to those of the pleas and the preparation of the ointments for the treatments of physical illness.
8. Complete the healing with the help of the Gods.This corresponds to the stage of applying the ointments on the patient’s body.
9. Thank the Gods and give the promised compensation.This is the action of grace that is necessary at the end of all treatments.
Chapter 3

SHAMANISM AND HEALING

In this chapter, we will see how shamanism is practiced in a spirit which is foreign to our civilization. We will also review certain facts about shamanism. The second part of this chapter will look a bit like a lesson on shamanism, since the simplest way to give you a true picture is to give you some hints on how to practice it. Finally, we will look at how Siberian shamans treated the sick using shamanism.

(note: Extracts from "Schamanengeschicht aus Sibirien", collected by G. V. Ksenofontov, translated from the Russian by A. Friedriech and G. Buddruss, Clemens Zerling, 1987. Many of the ideas developed in this chapter are inspired by this important book)

THE SHAMANIC CONTEXT

The Shamanic Civilization

Good and Evil, Health and Illness

Do you see yourself an individual, or as a link ?

Of Prudishness

 

SOME 'OBJECTIVE' FACTS ABOUT SHAMANISM

The shamanic journey and its balanced, controlled aspect

The trance state and the 'tests' showing that the state is attained

The psychopomp shaman: Death and resurrection of the shaman.

The shaman, searcher of lost souls

Shamans and their helpers

Magical Flight

The Mastery of Fire

Shamanism in the Edda

Sacred Events

Nordic God shamans

Shamanism in Celtic tales (and in the Grimm tales)

Three neglected aspects of shamanism

The shaman, social worker

Mystical marriage with a celestial partner

Shamanism and sex changes

 

THE PRACTICE OF SHAMANISM

We have described the spiritual state that is required to practice shamanism and what shamanism is for a large number of primitive peoples. Now we'll look at the details of this practice as they can be applied for an individual today.

Two realities

Interactions between the two realities

Your first shamanic journey

Daydream or journey?

The journey of the experimented shaman

Seišr

Dances and Positions

SHAMANIC HEALING

I'd like to share, without commentary, some cases of shamanic healings in Siberia that might give more information than abstract descriptions.

Soul Theft

Siberian shamans have practiced soul theft and in order to save one client another human is sacrificed. It's a relatively ordinary process.

The shaman, while on his way to the house of the dead person that he must revive, meets a Spirit that tells him: "I see my relative who has been raised in the same nest as I. I did not know anything about your arrival, and I have come here after your client's death. There is a third life in him. Try to give him life by shamanism, but don't forget to give me something in return since I have not received anything in three years." The shaman ends up at the house of the dead and begins to dance. ... He dances in direction of the rising sun and he asks the Spirits what they would like in exchange for giving life back to one of the dead. He beats the drum. ... Abruptly, flesh and blood appear on the drum. 160 kilometers away there lives a man who will die in three years and who doesn't really care one way or the other about it. " I will take the life of this man and give it to the dead. 16 kilometers away there also lives someone who will soon die, I am going to take his life to bring life to my patient."

To find souls stolen by Spirits of the Lower World

When a bad spirit seizes someone's spirit, the shaman performs a session and brings presents for the spirits. He meets the nine divine virgins. The last one is the one who is 'horse crazy', she makes you crazy. He brings nine cakes and vodka for the female spirits. He uses a piece of fur, a string made from white and black hair braided together. (note) He then goes to the North with everything. ... The female spirits say that they will take advantage of his visit to enjoy themselves. The shaman shouts as though he were gathering cattle. He presents his gifts and asks that they return to him the soul that was stolen. The female spirits, pleased by the gifts, give him the soul.

(note: We will see in the following chapter a "typically Scottish" charm that also uses a cord made from braids of two (or three) colors. For me, this does not only constitute an interesting concordance, but it is the expression of a deep truth that deserves to be worked on again.)

Possession healing

Here are three examples of possession healing, where, unfortunately, only the most superficial aspect is described. Possession is recognized by the fact that the patient attacks the healer.

After the shaman has danced, the possessed gets up and would have jumped on the shaman if he had not stepped back and immediately blown on the face of the possessed who then falls unconscious on the ground. The shaman hits the patient lightly with his drum stick and says: "It is time for you to wake up". The patient then has tea with the shaman and behaves normally.

The shaman opens himself to his spirit helpers, and. .. the patient gets up howling. He lunges at the shaman who leans backwards and blows on the face of the patient who then falls unconscious to the ground. The shaman knocks him slightly on the front with his drum stick and says: "It is time that you wake." The patient wakes, and the shaman suggests that he drink a cup of tea, and the patient drinks it.

During a marriage ceremony, twenty-five people lost so much of their spirits that they had to be chained. A shaman was asked to come. He demanded the presence of nine cavaliers mounted on white horses. The shaman then took tepid water in his mouth and sprayed the patients who healed immediately.

Resurrections

The Siberian shamanic tradition claims that its shamans have the ability to resurrect, as the Kalevala does with Lemminkäinen's mother. Unfortunately, only the superficial aspects of the miracle are given.

When the shaman arrived at the patient's house, his father announced that she had died two days earlier. The shaman replies that it makes no difference. He remains the night at this house and tries to make her come back. A sister of the dead girl insults the shaman by telling him that he can not wake up her sister since she has been dead for three days. However the father agrees for the session to take place during the night. The shaman puts his hands in the flame of a burning fire and he caresses the dead body three times. He absorbs the pain himself and the dead begins to breathe and to open her eyes. The shaman says that the patient is beginning to revive and that all will end well. The next night, he performs another session and the state of the patient improves again. During the last session, the shaman takes revenge on the woman who had mocked him. He tells her to lean over while opening the oven, and everyone can see that she isn't wearing any underwear, to her great humiliation.

Aside from the vengeful aspect of the shaman, he "absorbs the pain himself", which means that he identifies with his client before taking on the patient's illness. This is a well-known approach of those practicing holistic healing methods, but it is also very dangerous. No one should behave as this Siberian shaman whose desire to prove himself causes him to neglect this danger. The companion to this book, on seišr and Shiatsu, will show how seišr can take place to the beat of the patient's life, and how to open the patient's soul just enough to help him or her without risking your own life.

Here is an other example, described again in a rather superficial way:

A man had a son who died of tuberculosis and five shamans had not been able to do anything for him. A new shaman arrives who asks that they take the silk from under his saddle and place it in the middle of the yurt, and that they give him some milk to drink. He prepares his session and asks that they cook the milk. During the shamanic session, the dead breathes, asks for the milk and drinks it. The patient asks if he has been unconscious or dead. The shaman tells him that he has regained the force of life and that he will live again for at least three years.


Chapter 5

GLOBAL PRIMITIVE MEDICINE

The Origin of Sicknesses (Kalevala)

It is here that this abomination,
Tuoni's blind girl,
Emptied her stomach, delivered
Her hateful kids,
Under a copper colored coat,
Her bed curtain of linen:
She produced nine sons
In one summer night
In one quiver of vapor,
One wave of heat from the sauna,
A mob come from one single belly,
From her full womb.
And she named her sons,
Prepared her brats,
As each one does with her offspring,
Creatures whose shell she has broken:
She put one to provoke sharp pains,
That one was called colic,
This one she pestered to become gout,
She raised this other one to be rickets,
This one to become the boil,
That one she fixed to become the scabs,
This one she shod in cancer,
That one she hit with the plague.
One remained nameless, the son
In the bottom of the litter:
This one she sent far away,
To give to the witches of the water,
To the witches of the deep marshes,
And to the jealous that one finds everywhere.


We will come back now to the twelve, or nine, steps needed for healing, as described in chapter 2, and show how they can be used even in our modern world.

THE TWELVE STEPS FOR HEALING PHYSICAL SICKNESS

Self healing

  • Diet
  • Air
  • Exercise

Humility of the patient

Search for the Origin of the illness

Study of Rational Causes

Study of Irrational Causes

Poem and galdr for the Genesis of the sickness

Topical Treatments

Poem and galdr to the symptoms

Preparation of the internal remedy

Application or ingestion of the remedy

Poem and galdr on the remedy

Actions to give the patient responsibility

Poem and galdr of "end of taking charge"

The patient's poem and galdr after the healing

THE NINE STEPS OF HEALING MENTAL SICKNESS

Discovering the patient's chimera

Recognizing the country where this chimera lives

Follow the tracks in the chimera's country

Explain the problem to the Gods of this country

Make allies

Understand why the divinities do not reply

Offer a reward.

Provide the patient with his or her chimera

Thank the Gods and give the promised reward

CONCLUSION: MAGIC AND RELIGION

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