Seasonal Salon

Hagasuzza, Oracle for the Goddess

In German cosmology, the earth (Midgard in Norse) is surrounded by a hedge. Certain women have the gift for riding the hedge, finding the secret doorways to the other worlds of Germanic cosmology. I use the old German word, Hagasuzza (hedge-rider) to define this ability rather than the Norse word, Seidth. Essentially, it is the same practice. Hagasuzza provided the oracle divination that is the mystical experience of Goddess. This experience was shamanic in direction and through altered consciousness gifts the Hagasuzza to heal and speak of and through the journey.

The Tree (Yggdrasil in Norse) of the World is made up of nine worlds. The Tree is the sacred connection. In Tuetonic belief the worlds are all located in the roots of the World Tree. The Tree is fed by the Well of the Matrons. Therefore, it makes sense that so many Goddesses are centered on the forests of Southern Germany, Austria and Switzerland. The worlds in Norse are Asgard (leadership), Alfheim (nature), Vanaheim (fertility), Jotunheim (chaos), Midhgard (body, self, earth), Muspellsheim (fire energy), Niflheim (ice energy), Svartalfheim (deep mystery), and Hel (unconscious transformation).

Grimm’s Fairy Tales and Grimm’s Tuetonic Mythology are a great source of German mythology. The myths of Holda (shaking Her feather bed making it snow), the Matrons (Fairy Godmothers) and even the description of their Goddesses (lips as red as blood, skin as white as snow, hair as black as night) were incorporated into the Grimm’s records of German Goddess myths and tales. Rupunzel and Sleeping Beauty are stories of the Maiden Sun Goddess, somewhat akin to the mythology of Demeter/Persephone and speak of the releasing of winter into to spring.

Seidth

In the old literature of the Norse the term said is used for a variety of activities, most of them involving some form of altered consciousness or trance work for the purpose of operant magic. Many are analogous to the magical/spiritual practices of shamanic cultures. Such practices include spirit journeying, shape shifting, work with animal spirits, weather working, soul retrieval, healing, and oracle work.(1)

Seidth, bears a strong resemblance to activities, which, in other cultures are called Shamanism. Shamanism may well claim to be the oldest type of spiritual practice still in use among humankind. Evidence for activities similar to those of later shamans can be seen in the Paleolithic cave paintings. Shamanic practices have survived at all the edges of the inhabited world, with remarkable similarities in both technique and symbolism appearing in places as disparate as Siberia and Tierra del Fuego. Such a broad dispersal suggests that shamanism was practiced by homo sapiens at a very early stage of development, before its dispersion into different cultures. With such a venerable and extensive history, one would expect to find evidence of shamanic practice in the pre-Christian cultures of Northern Europe as well. "To speak" or "to sing", or possibly be cognate to the verb "to seethe", derived from the rituals of salt-boiling (Grimm, III:1047). According to Stephen Glosecki, The etymology of seidhr, however, suggests indigenous development, perhaps retention of Indo-European practice. The mysterious term is cognate with French séance, Latin sedere; Old English sittan, and thus with a large group of terms based on the Indo-European root *sed-. A seidhr, then, was literally a séance -- a "sitting" to commune with the spirits. In the literature, seidh refers to various kinds of magical practice, including an act of divination or prophecy performed while in trance. Other terms for the practitioner of seidh would be seidhkona, spákona, or for a man, seidhmadhr. A more general term for a male spiritual practitioner was vitki (in Anglo-Saxon, wicca or [fem.] wicce). The strong feminine tradition makes this form of shamanism especially interesting to women. The most common use of the term seidh is in reference to a ritual in which the seeress (völva or seiðkona) sits on a platform or high seat (seidhjallr) goes into trance and prophesies for the community. (2)

Oracular Seidth

The Norse magical rite for which we have the greatest amount of information is Oracular Seidth, or Spaecraft, the Norse equivalent of the Delphic Oracle. In the north, however, it was the Seer/esses who traveled from place to place where the people gathered to ask questions. (3)

The Hagasuzza rituals that I teach and practice are a form of the Norse oracular Seidth. Although I have added a distinct southern Germanic flavor of my heritage, focusing on the mythology of hedges and trees.

Steps to Oracle Hagasuzza

Diana Paxson, an Elder Seidth worker, lists and teaches the following as steps toward this form of Oracle work. I was honored to study with her in CA a few years ago and have incorporated her work into my teaching of the more German form of Hagasuzza. The rituals that Diana practices differ somewhat from my interpretation because of my more southern Germanic traditions and Dianic beliefs. I honor her work and teaching and as with all teaching have added my own touches to the process.

The steps of developing oracle divination, for me are built one upon the other. Here is the steps I have taught and used to develop these skills:

  1. Observation. Look at the person or object. Try to remember every detail about them. Then close your eyes and try to recreate the image. Open your eyes and compare.
  2. Contemplation. Contemplation is the mystical experience of observation. It goes beyond noticing a person; it is an awareness of a person’s color, emotions, auras, and all other associations. Choose an object and contemplate it by closing your eyes, recalling the image, and bring up the associations of this object.
  3. Transformation. Observe an object. Recreate the image, contemplate its image and then change something about the image. Create your own image.
  4. Open to vision. Walk through a room in your mind. Note all aspects of that room. What does it look like? How do you feel? Talk to your room. Verbally express your vision.
  5. Solitary journeying. Tape a guided journey until you can easily go back and forth from your journey. Or choose a guardian, who will walk you into trance and help bring you back.
  6. Interactive journeying. Decide where you want to go. Can be done through a guided meditation. Begin to describe the shared vision.
  7. Goddess Aspecting. When you feel ready, journey with the intention of meeting or aspecting Goddess. Ask your questions or speak Her voice.
  8. Oracle Seidth. Create a ritual to provide oracle divination for the community. Journey to Goddess, aspect, and answer the questions of the community.

Ritual

The Hagasuzza works within ritual. The circle cast, the elements invited she enters the space and sits in the decorated and slightly elevated chair in the center of the circle. She is dressed in robes and veiled. As the Hagasuzza begins to journey the community feeds the Hagsuzza energy by chanting and toning. The Hagasuzza’s guardian is the one that can travel with the Hagasuzza. There can also be a scribe present to write down questions and answers.

When the Guardian feels the time is right, she welcomes community members to ask the Hagasuzza their questions. The community member approaches the Guardian and says, “I come seeking knowledge.” The guardian then in turn presents her to the Hagasuzza saying, “Behold, your daughter stands before you.”

Most of these rituals are community orientated. The community asks questions to aid the whole community not personal issues. The woman asks her questions and the Hagasuzza will answer. The Guardian of the Rite, working with the Hagasuzza intuits when it is time to end, and ends with "So, speaks the Hagasuzza, may we listen with balance to heart and head. It is finished. So mote it be."

The veils are removed from the Hagasuzza to bring her out of trance. If more help is needed the Guardian assists the Hagasuzza to end the trance.

Summary

In today’s world, community is important for support and stability. In this anniversary year at RCG-I, we continue to celebrate Goddess and Goddess community. The Hagsuzza is community orientated; she is in service to the community as a whole and its individual members. She celebrates the wonder of support and growth through ocular divination. She celebrates the world wanders, the hedge riders and the broom flyers. She rejoices in the beauty and the wonder of community.


Bibliography

Hodge, Winifred. “Matrons and Disir: The Heathen Tribal Mothers”. Frigga’s Web. www.members.tripod.com/~InFirth/friggas.htm

Hodge, Winifred. “Threads of Wyrd and Scyld: Weaving a Ninefold Rite of Life-Renewal” Frigga’s Web. www.members.tripod.com/~InFirth/friggas.htm

Jackson, Nigel. RavenWolf, Silver. The Rune Mysteries. St. Paul: Llewellyn Publications. 1996

Monaghan, Patricia. The New Book of Goddesses and Heroines. St. Paul: Llewellyn Publications. 1997

Paxson, Diana. Hrafnar. www.vinland.org. Elder.

Paxson, Diana. “The Return of the Völva: Recovering the Practice of Seidh” (article published in Mountain Thunder, Summer, '93) www.vinland.org.

Hagasuzza or Heckefahrer

Hagasuzza is the Old High German word for “hedge-rider”. In Modern German it would be Heckefahrer.

German Goddesses of the Oracle

Buschfrauen (4)

Goddesses who lived in hollow trees and guarded the forests. From their name I also believe that they are the hedge Goddesses, watching over the hedge and guarding it’s entrances.

Frau Holda(5)

Southern German, Austrian and Swiss Goddess of spinning and Sun Goddess who is regenerates Herself and is addressed as “The Mother of All Life” and the “Great Healer”. (Gimbutas) She is the union of all patterns and therefore to me, She is the pattern of the Tree, the Worlds, the Web, and all of life. She is the Crone Goddess of wisdom and wonder.

Matrons

The Matrons were Family Goddesses or female ancestors who are worshipped at Mother’s Night in December. They are the Matrons of heredity, who controlled and individual’s talents and defects. They were also known as Fate Goddesses. Almost always portrayed in groups of three. (Norn is Norse name for the Goddesses of Fate (Urd, Verdandi and Skuld). They spun and wove (wyrd) the fates of Their people.

Weisse Frauen(6)

Forest Goddesses who help lost travelers, danced in the fruits of the Hertha (Mother Earth), and foretold the future.

Category: Fall Equinox 2004