The last time I wrote about Haelu within the context of Seidr, I wrote about the importance of haelu for the practitioner, and of staying hael. However, in a group conversation a couple of days ago, I realised that I had been neglectful in my exploration of the topic at that point, that I had missed out yet another fundamental way that haelu might be said to underpin the practice of Seidr.
Although there is a lot of debate as to what Seidr actually is in modern circles, chapter seven of the Ynglinga saga is quite clear on what it was perhaps considered to be:
By means of this he could know beforehand
the predestined fate of men, or their not yet completed lot; and
also bring on the death, ill-luck, or bad health of people, and
take the strength or wit from one person and give it to another.
It is on this manipulation of 'luck' and 'health' that I'm going to focus in this blog post. As previously discussed,'Haelu' is a word that can be translated as being both 'luck' and 'health', 'wholeness' and 'holiness', and a hero was no hero unless he was hael. There was no constant with haelu, as with physical health, it was something that could wax and wane in a person, something that could be worked for, fought for, gained, lost, and frittered away.
And where there are no constants, there can always be manipulation.
What if I told you, that rather than picturing haelu as being an either/or thing, that it would be better visualised, again, as with physical health, as a continuum of sorts?
Something a little like this, perhaps?
Now what if each person could be visualised as landing somewhere on that continuum, you know, depending on how hael or unhael they are? If you could somehow assess yourself in terms of haelu, where do you think you would stand on that continuum?
When viewed in this way, would it not be reasonable to consider those that are further towards the 'unhael' side of the continuum to be easier to curse and harder to heal, and those that are further towards the 'hael' side to be easier to heal and harder to curse?
The way I see it, there are two main implications for modern Seidr practitioners if we are to accept this paradigm:
1. That yet again, the importance of Seidr practitioners working towards being, and staying hael is is further emphasised.
2. That if haelu can be manipulated, either positively (healing) or negatively(cursing), we could potentially learn something about the mechanics, in other words the *how* of that positive manipulation using surviving magico-medical texts (such as the Lacnunga). Furthermore, in using those texts (after filtering out the obviously foreign influences), not only can we discern methods for protection, healing, purification etc., but we could also potentially discern something of the worldview from which they were born, and (if so inclined) extrapolate the means of negative manipulation.