The Volva in Norse mythology: Witch Who Could Prophesy

Posted by Ms Elly on

The Volva in Norse mythology: Witch Who Could Prophesy

A volva (völva) in Norse mythology was a female seer who spoke her prophecy. So if the Norns in Norse mythology wove the threads of fate for all beings in the cosmos, a volva could see how the fate of each creature might be.


Völva means "the wand-carrier" or "the carrier of magic". Because in vǫlr or walwōn means "wand" while Vala means "on the hand". 

Volva had another name "fjǫlkunnig" which means "having lots of knowledge". Because a volva in Norse mythology often practised seiðr a type of magic known by few in Norse mythology. 


A Volva often practised seidr (sorcery), spa (prophecy), and galdr (shamanism). 

In Norse mythology, a volva enjoyed so much respect. In the beginning of the Poetic Edda was the Prophecy of Volva where Odin asked a volva about the fate of the gods. 

The Volva in Norse  mythology was known as the wand carrier or the one with the magic in hand

The most famous goddess that was a volva was Freya. She was not only the goddess of beauty and love but also the divinity of war. The reason for the war between god tribes was related to Freya and her being a volva. 

Because she was a volva, she took up the life of a wanderer travelling everywhere to practise her magic. She was so famous that her stories reached Asgard. The Aesir gods (who lived in Asgard) were so excited to ask her to Asgard and practise her magic. On arriving Asgard, Freya showed her magic to the gods who didn't know the volva was goddess Freya. 

And gods gradually revealed their shortcomings like disloyalty, selfishness, etc. They attributed this to the magic of the volva and called her a witch. They tried to burn the witch three times. But three times they burnt the volva, three times she walked from the burning fire. 

Learning of this, the Vanir god tribe (tribe of Freya) was so angry that they waged war against the Aesir gods. 


In Denmark, the archaeologists found out a grave belonging to the former volva dating back to the 9th century. 

They found her in Fyrkat wearing blue and red dress. These were the trendy and luxurious colors in the Viking age. She wore a silver toe ring which was uncommon in Scandinavian countries. 

Volva wand. Volva was among the most powerful female in Norse mythology

The artifact that belonged to a Volva in the Viking age

She was rested on the top of a horse-drawn carriage. She was buried with many luxurious and precious items. The archaeologists also discovered the wand which was usually used in the Seidr rituals. Around the burial and her final resting place were decorated in an uncommon way. For example, she had a purse of poisonous seeds that could cause hallucination and a bowl which the scholars believed was used to make volva's recipe. 

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