Seid or seiðr is an Old Norse term for a type of sorcery or witchcraft which was practiced by the pre-Christian Norse. Sometimes anglicized as "seidhr," "seidh," "seidr," "seithr," or "seith," the term is also used to refer to modern Neopagan reconstructions or emulations of the practice.
Terminology and etymology
The etymology of seiðr is unclear, but related words in Old High German and Old English are related to "cord, string," or "snare, cord, halter," and there is a line in verse 15 of the skaldic poem Ragnarsdrápa that uses seiðr in that sense. However, it is not clear how this derivation relates to the practice of seiðr. It has been suggested that the use of a cord in attraction may be related to seiðr, where attraction is one element of the practice of seiðr magic described in Norse literature and with witchcraft in Scandinavian folklore. However, if seiðr involved "spinning charms," that would explain the distaff, a tool used in spinning wool, that appears to be associated with seiðr practice.
Old English terms cognate with seiðr are siden and sidsa, both of which are attested only in contexts which suggest that they were used by elves (ælfe); these seem likely to have meant something similar to seiðr. Among the Old English words for practitioners of magic are wicca (m.) or wicce (f.), the etymons of Modern English witch.
Wiccrǣft and Seiðr are used interchangeably throughout written history as glosses, Edred Thorsson explained in Witchdom of the True: A Study of the Vana-Troth and the Practice of Seidr. He goes on in this book to illustrate etymological Germanic references that indicate that seiðr could imply a twisting or turning element or a sacredness.
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