Shamanism Part Deux

Shamanism Part Deux

totem_rmbc_1_phixr

Lodur here again, this time with the second installment of Shamanism. This week I’d like to talk about my favorite area of Shamanism, Norse Shamanism. To give you a bit of background before we start, my love of Norse mythology was born in college in my classics class. The epic stories always seemed to resonate with me. I carried this over in the naming of my Characters

Here’s a little background on the name Lodur

Lodur, (Icelandic, Scandinavian) In the Norse Edda, one of the creative divine trinity who endowed nascent humanity with their own properties, thus creating a thinking kingdom of beings out of the ashtree and the alder. Lodurr’s gifts were la and laeti (skill and manner, also translated as blood and keen senses), while his brother deities Odin and Honer gave them respectively spirit and discernment.

The name Lodur is also an obscure reference to the first shaman of Odin, who carried the burden of Odin by tearing out one of his own eyes in ritualistic fashion to become closer to the god and earn his favor.

My other toon Sigrdrifa is named after one of the Valkyre’s, the one which acted as mentor to Sigurd, who is one of the Norse heroes. As you can start to see that my interest in norse mythology goes a long way.

Norse spiritual leaders had two schools. Shamanism was practiced mainly by females, a group known as the Völva. You can find reference to them in many of the texts of Norse mythology. The Völva practiced a form of magic called seiðr. This magic involved the invocation of spells to invoke spirts, manipulate the environment and seek visions.

They could work on the spirits of the wild animals and were responsible for the good luck in the hunt, executed the correct rituals in order to ensure the fertility of the earth, knew how to tune the spirits of their ancestors benevolently an more. In trances they contacted the ancestors, could be possessed by them, giving their body and their voice to the spirits in order to let them act in the world of the living . They knew how to cure diseases on a spiritual, psychological and physical level. Long before modern medicine, they had a broad knowledge about the interactions between body, soul and spirit. They also had a commanding knowledge of the available herbs and how to use them to great effect in both rituals and healing.

You can see this in Northrend in Warcraft. Lets take a gander at the Howling Fjord. You travel into the spirit world in the Quest chain that starts with Into the World of Spirits. The chain has you bring a shaman his goodies and then he sends you into the spirit world to gleam information from the spirits past. The chain follows up with The Echo of Ymiron and  finishes with the Anguish of Nifflevar.I think this is pretty darn cool. (and a little cookie if you didnt already know, when you’re in the spirit world if you head over to Utgarde Keep where the ramp leads up and in you’ll be treated to a visit from the Lich King and a discussion of Shaman magic. )

You can also see this particular item in some of the NPC’s. Dragonflayer Seer’s are female magic users, throwing lightning and healing their party members, Dragonflayer Spiritualist is another form of this NPC. (You can also see Valkrye type NPCs like Annhylde the Caller and Svala Sorrowgrave.) Take a look around Northrend and see what you find. You’ll see a ton of Norse spiritualist influence there.

Until next time, Happy Healing.
~Lodur

P.S. At the goading of Matticus I’ve reinstated my twitter, Feel free to check it out

http://twitter.com/LodurZJ

Shamanism

Shamanism

totem-pole_88_phixr

Shamanism will be a regular (as I can make it) posting comparing real world Shamanism and Shamanistic ideas to the Warcraft universe and will also point out how Shaman’s throughout the history of the Warcraft universe have been key players in many of the events that have unfolded. This will be a journey into the lore that brings us to our present class.

Shamanism has always been something that has fascinated me in real life. A shaman’s role in society was always varied and always important. They operated as Mediators, Healers, Leaders, Diviners, Warders of Spirits, agents of fertility among many other roles. We covered Shamanism in real life a little bit in the last post. I’ll recap them real quick.

From Wikipedia:

  • Spirits exist and they play important roles both in individual lives and in human society.
  • The shaman can communicate with the spirit world.
  • Spirits can be good or evil.
  • The shaman can treat sickness caused by evil spirits.
  • The shaman can employ trance inducing techniques to incite visionary ecstasy and go on “vision quests”.
  • The shaman’s spirit can leave the body to enter the supernatural world to search for answers.
  • The shaman evokes animal images as spirit guides, omens, and message-bearers.
  • The shaman can tell the future, scry, throw bones/runes, and perform other varied forms of divination

Shamanism is based on the premise that the visible world is pervaded by invisible forces or spirits which affect the lives of the living. In contrast to organized religions like animism or animatism which are led by priests and which all members of a society practice, shamanism requires individualized knowledge and special abilities. Shaman operate outside established religions, and, traditionally, they operate alone, although some take on an apprentice.

Well with that in mind, lets take a look at how blizzard blended this into Warcraft. Let’s first cast our gaze on the Orc race. We were introduced to the Horde way back in the days of Orc Vs. Human or the First War. They were a slovenly bunch of blood thirsty mongrels, but before that they were a nomadic shamanistic people who worshiped their ancestors and the spirits of nature. Lets take a look at the first major Shaman we are introduced to, Ner’zhul.

Here’s an excerpt from wow wiki:

Ner’zhul was the chieftain and elder shaman of the Shadowmoon clan and one of the most popular figures in orcish society. He was admired, respected and venerated by all for his deep connection to the spirits, and was the closest thing the orcish race had to a single leader prior to the foundation of the Horde. However, deep within, Ner’zhul craved a power he did not have…

One day, Ner’zhul was contacted by the spirit of his dead mate, Rulkan (with whom he had a regular correspondence), who warned him about the menace of the draenei, who were plotting to destroy the Orcs. After several moons, she introduced him to Kil’jaeden, the “Great One”, who began to instruct him in the ways of warlock magic and the treachery of the draenei. Though Ner’zhul was elated that he was saving his people (and finally getting the power and respect he deserved), he was puzzled why the ancestors would no longer speak to him, and why the spirits grew more distant.

Ner’zhul managed to get the rest of the clans to begin attacks on draenei settlements, supposedly by order of the ancestors, but, as he saw more and more of the draenei, he gradually became puzzled; apart from his horns, clothes, and skin tone, Kil’jaeden bore an odd resemblance to the draenei and possessed a hatred of Velen unbecoming of a divine being. Seeking answers, he attempted to commune with the ancestors in Oshu’gun, the “Mountain of the Spirits.” He was horrified when the ancestors greeted him as a monster, and the real Rulkan revealed the truth: Kil’jaeden had been lying all along.

Ner’zhul’s shamanistic ways were used against him to trick him into selling his people’s souls to the Blood Lust. His connection to the spiritual world was turned against him. He used his position to unite the Orc Clans and began the foundation work for the first Horde. He believed that he was doing what was best for his people. Without him being Shamanistic, Kil’jaeden would never have had the opportunity to manipulate Ner’zhul like he did, which would have made it much more difficult for him to create the bloodthirsty army that he wished the Orcs to become.

Ner’zhul was also panged by guilt, fueled by his sense of honor and duty to his people that he had ignored for so long. Eventually he decided to rebel against Kil’jaeden, and as a result was stripped of his Warlock powers. When he discovered the plans of the Shadow Council to make the Orc people drink the Blood of Mannoroth, his honor and duty bade him to attempt to save his people, but only one Chieftain would listen, Durotan of the Frostwolf Clan. Ner’zhul’s warning was one of many factors that lead the Chieftan to speak out against the corruption of the warlocks and attempt to bring the Orc people back to their Shamanistic roots. The actions of this leader caused him and his family to be assassinated. The only survivor was his son, who grew to be the figure known as Thrall. One Shaman set so much in motion that affected so much of the Warcraft universe.

Today’s is a brief post, but there will be more to come next time.

Till next time, happy healing!

~Lodur