In Norse and Teutonic mythology a völva was a female prophet, a type of priest or shaman. Generally, this figure was an older woman who was not bound to a single family or clan and could wander freely.
The völva might travel alone or have a retinue of apprentices. She performed a craft called seidr, which was either shamanistic ritual or true sorcery. Völvas were held in high regard. Men could be völvas as well but were not revered as the women were. True seidr was considered a woman’s craft.
A völva is described in the Saga of Erik, dressed in a blue-black gem-studded cloak, a necklace of glass beads, and a hat trimmed with white catskin. A pouch containing her magical tools hung from a belt around her waist.
|spell of forgetfulness|
She wore calfskin shoes ornamented with brass and catskin gloves, with the white fur on the inside. She carried a distaff decorated with brass and gems, which was said to create a spell of forgetfulness on anyone she tapped with it three times on the cheek.
The völva would sit on a small platform and make her predictions after slipping into a trance. In the Saga of Hrolf Kraki, the völva located two missing boys this way, chanting out the information.
It was said that the völva was so important a figure that even Odin, one of the chief Norse deities, consulted a völva about the future of the gods.