Ergi – That Most Interesting Phenomenon

There is something interesting that I’ve come across in quite a lot of my research of late. The Old Norse term is ‘ergi’ and it is an insult that means, essentially, that a man is less of a man because he is doing something feminine. That specific term, I’ve found, has been applied particularly to the Nordic shamanic practice of seiðr. According to the research, it was a practice that only women were supposed to be involved because of the feminine nature of the shamanic acts involved. Men could practice seiðr, but they were labelled ‘ergi’ and thus were somewhat emasculated in the eyes of the community. However, Odin is described as being a practitioner of seiðr.

Yes, you read that right.

Odin, big ol’ Odin, was emasculated, to a degree, in the eyes of the very people that he was worshiped by.

There is more to the term ‘ergi’ but you guys get the over all gist.

I’ve encountered a number of similar things during the course of my research over the last few days and I’ve begun thinking that perhaps there is something deeper to it than what it first seems.

It feels, and I really do mean feel – that FEEL that Pagans and Heathens are so famous for using – that there is a point to this phenomenon. My feeling goes something like this: It’s all about the humility brought about by the side effect (to use an example, ergi as an insult makes you feel humiliated and thus humbled to a degree) of opening your perspective and self to something. Yeah… its poorly worded, I really do need to think on it more and come up with a proper expression of the feeling.

My real point is that, to use Odin as an example, Odin payed the price of learning how to do seiðr in the form of ergi however, the overall benefit/s out weigh the price and insult and indeed the respect brought to him through his practice of seiðr eventually outweighs and overwhelms the ergi.


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