on 26 February 2011
I think this book is excellent, with three particular strengths.
The first is that Katie Gerrard shows a full knowledge of both the original texts on Seidr and the events and issues in the modern scene. She explains her take on the main disagreements, and references the writings in a way which is clear enough for newcomers to understand and is also very convincing. Even those who disagree with her opinions will find a useful overview of the main issues and an exciting read.
The second reason is that she is very clear on which parts of her practice in this book are just that - her opinions. This can be difficult when writing about carrying out rituals which you have developed yourself, but she is always careful to point out which sections are her own, and (even better) states why she chose them.
The chapters on running and participating in rituals are the third reason. Quite apart from the Seidr content, the author has included so much sensible and insightful information on how to run safe and powerful trance rituals for various groups of people that I think practitioners of many paths will benefit from reading it. She draws on years of experience and goes into detail on the practicalities of managing people who are in heavy trance, in a way that is not seen often enough in print.
There are only a handful of good, accessible works on modern Seidr and I think that 'The Gate Is Open' is likely to become a must-have: as well as being a superb introduction, it gives example seidr rituals and advice on leading group work which deserves a wide audience.
on 8 March 2011
Katie Gerrard is one of those wonderful rare people who not only walks the talk, but really knows what she's talking about and hence it follows, where she is walking. Seidr: The Gate is Open is instantly accessible and easy to read, generously presenting years of research and experience to the reader without the feeling that you are being spoon-fed. Indeed the strongly practical aspect of the book does not dictate at all, but lays out the bones of truth that Katie and her groups have diligently uncovered over the years and encourages the reader to add their own meat, as it were.
Through a beautiful balance of approachable fact and relevant history with a scientific spirit of experimentation, Katie has created a truly living workbook. She gives a strong foundation that anyone with enough understanding and experience of the basic principles can use to explore this rich tradition, not in the way of the empty reconstructionist, but in a way which is vital and relevant to today.
The rituals and practices laid out in this book ring very true for me as I have experienced many similar techniques within the oracular and shamanic work and training I have undergone over the last several years within a Celtic context, and I found it very interesting to note that some of these practices are indeed also a part of British history. As someone who has a fascination for the Norse beliefs but has always, (until now), found the subject of Seidr rather mysterious and unapproachable, I am delighted to find it actually very familiar and comfortable. I shall cherish this book, and look for the opportunity to partake in one of Katie Gerrard's ceremonies. I would also relish the chance to try these workings myself, if I could just find a group of willing guinea pigs....
Like the figure in the beautiful cover artwork by Laura Daligan, Katie indeed is holding the gate open for us. Will you pass through?
on 26 February 2011
I throughly enjoyed Ms Gerrards latest book. As a witch with practical experience working Seidr and extensive experience with the Norse mythology, it was refreshing to find such an in-depth, up-to-date book, that read as easily and as pleasantly as if i was having an informed discussion with a friend. Despite the book's friendly feel, it is immediately obvious that the book has years of research and history behind it, and i have never come across a contemporary work in the same subject area that i enjoyed more. brilliant!!
on 17 June 2011
Growing up in Louisiana between the bayou country and New Orleans, I was surrounded by Cajun sorcery and voodoo. And whenever I could, I rode my bike the ten miles from our farm to a tiny village where I could explore their library's collection of texts on European witchcraft. Yet for all the mystery of these varied paths, I found myself drawn most deeply to the haunting Celtic path, with its enchanting myths, captivating faerie lore and roots in ancient folk ways. But there was always a part of me that was curious about the myths and magic of the ancient Scandinavians. I mean, honestly, whose imagination could not be fired by tales of light elves, dwarven smiths, realms of giants, and pantheons of Aesir and Vanir. It is a mythology as beautiful and contrasting as the rugged northern lands I came to know so well when I moved into the far north where I spent nearly half my life.
Seidr: The Gate is Open is both a good survey of Scandinavian folk myth and a practical, in-depth study of its practice. This relatively small tome covers a lot of ground. I love old histories and myths, and I was delighted by the discussion of the Seidr folklore in the beginning of the book. The author explains very openly the difficulties in putting together a comprehensive understanding of this old lore, and how she dealt with incongruities and blurry areas. In fact, as others have noted, she is remarkably and refreshingly open about noting where she had to deal with these problems in her efforts to recreate the Seidr practice, an issue I am very familiar with from my research on my own books.
Since I have adapted many shamanic practices into my own path, I was very impressed with her in-depth discussions of the shamanlike practices of Seidr. She described some of the techniques used by a seeress to enter a trance, and went on to offer imminently usable advice on how to support ritual participants through such an experience. She covered topics as wide ranging and essential as how to ensure a rewarding, deep experience for eager participants and even how to manage those inevitable persons who are there simply to steal the show. Throughout the entire book, there is a sense of sharing of profound knowledge and experience, combined with honestly, transparency and humility--a rare combination that makes Katie Gerrard an excellent teacher.
Living far away from Britain, I am afraid that it is unlikely I will get a chance to participate in the author's workings as a guest, but I certainly wish I could. The Norse myths have so much to offer, and its wisdom tradition may well represent a touchstone of modern witchcraft and a Rosetta Stone of the world's shamanic practices. I am sure that should I have the chance to participate, it would be a deeply rewarding experience.
on 15 March 2011
Though interest in the practice of Seidr is growing it is still shrouded in mystery with little practical information available - until now. In this book Katie Gerrard takes us with her on her own personal journey through the Sagas and Eddas, piecing together the clues given there into a practice that has been a work in progress for over 10 years. The analysis of the original texts is fascinating with the author taking you through her thought processes, always stressing the reasons for her choosing a particular pathway and giving the reader the tools and information to enable them to draw their own conclusions.
Whilst Gerrard in no doubt walks her walk she never patronises the reader and her engaging and intelligent style makes the information presented easily accessible, in fact I could have read this book in one sitting as the end of each chapter left me eager to move on to the next one. At the end of each chapter is a ritual framework to enable you to connect with the energies discussed, something not available in any other work on Seidr to my knowledge. The Gate is Open is set to become the seminal work on Seidr and is invaluable as both a reference book for those with an interest in the magical and prophecy traditions of the Norse, and as a practical work book for the contemporary Seidr practitioner.
on 13 June 2011
I have to admit that I was really excited when this book landed on my doormat, and I can only apologise for the length of time it has taken me to complete my review of this book - which in my opinion is educational, honest and practical.
Honesty is something that I have started to appreciate more and more in books such as this, and Katie Gerrard's `Seidr: The Gate is Open' is just that. She openly discusses her own journey into the northern tradition and her experiences of teaching the practice of Seidr, as well as encouraging the reader to come to their own conclusions, and find their own way. You can tell that Katie has been working with the practice of Seidr (and teaching it to others) for some time: she knows all the difficulties and hazards of both practising and teaching the art, and shows us how to avoid them.
Her writing is educational, practical and even amusing at times. That being said, the material is also extremely powerful, and wonderfully researched; and whilst Katie explains her practice as best as can possibly be achieved on paper, Seidr remains a mystery which is only revealed through personal experience. And there are plenty of practical tasks within `Seidr: The Gate is Open' for the reader to do just that.
The book focuses on the benefit of trance in particular, something that I am extremely interested in. Katie discusses aids and techniques that can be used to enter altered states of consciousness, and also covers the importance of honouring the ancestors, and working with them. Katie also discusses the realities of the practice, something that often seems all too forgotten in modern paganism: that what we achieve on the astral plane really can (and should, in many cases) affect our lives on the physical plane. This book is certainly not one about theatrics. As Katie writes, `...remember that part of the Volva's role is to walk the worlds ... be prepared for something spectacular, and life changing.'
Fantastic book, which I am sure I will return to again and again ... and again.
on 14 April 2011
I've just finished reading this book and have been very impressed by it. I am not heathen or a seidr worker and I wouldn't call myself a shamanic practitioner either but I do have some knowledge of all of these paths. I have read this book from the perspective of one who is learning more about trance techniques for both journeying and possession in order to develop further along my own path.
In this book Katie gives a lovely balance of information drawn from the primary sources of the Eddas and Sagas, secondary sources and her own personal experiences. She is clear about what aspects of her practices are drawn from sources and which from experimentation. She gives examples of a range of rites and includes some good common sense information about safety and precautions during and after these rites.
The whole tone of her book is that of someone sharing what they do to help others to find ways forward in their own paths. I found it to be very well written and enjoyable to read. I am grateful to Katie for sharing so much of her own personal journey in writing this book.
on 17 May 2015
Great book, well worth the read, like the personal bits, Katie has really done a great job on this small book.
on 17 April 2012
I downloaded this book to my Kindle, but was so impressed I have also added it to my wish list to purchase the 'real' book for my collection, definitely a keeper!
It has a lot of really interesting history and facts about Seidrs and also some wonderful journeys/pathworkings for you to take.
I am not usually very good at sticking to 'historical fact' books but this one was written in an easy to read and understand way that kept me interested. I will definitely be trying some of the journeys she has included in the book and am looking forward to the results.
If you are interested in Seidr work then I highly recommend you add this book to your collection.
on 7 May 2015
Nice easy read, if you want to learn seidr I would recommend this book.