The Norroena Society has promoted the idea that Seidr is black-magic because we look at the sources and see what they say rather than attempt to create excuses to ignore them. This post is not an attempt to go back into the matter, since we feel our argument has been thoroughly represented. However, one thing we have not examined is the place of Galdr within all of this. The academic stance that Seidr is "shamanism" (a term specifically referencing Siberian practice, not Nordic) has diminished the role of Galdr to mere chanting to the Gods. But is that actually the case? I would say certainly not and the lore very specifically contradicts this. In fact, I would say that from the sheer volume of practices that can be considered Galdr in our lore if we are to make any comparisons to Siberian shamanic practices these could definitely connect to Galdr rather than to Seidr. There are very few, if any, accounts relating to actual Seidr practice, while the Galdr is mentioned in many sources and we have many charms related to it.
Here is a list of what one could do with Galdr from several of the primary sources on the topic:
Havamal (The Runatal is written in Galdralag meter and the charms in it are often identical to what we see in Grougaldr. So this IS Galdr):
1. Help others.2. Heal.3. Deaden Weapon Edges4. Free from bonds.5. Stop a Projectile.6. Return hate.7. Save a burning house.8. Make peace.9. Calm the Waters.10. Chase away wights.11. Give victory.12. Speak with the Dead.13. Bless a child.14. Know the Gods and Alfar.15. Speak to the Gods and Alfar.16. Win love.17. Attract the opposite sex.18. Contain a secret.
From the Grougaldr we have:
1. Give confidence.2. Give protection.3. Calm the waters.4. Subdue your foes.5. Free from bonds.6. Protect from wind and wave.7. Protect from cold.8. Protect from undead.9. Have wisdom.
From the Sigrdrifumal we are told that the charms she teaches are of the "Good Galdr." In verse 5 we see:
5. "Bjór færi ek þér, brynþings apaldr,magni blandinn ok megintíri;fullr er hann ljóða ok líknstafa,góðra galdra ok gamanrúna.
"I bring you ale, oak of the armor-thing, it is blended with might and bright glory; it is full of song (ljoda) and healing staves, good galdr and Glad-runes."
Thus we can add her list of charms to this as well, and we see:
1. Sigrunes for victory.2. Olrunes for protecting drink.3. Bjargrunes to birth children.4. Brimrunes to calm the sea.5. Limrunes to heal.6. Malrunes to give speech (likely to the dead).7. Hugrunes for wisdom.8. Bokrunes (no description)9. Meginrunes (no description).
Looking for vision quests and altered states of consciousness? Galdr has that covered as well. In Ynglingasaga we have this description of Odin:
Odin could transform his shape: his body would lie as if dead, orasleep; but then he would be in shape of a fish, or worm, orbird, or beast, and be off in a twinkling to distant lands uponhis own or other people's business. With words alone he couldquench fire, still the ocean in tempest, and turn the wind to anyquarter he pleased. Odin had a ship which was calledSkidbladnir, in which he sailed over wide seas, and which hecould roll up like a cloth. Odin carried with him Mime's head,which told him all the news of other countries. Sometimes evenhe called the dead out of the earth, or set himself beside theburial-mounds; whence he was called the ghost-sovereign, and lordof the mounds. He had two ravens, to whom he had taught thespeech of man; and they flew far and wide through the land, andbrought him the news. In all such things he was pre-eminentlywise. He taught all these arts in Runes, and songs which arecalled Galdur, and therefore the Asaland people are calledGaldur-smiths.