Welcome to this issue #11, falling between Holy-Moon and Winter-Moon solar months. We have another episode of Ingrid Fischer’s profound and powerful Germanic Soul-Lore, on the Fylgia.
The fylgja (‘guidance’ or ‘following spirit’, a noun related to the verb fylgja which means ‘to accompany’, ‘to help’), or fetch, is that part of the body/soul complex that receives the energies rising from Urdhr (past deeds) and Verdhandi (current deeds) and transforms them into the individual’s drives and powers which influence his life.
The manns-fylgja (ON, the fetch of a man) is always portrayed as being of the opposite sex, which is reminiscent of Jung’s animus/anima. It works on a mostly semi-conscious, psychosomatic level but individuals who have taken up communication with their unconscious will come to know it and integrate it into their conscious psyche. This is part of what I mean with ‘taking one’s fate into one’s own hands’. The fylgja (at least the manns- and the ættar-fylgja) is passed on after the death of an individual mostly within one family, and we can see why people in old times put great emphasis on their ancestors. This is also partly the reason why it was so important to lead an honourable life and be remembered by one’s deeds.
However, once the individual has gained an insight into the past and his ættar-fylgja (ON, the family guardian spirit), it becomes more evident that the ‘being’ which seems to be ‘other’ than he, is in truth the sum total of all that he is, and all that he has done with the ‘gift’ of the Nornir when he was born.
Something more has to be said about manns- and ættar-fylgja. The first is a man’s individual fylgja, which everyone can have; some men have a very weak and underdeveloped one but powerful men have a strong fylgja. The second is the fylgja of the family or the clan and attaches itself always to the strongest member, who will also have a very strong hamingja. Our ancestors also believed that the fylgja could take on animal form (dyr-fylgja), and it depended on the man’s personality what animal this would be.
It seems that the fylgja is the most personal and individual part of the soul and puts a lot of emphasis on the personality of man; it is the most anthropomorphised of the various soul concepts and appears to have developed a will of its own.
If you have done the practical work over the last four weeks you should be ready to find your animal fetch or dyr-fylgja.
In the introduction to this course Ian mentioned Ristandi’s excellent work on how to get to know your dyr-fylgja, and I recommend that you try this method. This is a simple method from folk-tradition for finding out your animal fetch.
A more sophisticated, in-depth and time-consuming method is the Útiseta working or Rite of Sitting Out which is described in detail by Edred Thorsson1.
Preparation, meditation and the lone work in a secluded place outside somewhere allow for a powerful experience.
1 Edred Thorsson, The Nine Doors of Midgard, Third Revised and Expanded Edition, Texas, 2003.