The Volva was a female shaman, seeress and witch in Nordic culture.
She was a practitioner of Seidr which was a form of Nordic magic. Sometimes the Volva is referred to as a priestess but she was more closely connected to being a witch and prophetess. The priestesses would typically stay in the temples and organize communal rituals and ceremonies. The Volva was more like the village witch and healer who would sometimes travel around to different villages trading magic and healing for room and board or food.
The term Volva translates to mean “staff carrier” or “wand carrier” as these magical women were known to always carry their magical staffs with them wherever they went.
As such, they could travel alone unafraid of being robbed or worse because nobody would tempt fate by harming a powerful wand carrier. Essentially their staff was a symbol to every town they visited to let others know that they were the Volva. These sacred oracles were closely allied with the Norns which are a trio of Goddesses associated with fate. These Goddesses not only control the fate of humans, but also the fate of the Gods. So essentially if anyone ever tried to wrong a Volva, they were wronging fate itself and fate can be a very vengeful mistress.
These healers were revered and seen as sacred in the ancient world.
They tended to live outside of normal society although once in a town they were treated with high regard and honored as divine messengers from the Gods. The Goddess Freyja is also supposed to be known as a Volva but sometimes she is also referred to as a priestess. There could be some overlap in myths but one thing is for sure and that is that she is a witch and a practitioner of Seidr so more than likely, she is a Volva.
In this painting, the Volva is depicted in a trance-like state while she holds her sacred staff as she sits in front of her healing brew.
She wears an antler headdress which represents her connection with the shamanic realm. Sacred rune symbols are carved in the stone upon which her magical cauldron sits. The moon shines overhead illuminating the trees in the ancient forest. She holds two fingers up in a gesture of blessing.
For those of you interested in connecting with the energy of the Volva, prints of this piece can be found in my shop.