The High Seat Rite requires a minimum of 4 trained participants and works best with 8-10 “official” participants and 8-25 audience members, depending on the space and the experience of the ritual team. We currently have a solid team of 5 and look to fill 5 roles by February 2013.
The Seer(s) 1-2
The Seer is clearly an important part of the High Seat Rite. It is their responsibility to take the journey and to communicate with the spirits gathered waiting. It is expected that they enter a deep altered state but still remain focused on the task at hand. The Seer must be confident working out of body, and they must be experienced within trance work and journeying. For the High Seat Rite, a seer needs to have an understanding of possession and spirit/ancestor work as well as the journeying and trance experience.
While the seer is in training, part of the discipline they learn is to keep to the ritual plan. The plan in the High Seat Rite is to journey to speak to the spirits gathered, and then to come back.
A good High Seat Rite will have more than one Seer ready and prepared to take over if necessary.
The Guide 1
The Guide is the Har-goði or Har-gyðia (High Priest or High Priestess) responsible for conducting the entire rite. They direct and manage the audience as well as the ritual team. The responsibility of guiding the Seer also falls to them. Clearly, the Master of Ceremony needs to be a focused and experienced individual. This is why, in general, this person should gain as much experience in smaller rites before running a high-seat rite.
The Watcher(s) 1-5
For every person in a rite that we have taking a role that requires them to go into a deep altered state we like to have one person who keeps a step removed so that they can keep an eye on them. We also need a Watcher who specifically keeps an eye on the audience.
Anyone who has ambitions on being the Seer or the Master of Ceremony in a future rite should gain experience by taking a few turns at Watcher. This person should have a strong working relationship with their own personal wards.
The Battery 2-5
By rights, every audience member is a part of the battery. The battery adds the energy and the focus to the rite. But when we are put on a larger rite, or are working with a high percentage of people that have never experienced a high seat rite of this kind before, it is worth adding a little extra battery to proceedings. This takes the form of a core of two to five people whose role is to ‘go crazy’. Their dancing is dramatic and frantic and becomes hypnotic for the audience watching. The battery also provides a physical barrier to keep the Seiðr worker being disturbed or injured.
The Chorus 1-5
It is the chorus’s responsibility to keep the Vardlokkur going. They keep everyone focused and makes sure that they are adding to the energy, rather than losing their concentration and thinking about something else.
The Audience No More Than 10 People For Every Watcher
Within a small rite, your audience also become your battery and your chorus.
The first role of the audience is to understand what is happening, why you are doing it, and what your expectations of them are. The expectation is that they experience the rite and that they will enter an altered state, but that they are not going to attempt to communicate with anything whilst the rite is happening.
The second role of the audience is to ask questions. (Depending on the ability of the seer and the size of the rite, not everyone will have their questions answered.) Questions need to be considered and prepared.
Other roles which may be doubled by other participants during smaller rites include
1-3 Gatekeepers and Firewatchers (particularly important for larger rites)
1-6 Healers experienced in OOB journeying
1-3 Goði or Gyðia responsible for anointing the audience if they so choose
Drummers and Dancers