Shani Oates

 Sybils and Seers

Around 500bce, Heraclitus recorded how: “the Sibyl, with frenzied lips, uttering words mirthless, unblemished, unperfumed, penetrates a thousand years with her voice.” The role of divine prophecy is central to all myths relating to Wisdom and to Fate. Wisdom is the virtue of the Word. Wielded by the Volur, the Sybils, the Priestesses at Delphi, the root of all spiritualism and mediumship is found there. The perception of women as mediators of Fate takes many forms. Forethought and Hindsight are formulated to effect a balance between Chaos and Law and thus dispensing wisdom as divine counsel became a requisite ministry to Kings and Emperors fearful of the consequences of action taken without her mediation. It is a principle that finds origin in the earliest myths and legends of an archaic world that continues to fascinate us, thousands of years later.

When the last Sibyl fled a changing world that removed her platform, took down her high seat and burned her tripod, her voice fell silent. But, through her silence, her voice was heard, louder than ever, adapting itself through persecution and prejudice to rise again. For a brief time, exoteric oppression of this lauded oracular role resulted in the subsequent loss of societal prominence that failed to recognise women as natural cultivars of wisdom, withholding their former iconic status. Some women excelled and exceeded secular restriction to wield power independently of men as seers, healers and mediators; some were persecuted for it; others continued by more subtle means, through the principles of Heilræði (sacred counsel).

Transcending time and culture, the Sibyl’s role endured within those cultural traditions predicated upon the ideal of ‘Wisdom’ as a female Virtue. From Cumae to the mounds of Gamla Uppsala, female oracular wisdom manifested itself through the magickal auspices of prophecy. Beginning with Veleda, a 1st century high status seeress noted by Tacitus, this paper traces the prominence awarded to prophetic women in these and other historical accounts up to and including the Mighty Volva featured in the 13th century Icelandic text – The Voluspa.

Yet it should be realised how this feminine virtue laid vital foundations for all occulted traditions to revive many centuries later. Re-surfacing in the hermetic orders and lodges made popular during the 19th- 20th centuries, women were once again lauded as protagonists of chaos, dispensers of doom and wielders of Heilræði, reclaiming their mediation of the divine word into manifestation.

Shani Oates

Occultist, Mystic, Artist, Luciferian Pilgrim and Old Craft Practitioner of the Robert Cochrane Tradition which keenly preserves the folk-lore and culture of its Northern Heritage. As Spae-wife and Matriarch of The People of Goda, The Clan of Tubal Cain, I am an Independent researcher, historian, scholar, lecturer and writer of: Folk-lore, Folk-magic, Ancestral Tradition, Anthropology, Philosophy, Theology and the Arcane ‘Other.’ Exponent of the Mysteries, I have authored several books that write informatively on the Myths, Gods and Archetypes that are the preserve of the Cults and Crafts of Witchcraft and Folk-Traditions, from the Arcane to Modern times. Please visit to learn more.