|“||And so it has come to pass. The future foretold. The dark raven, the eagle, and the wolf have laid bare the bones of corpses. Here is the story of the world. Make what use of it you can. [...] No one will ever forget the name of Björn Ironside, greater than Ragnar. But the war is not over.||”|
The Seer is the Oracle of Kattegat.
The Seer's past is as obscure as his own character. His appearance is deformed, and it is unclear if this is congenital, a result of disease, or even the result of violence. His eyes were either sewn shut or skin grew over his eyes. In either case his appearance is quite disturbing. Furthermore, despite his apparent blindness, it often seems like he can in fact see. He wears a dark cloak and prefers environments with very poor light.
His shamanic abilities, including visions, make him one of the most revered characters in Kattegat. Enjoying a status oftentimes more momentous than the king himself, he is seen as straddling two worlds, and in contact with the gods. These rarest of abilities make him not only honored and valued, but also essential. Because the Vikings believe their fate is already decided by the gods, they often turn to the Seer to translate the gods' wishes and intentions.
Ragnar Lothbrok visits the Seer with his son Bjorn after Bjorn receives his arm ring to become a man. Ragnar is seeking the counsel of the gods regarding his desire to sail west. Ragnar asks the Seer what the gods have in store for him. The Seer gives him good news, saying the gods desire him to have a great future, but that they can withdraw their goodwill at any time. When Ragnar asks if he should challenge the law, the Seer gives him a vague answer, leaving a dissatisfied Ragnar to ponder the Seer's words. After receiving his counsel from the Seer, Ragnar licks his hand in a sign of respect.
Later, Earl Haraldson seeks out the Seer to see what the gods know about Ragnar's plans. The Seer tells him that Ragnar is "searching for his death." Haraldson asks if Ragnar wants to be earl, the Seer replies, "If he kills you, will it not be so?" When Earl Haraldson reveals his doubts about the existence of the gods, the Seer laughs at him as if he is a fool.
Ragnar visits with the Seer to discover the fate the gods have chosen for his sons. The Seer tells Ragnar that his sons will be "spoken of as long as men have tongues to speak." He also confirms to Ragnar that Björn is alive.
Lagertha visits the Seer in the winter before she leaves for Wessex with Ragnar and the others.
The Seer finally meets Floki. Upon their meeting, the oracle tells Floki that he has been waiting for him "in the space between life and death," and proceeds to lick Floki's hand, instead of the traditional other way around.
The Seer appears to be suffering from some unknown illness. As he becomes increasingly ill, it seems to be slowly killing him. However, before this mysterious illness can kill him, Ivar abruptly murders the Seer with an axe to the face.
The Seer appears to Freydis Eriksdotter while she undergoes the ceremony at the temple at Uppsala. The Seer tells Freydis to continue on her path despite her fear. The Seer appears as a hallucination to Jarl Kåre, who carries around an empty cage that he believes holds the Seer prisoner.
The Seer is devoted to the Norse gods. The Seer has a tendency towards sarcasm and cynicism. He is also quite snarky. For example, when Earl Haraldson asks, "Do the gods speak?" the Seer replies, "Do they every stop?" Overall, he is generally rather gruff and keeps to himself. It is unclear if his state of hermeticism is self-imposed or not. His wisdom and knowledge is believed to come directly from the gods. He sees other religions as a threat to the Vikings and their way of life. Despite his isolation, everyone treats him with reverence and respect, no matter their position in society. He does not show any political view or affiliation. He is seen giving counsel to, among others, Ragnar, Earl Haraldson, Jarl Borg, Rollo, Lagertha, and Aslaug. This is probably a result of his belief that the gods are above the laws and concerns of men. The Seer does suffer for his gifts, such as when he is seen being tormented by his dreams. He laments how he is forced to see all the sorrow in people's destinies.
The Seer's prophecies are almost impossible to understand before they come to pass. They often appear deliberately ambiguous, and the Seer himself says that prophecies can only be fully realized and understood once it's too late to change them. After all, the Vikings do believe that fate is preordained. He has said that humanity cannot handle too much of reality, and this also permits some degree of free will for the recipients of his counsel. An example of the ambiguity of the Seer's prophecies is when he tells Jarl Borg he will become an eagle, and it is only after it is too late that Borg learns that his death will be by blood eagle. Another example is when he tells Rollo about his impending dukedom in West Francia, but in a manner that if Rollo knew what was store he "would dance naked on the beach." He tells Rollo that "the Bear will marry a princess and he will be at the ceremony." It's not clear whether he possesses actual magical powers, but the accuracy of his predictions is remarkable. It is always apparent that Seer "knows" a lot more about what is going on around him and what is about to happen than he tends to reveal. For example, when Ragnar asks him if Athelstan resides in Valhalla or Hel, believing his friend to be dead, the Seer states that he is in neither, but is actually alive. It is then revealed that Athelstan is in Wessex when he notices a raven that is apparently watching him from the window. One of the ways he receives prophecies is by reading animal bones. He is frequently less than forthcoming about information that his visitors would have preferred to know about sooner. The Seer tells Ragnar, "I do not lie about what I see... Only sometimes I withhold things, for human beings cannot bear too much reality."
He may actually be one of the gods but in human form. He hints that he is an impossibly ancient, possibly Asgardian creature, whose blessing and curse it is to divine the future as ordained by the gods' themselves. He can't see with his eyes, but he can see through his mind's eye. In one of the episodes of Season 2, the Seer tells Ragnar a story about the marriage of the god Njord and the giant Skadi. He described Njord as a god of the sea, with old and withered skin and large but smooth feet. In the same scene, we can see the entire body of the Seer and his bare feet. One could interpret that scene to mean that the Seer was talking about himself. In many episodes he also admits that he has lived hundreds of years. He may not be actually alive or dead, but something in between.
Abilities and Gifts:
- Prophetic visions
- Ability to read and understand runes
- Ability to cast and read animal bones.
- Prophetic dreams
- Prolonged life
- Communicate with the gods
- He lives alone. If not for his skills as a shamanic Seiðmann, he would likely be an outcast. Yet, he is one of the most respected characters in Kattegat.
- The normal term for a "seer" in Norse society would be a Seidmadhr or Spaemadhr, though it was rare for a man to be practicing "magic," so this role normally belonged to women called Völur. In the original script, the Seer was actually a woman.
- The reference to "blind seers" is common in Celtic culture. Some sources claim that the Irish fildhe (druid-poets) were ritually blinded with hot iron, and blind prophets such as the Greek Tiresias (or even the bard Homer himself) suggest that ritual blinding of prophets and bards was seen as a way of ensuring that their prophetic or poetic powers could be drawn only from spiritual sources.
- Licking the Seer's hand is not something taken from historical records. In an interview with TRNTO in 2014, Katheryn Winnick reveals that the hand licking wasn't in the script but was added to provide "something unique and different."
- Tells him "the gods desire you to have a great future. I see that. But they can withdraw their goodwill at any time. You must convince the gods to alter the runes so they work in your favor. But the laws of men are far below the working and shaping of the gods." (Season 1 Episode 1; Rites of Passage)
- Tells him "the sons of Ragnar Lothbrok will be spoken of as long as men have tongues to speak. One of them will marry the daughter of a king. Another will discover and sail around the sea that has no tides. All this, and more, have I foreseen." (Season 2 Episode 2; Invasion)
- Tells Ragnar that "not the living but the dead will conquer Paris, and the Princess shall crown the Bear, which does not bode well for you Ragnar Lothbrok." (Season 3 Episode 5; The Usurper)
- Tells him that he "will die on the day that the blind man sees you." Ragnar scoffs at this. However, on his way to his death at King Aelle's hands, Ragnar discovers that the driver of the carriage is a blind man, and that seeing him hadn't precipitated his instant death. Thus, Ragnar feels vindicated. But then the last thing he sees as he looks up from the pit of venomous snakes in which he lies dying, is the robed figure of a hidden King Ecbert, causing Ragnar to wonder if Ecbert is the blind man because he couldn't see Ragnar's last move against him. (Season 4 Episode 1; A Good Treason)
- Tells Rollo before the journey to Paris that "the Princess will crown the Bear and you shall be there to see it." He reassures Rollo that if he knew what the gods had in store for him, "he would dance naked with joy on the beach." (Season 3)
- Tells him, "I see an eagle. I see that an eagle hovers over you. But I also see that you yourself are the eagle." (Season 2 Episode 4; Eye For an Eye)
- When Lagertha asks if she will ever have another child, he tells her, "I cannot see another child. No matter how far I look." When she asks when will she die, he replies, "Frigg, the wife of Odin, has already made a decision. But it has not yet been vouchsafed for me." Finally, the Seer tells Lagertha, "I see a harvest celebrated in blood. I see a trickster whose weapon cleaves you. I see a city made of marble. And a burning, broiling ocean." (Season 3 Episode 1; Mercenary)
- Gives Lagertha a startlingly straightforward prophecy when she asks if she will be killed by a son of Ragnar by replying, "Yes."
- Tells her "a woman will one day rule in Kattegat." (Season 4 Episode 6; What Might Have Been)
- Tells him that "no one will ever forget the name of Bjorn Ironside, greater than Ragnar." And he is also warns that "the war is not over."
- Tells Ubbe he will be a King, but not of Kattegat.
- In a vision to Ubbe, he tells him, "What is real now will not be real tomorrow. Don't listen to all the voices! There are too many voices! Don't listen." (Season 6 Episode 12; All Change)
- "But listen to the thunder. He who was living is now dead. We who were living are now dying. And this is not a place we found by mistake. This is not a place at all. It is a state of the soul. Don't you see, son of Ragnar? Or are you as blind as all the rest?" (Season 6 Episode 14; Lost Souls)
- Tells him that he will accomplish what others before him failed to accomplish, but that the cost will be too high. Hvitserk takes this to mean he will be the one to kill Ivar.
- Tells him, "your chariot lies as broken as your legs, a snake has circled in your skull and your eyes betray you."
- When asked by Haraldson what he reads in the stones and bones he has, the Seer replies, "There is a quarrel. There will be violence. Bones and skulls broken. I see that. He searches for your death; consults the gods to whom he claims kinship." (Season 1 Episode 4; Trial)
- The Seer tells Freydis, "You are lying to me, as you lie to yourself. Do you think we are born with all knowledge? We make the tools we need. There is no going back from here, only forward. And the cries you ran from will grow strong, until... Don't look for me again."
|Season one appearances|
|Rites of Passage||Wrath of the Northmen||Dispossessed|
|Trial||Raid||Burial of the Dead|
|A King's Ransom||Sacrifice||All Change|
|Season two appearances|
|Brother's War||Invasion||Treachery||Eye For an Eye||Answers in Blood|
|Unforgiven||Blood Eagle||Boneless||The Choice||The Lord's Prayer|
|Season three appearances|
|Mercenary||The Wanderer||Warrior's Fate||Scarred||The Usurper|
|Born Again||Paris||To the Gates!||Breaking Point||The Dead|
|Season four appearances|
|A Good Treason||Kill the Queen||Mercy||Yol||Promised|
|What Might Have Been||The Profit and the Loss||Portage||Death All 'Round||The Last Ship|
|The Outsider||The Vision||Two Journeys||In the Uncertain Hour Before the Morning||All His Angels|
|Crossings||The Great Army||Revenge||On the Eve||The Reckoning|
|Season five appearances|
|The Departed Part 1||The Departed Part 2||Homeland||The Plan||The Prisoner|
|The Message||Full Moon||The Joke||A Simple Story||Moments of Vision|
|The Revelation||Murder Most Foul||A New God||The Lost Moment||Hell|
|The Buddha||The Most Terrible Thing||Baldur||What Happens in the Cave||Ragnarok|
|Season six appearances|
|New Beginnings||The Prophet||Ghosts, Gods, and Running Dogs||All The Prisoners||The Key|
|Death and the Serpent||The Ice Maiden||Valhalla Can Wait||Resurrection||The Best Laid Plans|
|King of Kings||All Change (Season 6)]]||The Signal||Lost Souls||All At Sea|
|The Final Straw||The Raft of the Medusa||It's Only Magic||The Lord Giveth||The Last Act|
|Season One appearances|
|The Greenlanders||Viking||The Marshes||The Bridge|
|Miracle||The Last Daughter of Uppsala||Choices||The End of the Beginning|