That is actually such a big question- I always struggle when asked!
Stav is a way of understanding the world using the 16 runes of the Younger Futhark.
Stav can be a martial art, healing tradition, life philosophy, basis for craft work, shamanic path….. and so much more.
And yet Stav is not defined by any one of those applications, and many people are deeply involved in Stav with out following all of those paths.
So- what is Stav?
Basically it is the family wisdom tradition of IvarHafskjold (here is a link to his page) which since the 1980’s has been taught and practised outside of his family lineage.
The core basics of the tradition are the 16 runes of the younger futhark- but we do not see them as lines on a piece of paper.
Rather we make the shape of the runes with our bodies in a meditative movement we refer to as the stances.
The breath is deepened and matches the movement, attention is turned inward.
This allows us to experience the energies of the runes, and integrate them into our lives using which ever path most calls us.
In time as the stances become learned there are chants that can be added- depending on whether you are chanting for health, spiritual connection, or martial training.
I share an article written by Ivar Hafskjold which explains it far better than my stumbling words;
"The stances are the most important part of Stav. Even if that is the only thing you do, you will gradually reach a deep understanding of what Stav is about. But in order to reap the benefits, one has to be constant! It will take at least three years of daily practice for the average person before changes in one's life will start to manifest themselves. The body will start to be able to move in a wider range, and co-ordination between mind and body will improve markedly. The deep breathing will strengthen the abdominal muscles that keep the spine in a correct position, thus eliminating a lot of the back problems that plague modern man. The sound of the breathing will also put you into a meditative state where life's everyday problems are no longer seen as such.
The stances are also the basis of all other aspects of Stav, whether that is healing, crafts or martial arts. But they must never be done lightly or rushed through. After a number of years of persistent training, they will eventually be felt to be the highlight of the day, which will give immense pleasure, instead of being seen as a chore. When one reaches this level, there is no longer any difference between the mind when one does the stances, and the everyday mind.
If possible, the stances should be done outside, in a dedicated area that will gradually turn into a Ve − a sacred place. This will become a focus point for the mind, and for the spiritual forces that have many names in many cultures, but are known in the North as the "landvetter" or spirits of the land. These can also include ancestral spirits, and thus performing the stances will eventually take on the aspect of an offering and a joining of the past, the present and the future."
Written by Ivar Hafskjold at Heimbu the 26th of June 2009
All of my shamanic practice is based on Stav- even though I have clear Druid & Peruvian influences as well. I don't "do" Stav, I am Stav.
Personally I am not able to teach the martial side of stav (though if that interests you I can certainly recommend some great teachers).
I am quite happy to teach anyone the stances & most of the chants. I will be available to do this at my Gentle moon space (monthly shamanic circle) from 7-7.30. I am also happy to teach the stances before, or after, any of my shaman workshops. Just email me and let me know so I can book in the time. (You can find upcoming dates here)
Al of my shaman workshops & circles remain open to people of any path, I love the chance to connect on this deep level without the barrier of labels. But as I step more deeply into my Stav path I am keen to offer teaching to anyone that feels drawn .
Actually- I now have several people asking when I can teach Stav- you know who you are. As promised, formalised regular slots- now lets start planning our woman's retreat to work with the land in Denmark!