Last week I had an email from a Wiccan friend asking me whether the heathen 'Fylgja' is similar to the 'Fetch'. Not really knowing what a Fetch is but knowing about the Fylgja, I did some research into the difference.
It seems some people (who know what the word Fylgja is!) are under the misconception that the Fylgja is the same as a 'power animal' which you find in other shamanic traditions, or like the 'fetch' in the Wicca tradition. In heathenry we can acquire any number of animal helpers ('Deor helpan' in Old English) but the Fylgja is different. It is " a transpersonal aspect of the self" ("A Book of Seidr", Runic John, Capall Bann Publishers, 2004). This means that while being part of us, it is also an individual being with its own personality. Some say that the Fylgja has 3 aspects: a human of the opposite gender, a shape and an animal. I'm not sure if this is the case, as I've only ever worked with the animal aspect.
So to me the Fylgja is an animal that is part of us but also acts as an individual being. It could be seen as our 'guardian animal' Runic John also writes of it as "the primal aspect of our deepest self, existing as a transpersonal being that expresses our most innate and primal animal personality."
The Fygja expresses our animal nature, the wild subconscious part of our inner self, like when people are described as "being strong as an ox" or "cunning as a fox". This could be seen as a deeper truth that might be a manifestation of our Fylgja.
The Fylgja can be any animal type. You might find yourself having a particular liking for an animal without explanation or have certain traits (cats for me all the way!).
It is our Fylgja that often acts as our second sense, warning us of dangers ahead. It can help us on our inner journeys by acting as a guide through the otherworld and sometimes as a guardian.
In the Otherworld we can shape shift into the shape of our Fylgja to travel in its form in the otherworld or we can send it to perform some particular task. The Fylgja may also be left to protect and guide our body when we journey.
To meet our Fylgja we need to prepare to journey shamanically To meet it,maybe by contemplating it for a few days before. Find a comfortable space where you won't be disturbed. Spend some time contemplating your journey. Ask your Fylgja either out loud or silently to meet you in the otherworld. Your Fylgja might appear immediately or you might need some time searching it out. Call for it to appear and search around until you find it and make contact.
When you find your Fylgja greet it with joy and thank it for appearing. Ask it if it has a name and wait for a response. Ask if there's anything it wants to tell you and tell it that you would like to spend time with it and work with it in your shamanic or magical practice.
When you are ready to return tell the Fylgja and say you'll take it with you. If you receive a positive response and if so list the Fylgja to your chest and see if it merges with your body.
When you return you could dance the power of the Fylgja to bring it alive here on this plane through the movement of your body.
A very powerful and special ally indeed both in this world and the otherworld. My Fylgja is me. I am my Fylgja.