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Vikings And Their Warring Ways

Viking Stronghold - sitting upon a grassy cliff, with a Viking Longboat moored below.

The crash of the waves, the thunder of the storm, the splintering of the mountains – all these helped forge the barbaric Vikings. Spreading from Scandinavia (around the 10th Century), they butchered countless men, women and children – but felt little guilt; because they had come up with a way to explain such past-times. To them, the gruesome death of an opponent was an "honour" for their gods. [This also applied to themselves – for a Viking warrior to die in battle was also seen as an honour].

The Creation

The Vikings wanted to explain why the mountains were there, why the storms thundered and why the waves moved. As such, it is believed that they came up with:

Ginnungagap was “nothing”, but had existed forever with an invisible God – AllFather. Then Yggdrasil the “mighty tree” came into existence – together with nine worlds of Difference: one of fire, one of darkness, one of water, ... Eventually, the worlds offspring mixed in Ginnungagap – which gave birth to evil Ymir. Then Ginnungagap produced good Buri. Both had various offspring, then joined battle. Evil Ymir lost – his body used to create the Earth: blood for the oceans, unbroken bones for the mountains, broken bones for the rocks, skull for the sky, brain for the clouds ... The Sun and Moon were forged into chariots – and told to ride across the sky. Then came Night and her son Day – who also took to their chariots. But Earth needed Summer and Winter – so it was. A pair of Trees then became the first humans – who had bestowed upon them: life , intelligence, mobility, sense and spirit.

Thus it was all “explained” – and the Vikings could get back to the important things: drinking, wrenching and pillaging!

Important Gods

Viking Man - with long brown platted beard, moustache, golden jewellery and blue eyes.

The “creation myth” shows that the Vikings liked to attribute everything to various Gods. The following gives an insight into the properties the Vikings attributed to their gods:

  • Balder. He was associated with light – and was regarded as the most beautiful and gentle of the Gods. He was skilled in both runes and herbal medicine. Unfortunately, he had one weakness: mistletoe – which was exploited by another god Loki (who slayed him because he was jealous of Balder's popularity).
  • Freya. She was associated with fertility (particularly the "more fun" side), together with war and death. She lived in an impregnable hall (called Sessry-mnir). She could also fly around the world (in the form of a Falcon).
  • Frigga. She was associated with fertility (the “more loving” side). She used to spin threads of gold. She was fond of glorious attire (such as necklaces) – and would even steal from others to get it.
  • Hel. She was a guardian of the dead (including humans who died of age and sickness). When Balder died – she kept him (and others); and would not let them leave.
  • Loki. He was associated with mischief and deception. In earlier times he was helpful (e.g. when creating the world). However, after having his lips sewed together (for punishment) – he descended down the path of evil. He was eventually imprisoned in the Earth by Odin (and many other Gods). Because he has been imprisoned for so long – it is believed that he would be an integral part of the “end of the world”.
  • Odin. He was associated with starting/creating "it all" (although this does not mean that he is AllFather). He sat upon a great throne – where he could see all the world. He had Frigga as one of his wives (which meant she could also sit in his throne). He rode an eight legged steed across the world (which meant he could go anywhere fast). He was regarded as being cruel, kind and wise – all at the same time. Some of this “mischief” can be seen in his favourite pastime: impregnating (many) mortal women. He was also associated with battle and death.
  • Thor. He was associated with crops and weather (particularly the stormy sea and thunder). He armed himself with a hammer, possessed great strength, and righted the wrongs of others (in non-subtle ways!). As may be expected of thunder – he had a very “short fuse”.

Important Places

Viking Warrior - standing at the edge of dunes, ready for battle, with his horned helmet, sword and spear.

The Vikings believed that the Gods had sacred places. Here we consider just two:

  • Asgard. This was believed to be the home of the gods (having been constructed in the “early days”). It is where the greatest Gods had their halls. It was linked to Earth by a rainbow – and it is believed only Gods could travel this road (although they had to be careful – incase they broke it!).
  • Valhalla. “Hall of the Slain” – this was believed to be where the soles of those slaughtered in battle "would go" (overseen by Odin). Here a daily cycle would occur: battle each other, die (again) and come back to “life” for an evenings feasting (with all their injuries healed).

The End

Viking Longboat - in reddish brown, strong and sturdy, capable of crossing the Atlantic.

The Vikings believed this to be "the end of the world" (i.e. the time when the gods themselves would die). They called this time Ragnarok – and it is the time when the final battle would be fought between good and evil: Loki shall lead the forces of evil against Odins good – with the battle resulting in the death of most. After, creation shall spark again ....

Conclusion

I have always been interested in Vikings – since it seems (to me) that they represented an important time in humanities past (where they helped make humanity stronger). It is also interesting to note that they settled (all be it briefly) on the East coast of America (Newfoundland) – which is quite a feat considering they had to cross the Atlantic, in a time before our modern technology.

Fantasy Reviews

Atlantis Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (features Viking Longship), Trollville, Pirates Cove

Copyright © 2010 Victorian Hawk.

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