The stereotype of the raping, pillaging Norseman has its roots in the very earliest days of Viking raids. The plundering of Lindisfarne in 793 CE was one of the earliest recorded raids, and the target—a church—made the act all the more heinous in the eyes of the Anglo-Saxons, who wrote terrifying reports of the event. However, most Old Norse people were more interested in trading. (More taxes, fewer axes.)
In Link Roundup #3.1, we took a look at the everyday roles of Viking women. This time, we’re going to consider some of the less ordinary roles that women may—or may not—have played in Viking societies.
There is a lot of curiosity, fantasy, and misinformation about the roles of Viking women and whether or not there really were female warriors in Old Norse societies. In this two-part link roundup, I will try to give you a broader view of the lives of Viking women, starting with everyday activities and expectations.
The first duty of a Viking household was to show hospitality to any and all who came to their door. That white nationalists try to use the Old Norse religion to justify hatred against Muslims, immigrants, and refugees is an affront to the pagan heritage they claim to be protecting.
Life in Viking Age Scandinavia was harsh and unforgiving. To survive in a region with a long, cold winter and a relatively short growing season, you have to be savvy and tough, and sometimes you had to make hard decisions. You had to work from morning until night to get all your work done, and when winter came, you hoped you had done enough. As you can imagine, this had significant effects on the lifecycles of the Viking peoples.
In the modern day, Loki is occasionally drawn up as being power-hungry and possibly psychopathic, but this interpretation obscures the complexity of his original character. While the mythological Loki does some truly horrifying things (he does bring about the destruction of the Nine Worlds, after all), he is mostly just a troublemaking pain in the arse and he often gets kicked around for it.
When I started writing Black Wolf: The Binding of Loki back in February 2015, I had no idea what a crazy trip I was embarking on or how much of my sanity I would have to pay out to get to my destination. There’s a lot to know and plenty to puzzle over when it comes to Norse mythology, as the myths, poems, and sagas were transmitted orally by the Vikings but not committed to paper until more than a century after their pagan religion and way of life had vanished.
Spear Shaker, Wanderer, Feeble Eye, Grey Beard, War-merry, All-Father―Odin had as many names as faces. He was the god of both war and poetry; he sought knowledge and wisdom but used devious or coercive means to acquire it; and, although he was the respected and powerful chieftain of the Aesir, he openly defied deeply rooted social norms for self-serving ends. What are we to make of such a being?
They say you should keep your friends close and your enemies closer still, and Loki is about the worst enemy you could ever possibly have—but not strictly because of his character. As troublesome as he is, he is not really evil, or at least, he’s no worse than Odin in many ways. Nonetheless, the Norns have already decided that Loki will lead the Jötnar to the ultimate Pyrrhic victory at Ragnarök.
We all know who Loki is—he’s the god of mischief. His job is to run around disturbing shit until it’s time for him to become a power-hungry madman and parade the giants into Asgard to destroy the other gods. Right?