The ferocity of Viking warriors is what made the Old Norse famous — or rather, infamous — and the entire reason there was a Viking Age at all. While it may not take a well-equipped army to knock over a monastery and roll a few monks, the Vikings faced formidable enemies on the battlefields of foreign lands and sometimes even from rivals within their own or other Old Norse communities. Hence, it’s time to take a look at the historical and cultural significance of Viking armour and weaponry.
The only way to fight a bad guy spouting a bunch of racist baloney is a good guy sharing valid information.
Last year, I attended the annual Toronto Pagan Pride Day festival, where I did a reading from Black Wolf and met some pretty cool people. I’ll be joining them again this year, but since there’s a pox on all our houses, the festivities will be online, with presentations on the first Saturday of every month from October 2020 to March 2021.
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.
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?