Who were the Vikings

The Vikings were venturesome seafarers. From Denmark, Norway and Sweden they spread through Europe and the North Atlantic in the period of vigorous Scandinavian expansion (AD 800-1050) known as the Viking Age.

Although they are often thought of primarily as raiders , the Vikings were also traders , explorers and settlers. Behind them they left a legacy not only of archaeological remains, but also of family names, place names and fieldnames. Their "remains" can be found in local dialects and customs, in folk tales and oral traditions, and of course in the genetic make up of the local people themselves.

The Viking Religion

The Heathen Vikings didn't worship in the same sense as Christians.
They respected their Gods and honored them. Perhaps they made sacrifice to give thanks or ask favor in times of danger. The Gods were more powerful then men. But they were not all-powerful, or all-knowing, or entirely good. Like men, they ate, fought, played jokes, were deceived on occasion, and eventually would die. They were themselves bound by their fates, and doomed to die at the end of the world. After which, they and the world, are to be reborn and the cycle continued.

While we do know something of the general beliefs, we know little of the details of practice. Most of what we know comes from an Icelandic Poet named Snorri Sturluson (1179-1241) who recorded many of the myths and histories of the time. However, he wrote two hundred years after Iceland became Christian, and says little about actual practice.

This has caused problems for those individuals and groups who wish to return to the old time Nordic religion. These folks, often called "Asatru", study as much as is known of the old religion, and then build from there to fill in the gaps. Some have deliberately added new elements to adapt to modern times. As a result, there are alot of differences among them. These differences are compounded by the fact that there is no central authority or official dogma. This is as it was in Viking times as well.

The Neo-Nordic Revival (alliterates with Neo-Nazi, nicht wahr?) has attracted some white supremacists and other "racially aware" types. (Actually the original Nazis also had a hoked up nordic religion, and they also rewrote the facts to suit their purposes.)

Modern Heathens and Neo-Pagans as a group are pretty tolerant, but bigots are generally NOT on the acceptable list. As a result many Asatru spend a lot of time distancing themselves from the "racially aware" types. Here's what one of the Asatru has to say about race and Asatru.

However there is no denying there may be some connection between the appeal of the Nordic tradition and one's ancestry and heritage. But heritage can be cultural as well as genetic. There's a good discussion of "Ancestry and Heritage in the Germanic Tradition" on the Ring of Troth web page.

Recently a respected Asatru Gothi (leader) from Iceland visited the US, and his brief summary of Asatru beliefs was posted to the Asatru newsgroup. He describes a tolerant nature religion of traditional type, without racial overtones. Others disagree, and the flame wars on the Net between the "racially aware", and the rest, could warm hel itself.

Another major split among modern followers of the Asa is less vocal, but just as basic. There are those who try to get as close to the original religion as possible. They study the texts and artifacts, and often learn the original languages to improve their study. There is a feeling that learning the language is helpful in understanding the original mindset. I think this is a valid point. A lot of how we think is built into the language in which we think.
Others start with what is readily accessible, and freely build upon it, to adapt it for modern times. They often borrow from other traditions, and there are some fairly silly combinations out there. Viking and American Indian motifs is one. Another is a "rune" book written with the help of the I Ching. By the way, the original Nazis also incorporated Mediterranean, Egyptian, and Kabalistic (Jewish!) elements into their "Nordic" religion

Make a free website with Yola