Over the years we’ve heard a lot of amazing stories about the brave men and women that once roamed the land of Scandinavia. Vikings are what the world – especially their enemies and victims – call them. These brave men and women were farmers, fishermen, explorers, mariners, and warriors. History has it that they were the first explorers to first set sail to the shores of North America, Even before Columbus.
Almost anywhere you look these days; you'll find depictions of these spectacular group of individuals. While some of these depictions are concocted stories made up by people who want the world to focus on the barbarian side of Vikings, others actually do justice to the depiction of real-life Vikings. Nevertheless, the greater part of the illustrations of the real-life Vikings, only reveals the world's perception of Vikings. Thinking along these lines, we have decided to guide you on a walk down memory lane to have a deeper understanding of how the revered Vikings viewed the world when they relied on it for sustenance.
Origin and location
If you take a gander at one or two history books on the origin and lifestyle of the real-life Vikings, you’ll find that they are recorded to have existed between 8th – 11th century. Although it is very possible that they might have existed long before that. They lived in a place called Scandinavia which is now divided into Denmark, Sweden, and Norway.
It is believed that they stayed in the western part of Scandinavia which will put them within the borderlines of Norway. Hence their name – Norsemen. They probably got the Viking appellation from their positioning on the world's map as well, since Viking translates to "the men of the Vik." Also, Norsemen speak the old Norse language and have their own unique writing style known as a rune. In this dialect, Vik means bay, inlet, or creek.
Now that we have refreshed our minds with an overview of the Vikings history let's dive straight into how the Vikings see the world.
Viking beliefs – Looking at the world from the eyes of the true Vikings
- Vikings believe that the world is under the influence of supernatural beings
In spite of the fact that a lot of people consider Vikings as barbarians, pagans, and heathens (a fact that is not unjustified), they do have faith in the existence of the supernatural. But then again, their religion is not as refined as most religions that are practiced in this our modern day society, since they worship a pantheon of multiple gods and goddesses. Each god or goddess in this pantheon represents one aspect of their experiences in the universe.
Like we said earlier, the Viking religion was unrefined and so beliefs, mode of worship and other religious requirements varied from one community to another. In order words, not all Vikings believed in the same set of supernatural beings. However, as the group advanced in knowledge and understanding, their religion became much more organized. Now evolved, the Viking religion revolves around 2 categories of gods: The Vanir and the Aesir.
If you have seen the Marvel comic movie "Thor," it epitomizes the Vikings gods; where they live and how they rule their subjects. Odin is their main god, and he lives in a place far above the earth known as Asgard. This Asgard is linked to the world (Midgard) with a long rainbow bridge and Thor the god of thunder (who wields a hammer) protects the realm with his grit. The Vikings believe that Odin and his pantheon of gods are the only ones who could protect the world against evil giants during Ragnarok (a war that is destined to make the people of the universe miserable). Which takes us to the next item;
- Vikings believe that death is not the end
Vikings who worship the pantheon of multi gods and goddesses believe that their fallen brethren on the battlefield would have a chance to fight alongside Odin when they rise again in Valhalla. To Vikings, Valhalla is a warrior’s paradise. As a matter of fact, Vikings perform rituals that sometimes require them to make human sacrifices to their gods when a prominent Viking dies. They burn their dead on their longships (boats) with a handful of the dead person’s possession. In other cases, they bury them in crypts (huge earthen chamber). What’s more, they make inscriptions on bones, woods or stones to honor their fallen brethren during the burial ceremony.
- Vikings believe that the world has a lot more to offer than what they have in their homeland
Regardless of the fact that the world sees them as a group of barbarians, Vikings have shown the world that they are capable of making hard decisions. For instance, they left their homeland to explore other lands and cultures paying little respect to what might become of them during the journey. We have always talked about how these group of ferocious warriors ransacked the Christian monasteries in Northern Europe, but we often forget to discuss the difficulty of those charades. Indeed, Vikings are brave individuals: with their longships, they sail to the shores of foreign lands and conquer the lands with their will and grit. If the Viking chieftains and the Viking warriors were not open to the possibility of having a life in another man’s land, they wouldn’t have made it to the shore of Northern Europe, Russia, and Africa.
- Vikings believe that it is every man's responsibility to protect his people and property
If you are conversant with the Viking culture, you’ll know how much Viking men (since Viking warriors are mostly men) cherish their weapons. They even give their weapons names and adorn them with beautiful materials. It is believed that the Viking culture requires that a man should carry a weapon at all times. With this weapon, a true Viking can protect his family, properties, community, and people. Which is why most Viking depictions paint pictures of gigantic men with crude weapons and weird horned-helmets.