Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Death series, 2

The word "viking" means to roam. So if you are roving around the seas and oceans of the planet, you could say you were viking. Not necessarily A Viking. Truth.
The Vikings put their deaders in boats, set them on fire and pushed the whole thing into the fjord.
They didn't.
If they put every Viking who died into their boats, the fjords would be a lot shallower than they are, that's for sure!
Let me explain. Only a few Vikings actually owned boats. They took a long time to make out of very scarce wood, so it was a crap idea to dispose of the dead in a dragon boat. Only a chieftain might get shoved into the fjord on his boat if he had died in glorious battle! And I'm sure his sons and daughters regretted losing the boat!
Yes. What they did do on foreign soil was form the outline of a ship with rocks around the buried body. Sometimes. Not all the time. Vikings hung around what is modern day Sweden, Norway and Denmark. The territories were flexible, to be sure. The land available for farming in Scandinavia was little but precious. Farming around rock ship shapes would have been hard. And the Vikings were farmers first, rovers second. After the planting, in spring, they'd go out to plunder or look for more land. Their wives and thralls (they kept slaves) would take care of business on the farm.
They didn't pillage and rape constantly. They farmed. They built ships. They traded pilfered goods all over the world, practically.
The Norse made it into the Mediterranean, stopped off in Sicily, worked for the break-away Orthodox after the Great Schism as bodyguards. They took over France, most of England, Greenland, Iceland and a few parts of North America.
Now, here's something few people know: Viking chieftains had to be physically perfect. If their faces were misshapen or scarred or missing bits, they could not rule. Leadership was more or less a beauty and strength contest.
Scandinavians are not all blond with blue eyes, either. Sorry to burst that bubble!
The Valhalla business is part of their legend. A warrior died in battle, he'd go to Valhalla, which wasn't a heaven where they floated around on clouds and had a good time. Valhalla was for heroes (if you died a good death in battle you were a hero) where they would sit at long tables, eat and drink forever and fight your friends for the fun of it. Valkyries would pick up your body on the field where you fell and bring you to Valhalla where you'd be whole again (without holes leastways) and you'd eat and drink and fight forever.
If you were a Star Trek fan, the Klingons had much the same attitude about life. Going into battle was for them "a good day to die".
So it was for the Vikings, as long as the crops had been planted and your old lady was back on your land, taking care of business.
 This is NOT THOR, it is Baldur.
This is a Berserker, only they didn't have wings on their helmets.

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