the viking age

anonymous asked:

Hi- I don't know if this is the right place to ask this, but it seems like most if not all Norse pagans on tumblr feel as though they have a personal connection to the gods, or at least one of the gods. I've seen it said elsewhere that the Norse gods don't really interact much with humanity, and that we should focus on our ancestors and the landvættir first, since asking the gods for help with small things would be like calling the president when you have a flat tire. What's going on here?

I feel like this needs a bit of historical context in order to understand. So, when the Heathen revival became a thing in North America, people didn’t really know where to start, and some folks were looking at what was available and were like “I don’t like all this German nationalism” since a lot of people at the time were coming from Wicca, there’s a bit of a Wiccan influence in some of those early rituals (there’s a reason the Hammer Rite looks so similar to a circle casting). Let’s call these people “revivalists“.

You can still find references to the Hammer Rite today, but over the last couple decades people start being like “So let’s actually look at what the lore says” and they start getting really into the studying and they’re like “You know, I don’t see many instances of regular people dealing with the deities” and they look at the major Heathen organizations and they’re like “Yeah I don’t know what the fuck they’re doing.” They’re more interested in cultivating what they see as a Heathen mindset, and acting accordingly. Let’s call them “reconstructionists”.

I should back up for a moment and explain that Heathenry in North America tends to be more conservative than Heathenry in Europe, and definitely more conservative than (Neo-)Wicca in North America. This is important, I just need to get it out before I forget.

So there are these two camps, the more revivalist Heathens and Asatruar (I personally would see the Troth as more of a revivalist organization) and the more reconstructionist groups that tend to be more to the right politically. For the record, I identify more as a revivalist, but I think certain people would consider me a bit more recon, I don’t like the recon label for reasons. BTW this is really oversimplified.

Now, what I’ve noticed over the past twenty years is this trend in Heathenry towards “hardcore” reconstructionism. By which I mean the kind of school of thought that says “everyone should do Heathenry like I do or they are Not! Heathen!” There are also a ton of white dycishet dudes who are attracted to Heathenry because they see it as a manly religion for warriors. These people have very particular ways of reading the lore and have formed communities based around reading the lore in that particular way. The problem is not with reconstruction in and of itself, but in the way they aggressively assert that their interpretation is correct (and use that interpretation as a way to exclude people from Heathenry) even when it’s flatly contradicted by the lore and the historical record. For instance, the way innangard is used by many Heathen groups is bullshit and Heathens did absolutely kneel before their deities.

Now, tumblr Heathenry is its own thing. Tumblr has a reputation for being more left-wing and more, I don’t want to say diverse, but it’s managed to attract a bunch of communities that might not have as much of a voice on other platforms. Basically, tumblr manages to attract people who are not white dycishet dudes, who may be, say, disabled, and not able to find a Heathen religious community that they like.

I also feel like the tumblr Pagan and occult communities in general are more open to devotional or more mystical expressions of religion, whereas many “mainstream” Heathen groups see things like magic as “gravy” (with ancestor worship as the meat) at best and “woo bullshit” at worst. Many Heathens, especially of the hardcore recon variety, also emphasize the need for a community (some even saying that you *need* a community in order to be a true Heathen) whereas tumblr tends to attract the sort of people who are like “I’m disabled and I can’t find a community to fit my needs.”

Sorry for rambling on about politics and such but I feel like it’s necessary to understand the apparent contradictions in Heathen thought. Put simply, more politically conservative Heathenries tend to be awful, awful, at accommodating people who aren’t white, cis, straight, dyadic, men, and the people who feel most excluded by these versions of Heathenry tend to find tumblr Heathenry to be more receptive to their needs. So basically what you’re seeing are two ways of being Heathen, one that emphasizes ancestor worship and interacting with the local spirits over the deities (which is something Heathens absolutely did) and one focused more on personal devotion to one or more deities. 

Which one is correct? Well since you’re asking me, there’s evidence for both having relationships with deities and not bothering the deities, and I think asserting that deities only have time for powerful people contradicts what we know of the deities. Like, why call Thor “god of the common people” if he doesn’t actually give a fuck about the common people? But honestly, if it works for you, do what works for you. Heathenry isn’t a single tradition, it’s a family of loosely connected traditions, and there were things that were important to someone during the Viking Age that aren’t that important to modern Heathens.



{yes my mun fc icons are Pussy Galore, fight me}  

NAME: Jen, Jenni, Jennifer, the Lesbian Burrito, Skaldkona, Octopussy, or Everybody’s Mom
•   PRONOUNS: she/her
•   SEXUALITY: lesbian
•   TAKEN OR SINGLE: single


1: I have a tattoo of a blue-ringed octopus on my right hip - I love octopuses, but also got it in honor of Octopussy, one of my favorite James Bond “villains” ; a woman who runs an all-lady jewel smuggling operation and lives on an island populated only by women? Yes pls.

2: I am part of a re-enactment group that focuses on Viking-Age style combat and crafts. I am trained to fight with a shield, an axe, a sword, and a spear, and currently study 9th and early 10th century skaldic poetry. We are a diverse group of people from all over the globe, generally a bunch of goddamn nerds who also like to hang out and play board games.

3: I met Gillian Anderson at Boston Comic Con and my soul left this mortal plane and ascended to the lesbian summerlands. I have the photographic proof of the exact moment it happened too. I’m dressed like a steampunk Harley Quinn.

•   HOW LONG (MONTHS / YEARS?): on Tumblr RP? 1 year! But I actually got my BFA in screenwriting, so I’ve been writing for about eight years.
•   BEST EXPERIENCE: meeting all of these fellow nerdy, awesome people who continually make my day with their incredible ideas, writing, graphics, and just…awesomeness

•   FEMALE OR MALE: Female! I haven’t actually tried writing a male muse yet
•   FLUFF, ANGST OR SMUT: Uhmmm I mean…okay yes, I’m a sucker for smut and fluff primarily. I do love angst too though!!!
•   PLOTS OR MEMES:  Both! I adore plotting out threads, but I also enjoy the freedom of starting with a meme to get the ball rolling and seeing where things wind up :) 
•   LONG OR SHORT REPLIES: I usually fall somewhere in the middle, though I tend to edge towards longer replies!
•   BEST TIME TO WRITE: During breaks at work and in the evenings when I get home and sit on my couch :)
•   ARE YOU LIKE YOUR MUSE(S): I mean…a bit? Sort of. I’m like aspects of Missy, in terms of her love of performance, volume of voice, exuberance. I’m also like aspects of Jane {my other muse}, in that I am smol, blonde, ready to brawl, and am very, very, hopelessly gay.

TAGGED BY: @therani-queenofscience, @theonlylucysaxon & @dangeroussdames THANK YOU LOVELIES <3
TAGGING: @imjustanauthor, @drdumaurier, @galxhxd, @spoiledendings, @ineedmyfriendback


Lindholm Høje, Denmark

Lindholm Høje (Lindholm Hills, from Old Norse haugr, hill or mound) is a major Viking burial site and former settlement situated to the north of and overlooking the city of Aalborg in Denmark.

The southern (lower) part of Lindholm Høje dates to 1000 – 1050 AD, the Viking Age, while the northern (higher) part is significantly earlier, dating back to the 5th century AD in the Nordic Iron Age. An unknown number of rocks have been removed from the site over the centuries, many, for example, being broken up in the 19th century for use in road construction.

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Costume Porn + Women Warriors/Women in Armor


Pictish, Celtic and Norse Influenced prehistoric artefacts from the Scottish Isles, The National Museum of Scotland, 24.2.17.


The Greece Runestones of Sweden

The Greece Runestones are about 30 runestones containing information related to voyages made by Norsemen to the Byzantine Empire. They were made during the Viking Age until about 1100  and were engraved in the Old Norse language with Scandinavian runes. All the stones have been found in modern-day Sweden and most of them were inscribed in memory of members of the Varangian Guard who did not make it home.

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Horizon Zero Dawn and Cultural appropriation: A very different view.

For the first time EVER, I’m sitting on the other side of a discussion about appropriating native culture.  Why?  Well, let me lay the framework.

First off, I’m not a guy who “knows a Native American” or has a “Native friend”  I am a 100% Anishinabe (Ojibway) dude who lives on reserve and has fought racism, stereotypes, pan-Indianism, and cultural appropriation fiercely for as long as I can remember. I’ve been the victim of horrendous racial violence as a child, adolescent, and adult, and I’m also a gamer.

I am the first to point out anything that smacks of any of the above and after I saw the Dia Lacina essay on “Horizon: Zero Dawn” being culturally insensitive and appropriating Native culture, I felt for the first time in a situation like this that I had to say something in rebuttal.

Lacina takes issue with the use of the words Tribal, Primitive, Braves, and Savage being used in the game (fyi they’re used to describe predominantly white people in game and they’re White words we didn’t use to describe ourselves thus I claim no ownership of, nor want to, anymore than I want to be a redskin, Indian or Wahoo)  

It seems (IMO) that most of her beef comes from an apparent belief that numerous aspects of generic tribal culture that appear in the game (making clothing from skins, hunting with spears and bows, living in a Matriarchal society, etc) are the sole domain of the Native American and just to be safe and cleverly keep her POV less subject to scrutiny, she applies it even more broadly to indigenous people world wide (I will just refer to us in particular as NA cuz I’m lazy and I also don’t refer to myself as a Native American) and basically that anything that is remotely “tribal” shouldn’t be used in gaming without our or someone else’s permission.

 In fairness, I don’t know if she’s actually played the game but as someone who is currently in the midst of doing exactly that, I can tell you that I have a pretty good idea of what stuff triggered her being upset and why, and while I absolutely respect her right to get offended by whatever she likes, and she makes excellent points about some other games, I am going to point out that there are flaws with this logic.

First of all, the basics: HZD is set in a post-post-apocalyptic future where people are living in tribal groups in a very destroyed world.  Machines exist but as hybrid animal/dinosaur type creatures and technology is pretty much non-existent in day to day human life.  

The heroine of the story is a red haired, white girl named Aloy who lives as an outcast with her adopted father, Rost.  Without giving a lot away, they are fiercely shunned by the local tribe for something Rost did and also the fact that Aloy is motherless.  

Impressively and rightly, though somewhat dismissively remarked upon by Lacina, is the way women and especially women of color are portrayed so positively in-game as this particular tribe is a total Matriarchy run by elders of various ethnicity.  African, Asian, White, and a variety of undefined people of color are common everywhere in the game.  (The leader of one band of warriors is a very fierce, commanding, intelligently portrayed black woman with a powerful presence.)  It reflects a fairly global society from a “skin color” perspective without any horrible accents or broken speech.

They worship an “All-Mother” goddess and their culture is (at least how I saw a lot of it) fairly heavy on European i.e. Celtic, Germanic, Scandinavian, etc type symbolism and the rest is filled in with mostly generic tribal-ish stuff that you could find in countless cultures around the world.

 I really didn’t get a “Native American” vibe off the game.  Of course, I don’t automatically presume to claim sole ownership of things like tribal life, hunting with bows and spears, and worshiping spirits of various elements solely for my own.  Random fact: Because there are over 500 distinct First Nations in N. America, we, believe it or not, didn’t all ride horses, live in tipis, use bows and arrows, tobacco and sage, and worship Eagles and Wolves.  Why? Well…use your brain.  Tobacco and Sage don’t grow EVERYWHERE, horses came over with the Europeans (and if you saw where I live you couldn’t have and cant for the most part get a horse through the bush if you tried) Eagles and Wolves don’t live EVERYWHERE….get the point?  Anyways….

If you examine Rost, he like most of the men has a braided beard and other seemingly Viking/Middle Ages inspired features, is white, speaks clear, unbroken English, and is a loving, protective and very positive role model for the girl.   Aloy for her part, is also fairly Viking-esque (to the point of looking incredibly like Lagaertha from the show Vikings but with red hair) also Egrit from GoT, and is no damsel in distress who needs men to save her. NOWHERE in the game have I encountered any Tipis, wigwams, Sweatlodges, or Non-White people speaking in stereotypical “Me smoke-um peace pipe, He go dat-a way” fashion.

The  opening cinematic is very touching (and long) as we see the orphaned Aloy as a baby in Rost’s care being carried around in a bundle on his back (which pretty much every culture did in one form or another at some point in time) and him ultimately taking her to the spot where a child of the tribe receives it’s name.

I really liked this idea as it isn’t often portrayed in a lot of mediums outside of stereotypical “Dances With Wolves” bullshit. Also, naming ceremonies are not the sole domain of NA people and what occurs bears zero resemblance to any NA ceremony I know of.  (It was actually a little Lion King at one point lol) But it’s a powerful moment in the beginning with much more that occurs during it but I won’t spoil that either.

Aloy herself is a pretty complex character.  She’s extremely independent, defiant, and questions pretty much everything about why things are the way they are and wants to do something about it.  You actually begin playing her as a 6 year old which is pretty unique and even then she’s tough and fearless and determined to explore her world.  

She is in no way hyper-sexualized (I’m looking your way Overwatch) Her clothing and everyone else’s, is utilitarian and appropriate for the environments she lives in, and so far, I have not encountered anything with her or any other character that made me go “WTF?”and trust me, my radar for that shit is HIGHLY SENSITIVE.  This isn’t Avatar, people.  It’s not John Smith. It’s not The Great Wall or Pocahontas.  This isn’t white dude shows up and saves the helpless non-white people while helpless native woman falls in love with him stuff.  It’s a fictitious future where we maniacs blew it up, damn us all to hell!

But here’s the more annoying thing for me as an actual Anishinabe.  I don’t need people speaking for me or getting offended on my behalf.  I am very capable of doing that myself. I am also in no way writing this claiming to be speaking for any other NA people or persons. It’s based on my observations from actually playing HZD and examining the various fictional “cultural” elements in the game.

If you see a skin tied inside a hoop and automatically assume it’s a dreamcatcher” ripping off “our culture” (FYI Dreamcatchers are a 20th century thing whose popularity was a result of pan-Indianism that exploded in the 70s.) or if you see feathers on a spear or as part of a costume (nowhere is anyone wearing a single eagle feather in the back of a beaded headband or a Dakota looking headdress either) and automatically presume it to be ripping off NA culture, you’re REEEEEEEEEEALY reaching.  If you think caring for the environment, obeying matriarchs, worshipping elemental spirits, or making your own clothes is solely the property of NA culture, see previous statement.

By all means get offended.  Get offended by Chief Wahoo.  Get offended by the Washington Redskins.  Get offended that thousands of Native women have been murdered or gone missing and nothing’s been done about it.  Get offended by Johnny Depp or Robert Beltran playing Native people instead of actual Native people getting those roles.  Get offended by shit like Adam Sandler’s “Ridiculous 6” where a native woman is called a “hot piece of red prairie meat” or Depp’s “Lone Ranger” movie.

Get offended that my family was destroyed by the Residential Schools and that the 60s scoop took babies away from their families and people, that forced sterilizations took place and mass graves of dead Native children exist at former Residential School sites.

Don’t just jump on the I’m offended bandwagon because you saw some feathers or skins or spears or bows in a game and immediately grew indignant and wanted to claim them as OUR culture.  They’re not.  They’re almost globally universal in numerous cultures at various points in time.  Get offended, as she rightly mentioned, when the game Overwatch sexualizes the shit out of almost every female character and takes West Coast tribal art and makes a costume out of it.  

THAT is appropriation.  White people holding powwows in Europe (powwows are also pretty much not traditional and are extremely pan-Indian, not to mention full of us appropriating each other’s Native cultures ie. Dakotas wearing Jingle Dresses, Ojibway wearing Dakota regalia, etc) is appropriation.

This game……I’m just not seeing it the same way.  And I’m nobody.  I have no ties to Guerilla or anybody other than myself and my community.


Viking Hoard of over 8 kilos of silver, the National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh, 24.2.17. This was found in a shallow lidded pot and is thought to belong to a single person.


Viking Twisted Silver Torc, 8th-11th Century AD

Vikings hoarded precious metals, especially silver, to a great degree; for example, in Viking Scotland alone, there are thirty-one Viking age hoards containing silver - and those are just the ones we know about - while Viking Ireland has nearly double that! Silver necklaces of all sizes were often included in hoards, and functioned as a wearable form of currency.