Unsettling and Weird Aspects of Viking Beliefs and Mythology

TLDR The scholar Neil Price challenges the popular perception of Viking beliefs and mythology by highlighting the strange and unsettling aspects that have been overlooked. The Vikings had a complex and contradictory view of the supernatural, with no clear distinction between the supernatural and everyday world, and their practices and rituals were often extreme and unsettling.

Timestamped Summary

00:00 The scholar Neil Price articulates the unsettling and weird aspects of Viking beliefs and mythology, challenging the popular perception of Odin and the Norse gods.
05:14 The scholar Neil Price discusses the strange and unsettling aspects of Viking beliefs and mythology that have been overlooked or ignored in traditional academic frameworks.
09:48 The Viking age is not easily defined by specific dates, but rather encompasses a broad time span and is characterized by the interweaving of the supernatural and everyday world, with no clear distinction between the two.
14:20 The Norse myths were not known as such by the Vikings themselves, but rather were a part of their organic and varied world of stories, with the gods being a distant element of their lives, while encounters with elves and dwarves were seen as part of nature and something to negotiate with.
19:05 Odin is a contradictory and complex figure in Norse mythology, associated with both elites and wanderers, and known for his lack of trustworthiness and odd fairness, as well as his pursuit of knowledge and self-sacrifice on the tree. The influence of Christianity on Norse mythology is evident, but there are also elements, such as Odin's connection to Seitha, a female sorcery, that may have been influenced by the Sami people in the far north.
24:10 Sami spirituality and their practices, which involve shamanism and communication with the supernatural, have similarities to the Viking practice of magic called Sather, with Odin being the central figure in this magical practice, despite being associated with kings and elites.
28:50 The entombment of Viking slave girls alongside their dead masters and the extreme rituals and sacrifices practiced by the Vikings reveal a view of the world that is unsettling and alien to us.
33:42 The Vikings were known for their violence and extreme rituals, including mass slaughter of animals and hanging bodies from trees, which were startling even to their contemporaries.
38:43 The preserved poem and accounts of Viking burial rituals suggest a close link between their practices and the visions experienced during the rituals, implying that their use of preserved horse penises may have had a real effect.
43:44 The Valkyries are seen as demons of carnage and are described in a terrifying poem called "The Web of Spears" as weaving a tapestry of blood and flesh that represents the outcome of a battle, suggesting that they have the power to shape the course of battle.
48:27 The Viking belief in the spiritual world and their connection to it likely endured even after the Christianization of Scandinavia, as evidenced by the persistence of certain beliefs and customs in later folklore, folk customs, and even medieval law codes.
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