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April  7th 2009

    Beyond the occasional tumult over whether they were the first easterners to step foot on a North American beach, Vikings in my mind, for a long time held the status of happy hooligan. 

    At school I pictured them pillaging monasteries, burning books and carrying off women.  And they did all this with the abandonment of free spirits.  A lifestyle that was of course frowned upon by the well adjusted.

    However, I have since learned that their major god was a saint to both warriors and poets.  Death in battle resulted in the halls of Valhalla, not as a final perfect place, but as a recuperation for an ultimate conflict where men would choose sides just before the world drowned.

    

 

   

    I guess the powerful utilized these beliefs for selfish ends, and sometimes monasteries were burned for more than just the joy of it.  I guess this because I am one of those who is happy with the understanding that since wandering into the savannah all those years ago we have remained pretty much the same creature.

    Amongst Vikings, a drowned world was a necessary prelude to a more coherent place.  From the deluge would emerge an Adam and Eve in an Eden.  After that single moment of cohesion I sense that the Viking imagination floundered.  Some took to an idea of a repeating cycle, others dreamed of a permanent Eden.

    The dichotomy predates both us and the Vikings.  It belongs to bold ancestors who, poorly equipped to step out of the forests, might have couched it in terms of "But We Must", rather than more flowery incantations. 

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