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
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
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.
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.
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