Viking Beliefs

 The religion of the Vikings is known as gothatru. Gothatru called for sacrifices for success in battle and with the growing of crops.The gods were viewed as friends to help through problems and help celebrate the good times.

Gods and Giants

The Vikings believed in many gods. Some seem to have similar roles to those of the Roman gods. 

The main gods were:
  • Odin
  • Thor
  • Freya
  • Frey
  • Loki
and they gathered in Thor's hall, known as Valholl or Valhalla. Valholl  was where Viking warriors were supposed to go after dying

So much of the information about Viking beliefs has come from the information of others, and from archaeological excavations. Some of the few sources from the Viking culture include Sagas which tell stories about voyages, battles, migrations and family feuds. There is also something called the Landnamabok (Book of Settlements) which outlines religious laws or rules.

The Vikings do not appear to have built many temples as such, but held celebrations in their houses and fields. They built personal shrines but held many of their main religious celebrations outside in areas which they considered sacred, called a ve.



See Sophie's and Theadora's presentation below for more information.

The gods were constantly at war with the giants. The Vikings believed a battle between the Vikings and Giants would bring about the end of the world in a final battle called Ragnarok. The final battle would be one where god would turn against god, and would end with a fire that would destroy the world

Spirits

There were not only gods and giants, but peaceful land spirits as well, whose job was to protect the family and their animals. They were also needed to bring good luck with farming, hunting and fishing. They hated violence.

There are other spirits, who are familiar to us through fairy stories, Lord of the RIngs and horror stories. Vikings beliefs also included Elves, Dwarves and Ghosts. The dwarves were the gods' craftsmen, while the ghosts, called draugur, caused insanity and illness.

Other spirits include Disir, female spirits who give new born babies good luck, while Fylguir guard a particular person and follows them around. The most famous are the Valkyries who decide which warriors die in battle

Feasts and Celebrations

The Vikings took their celebrations seriously, with sacrifices to ensure harvest success, attended by all the community. The Viking mythology describes large quantities of food and drink being consumed. Such feasts were often accompanied by games and competitions. Such feasts were often called blots! An animal was sacrificed and the blood spread around. Sadly, there were also human sacrifices.

Viking Funerals

When a warrior died in battle, he was said to have gone to Valhalla. If the warrior was a leader or chief, he was usually placed in his ship, and set alight, either on land on a pyre or on the sea. Sometimes he was buried in his ship, and these have become valuable archaeological sites.

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jacqueline.hicks@syd.catholic.edu.au,
12 Nov 2012, 20:48
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