The Vikings weren’t soft. Known for their raids, their propensity to plunder and subjugate their enemies by force and for their adventurous side, the Vikings also indulged in rituals which today may seem somewhat extreme…
1. The Blood Eagle
Table of Contents
We start with a death ritual illustrated in the series vikings (a series we love so much that we even found the most beautiful Vikings filming locations for you). The condemned man was installed before the ribs were cut from his back, along the spine. The ribs and the skin are then stretched outwards to form a kind of wings. We then took salt which we rubbed on the wounds before removing the lungs to also extend them on the sides. And that’s where the victim would die. It is said that this is how King Aella of Northumbria succumbed in 867.
2. Birth ritual
The Vikings, like all peoples living during these ancient times, were exposed to very high mortality. Illness, famine, climate, war… So many reasons not to live to a very old age. And inevitably, newborns were the most exposed. When a birth occurred, the Vikings therefore had a habit of not considering the child as a person until a ritual was performed. Provided the baby is healthy. If he presented with an illness, they were content to abandon him to let him die. If the infant was healthy, they would put it on the ground and the father would come and pick it up to place it in his coat, thereby recognizing it as his own. Afterwards, they sprinkled it with water, gave it a name and gave it magnificent birth gifts.
3. Viking Zombies
The Vikings thought that a dead man could decide to get up after his death and then go and harm the living. He thus became a draugr. To guard against such inconvenience, the dead man’s big toes were tied to prevent him from walking, before nails were driven into the soles of his feet. We also used to move the remains feet first to prevent the deceased from seeing where they were taking them and therefore from finding their way back if they decided to return.
4. The Death Ritual
When a Viking leader passed from life to death, special treatment was reserved for him. His body was laid out in a grave for 10 days. Time needed to sew him new clothes. A slave was then selected to “leave” with him. She was drunk and dressed in nice clothes. The vessel of the deceased being filled with various and varied objects such as furniture, weapons, food… The slave was killed and then her body was placed next to that of her master before the vessel was finally burned. A ritual also visible in Vikings.
5. Teeth tuning
Vikings like to take care of their appearance. Accustomed to hair dyes, they also engraved patterns on their teeth. Archaeologists who have studied these discoveries claim that it was the only people to engage in such practices. Sometimes the patterns were also colored. Probably to instill fear in their enemies.
6. The Berserker
Brave fighters, the Vikings could summon half-human, half-animal creatures to do battle. Species of monsters like the famous berserker, who was referred to as a “bear-man”. Warriors insensitive to pain, able to charge into the crowd with incredible fury and violence. How did it work? The designated person first holed up in the woods to adopt the bear’s way of life. The goal is to deprive her of her humanity. She also ingested certain hallucinogenic mushrooms, deprived herself of food or exposed herself to strong heat to enter a trance and voila!
7. Human Sacrifices
If it was not common, the Vikings also engaged in human sacrifice. Every nine years in particular, those of Sweden sacrificed a man and eight animals, every day for 9 days. Bodies were hung from trees to honor Odin.
8. Animal Sacrifices
Animal sacrifices to flatter, thank, and seek good fortune from the gods were more common. Generally, cows or horses were sacrificed. All the participants were gathered around the animal in order to be spattered with its blood. We then ate the meat while drinking beer like at any barbecue.
9. They used their urine
In an episode of Viking, an English queen urinates on Ragnar’s wound to relieve him. Even if the latter was not stung by a jellyfish. In real life, the Vikings boiled their urine with a specific fungus in order to subsequently soak bandages to make fungal bombs that they used to carry fire on their travels.
10. The Wedding Ritual
When they married, the Vikings liked to feast but also indulged in a ritual that included boiling a little blood in a cauldron. Practice still sometimes adopted today in Norway.