Everybody wants to be a Viking these days. But the world around us is still the same and nobody cares if you’d rather go full Norse. There are bills to pay, rules and regulations, traffick jams, tv and stress. Since you can’t time-travel back to the Viking Age, how do you live your Viking life in the year 2016? How do you cope with the demands of modern society, when all you want to do, is to set sail and go exploring the oceans and distant continents? It seems like Viking life has no place in modern society and that your Viking lifestyle must remain something you do in your spare time with like-minded people.
Well, I’m here to tell you it doesn’t have to be like that. As a person whose work and art is heavily associated with Viking culture and mythology, I can tell you that you can live as a Viking full-time, and you don’t have to quit your day-time job to do it. I have been living the Viking lifestyle for many years now, and I don’t find that being a Viking is impossible in modern society at all. Why? Because modern society isn’t that modern at all. We’re still the same apes. Our toys are just a bit more shiny now. And that, my friend, is the secret. If you realize that modern society isn’t that modern, and that we’re still the same dumb primates, then you’ll realize that living a Viking lifestyle isn’t going to be difficult at all. In fact, the set of values that comes with being a Viking will help you in your daily life.
Now, when I use the term «Viking lifestyle», I don’t mean going to work dressed up as a Viking. Dressing up as a Viking is reenactment, and it is something entirely different. Personally, I find reenactment interesting, but I have also noticed that there are lots of people in Viking reenactment who aren’t Vikings at all. By that I mean that they live a life that is extremely modern, with many of modern society’s negative ingredients, yet they are involved in Viking reenactment. While it is great that they do Viking reenactment, I would never dream of calling them Vikings. Just to illustrate my point here: I was once criticized for wearing a garment that didn’t have «archeological reference», meaning that nobody has found the remains of a Viking wearing a tunic exactly like the one I was wearing. Apart from the obvious lack of understanding of scientific method, the woman who said this also suffered from severe obesity and an exclusive attitude. That, I think, perfectly illustrates the difference between reenactment and living as a Viking full-time, with both your heart, soul and body involved.
Obviously, you will find lots of people who really live a true Viking life among reenactors, but the main point here is that Viking is a set of values and a philosophy. It is a way to see the world and your place in it. It is about self-reliance, perseverance and individuality. It is about always wanting to learn, always wanting to explore and always trying to be the best version of yourself. Living a Viking life is about not accepting what is unfair and unreasonable. It is about being ready to stand up against your foes when everyone around you are kneeling. And I think we need more of that. I think we need more Vikings in modern society.
-Bjørn Andreas Bull-Hansen
Read more: Becoming a Viking