Imagine being a child in Viking Age Scandinavia. Have you wondered what it would have been like? I often do. In fact, in order to understand a culture and a society, I find that studying those childhood years makes me able to understand the whole culture far better. After all, we all start out as children.
I often tend to think about people as boats out on the sea. And I try to imagine how the waves that carry them through life look like. Some people drift across shallow waters. There are no real highs and no real lows. Others spend their life out in stormy waters.
I always wanted to be a writer. I don’t think I ever doubted or questioned that I would make a living writing books. Looking back, it doesn’t even feel like a choice — it was just the path I knew I had to walk. I was a loner as a child and I started writing my first book at already as a teenager. While other kids were desperate for acceptance and just wanted to be part of a group, I was sitting in my sound-insulated loft, writing. I didn’t even tell anyone what I was doing during the first 6 years of my creative writing career. Needless to say, I didn’t have many friends. In fact, none. And I was quite happy with that.
In my part of the world, and especially in Scandinavia, we are constantly told that we should forgive. By forgiving those who did us wrong, we are supposed to become free and able to move on with our lives. Forgiveness has become such an ideal for us that we tend to view those who don’t forgive as hateful and mean individuals. But in reality, those who never feel an obligation to forgive might be the healthiest individuals around.
The Norse civilization was much more spiritual than most seem to think. And while many still see the Norsemen as savage brutes, no longer is there any discussion among historians and archeologists about the fact that they were mindful about their connection to nature and the “spirit world”, which to them was basicly the same thing.
A long time ago, there was no money. There were no kings, no rules and no borders. We lived as hunters and gatherers, and we were free. Yes, at times life was hard. Death could come swiftly. But no matter what kind of misfortune life threw in our faces, we were free. And there were times when we thrived and even had time for art and music.
We are fascinated by the Viking mentality. Their fighting spirit and their tenacity seem to have captivated the attention of an entire generation. And while I believe most people don’t really get who the Vikings were, I also believe that those of us who work with this historical era every day, need to be inclusive and stop judging people for their lack of knowledge. Even archeologists I know hesitate to call themselves experts on this subject. It’s so clouded by centuries of monotheistic dogma that it’s only now that we are really beginning to understand the Viking world.