Nordic Religions in the Viking Age
The popular image of the Viking as a horn-helmeted berserker plying the ocean in a dragon-headed long boat is firmly fixed in history. Imagining Viking "conquerors" as much more numerous, technologically superior, and somehow inherently more warlike than their neighbors has overshadowed the cooperation and cultural exchange which characterized much of the Viking Age. In actuality, the Norse explorers and traders were players in a complex exchange of technology, customs, and religious beliefs between the ancient pre-Christian societies of northern Europe and the Christian-dominated nations surrounding the Mediterranean.
DuBois examines Anglo-Saxon, Celtic, and Mediterranean traditions to locate significant Nordic parallels in conceptions of supernatural beings, cults of the dead, beliefs in ghosts, and magical practices. These beliefs were actively held alongside Christianity for many years, and were finally incorporated into the vernacular religious practice. The Icelandic sagas reflect this complex process in their inclusion of both Christian and pagan details.
This work differs from previous examinations in its inclusion of the Christian thirteenth century as part of the evolution of Nordic religions from localized pagan cults to adherents of a larger Roman faith.
Thomas DuBois unravels for the first time the history of the Nordic religions in the Viking Age and shows how these ancient beliefs and their oral traditions incorporated both a myriad of local beliefs and aspects of foreign religions, most notably Christianity.
This book covers the interaction between the varioius Nordic cultures, the Finns, the Sami and continental Europeans during the period from about 800 to 1300 CE. It covers the ancient pagan religions and their relationships and the relationships between the Christian converts of the north and other Europeans.
The chapters are as follows
Preface: Introduction: Communities of Belief
1 : The Cultures and History of the Viking Age North
2 : Religions in the Viking Age: Contexts and Concepts for Analysis
3 : Gods, Guides, and Guardians: Spiritual Aids
4. : Visitors from Beyond: Death, Afterlife, and the Problem of Ghosts
5. : Concepts of Health and Healing
6. : The Intercultural Dimension of the Seidr Ritual
7. : The Coming of the Cross: Religious and Artistic Effects
8. : Achieving Faith: Christian Themes and Pagan Function
The author covers the relationship between the pagan religions of the people of the North, the shamanistic beliefs of the Sami and the Christian beliefs of Europe and the newly converted Norse.