The Role of Religion in VIKINGS!


Religious conflict is the cornerstone of The VIKINGS! Trilogy.

People today are accustomed to the similarities of the world's major religions. While all religions have differences, most of today's faiths espouse remarkably similar behavior: respect, non-violence, and honesty. Ancient religious practices were far more diverse, from hurling young virgins into volcanoes to casting young boys out of the village to survive in the wild for months to prove themselves worthy of belonging to the tribe. The differences in ancient faiths made making friends with strangers far more dangerous.

     What if entrance to Heaven had no requirement to act nicely?

     What if entrance to Heaven required that you murder someone?

     What if entrance to Heaven was only available to warriors?

Norse mythology is a harsh, violent faith based on an eternal divine war: Gods against giants, good against evil. But vikings have a strange perception of good; trickery, lies, and murder seem perfectly acceptable in both the eddas and in the Norse sagas. Much of the humor in these stories surrounds theft and death. Their Gods are little different from the worst of their enemies, not only in their total lack of morality, but in their willingness to gamble life, and even the sun which warms our sky, for their petty personal gains.

People basing their religion on Gods with no morality, the emotional stability of 3 year olds, and with no clue of monogamy, are bound to mimic many of these attributes. Living in a society where such a faith is commonly practiced would leave them totally incapable of ingratiating themselves into another culture.

That only Norse warriors were acceptable to an afterlife of reward raised soldiers to a social status infinitely above all other occupations, and (of course) all women (a few historical references identify Norse women as warriors; for one of the best of the few examples, read the Midgard Saga for details about the daughter of Leif Ericson).

Eric Bjornson was an ultimate stereotype of this believer in the high-elevation of his class, valuing no one unless they were a warrior or a friend.

     What if entrance to Heaven might require human sacrifice?

     What if entrance to Heaven depended only a pleasing a single female deity?

Druidism was also a strange religion, although little has actually been proven through archeological evidence. Where the religious goals are based upon the unknown wishes of a single deity, the argument isn't so much 'What does the deity want?' as 'Who gets to say what the deity wants?'. Power-struggles are intrinsic within a primitive society of deity worshippers, where political disputes of one day can become fanatical religious requirements with a single word from the right person.

The chief deity of the Druids was a woman, evoking images of divine traits of femininity and motherhood, quite different from either the male-dominated Norse and Early Catholic faiths. We can assume that some beneficial philosophies were derived from this difference, but the Druids practiced human sacrifice, which wasn't commonly accepted by vikings or Catholics.

Druidic talismans are some of the few relics evidencing the Druid faith as we believe it was practiced. Selling talismans was a mainstay of the Druid economy, and the basis of how their priests financially supported themselves. This is represented in The VIKINGS! Trillogy by the Seer, who carried such talismans, especially his Blessed Moonstone, and Titania, who gave him the Crystal Talisman. The Seer also spent a great deal of effort trying to figure out what the Lady of the Druids really wanted; a key dilemma of his faith.

Early Catholics were greatly different from modern Christians. The term 'catholic' meant 'everybody', but in the Dark Ages and the Middle Ages, the commandment 'Thou shalt not kill' was interpreted to mean those whose souls had been saved, meaning that it was unlawful to kill other Catholics, but it was OK to kill anybody else, calling them 'enemies of the church'.

The high morality of the Catholics was also the height of intolerance. Early Catholicism gained its biggest growth in the late Roman era with women, partially due to the prized concept of spiritual equality. Executions, torture, and the flagellants that came with the Black Death turned the peace of Catholicism completely around during the greatest era of fear that this world had ever seen, when a third of this planet died to a (then misunderstood) disease, and many believed that the Black Plague signaled the end of the world.

But some devout practitioners were always able to resist the insanity of their historical era. Rafe is such a man, worthy of redemption even by today's standards.

But The VIKINGS! Trilogy is about friendships able to survive the vast differences between those ancient faiths. It isn't about one religion dominating, or wiping out the other faiths; The VIKINGS! Trilogy promotes religious harmony despite diversity. How great our modern Earth would be if we didn't fear religious and cultural differences! Strangely, our world today is a lot like the world of VIKINGS!