Herland Report: Hanne Nabintu Herland, host for the new VIKING TV series, sat down with author Lars Magnar Enoksen, discussing the Scandinavia Viking Age, Norrøn religion and the mystical heathen world of modern Vikings.
Enoksen represents some of the ideals within the popular and growing modern Viking focus on Norse living and traditions, heathen rituals and mysticism. Watch it here!
Each year, thousands of reenactment modern Vikings gather in Viking camps all over Europe, returning to nature and a Viking way of life.
This highly organized re-enchantment with the traditions, rituals and way of life in the Scandinavian Viking age also entice the millions of tourists who visit Scandinavia yearly.
In the first program, we speak to Lars Magnar Enoksen, one of the leaders in this massive and engaging movement who recently have been touring the USA, Costa Rica and South America.
Follow The Herland Report new VIKING series that focuses on the old Viking culture that famously expanded from the time period of 750 till 1100 AD.
We know this period now from the TV series “Vikings” and it is a thrilling period that engages many today in the steadily growing fascination with the Viking age.
We now celebratein just a short while and release new interviews about the spectacular Viking Age.
Hanne Nabintu Herland, historian, author, founder of The Herland Report: – Lars Magnar Enoksen, you are a true modern Viking and yet you represent the old Viking culture that was so famously expanding from the time period of 750 till 1100 AD. It is such a thrilling period that engages many modern people, maybe also because the West is turning into a culture of fear in so many ways.
In the Viking culture, we see the masculinity, the rawness, and the sexual power that entices us, that takes us back to nature.
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Lars Magnar Enoksen, author on Runes and Viking religion, Glima wrestling Grand Master: – The spiritual aspects are very important. We mostly tend to speak about the mythology and its interesting stories, but it is this spiritual values that are clearly magical with the Norse culture.
The spiritual aspect with the blood sacrifice and “seidur” – the sexual magic – and the “galdur” – the screaming which craft is remarkable, it is actually is excellent to hurt other people.
The Vikings trained with “glima” wrestling and fighting. They were very well trained, but they also had the spiritual power, so that gave them extra strength.”
The blood is one of the most powerful liquids in the spiritual world.
When they sacrificed the animals, they drank the blood to get the power from the animal. They also boiled it. It was called “sauda”. When they boiled it, it would be more like a sauna, like a sweat lodge. So people were sweating, taking off their clothes and had raw, animalistic sex together to get this power from the gods.
It was a culture, a spiritual culture where they worship the possibility of what a body can do and also it is lifted to a spiritual level.
Hanne Herland: – As a historian of religions, this is interesting for me to hear. I am born and raised in Africa, and when you speak about the blood sacrifice, I think about the Masaii in Kenya, my experiences with them and the traditions they had of drinking the blood as well as other nomadic tribal traditions.
We do have the same in Christianity, the concept of power in drinking the blood and eating the flesh of Jesus Christ. All the Indo European Germanic religions, they all have parts of what you are mentioning that we also find in the Norse culture.
Lars Magnar Enoksen: – Exactly. So, even when hunting, killing a bull or a wolf or even some of the birds, the eagles and the falcons, it was the blood of these animals that made them more brave, more powerful.
We should not forget that in the Viking culture, women and men were on equal levels.
Women did the fighting and the hunting too. There were the “shield maidens” and Valkyries. It was a culture when both sexes had equal power and the women were strong and independent.
They were independent. They could choose the lovers that they wanted.
In the Viking age there were marriages, but marriage was more a deal between families to make families more powerful. If you married that way, then certainly there was not love or sex involved, as you maybe want to have it.
If you had a mistress or a lover, we didn’t have the concept of “bastard”. If someone were born outside of marriage, the still had the same possibility to inherit even kingdoms. Most of the Viking kings are what we call illegitimate children. It was the aspect of the whole life and the life after death.
Hanne Herland: – The concept of the afterlife is particularly interesting. We also have warrior cultures today where people desire to die in battle. How was it in the Viking world? Did everybody go to Valhalla?
Lars Magnar Enoksen: –No. Only the best warriors that that went to Valhalla. They were chosen by the Valkyries. They were at the battles and chose those fighters that were best, the Valkyries decided who were to die. It was also a way for the Viking culture to explain why great fighters also died in the battle, we may assume.
When they came to Valhalla, Freya, the goddess of lust, took half of the warriors to the women’s place. The other half went to the Norrøn god of Odin where they feasted on pork, a variety of meats and drank the Viking traditional drink of Mjød. They were fighting all day long in order to prepare for the last battle when they were going to die together with the gods.
Hanne Herland: – Ragnarok, the end of the world, the final cataclysmic terror of full moments. That was the end of everything?
Lars Magnar Enoksen: – No, it was the end of the main gods. It was the end of Odin, Thor and the other Norrøn Norse gods. It was not the end of the goddesses. You see, in this tradition the world was created with fire and ice. Muspelheim, Surt – the chiefdan of the fire world and Nidhøg, the dragon of Nifelheim actually win the battle of Ragnarok.
But the sons of the gods find the old Runes in the grass, so they can start to build up the world again. Also, a man and woman survive in a forest with much moist. So actually, it is not the end, it is the very life cycle of new beginnings.
Hanne Herland: – When it comes to sorcery, how did they use their magical powers?
Lars Magnar Enoksen: – I can explain, but then I have to kill you afterwards (laughs), but of course, I will tell you. We assert that they used the sorcery to gain things, because sorcery is excellent to hurt people, to acquire possessions and favors.
Sorcery was the field of the “galdurs”, they used very high pitched screams, with a deep voice. It was also done prior to battle, to scare people. “Galen” now means insane or crazy in the Scandinavian tongue. At that time, “galen” meant that you were under the influence of a “galdur”.
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The mystical idea is that you make a strong voice to become even much stronger, powerful. Then you directed it to what you want. If you want to hurt somebody, if you want to have greater sex, or anything that pleases you for the moment.
“Seidur” is more of a trance, the kind that you get to in the sexual orgies, in order to get to that level. So, you have the “galdur” as more direct and “seidur” as the more indirect, but both are very powerful.
Hanne Herland: – What is interesting is that you have the god of Odin, who is very well known for being the god of the warriors, but seldom spoken of as the god of the “skalds” or poets.
Odin was the one that gave the power to the poet to be able to speak out. If we compare the religions, we see in the Old Testament, the prophet, that the spirit of God came upon him and he spoke.
Today, we have the Hip-Hop artists, some of them speak in about the same, as if under some mystical inspiration. They describe deep elements within the culture. They speak in poetry and rhyme (for example Kendrick Lamar). What was the effect of Odin on poets?
Lars Magnar Enoksen: – The Vikings saw Odin much like a sorcerer, a Shaman, a God of poetry, a “skald”. It was said that the way Odin spoke is what we call poetry today.
You can speak in a certain way, because the poetry in the Viking age had 101 different meters. One is the “galdur”, it is only repetitive, you repeat the beginning phrase like a mantra to gain more powers.
You actually chant and say what you want to become, that kind of poetry. Like you say in the modern music, it is the same idea.
It is also because you may desire something, you chant in order to get something. You want to become invincible so no one can hurt you. You want to travel. With the “galdur” you can actually go to another place and act out something what you want, you are able to do that.
That was what I learned with the “Glima” wrestling. There is a spiritual aspect. Of course, you must be able to train, pull off the fighting, to hit and kick wrestling opponents. But you must also become more powerful than what you actually are, because most people are stronger than what they think theya re. You have to learn to access extra power inside of yourself.
Hanne Herland: – The Vikings expanded enormously during the Viking time period between 750 and 1100 AD. They went all the way into Asia, Iraq, Russia, they were also in the Americas, as we know. The spiritual life of the Vikings came out of the Norse culture and the heathen culture. How did this heathen culture impact the fearless warriors at the time?
Was it the brutality and the harshness of the Viking culture that made them able to expand so fearlessly and dominate Europe for such a long time?
Lars Magnar Enoksen: – The Vikings were actually outside of Scandinavia much of the time. The Nordic people were famous, because they had many democratic laws and there was equality between the sexes, but yes, it was a brutal culture, because they had blood revenge and so on.
If you had an argument, you could always solve it by fighting. That was an accepted way to deal with things that was implemented in the whole society. Everybody that were over 12 years old was a living target for the blood revenge or feuds.
You had to be in physical shape in order to live in that kind of fighting. If you wanted to do trading, exploring, raiding, having lived in that kind of culture, you had a good possibility of success. They, of course, also had the Viking ships and technology to travel everywhere.
Hanne Herland: – Philosophically, it seems that they grasped something that we also do, because life really is a battle. It is a mental battle, a spiritual and we are also locked in military battles. Each one of our lives really is a battle. How did the Viking culture teach man how to handle the roughness and hardness of this human life?
Lars Magnar Enoksen: – The Vikings raided, but they never tried to enforce their religion to other peoples. They enforced their laws, but their democratic laws were also desired by other countries.
Other peoples asked for the Vikings to implement their democratic laws in their area.
Yes, if you are not afraid and you have the means to travel and that energy within you, if you have fame and fortune and want to see the world, there is some brutality and forward leaning attitude in this.
When the Vikings conquered and tried to get to Paris, they were not able to get in. This happened in the the 800s AD. They then said, “we must have the rights to plunder and loot villages outside of Paris. So when we come back from the raids, we want to have the rights to sell our goods on the marketplace of Paris.” They were very good at making deals and got it their way.
Hanne Herland: – We are speaking to Lars Magnar Enoksen, one of the last Vikings. You have the Viking blood, I have the Scandinavian Viking blood. We come from these great peoples. You are also an expert on “Runes,” the signs traditionally written on stones and carved into wood. You say that these have spiritual powers?
Lars Magnar Enoksen: – Yes, “Runes” means “the letters”. It also means knowledge, something that is secret. It also means a good friend, it has many meanings. There is also the spiritual and magical aspect, that is the most difficult to learn.
What people in the modern society does wrong, they get interested in spiritual things without knowing the basics of spiritualism.
If you are able to really dig deep in it, then there is a lot of power in the “Runes”. You can use it as sounds. You can go back to the original words that you can find with the “Runes”, you will have immense power.
You use also “Runic” poems that can extract the deeper meanings of the “Runes”.
In a modern society, people just meditate off the “Runes”, that it is not the old style. Old style is having to really dig deep into it and grasp the “Runes”.
As Odin, when he hangs himself nine nights on Yggdrasil to find the secret of the “Runes”, then he grasps it and learns it. Then, you should scream and take it and then you have the power there.
There is somehow such a raw masculinity seems to be with the Viking culture and a raw femininity as well. Yes, because it is a culture of saying yes to desire, to exploring. It is a rawness that I feel is very beautiful.
Hanne Herland: – Vikings also had slaves, called the “thralls”. You have the class distinction between “thralls” slaves and “karls”, which were free men. There also were the “jarls”, which was the aristocracy.
Lars Magnar Enoksen: – There are male and feminine aspects of it, but you are right. We had slaves. We also have slaves in the modern society. We call them workers. We give them a salary enough so they can get food and some place to sleep.
The Viking “thrall” system was there because they needed workers. Farmers needed workers to lift the stones and participate in manual labour, but they could become free if they fought in battle.
The trials were in the battle. You had to run in front of the front line, if you so did, then you became a free man. Of course, maybe you got killed the minute after, but if you survived, you were a free man. Again, courage and strength as strongly respected virtues. You then could become a “jarl”, they were considered a part of the noble society, under the King.
Hanne Herland: – What would you advise us to do today? What can we learn from the Norse heathen culture that can assist us in becoming more fearless today?
Lars Magnar Enoksen: – Stop being weaklings, I would say. Do not be so afraid of conflicts. Do not be afraid if to say that “this is wrong against my culture. This is wrong against my moral values.”
Do not be afraid to interact with people. It is difficult to say, but there is obviously something missing, some rawness, the courage to be able to interact in a good way in society.
Most of all, I am missing the individual strength and valour of taking full responsibility for his or her actions. It is not strange to make mistakes sometimes. Yet, it is cowardly behaviour to flee from the consequences of those blunders.