Warriors of the Viking Gods

Les Guerriers des dieux Viking
The gods of Norse mythology will not fight alone in Ragnarök, they will have the help of the mortal men and women of the realm of Midgard.

Gangleri said: "You say that all those men who have fallen in battle since the beginning of the world are now with Odin in Valhalla.
What food does he have to give them?

Then Hárr replied: "What you say is true: a large number of very powerful warriors are in the great hall, but the number of brave men seems too small, by the time the wolf comes.

But there are no animals in Valhalla?, asked Gangleri.

There is indeed this old boar, whose name is Sæhrímnir; it is boiled daily by Andhrímnir and is given roasted in the evening to the Einharjar.

Andhrimner gives to the Einhärjar,
Särhrimner to boil,
the best meat,
for large Einhärjar

Gylfaginning - 38
It is written over and over again in the Eddas about the Einhärjar, who are warriors of Odin.
To become a warrior of Odin, you must first be picked up from the battlefield by the Valkyries. The Valkyries are women, sent by Odin and Freyja to bring the brave warriors who fell in battle directly to Valhalla or Sessrumnir.

Those who enter the halls of Valhalla then become great Einhärjar.

It is then that each morning, the Einhärjar put on their armor and collect their weapons, then they gather outside of Valhalla. Outside, they fight again until the setting sun.

In the evening, all the Einhärjar gather around a table and taste the famous Särhrimner wild boar. It is said that the curved horns fill until dawn, and the songs of the warriors make the shields hanging from the ceiling of Valhalla tremble !

Svinfylking is an offensive combat strategy used by the Vikings.
The old Norse word "Svinfylking" translates to "boar's snout", and if you look at the formation of this technique, you will understand why.

The Svinfylking formation is made with two warriors at the front followed by rows of other warriors in a triangular shape to penetrate enemy lines without difficulty.
He was said to be as powerful as an angry boar.
The triangular shape of the formation was a successful tactic for breaking through enemy armies.

There are several signs that boars played a huge role in the Viking era, and they are often found in connection with war and warriors.

Even though the tactical movement Svinfylking is not a type of warrior per se, it tells us how connected these animals were to war.
The god Freyr is strongly related to boars and has his own war boar named Gullinbursti. There have been archaeological discoveries of helmets decorated with wild boars, such as the Vendel helmet discovered in the region which gave its name to the period: Vendel.

This helmet is decorated with a large boar that transforms into a human face on the front.
We think this helmet might be related to the depiction of Freyr and Gullinbursti in battle!
There are several more of these types of helmets with a boar figure on top or on the helmet:
Character wearing a wild boar on top of his helmet found on the Gundestrup cauldron:

"I will ask the berserkers, you tasters of blood,
These fearless heroes, how are they treated,
Those who flounder in battle?
They are called bear skins. In combat
They carry bloody shields.
Red with blood are their spears when they come to fight.
They form a closed group.
The prince, in his wisdom, trusts these men
which pierce enemy shields."
- Haraldskvæði, around the 9th century
The Haraldskvæði is a skaldic poem written by the Norwegian skald Þorbjörn Hornklofi in the 9th century. It's supposed to play out like a conversation between a raven and a valkyrie, talking about how brave and amazing Harald Finnehair was during his reign.
From this fragmented poem, we discover the berserkers and their unique character. Berserkers are usually called "bear warriors", as their name comes from the old Norse words: bear and shirt.

Berserkrs ​​could become so crazy that they didn't care about being hit by an arrow or spear. This can also be seen in Hornklofi's poem, where the berserkers who while protecting kings, princes and jarls before the battle smeared blood on their armor and weapons sang frightening songs to scare their enemies. . Berserkers are generally also linked to animistic and shapeshifting rituals, where the boundaries between man and animal have theoretically become blurred. There are also old sagas with examples of warriors transforming into bears, as is the case with the saga hero Bödvar Bjarki. They are also sometimes depicted as biting their shields in such a way as to psychologically terrify their enemies as in the Lewis Games:

What is written about the Ulfhednar is that they wear wolf pelts (ulfhednar translates to wolf cloaks), where berserkers are usually depicted wearing bear pelts. In the Egil Skallagrimssons saga (c. 850-1000) there is a part telling the story of the man Kväll-Ulf. Ulf was a man from Fjärdafylke, Norway, who had become a Viking with his friend Kårem who is described as a berserker, and Ulf had subsequently become a man rich in both wealth and children. He was also related to Harald Finnehair, King of Norway. Ulf had a quirk though, every night wise Ulf would turn around and become incredibly aggressive and he would change shape. The name Ulf is a Nordic name linked to the wolf, and Kväll-Ulf means the evening wolf or werewolf.

Berserkers and ulfhednar are also closely linked to Odin, both through discoveries and sagas.
In the Ynglinga Saga it is written:
“Odin could cause his enemies to fall blind or deaf or filled with terror in a battle; thus, madmen entered the battlefield, striking their shields with their weapons; they looked like bears or beasts. wolves and like rabid animals they had no pity, slaughtering men one by one: but neither fire nor iron touched them.
Ynglinga saga, circa 1225, Snorri Sturluson
A figure wearing animal skin, probably a wolf - following what appears to be Odin, found on the Torslunda plaques.

Probably an animal head figure on the golden horns of Gallehus, the horns feature several mythological beings and events.

A 7th century sword scabbard that features an animal skin with a warrior on it.

Fresco of what appears to be a berserker, found in the Saint Sophia Cathedral in kyiv. This region was inhabited by Varangians at that time who came from Scandinavia.

This runestone is said to possibly represent a berserker, a shaman, or Thor with his powerful belt. It's hard to tell because there are parts missing, maybe it's a man fighting a snake that has bound itself around the man, as the top could also be seen as a snake head - Källby ( Vg 56),
Helheim is not only a horrible realm that you would never want to visit, but the greatest realm of the dead also has another purpose (than just being horrible to the poor dead and keeping the god Baldur hostage).

Since Hel is the largest and most inhabited kingdom, there's no denying that creating an army from all those deaths would be smart in a time of need. And a need does indeed exist.
A huge ship is being built, made of dead men's nails. It is described as a huge vessel decorated with creature heads. It is this boat that will transport the army of the dead to the last battle of Ragnarök, it is called Naglfar.

The army of Helheim will be joined on the day of Ragnarök by Loki, Garmr, Jörmungand and Fenrir. They will also have reinforcements from the Jötunns emerging from the frost of Jotunheim, and from Surtr with his army of fire emerging from Muspelheim.
Hel has a few bracteates that have been suspected of being her by academics, this is one where a warrior is suspected of going to Hels' kingdom
Another bracteate believed to be Hel welcoming a warrior

As mentioned before, these armies are much needed in the final battle, Ragnarök.
“Times of murder, times of storms,
then the world shatters.
The earth rumbles,
jötunn women fly,
no one
will be spared »
Voluspa - 49
Eventually, chaos and darkness will be cast upon the creation of the world, it is inevitable. The apocalypse in Norse mythology is called Ragnarök. But this isn't just something that happens overnight, it will creep up on both humanity and the gods.
First there will be three very harsh winters in a row, where fierce wars will break out in Midgard. These wars will be all against all, brothers will turn against each other as well as fathers and sons. Humanity will become bitter, angry, violent and greedy. When this phase is over, eternal winter will come, the Fimbulvetr. This winter will last for three years straight and kill most living creatures with its icy grip.

The next phase of Ragnarök is introduced when Sköll finally catches up to the sun and swallows it whole. At the same time, Hati will overtake the moon and devour it. This leaves the world cold and in total darkness. Fenrir, Garmr and Loki by breaking their chains to finally be free again causes great repeated tremors and this will cause the awakening of the Midgard serpent Jörmungand he will destroy Midgard in small pieces coming out of the sea, which will delight Fenrir who will swallow large pieces with its big jaw.

Then there's a rooster waking up all the living dead in Helheim, and the massive Naglfar leaves its harbor early. When the army of Helheim, Muspelheim and Nifelheim marches against Asgard, the huge rainbow bridge Bifrost shatters in an instant. Meanwhile, Heimdallr has already blown the gjallarhorn to warn the gods, the Einhärjar & the Valkyries of the beginning.
Everyone prepares for the final battle because Ragnarök is the end of most gods and their evil enemies.

Then Odin dies fighting Fenrir, who is killed by Vidarr avenging his father.
Thor finally successfully defeats Jörmungand, but also dies after the huge serpent poisons him during the battle.
And poor Freyr falls face to face with Surtr during a fight without his magic sword.
Garmr and Tyr kill each other, as well as Loki and Heimdallr kill each other after an epic duel.
At the end of the battle, Surtr cuts open the world with his huge fiery sword, and the world returns to the same chaos and nothingness as before.
A new creation will finally rise from the chaos. The sun will rise once more in the sky and the world will no longer be shrouded in darkness.
Odin's sons Vidarr and Vali survive Ragnarök, Thor's sons Modi and Magni as well.
And since Helheim has been left unguarded and almost empty, Hödur and Baldur escape to join their brothers in continuing to rebuild Asgard. The world tree itself survived, Yggrasil hid two creatures from Midgard, so even two humans did, Liv and Livtrasir.

It's not just the gods and humans who survived Ragnarök, the evil Nidhöggr is also still alive and is expected to be the cause of the next apocalypse.
But do we still have traces today of this Ragnarok And
on What this article has summer built ?

Today, fortunately, we still have writings of this Ragnarok :
This is Thorwald's cross and is suspected to feature the scene of Fenrir swallowing Odin, we can see a bird which appears to be a raven on the man's shoulder (Odin was known to have two ravens) the man figure also holds a spear (of which Odin is known to have a spear named Gungnir).
A possible representation of Fenrir and the ship Naglfar.
If it is the ship and Fenrir, this is a possible representation of Ragnarök when Fenrir is freed and the ship sets sail

On Thorwald's cross we can see a representation of a fight between a beast and a human figure. This was described as Vidarr killing the giant wolf Fenrir. This is another event that takes place during Ragnarök after Odin is devoured by the giant wolf, it is Vidar who attacks Odin

Norway's stave church has been suspected of carrying the symbolism of Ragnarök, with its serpents and beasts depicted on it.
In Iceland there is a lava cave known as Surtrs Cave. Archaeological excavations from there have found animal bones as well as offerings, in addition there are stones set in the shape of a ship as well as Landnámabók, written in the 12th-13th century mentions passages in this cave with rituals in progress. It is proposed that these offerings were made to please the late Jotünn. Given that Iceland's volcanoes are active, the people living there might as well consider that they themselves are in contact with Surtr and perhaps these offerings were intended to keep Raganrök away. I mean, who wouldn't appreciate a bunch of oxen and pretty handcrafted jewelry, everyone likes flashy things.

Source: - cart/ Vikingarnas Gudar

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