30 days: Original Values

Published December 6, 2016 by Lunapo

Looking at Allmother being the only one other than Odin being able to sit on the throne and have sight to all 9 worlds. This shows that men and women were more of equals in the times of the Viking. Shield Maidens, while not as numerous as male warriors, were also not an outlier figure.

There were two people whose opinions Odin took to heart as leader of the Aesir- xx, his friend and confidant, whose head he carried with him, and Frigg, his wife and partner. While she may not have been his exact equal, she was definitely not subservient to him.

When looking at the history of the Viking woman, we have history coming out from sagas rather than from reliable journals. We also have the issues of history being undone by the Christian mindset writing these “reliable journals”. For instance, Dutch historian Saxo has written in the 12th Century,

“There were once women in Denmark who dressed themselves to look like men and spent almost every minute cultivating soldiers’ skills. …They courted military celebrity so earnestly that you would have guessed they had unsexed themselves. Those especially who had forceful personalities or were tall and elegant embarked on this way of life. As if they were forgetful of their true selves they put toughness before allure, aimed at conflicts instead of kisses, tasted blood, not lips, sought the clash of arms rather than the arm’s embrace, fitted to weapons hands which should have been weaving, desired not the couch but the kill…”

Of these communities he mentions, he names eight women: Alfhild, Sela, and Rusila as shieldmaidens, Wigibiorg, who fell on the field at Bravalla, Hetha, who became queen of Zealand, and Wisna, whose hand was cut off by Starcad at Bravalla as she-captains. He also writes about Lathgertha and Stikla.

As well as historically relaiable journals, art from the tiem is often also used to verify history. The shieldmadien is depicted in Viking artwork from the viking period. Pieces include women carrying weapons, wielding shields, and wearing helmets and in mediums such as textiles and brooches, and metallic figurines. One of the most intriguing recent finds is a silver figurine discovered in Harby, Denmark, in 2012: the figurine appears to be a woman holding an upright sword in her right hand and a shield in her left.

Armed female figurine from Hårby on Funen. Photo Jan Hein.

There is a problem with this as well. Think about it: if someone from academia saw a portrait of a human figure standing on a lake, would they take that as a true, historically reliable retelling of an actual event? Likely not. The same is true with these female warrior images: they may actually be depictions of valkyries rather than human warriors. Much like the portrait of the man standing on the lake shows a mythical man, these art examples could be mythical warrior women.

Thirdly, historical facts at present are being misrepresented because of the Euro-centric patriarchal mindset. Burial remains of viking warrior women have been found. (The majority of the migrants were going with a mindset to settle and defend themselves as needed, so I am making the presumption that a migrant=warrior.) Earlier researchers likely sexed the burial remains according to what they were buried with, but updated methods and technology allows current researchers to use osteological markers to determine sex and found half of a mass grave being female bodies, including one that was buried as a warrior would be, with shield and sword.

Looking at just this one sample, how many graves of Nordic people have been found? And how many have been documented based on the items they were buried with and/or the tell-tale markers of sword use- this would be arthritis in the wrist, elbow, and shoulder. This would also be the same tell-tale sign of someone who is completing domestic chores of chopping and collecting firewood. Why would a woman be doing this work, domestic or soldier? Because in pre-history when survival meant everyone was out doing all they could for the community to continue, everyone was seen as an equal. And such this is reflected with Frigg and Odin.

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