The Viking Way ~ Magic and Mind in Late Iron Age Scandinavia (2019 2nd Edition) by Neil Price

Here follows some of the most up to date, comprehensive and the latest academic Old Norse Mythology books  covering the subjects of Old Norse Magic, the gods and goddesses as well as the Eddaic Sagas both old and new. As the archaeology improves with the latest innovations for discerning older secondary sources with the latest technological advances to bridge the gaps in our understanding, it is hoped to gain a better grasp of the Old Ways during a time when very little was known about that lost world which relied on the oral tradition storytellers rather than the later day literary written records of medieval scribes.  

The Viking Way: Magic and Mind in Late Iron Age Scandinavia: Religion and War in the Later Iron Age of Scandinavia Hardcover – by Neil Price (Author) Hardcover: 336 pages Publisher: Oxbow Books; 2nd Revised edition (Release date: July 14th 2019) Language: English ISBN-10: 1842172603 ISBN-13: 978-1842172605 Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 28 x 3.3 cm 

Magic, sorcery and witchcraft are among the most common themes of the great medieval Icelandic sagas and poems, the problematic yet vital sources that provide our primary textual evidence for the Viking Age that they claim to describe. Yet despite the consistency of this picture, surprisingly little archaeological or historical research has been done to explore what this may really have meant to the men and women of the time. This book examines the evidence for Old Norse sorcery, looking at its meaning and function, practice and practitioners, and the complicated constructions of gender and sexual identity with which these were underpinned. Combining strong elements of eroticism and aggression, sorcery appears as a fundamental domain of women's power, linking them with the gods, the dead and the future. Their battle spells and combat rituals complement the men's physical acts of fighting, in a supernatural empowerment of the Viking way of life. What emerges is a fundamentally new image of the world in which the Vikings understood themselves to move, in which magic and its implications permeated every aspect of a society permanently geared for war. In this fully revised and expanded second edition, Neil Price takes us with him on a tour through the sights and sounds of this undiscovered country, meeting its human and otherworldly inhabitants, including the Sámi with whom the Norse partly shared this mental landscape. On the way we explore Viking notions of the mind and soul, the fluidity of the boundaries that they drew between humans and animals, and the immense variety of their spiritual beliefs. We find magic in the Vikings' bedrooms and on their battlefields, and we meet the sorcerers themselves through their remarkable burials and the tools of their trade. Combining archaeology, history and literary scholarship with extensive studies of Germanic and circumpolar religion, this multi-award-winning book shows us the Vikings as we have never seen them before.

This is a reconstruction of a double inhumation in Birka Chamber grave Bj.834 as it may have appeared when the burial was sealed, seen from above. Drawings by Þorhallur Þráinsson.

  What is of particular interest is that the male deceased in this grave is wearing “hel-shoes” better known back then as the helskor (Ref: Gisla saga Surssonar 14) as being fixed with special bindings to the feet of the dead to speed their journey to Valhǫll. These hel shoes are specific in that their only destination remains specifically the hall of Oδinn, not just the realm of the dead. In my opinion, it appears that it was the specific wish of the man buried not to end up in Helheim, Hella’s netherworld. Perhaps at the time of his death, he did not die in battle and his kin wanted to make sure his wishes in death were met in full. The male wore cramponed shoes whilst the female did not. I will digress a little further. She had no need to as the presence of the two slaughtered horses suggest that they were intended to pull her into the next world via a wagon, implied by the presence of two harnessed and cramponed horses slaughtered alongside in the grave.
 Note also that a lance in the form of a metal head, the shaft having decomposed over the centuries was found embedded at a downward sloping angle in the wooden facing of the horse platform about 15cm from the floor of the chamber. The spearhead had penetrated some 30cm into the wood leaving only 15cm of iron still visible. Thus suggesting that this spear must have been thrown into the grave chamber from above with some considerable force. The presence of harnessed draught horse suggests an absent wagon which is almost a funerary vehicle of women of high status in Viking Age graves. I suggest that the deceased female in this grave was a Vǫlva and the fact that she was place on top of the male deceased suggest he was her partner in life. So it is highly probably that historical Vǫlva’s did not live out their lives alone.
 Finally because of the throwing of the spear into this chamber grave, it strongly suggests that the occupants were both dedicated to Oδinn, the god also of seiðr which would fit with the presence of the seiðr staff in the grave. Thus suggesting that this spear must have been thrown into the grave chamber from above with some considerable force and only from an angle which would place the spear thrower at the very edge of the grave suggesting that this spear throwing ceremony into the open grave was the very last act after all the grave goods had been carefully arranged. In Ynglingasaga saga 9 Oδinn declares that all those who are to go to him after death are to be marked at the point of a spear; in Flateyjarbok 11, a spear is shot over an enemy host at the start of a battle, to dedicate them to the god and in Vǫluspá 24 it is Oδinn's casting of a spear over an army that precipitates the war between the divine families. More examples of spear casting to the god can also be found in Ellis Davidson1964:51ff and Turville-Petre 1964:43. The two deceased here was in my opinion a dedication to Oδinn.