Immerse yourself in nature. Walk among the trees, marvelling at their majestic beauty. Think of all the historic moments they’ve witnessed, and the stories they could tell if only they could speak. 

Run barefoot on the grass, relishing the feeling of the dewy blades between your toes.

Follow the rarely trodden forest track, and think of the people who followed it before you.

Set out across the vast moorland wilderness, and admire its rugged, windswept beauty. 

Run your hands across the bark of an ancient, gnarled oak or the smooth face of a weather-beaten stone.

Breathe in deeply, inhale the earthy scent of a forest on a damp day. 

Take in the amazing colours and spectacular views that Mother Nature provides. 

Dip your toes into the crystal clear waters of a babbling brook or woodland stream. 

Stand on the rocky shoreline, let the wind whip through your hair, and let your worries be carried away by the breeze. Watch the foamy, white-crested waves ebb and flow, hear them crash into the shore. Smell the salty sea air.

Feel the gods walk beside you, and rejoice in their presence. 

We may be human beings, but we are still animals. We wouldn’t trap a wild creature in a cage and pump it full of fumes – so why would we continually suffocate ourselves by living in a box, breathing in endless pollution?

We are PAGAN. Creatures of the earth, we are still wild and untamed. Deep in our hearts, in our very bones, we are feral. 

Every once in a while, let us go back home – to nature. 


What Types of Horses Did the Vikings Ride?

In films and TV series’, viking warriors are usually seen riding elegant, beautiful horses. But just how accurate is this portrayal?

Well, to be honest, its not very accurate at all! The breeds of choice for most movies and TV shows are Friesians (hailing from the Netherlands), and Andalucians (originating from Spain). While both types are undeniably stunning, the sad truth is that they are not at all authentic! Neither breed would have been easily accessible during the viking age, nor would they have been practical to ride or keep. The reason they are so popular in the film industry is because they are highly intelligent (therefore they are easy to train) and very photogenic. 

So what types of horses WOULD the vikings have used? 

First of all we have the Norwegian Fjord pony. Although they are too small to ride into battle, they are a very tough breed, so would have been perfect to ride across rough terrain. They are perfectly adapted to survive in the harshest of weather, need very little food, and because they are so strong and hardy they would have made excellent pack ponies! 

For general farm work, the Jutland breed (from Denmark) would have been ideal. They are large, yet compact animals, extremely strong and perfect for pulling wagons or ploughs! 

The vikings who settled in Iceland would probably have made use of the native Icelandic ponies. Although tiny in comparison to the Fjord and Jutland, they are, again, very strong and sure-footed on rough terrain! They are perfectly built to withstand their environment, are very brave, and even have their own pace – called the tölt – which helps them to run across ice without falling through! They need very little food, and would have been easy to transport by longship.

Those vikings who made it to the Shetland Islands on the northern tip of Scotland would have found themselves surrounded by Shetland ponies. While this breed is even smaller than the Icelandic, they are actually the strongest horses in the world in relation to their size! Both Shetlands and Icelandics are capable of carrying fully grown men or heavy loads, can pull twice their own weight, are sure-footed and need very little sustenance. They are also generally very brave and, again, easy to transport. 

A lot of people have asked me (probably because they know that I’m a horse geek as much as I’m a viking nut!) what breed of horse the vikings would have rode into battle. Honestly? The vikings rarely used horses during battles. They preferred to arrive in their longships, attack on foot, and leave again by ship! Horses being used in battle is yet another example of the film industry trying to spice things up. I daresay occasionally horses would have been ridden into the fray, and if so, I’d place my bets on the vikings using a native breed to whatever country they were raiding at the time. Small ponies were, as I’ve already stated, easy to sail from place to place – larger riding horses capable of being used in battle, would NOT have been easy to fit into their ships! They would also have required a lot more food than their smaller counterparts! 

So, my guess is that the vikings would have just stolen some horses from whatever place they were raiding at the time. My only real certainty is that those horses wouldn’t have been lightweight racehorse types – they would need to have speed, agility and stamina, but also strong legs and a strong back. Shire, Welsh and Irish horses were all popular in England during the viking age, so I daresay the Northmen would have used them! 

The Vikings: Bloodthirsty Savages or Pioneers?

Largely thanks to the influences of Christianity and Victorian romanticism, history has labelled the vikings as merciless brutes, hell-bent on mindless violence and possessed by greed. But what if I told you that they were actually further advanced than most other cultures at the time?

Viking Technology:

The vikings were well known (and consequently feared!) for their ability to travel and raid practically anywhere in the known world. This was mostly due to their prowess as master ship builders! Even today, you’d be hard-pressed to find any non-motorized ship which could prove to be as effective as the viking longship! 

The longship was ideal as a raiding vessel because it was fairly lightweight (meaning that it could be carried by a team of strong men, lifted out of the water via a pulley system, or hauled across land with the aid of ropes and logs). It was also double-ended, so that it could be sailed in either direction without the need to turn it around! It’s hull depth was only a few inches, so it was equally effective on the open seas as well as on rivers, and it’s unique shape meant that it could survive being battered by the roughest of oceans.

Viking weapons were also very advanced considering the time period. Thanks to the peat bogs which were present all over Scandinavia, iron ore was readily available and in constant supply. Unlike the heavier, more cumbersome weapons their enemies favoured, viking swords and axes were lighter, more flexible and easier to wield. 

Vikings also had the initiative to study enemy weapons, such as the Frankish crossbow and Turkish swords, so that by the end of their reign many of their weapons had been adapted and styled differently. They did the same thing with regards to battle strategies! 

They were the masters of sea battles, and as a result they made large floating fighting platforms which would be pulled into open water with ships, before being tied together – this gave them a huge advantage! 

Due to having direct access to peat bogs, the vikings also perfected more efficient ways of creating weapons. 

Viking armour, particularly helmets, were often re-modelled and improved thanks to inspiration coming from the many places they travelled to. 

Masters of navigation, they invented several proven methods/tools which were surprisingly accurate! In fact, their navigational techniques were so accurate that in an experiment conducted in 2015, researchers fell only half a mile short of their targets (which were still visible in the distance, so this wouldn’t have posed many problems!). 

Viking Politics:

The vikings were also responsible for the first ever known parliament! Every few months, earls from all over Iceland would meet in a specific place (called Thingvellir) to attend the ‘Allthing’, where they would discuss politics, legal and civil matters, and settle disputes. This form of government was also believed to have been practised back in their Scandinavian homelands, and was very futuristic compared to how politics was handled in other nations at the time. 

Aside from raiding, they also procured land deals and often negotiated, traded or compromised with their enemies rather than attack them.

Their political methods have stood the test of time, and the British political system in particular bears a striking resemblance to how the vikings governed their lands!

Viking Hygiene:

In a world where bathing once a month – or less! – was considered the norm, the vikings bathed once a week. They also combed their hair and beards (we know this because grooming tools have been discovered in many graves). 

Viking Healthcare:

The vikings knew a fair bit about staying healthy! Despite being warriors, with many men in coastal communities going on annual raids, Scandinavians during those times could expect to live well into their forties, and quite often beyond – a big achievement back then! 

They knew how to cauterize open wounds with fire, and apply salt to keep infections at bay. They also used herbs and wild plants to make ointments, pastes and tonics. They had a relatively healthy diet consisting of plenty of fish and red meat, as well as vegetables. People living in the far north would dig holes in the ice during winter, into which they’d deposit salted meat for preservation. 

As skilled fishermen and farmers, despite their lack of decent arable land and the harsh climate, they ate well for most of the year. 

They also stayed active, either through physical jobs, glíma (martial arts) or dancing. 

Being exposed to temperatures well below freezing each winter meant that vikings usually developed hardy immune systems. 

In terms of mental health, we can assume that the vikings dealt with stress very well, mostly thanks to their beliefs. They believed in an afterlife, as well as fate, so they wouldn’t have experienced worries or fear in the same way that other cultures would have at the time. 

Viking Language:

The Old Norse language was very intellectual for it’s time, and many of their words are now incorporated into English, as well as several other Germanic and Celtic languages! Although they didn’t keep written records as such, it is believed that they kept accounts, and were able to write and sign deeds pertaining to land deals. 

Their amazing aptitude for storytelling has ensured that details of notable events have been passed down throughout the generations! Their language and storytelling abilities are also the reason why most Icelanders nowadays can trace their ancestry way further back than most other people – they may not have paper records to prove it, but they know by word of mouth! 

There’s probably a lot more I could add, and if you think of anything else please let me know in the comments below! I hope to dispel many outdated theories about the vikings by writing posts like this! 

Yggdrasil and the Nine Worlds 

Today I thought I’d tell you all some facts about Yggdrasil and the Nine Worlds. Enjoy!

1. Yggdrasil, also known as ‘the world tree’, is an immense mythical tree which the ancient Norse peoples believed connected and supported the Nine Worlds.

2. Yggdrasil is an ash tree who’s roots and branches extend far into the cosmos.

3. The branches also connect the wells Urdarbrunnr and Mimisbrunnr, and the spring Hvergelmir.

4. Many mythological creatures live within the roots and branches, including Nidhoggr (a dragon), and the stags Dáinn, Dvalinn, Duneyrr and Duraprór.

5. ‘Yggdrasil’ means ‘Odin’s horse’ or ‘gallows’ in the old Norse language. ‘Gallows’ could be a reference to when Odin hung himself from the tree.

6. In the Viking age, the tree was known as ‘askr Yggdrasil’ (‘askr’ = ash tree).

7. The idea of a world tree connecting different realms is also popular within the mythologies of other cultures such as Dievturiba, Siberian shamanism and various Asian cultures. The concepts of their being an eagle atop the tree and a serpent coiled around it’s roots (in this case the serpent is called Jormungandr) is also shared by some Asian cultures.

8. The ancient Norse peoples believed that the branches of Yggdrasil connected the Nine Worlds:

• Asgard – home of Odin and the other Aesir gods.

• Álfheimr – home of the light elves.

• Svartálfaheimr – home of the dwarves (also known as ‘dark/black elves’).

• Midgard – home of humans.

• Jötunheimr – home of the giants.

• Vanaheimr – home of the Vanir gods.

• Niflheim – world of ice and snow.

• Muspelheim – world of lava/fire.

• Helheimir – home of the dishonourable dead, ruled by the goddess Hel.

I hope you’ve enjoyed these fascinating facts! 

My Response to Someone Comparing Heathenry to Terrorism/Extremism 

Today I received a message via my Facebook page from a person who I will refer to by their initials only – A.S.S. A very appropriate set of initials, if you ask me! 

Here is the message I received:

A.S.S: hi I’ve just been looking through your page and from what I understand you are a believer in the viking pagan religion. While I accept that you have the right to believe in whatever you want, I feel I should point out a few facts…. First of all paganism (particularly Norse) is no better than militant islamists like ISIS for example!! The vikings raped, pillaged and plundered the known world and hundreds if not thousands of people died just because they thought that their religion was the only true religion!! Secondly 99% of ‘heathens’ are white supremecists, your beliefs are no better than those held by ISIS and Nazis !! I urge you to consider trying another religion, lest you become an extremist yourself!!

My response: 1. Paganism is a million times better than Abrahamic terrorism/extremism. And I’m not just speaking about Muslims here, that goes for ALL of the Abrahamic faiths. Paganism is about love and respect for all living creatures, and in most communities it is inclusive of EVERYONE, regardless of race or background etc. 2. I see from your profile that you are Christian – you say that the vikings murdered, raped and pillaged but do you really think that your own religion was completely innocent? Christians did the same things to pagans at that time too, in fact that type of stuff was happening all over the world during those times. The only reason the vikings are so prolific is because they decimated Europe, and changed it forever in a huge way. Christians in fact did the same thing, except that the vikings at least were willing to negotiate and make deals before resorting to murder – Christians at that time wanted all pagans dead regardless! 3. I don’t know where you got your statistics from, but yours regarding heathens being white supremecists are totally false. As with any belief, there are the minority who are racist or extremist, but as a whole the heathen community is welcoming, accepting and embraces individuality – that’s more than I can say for Islam or Christianity! I will not be reconsidering my religious views because I am proud and happy to be a heathen. I suggest you do some research before labelling us all in a negative way! Also, while you’re at it, you might want to take a look at what you guys did to my people. I can guarantee that you were just as bad, if not worse! Luckily our paths don’t have to cross as often these days, and we leave you lot well alone, yet you seem hell bent on seeking us out and trying to persuade us to give up our beliefs. Why? I’m genuinely curious… Do you see us as a threat? If you want my honest opinion, I would worry more about ISIS than us in future! 

Human Sacrifice in Pre-Christian Scandinavia 

In every pagan civilization around the world, since the dawn of mankind, there have been rumours of human sacrifice. Whilst this is now a thing of the past (for the most part, anyway – there are still whispers of some isolated tribes performing human sacrifices to this day!), I intend to delve into this fascinating subject in order to present possible evidence with regards to the views of pre-Christian Norse pagans. For the sake of clarity, as my findings come from the Viking age, I may sometimes refer to the people of those times as vikings; yes, I am aware that the term is an occupation, not an ethnicity, so no need to point it out!

Before I begin, it is crucial to mention that much of what we know of the viking age comes from accounts written predominantly by Christians in an attempt to portray pagans as bloodthirsty savages, or simply written centuries after these events supposedly occured. Everything else we know comes from archeological evidence, but even then, these findings are subject to multiple interpretations or pure guesswork!

With that in mind, we can now continue! Just one of the many pieces of physical evidence we have of human sacrifice is an intriguing picture stone which was found in Lärbro, Götland (Sweden). The stone appears to portray a blót, in which a man is apparently being sacrificed upon an altar. Another person is hanging from a tree. A large bird (perhaps symbolizing one of Odin’s ravens) hovers above. 

If you think about it, logically, a human life would have been viewed as the ultimate sacrifice to the gods – even in those times of much death and bloodshed, a human life was still highly prized and valued. In some written sources, it is said that Odin – king of the gods of the Norse pantheon – even specifically demanded human sacrifices!

There exists many horrifying accounts written by prominent Christians, such as the following:

“They [the vikings] met every nine years in January, and offered to their gods ninety-nine people and just as many horses, dogs, hens and hawks, for these should serve them in the kingdom of the dead and atone them for their evil deeds.” – Thietmar of Merseburg, German bishop.

German monk Adam of Bremen wrote a similar account in 1072, stating that the vikings met every nine years at Gamla Uppsala (Sweden). According to the monk, the pagans would sacrifice “nine males of all kinds of living creature, to ensure the continued goodwill of the gods”. 

The number nine appears to have had some sort of magical, symbolic significance as it is prevalent in many pagan rituals, writings and within Norse mythology itself. But I will explore that more in a future post!

Of course, the above may not have been credible sources; it is perfectly plausible that it was all just Christian propaganda. Besides, neither the bishop nor the monk actually witnessed the sacrificial rituals themselves, and their chronicles were written towards the latter end of the viking era, when human sacrifice was now considered unethical. But there is more evidence to back up their claims…

Physical evidence is very difficult to ignore. The sceptics among you could point out (and rightfully so) that much of our understanding of these finds is open to debate. However, it is impossible to dismiss it completely! 

Skeletons recovered from wells on the site of the viking age fortress at Trelleborg (Denmark) showed potential evidence of human sacrifice. Not only were multiple bodies discovered – most of them children aged between four and seven years old – but tools, animal remains and jewellery were also found with them. It is an almost certain fact that animals were routinely sacrificed to the gods, and offerings of various materials/objects were also common.

The vikings also placed a lot of symbolic significance on wells – according to Norse mythology, Odin gained his knowledge by sacrificing one of his eyes, and drinking from Mimir’s Well. 

Near the wells at Trelleborg, a small enclosure was also identified by archeologists. Perhaps this was where the sacrifices were held and slain before being discarded into the wells.

It is also possible that the site was owned by a settlement nearby, and when the fortress was later built, it stopped being used ritualistically. The erection of the fortress also coincided with the increasing dominance of Christianity in that area, so there may lie another potential clue as to the reasons for its eventual abandonment as a sacrificial site.

Another example is the account of 10th century envoy Ibn Fadlan, from the Abassid Caliphate, who travelled to Scandinavia and wrote of witnessing a viking slave girl who sacrificed herself in order to join her recently deceased master (this scene from Fadlan’s literary account is also portrayed in the film ‘The 13th Warrior’). 

Whilst the movie depicts the slave girl’s death as a noble act of loyalty, willingly executed by her own hand, Fadlan’s original statement paints a far more sinister picture… According to him, the girl initially volunteered herself as a sacrifice, but then decided against going through with it. However, the others present did not accept that, so she was dragged into a ‘death chamber’, gang raped by six men, before being strangled and stabbed to death. (Strangely, this part didn’t make it into the film. I wonder why… Haha).

A potentially more credible source (it is told by Scandinavians who presumably knew more about it than others, despite the fact that it was written centuries later) is Ynglinga Saga. An extract reads: “King Olaf did not sacrifice much, and this displeased the Swedes, who believed that the famine was caused by the king’s laxity. So they mustered an army and marched against him. Taking him by surprise, they burned him alive in his house, and gave him to Odin as a sacrifice for a good year.”

Films and books often depict human sacrifice as a voluntary act. But why? Perhaps it is because the forced ritualistic killing of another human being goes against our modern moral sensibilities. Many people find it more palatable if the sacrifice was ready and willing to die; sadly, this was most likely a media-invented fabrication. 

It stands to reason that the pre-Christian Scandinavians would have performed human sacrifices, as many other sects of paganism most certainly did so (most notably, perhaps, the Celts). Stones with ‘blood channels’ carved into them, sacrificial altars and ceremonial weapons have been found during archeological excavations of important pagan sites across Europe, and indeed, around the globe.

In conclusion, I am fairly convinced that human sacrifice DID happen during the viking age. Feel free to let me know your opinions in the comments! 

Álfblót: The Viking Halloween 

Today is Halloween. Many of you probably celebrate it in its commercial form – trick or treating, wearing costumes and overdosing on candy. Or perhaps you prefer to recognise it as Samhain (the pagan version) instead. But what if I told you that our Scandinavian ancestors marked this holiday too, albeit in their own unique, roundabout way? 

Amazingly, the celebration of Álfblót is still largely obscure within the heathen community (unless of course you were raised in Scandinavia!). Indeed, I myself only discovered it 5 years ago!  

Rather than a one-day holiday like the modern Halloween, Álfblót marks the general end of autumn, therefore it can technically be celebrated on any day around this time. However in recent years, it has been predominantly practised on or close to 31st October (Halloween/Samhain). 

Traditionally, Álfblót was intended to be a sacrifice to the elves (who’s magical powers held a close connection to the ancestors, as well as fertility). 

Contrary to the larger blóts (rituals) which took place throughout the year at locations such as Uppsala (Sweden), which drew great numbers of pilgrims from across Scandinavia, Álfblót was performed at the homesteads. Only local people were welcome, and strangers were not permitted to take part or even watch!

Sadly, due to this mysterious secrecy surrounding the events of Álfblót, very little is actually known about how it was performed. What we do know is mostly guesswork, derived from our broader knowledge of standard blót rites, as well as an account by the Norwegian skald Sigvatr Pórdarson in a skaldic poem titled ‘Austrfaravísur’. 

Here is Sigvatr’s account, told after he and his companions had been sent on a diplomatic mission to Skara (Västergötland, Sweden):

They were travelling to meet Jarl Ragnvald Ulfsson, but they needed shelter for the night before continuing their journey. 

Sigvatr and his friends arrived at a homestead called Hof (presumably what is now known as Stora Hov, near Edsvära, Sweden). Expecting to be greeted with warm hospitality, as was the custom at the time, they were very surprised and disgruntled when the door to the homestead remained shut. Sigvatr tried to explain their plight, but the household declined to let them in, saying the place was ‘hallowed’.

Giving up, Sigvatr and his companions continued on to the next homestead. Upon their arrival, they met a woman who exclaimed: “don’t go further inside, unlucky men! We are afraid of Odin’s wrath. We are pagans!”. She chased the men away as if they were wolves, and told them that they were having an ‘elven sacrifice’. 

Thrice more the men attempted to find a place to rest, but each time they were told to leave by men who called themselves ‘Ölvir’. 

As a last resort, Sigvatr and his crew decided to seek out a man known as the most hospitable man in the district. The man scowled at them before leaving them out in the cold, and Sigvatr commented that “if that was the best man, the worst man must have been truly evil”. 

A potential clue to the rites performed during Álfblót lies in Kormáks Saga, in which there is an account of sacrifices being made to the elves in order to heal a battle wound. Unlike the sacrifices described by Sigvatr, this one appears to have been performed at any time of year, but it may give us some insight into the rites of Álfblót:

” A hill there is”, answered she, “not far away from here, where elves have their haunt. Now get you the bull that Cormac killed, and redden the outer side of the hill with its blood, and make a feast for the elves with its flesh. Then thou wilt be healed.”

The word ‘Álfblót’ literally translates to ‘elf ritual’. Elves were associated with burial mounds (also known as barrows) as it was believed that they lived in or around them. It is now thought that elves were another incarnation of human souls, as the dead were commonly referred to as elves. For example, King Olaf of Geirstad was known as Olaf Geirstad-Alf (‘The Elf of Geirstad’) after his death. It was believed that upon being placed in his burial mound, he was then venerated as an elf. 

In other pagan variations of the celebration, as well as the later Christian equivalent, what we now know as Halloween was often referred to as ‘The Day of the Dead’. 

The sacrifice to elves signifies that the Norse also celebrated it in the same manner – namely, as a time for ancestor worship. 

Certain gods were most likely worshipped during Álfblót too, such as Freyr (the ruler of Álfheimr, realm of the elves).

Because of the lack of evidence surrounding Álfblót, I will include a brief description of a very basic blót to give you an idea of what it probably entailed:

In days gone by, a blót would usually require an animal sacrifice (nowadays, an offering of beer or mead is the preferred method!). The blót consisted of three main parts – consecrating the offering, sharing of the offering, and libation.

After the consecration of the offering, the person performing the ritual (in the case of Álfblót, the head of the homestead, known as the Ölvir) would offer the sacrifice to the gods (certain ones being evoked/called upon depending on the occasion so in this case we shall say Freyr), and/or ancestors. The animal would be slaughtered, its blood spilled upon the ground (alternatively, beer/mead would be poured onto the ground).

The remaining flesh/liquid would be distributed amongst the congregation, before the Ölvir closed the ceremony. 

Obviously there’s a lot more to it than that in practise, but it was just a very brief description to give an insight into what may have occurred!

I hope you have all enjoyed learning about Álfblót, and whether you choose to celebrate it or not, I wish you all a blessed Samhain/happy Halloween! 

Significant UK Pagan Sites Which Are Also Connected To Norse Mythology 

Whilst doing some research into ancient pagan sites throughout the UK, I was amazed to discover that many of them also have links to Norse mythology/folklore! Here’s a list of some of my favourites: 

1. Name: Thor Stone

Location: Taston (known in ancient times as Thorstan), near Witney, Oxfordshire 

Type of site: 7ft stone monument 

Local legends: It is said that the stone appeared in the spot where a lightning bolt from Thor’s hammer, Mjölnir, struck the earth. There is also a myth that the stone is possessed by evil spirits and black magic, but this could have been a Christian invention. 

Facts: A cross was erected next to the stone during medieval times, indicating that it could have been a popular pagan moot spot. Archaeologists now believe that the Thor Stone is a remnant of an ancient stone circle, although if this is the case none of the other stones have survived. 

2. Name: Wayland’s Smithy 

Location: Knighton Hill, Oxfordshire, England 

Type of site: Neolithic long barrow and chamber tomb 

Local legends: It is said that this was once the forge of the magic blacksmith, Wayland, who is believed to have been the very same Wayland from the old Norse poem Volundarkitha, in which his name is translated as Volundr. He was also mentioned in Thidrek’s Saga. Locals believe that if you leave an unshod horse outside the smithy overnight, and leave a coin beside it, in the morning it will have brand new shoes. 

Facts: It is one of the last remaining sites of its kind left in the British Isles, and was first recorded in the Saxon charter of King Eadred in 955 AD. 

3. Name: Ness of Brodgar

Location: Orkney, Scotland 

Type of site: Stone circle 

Local legends: It is said that these megaliths who were actually giants, turned to stone by the breaking sun while dancing. Norse carvings have been discovered on the stones, and one is named ‘Odin’s Stone’ although the stones themselves are thought to long predate the vikings. 

Facts: There were once 60 stones erected there, but now only 27 remain. They have been there for at least 4000 years.

4. Name: Goodmanham 

Location: Goodmanham, Yorkshire, England 

Type of site: Church (built on the site of a pagan shrine) 

Local legends: It is believed that the village’s church was built on land which once housed a shrine to Odin (also known as Wotan by Anglo-Saxon pagans). There is an ongoing debate regarding whether this site had any actual Norse connection, although being in Yorkshire, there is a good chance that the viking invaders did visit. 

Facts: A church was built on the site when King Edwin of Northumbria decided to convert his kingdom entirely to Christianity in around 627 AD. The church was completed in 1130 AD. In a rather amusing twist, the original 9th century font (which went missing in around the 16th century and was consequently replaced) was found in a farmyard where it was being used as an animals’ drinking trough. 

I’m still finishing my research for the rest of the sites, and I will add them as soon as possible, but in the meantime if you want to suggest some more feel free to do so in the comments! 

Sheila Zilinsky: Christianized Slander Against Our Pagan Beliefs

Today I read an article about a woman I’d never heard of before, called Sheila Zilinsky. From what I can gather, she’s a popular TV personality in the US, and also happens to be a devout Christian who is highly opinionated. 

Usually I wouldn’t even open an article about such a person, but when I saw the title I just couldn’t resist: ‘Christian Activist Sheila Zilinsky: The Las Vegas Shooting Was A Pagan Blood Sacrifice Ritual’. 

Normally I wouldn’t bother giving someone so clearly deluded anymore publicity, but I am saddened and quite frankly angry that she is spouting such ridiculous, false and inaccurate claims to a mass of avid followers who will clearly believe (and possibly even act upon) literally anything she tells them. 

I left a rather long comment on her Facebook page detailing why and how she is wrong. Zilinsky obviously has zero knowledge regarding paganism, and is using her biased Christian view of our beliefs to corrupt other people’s minds against us. This in itself is nothing new, but as the Las Vegas tragedy is still so fresh in everyone’s minds, I am wary that it could fuel revenge attacks on innocent pagans, particularly in the USA.

For anyone who’s interested, here is a list of reasons why I believe Zilinsky’s claims are slanderous and inaccurate:

1. Guns are not the pagan’s usual weapon of choice.

2. Blood sacrifices/rituals do not occur in the modern day western world (or at least I’ve not heard of it happening within pagan communities and there is no evidence of it happening for centuries).

3. A mass shooting does not match any historical accounts of pagan blood sacrifices/rituals. It is usually a very personal, quick killing in which a sharp implement (for example, a knife or blade) slices into the neck, causing almost instantaneous death and allowing the blood to be collected or spilled upon the ground. 

4. Most pagans are not cowards. They probably would not have killed themselves after committing such an act, or would have at least left a note or some form of evidence to explain their actions – otherwise, the atrocity is meaningless. 

There are several more reasons I could list, but I’ve told these to Zilinsky personally. Anyone who wishes to comment or contact her about her ridiculous and unfounded claims can do so via her Facebook page. 

In my opinion, upon reviewing all the evidence discovered so far about the shooting, I personally believe that the man responsible was either mentally ill or just plain despicable. There has been no known link proven between him and religion/religious organisations. And if he did murder all those innocent people for religious reasons, I’d be willing to bet money on him being part of an Abrahamic religion. Paganism does not encourage or condone such terrible acts – Abrahamic religions do.

Even if the shooter was pagan (he isn’t, but I’ll humour Zilinsky’s theory for a moment) his actions or beliefs are not shared by the rest of us in the pagan community. That’s like saying all Muslims are terrorists, or all Christians burn witches. Just because a few commit such abhorrent crimes, doesn’t mean we all do. 

But I digress… Zilinsky, if you’re reading this: stop spreading lies about our faith. Or at least do some research before doing so! 

Full article which inspired this post:

Did The Vikings Take Drugs? 

For years, there has been an assumption that the vikings were regular drug users. This theory has been popularised in the Vikings TV series, in which Ragnar Lothbrok becomes addicted to a mysterious substance procured for him by his Chinese slave. 

But is there any evidence to prove this?

Well, many experts believe that the elite warriors known as Berserkers would take drugs before battle to heighten their senses, and increase stamina and strength. Although there are no records that specify exactly which drug they used, it is widely believed that Berserkers took a variety of mushroom called Amanita Muscaria, which can have a hallucinogenic effect when eaten. These mushrooms were also common in Scandinavia at the time, and were reportedly used by Saami and Siberian tribes too.

Another possible drug of choice could have been a relative of the potato plant – Hyoscyamus Niger. This plant is also related to deadly nightshade, and as such can have a toxic and even fatal effect if ingested in high doses. However, it has been proven to be a hallucinogenic when taken in small doses. Seeds from this plant were discovered in the grave of a high status woman found in Fyrkat, Denmark, along with a pot of ointment and a staff. This could indicate that the woman was perhaps a Völva (seeress). 

So we have established that both Berserkers and Völur could have used drugs in order to alter their states of mind. But is it possible that ordinary vikings or Scandinavian people at the time used drugs for recreational purposes? 

In my opinion, this is entirely plausible. Obviously alcohol would have been readily available and most likely the preferred method of escaping reality, but if these plants were so common, I would imagine that it could help those seeking to converse with the gods or maybe even see into the future. 

We will never know for sure, but one thing is certain: I wouldn’t want to cross paths with a viking who was tripping balls!