For Readers: Other Norse Notes

These were warriors who wore bear (Norse word: “ber-” say it “brrrr”) shirts (Norse word: “serkr” say it “surker”). Wearing these gave one the strength and ferocity of bears. These Viking warriors were considered nearly impossible to defeat.  They were associated with the god of victory and battle, Odin. We’re pretty sure that most berserkers these days are athletes of some sort.

One who walks after death. Check back after Odin’s Ravens for more on these.

Fimbulwinter (also called fimblvetr; say “fimple vet er”)
This literally translates to mighty (“fimbul”) winter (“vetr”). Much like calling a meeting a “Thing,” they Vikings weren’t using a lot of complicated words here either. It’s a mighty winter.  The words sound different to us, but if we spoke some version of the language they did, it would sound pretty straight-forward.

Fólkvangr (say it “folk vinger”)
One of two afterlifes for those who die in battle. This one is ruled by Freya.

Gungnir (say it “goong-neer”)
Odin’s spear. Its name means “swaying one.”

Goddess of death, also the afterlife for everyone but the few who go to Valhalla or Fólkvangr.

Hnefatafl (probably say it like this “nef-uh-tavl” but there is debate on if one should pronounce the “h” too)
It comes from “tafl” (say it this way “tavl”) which means “table” or board.  One possible meaning of the first part of the word is “king”; another is “fist.” This is a traditional Viking game somewhat like today’s game of chess.

Hugin (say it “hue-gin” so it rhymes with “begin”) and Munin (say it “mew-nin”)
Odin’s ravens; their names mean Thought and Memory; you’ll meet them in book two of The Blackwell Pages, which is called Odin’s Ravens.

These were long, shallow ships designed of light wood so the Vikings could travel in even shallow waterways, and so the Vikings could carry the boats. Both ends of the ship were similar, so the Vikings could change direction easily.  They were fitted with oars along almost the whole ship, and the Vikings would sit on chests filled with their stolen goods while they rowed.  In 1893, a replica of the Viking ship sailed all the way across the Atlantic Ocean to Newfoundland, Canada to New York and then (by way of the Erie Canal and the Great Lakes) to Chicago.  Part of that ship is in the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, and the real Viking longship that it’s based on is in a museum in Norway.

One type of the creature that is the basis of the English word “nightmares.” These are creatures that attack sleeping people and drain away their life. Unless you have magical skills, the best advice we have is to wake up when you experience nightmares.  We often keep a flashlight and notebook beside our beds to write down our nightmares in case they contain clues we’ll need later.

Midgard Serpent (say it “mid-guard”)
The monster Thor will fight at Ragnarök. It’s best not to talk much about that monster just yet (partly because the descendants are still a little hazy on the details).

Mjölnir (say it “me-uhl-neer”)
The Hammer of Thor; it’s name means “crusher.”

The Norns
These three woman are those who know the Present, Past, and Future. They know a lot, but they’re difficult to understand.

Ragnarök (say it “rag-na-rock”)
Literally, it means the “twilight of the gods.” It’s the end of the world; the final battle; the apocalypse. We’re hoping the Descendants of the North figure out to stop it without all dying.

Sigrblót (say it “ziggr-bloat”)
This holiday was also known as Sumarsdag (Summer’s Day). It means victory (“sigr”) sacrifice (“blot”).  Depending where you lived in the Viking world, this was either about sacrificing to encourage many crops or sacrificing to Odin in hopes of many victories in battles and voyages. This is the start of Summer; it is roughly the time of today’s holiday of Easter.

The Viking assembly. “Thing” seems like an odd name for a meeting, but that’s the word the Vikings used, “ting,” or in English “Thing.” It is sometimes also translated as the “Althing.”

Trolls were a menace in Viking territories, but they’ve stopped bothering most people these days.  There are a variety of troll stories, including how to defeat them. One constant seems to be that trolls are adverse to sunlight. Some people say they dislike bells, especially often church bells.

Vetrarblot (say it “vet-ur-bloat”)
The word means winter (“vetr”) sacrifice (“blot”). For the Vikings, winter began in October, but the holiday of vetrarblot would’ve moved each year so it would be celebrated when it was obvious that the season was changing. This holiday would’ve been both to celebrate the harvest (sort of like the modern holiday of Thankgiving); after it, people needing to be careful with their supplies because Winter was almost here.

Valhalla (say it “val-halla”)
One of the two special afterlifes where those who die in battle will go. This one is ruled by Odin.

Valkyries (say it “val-keer-ees”)
Warrior women. Some people say Freya was once the leader of these warrior women. You’ll meet a few of them in Loki’s Wolves (and elsewhere).