Germanic Heathenism, Heathenism, Medieval Scandinavia, medieval studies, Mythology (Old Norse Literature), Nordic Studies, Old Norse Literature, Old Norse literature and culture, Old Norse Religion, Viking Age Scandinavia
Drinking with Óðinn: Alcohol and Religion in Heathen Scandinavia
Any cursory read through the medieval Scandinavian literature pertaining to the Viking Age or earlier will demonstrate that alcohol played an important role in pre-Christian society. Law-codes show that aristocrats used it in their political and religious rites, the mythic narratives of the Poetic and Prose Eddas are full of competitions between deities and monsters for the liquid or for the means to make it, and it’s prominent in the pseudo-historic accounts of the Scandinavian sagas. The archaeological record has also demonstrated the importance of alcohol with an extensive catalogue of imagery, drinking vessels, and brewing equipment. This article will overview some of the more prominent written examples of ritual drinking and put them into a model that demonstrates the role that alcohol may have had in heathen Scandinavian society.