A bent metal rod found buried next to a woman’s body in Norway’s Romsdal province baffled experts in the British museum for a century. Was it used for catching fish? Maybe it was a skewer? But why would they bury a person along with a rod to roast meat? Then the mystery was finally solved, it was a magic wand, the buried body was a witch, and the rod had been bent to “disable” its power to harness the art of seiðr a form of Viking sorcery.
To the Vikings magic meant knowledge and it was a tool to help them understand the world, and hence to recognize how to traverse and sometimes guide it toward your desires. To the Vikings magic was a way of life. The goal of magic has never changed, its purpose is to create change in accordance to one’s will. This held true in the Viking world, but one thing stands out in their way of using and understanding the magic in the world.
A big part of Viking fjölkyngi or magic were divination rituals to figure out what fate had in store for you. The Old Norse believed one´s life was determined by the Norns who picked for you an implacable fate and their plan for you could not be escaped. But you can plan around it. If you knew, even a snippet, of what was to come then you could face whatever fate had in store for you with honor and integrity.
Vikings did not view fate as something that hindered free will, instead they saw it as the playing ground on which one would plan out their life. In a way this was liberating, knowing that you had certain limits in your life gave you the freedom to stop worrying about the whole, and made you free to work on the self. For example, if you failed at an endeavor, then it was simply meant to be. You tried your best and faced the situation with honor and by giving it your best, you did what you wanted to do even if the attempt did not result in a victory. In the end you became a better warrior and a better person for how you handled the situation. It might have not turn out the way you planned, but it wasn´t because you didn’t do your best, it was simply not meant to be, and so you moved on.
And this philosophy of magic and life can be used in the modern day to better ourselves. If you perceive every challenge, not as something to be conquered, but as a task put there to test you and to train you, then you will be bettering yourself with every failure or victory. At the same time, if you “let go” and place the “blame” of things not going your way on fate, then you can diminish the feeling of disappointment when a task doesn’t turn out in your favor. Instead you can focus on your personal development that comes from how you handled. An authentic Vikings view of life can make you a better person with every situation you encounter, and you will be prepared to face anything the Norns have planned for you.