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Bugmen Vikings?
The Religious Conflict In Modern Viking Depictions

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ODIN IS WITH US!” shouts the blond beast protagonist in the trailer for the new video game, Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla. The trailer depicts the Vikings as the noble heroes, fighting against scoundrel Saxons who lie about their misdeeds. The teaser is narrated by an irate Alfred the Great who pillories the Nordic raiders for their bloodlust, godlessness, and cruelty.

The narration is contrasted with the scenes of the Vikings playing with their families, valiantly fighting in combat, and sparing the women and children while ransacking a village. The Vikings’ heathenry is on full display with a large Odin idol in their village and the protagonist seeing the Wanderer transform into a raven on the battlefield.

The trailer was widely mocked on right-wing Twitter. Some laughed at how the fantasy Vikings, who in real life profited immensely on slavery, respected foreign women and children. Pagans were annoyed at how the Northmen wore outfits straight out of a cheap Hollywood movie. Christian nationalists were upset that Ubisoft (the game’s maker) made Christians the villains and pagans the good guys. The Assassin’s Creed series has a long record of anti-Christian themes, such as one game where you kill the Pope.

Christians do have a point. There is a trend of positively contrasting Nordic paganism to Christianity in medieval-themed shows and movies. Sometimes the paganism is one that Counter-Currents readers would approve of; other times it resembles hippie festivals. Christianity is always painted as the same: authoritarian, zealous, puritan, and hypocritical.

It’s a strange development. On one hand, these media products glorify a faith indigenous to Europe. On the other hand, they attack Christianity for being the “faith of Europe.” Without Christianity, Europeans would be more tolerant, engage in free love, and just go with the flow, according to these portrayals. These tales resemble paeans to American Indians who stuck with their more natural religion against the evil White Man’s faith. The only difference is that the heroes in the Viking stories have fair skin, blond hair, and blue eyes.

Even though these movies and games intend to convey a vaguely liberal message, they aren’t much different from volkisch works of the nineteenth and 20th century. Several volkisch works depicted Christian missionaries as swarthy intruders oppressing the native traditions of Germany. Rome was the great enemy to many of these nationalist writers. This was the main theme of Wulf Sorenson’s The Voice of Our Ancestors. The beginning of Hermann Löns’s Der Wehrwolf laments how the protagonist’s village was converted to Christianity from paganism. Many German ethno-nationalists saw Widikund, the last pagan king of the Saxons, as a hero against the foreign depredations of the Christian Charlemagne. The Bloody Verdict of Verden, where Charlemagne ordered the execution of 4,500 pagan Saxons, became a pilgrimage site in the Third Reich.

This theme is carried on, likely unintentionally, by modern Viking depictions. It isn’t exactly new. The 1991 Icelandic film The White Viking is almost comically anti-Christian. The film centers on Olaf Tryggvason’s brutal conversion of Norway and Iceland to the one true faith. The Christians convert through intimidation, torture, and gruesome executions. Olaf’s bishop is a twisted freak who wants to kill the film’s main characters and take their wealth. Christian rituals are painted as oppressive and alien to the freedom-loving pagans, and Christians are superstitious slaves who at one point mistake the hero as the returned Christ. Paganism, in contrast, is shown as a benign fertility cult.

This film could have never been released in 1991 America — the Religious Right would’ve had a conniption over its blasphemy. It was fine for TV in secular Iceland.

Now you can see similar depictions in popular TV shows. The most popular example is the History Channel show Vikings. I share Jef Costello’s view of the show:

There is very clearly a strongly anti-Christian element in Vikings, and frankly, it’s offensive. Don’t get me wrong: I’m a pagan and strongly anti-Christian. But I am an intelligent anti-Christian. The perspective of the writers on this show is really not that of pagans (of course), but of liberals. Christians are depicted as befuddled, hypocritical, brutal, and, above all, sexually uptight. Now, all of that is true — but the liberal perspective is that this is all there is to Christianity. Thus, by contrast, the Vikings are depicted as wild, carefree, and sexually liberated. Yes, it’s really as dumb and ham-fisted as that. As my aforementioned heathen friend put it to me, they hate the Christians because they had standards, and love the pagans because they think they didn’t have any. In short, the Christians are hated for the one good thing about them.

The pagan Vikings imitate modern-day swingers in their habits and always require consent before indulging their desires. Paganism appears to have more power in the Vikings world than Christianity. While some characters experience stigmata and have visions of Jesus and demons, the Vikings faith does more. Their seers can see into the future, Odin walks among them and grants favors, and their ways always trump the dictates of Christianity.

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But this isn’t quite the volkisch faith envisioned by German nationalists. It’s far more counter-culture than Kulturkampf. The show also depicts the Vikings as tolerant, multicultural, and supreme women respecters. In fact, nearly half of the Viking warriors are women! The Saxons are sexist and close-minded Christians. In fact, their Christianity makes them oppress women.

The show’s paganism is still largely a warrior cult that’s contrasted to the effeminacy of Christianity. That’s the one right-wing aspect of it. Overall, Vikings is too cheesy and stupid to be an enjoyable show. It’s a less entertaining, more nonsensical Sons of Anarchy set in the Dark Ages.

A much better Viking show is the Netflix series The Last Kingdom. This series is thankfully free of shieldmaiden legions and has much better characters, writing, and production values.

It also has a much less ridiculous treatment of the conflict between Christianity vs. Paganism. The main character, Uhtred of Bebbanburg, is a Saxon who was captured and raised by the Danes. He adopted paganism and resists attempts to convert back to Christianity. His resistance to conversion causes numerous problems with his main benefactor, the Saxon king Alfred the Great. Uhtred is torn between the two opposing worlds of Saxon vs. Dane, but he ultimately ends up fighting for the Christians against the pagan invaders in each conflict. Unlike in the Assassin’s Creed game and Vikings, the Norsemen are the villains — albeit respectable ones.

Despite fighting for the Saxons, Uhtred acts more like a Dane. This is particularly true with his firm commitment to paganism. His paganism is not a swinger cult, but a warrior’s faith. His religion demands he uphold his honor and seek justice against those who do wrong. Uhtred hates Christianity for telling him to turn the other cheek and humiliate himself before unworthy lords. Christianity is primarily a religion for women and crooked priests.

An illustrative example of the Christian vs. Pagan dynamic is when Uhtred confronts one of his servants in the first season. His first wife (he goes through many) earns him land in Wessex, but his chief farm servant is a corpulent thief who constantly lies to his lord. His wife, who is a committed Christian, urges Uhtred to forgive the servant and overlook his trespasses. After suffering another humiliation in court, Uhtred notices his servant has once again stolen from him. He kills the servant and shouts “THAT’S MY JUSTICE” to his horrified wife.

Viewers will naturally find Uhtred in the right and his wife in the wrong. This wife eventually becomes a nun.

In The Last Kingdom, paganism is a worldly religion that emphasizes honor, oaths, kinship, and a masculine sense of justice. Christianity insists on rules that have little to do with the world and force characters to betray kin and justice to satisfy their dogmas. Unlike in Vikings, Christians in The Last Kingdom are not condemned for having standards, but for having the wrong ones.

Paganism also has more real-world power in the show. Seers can tell the future and witches can heal the sick. Christianity shows itself to have no power over real-world events.

It is a bit odd that television and video game producers are so eager to extol the virtues of Nordic paganism versus Christianity. Haven’t they heard about the racist elements of modern Asatru? Isn’t it supposed to be wrong to fixate on honor and your own community to the detriment of universal values and other communities? Did Hollywood suddenly find the work of Stephen McNallen mesmerizing?

The simple answer is that most of these writers and producers are secular liberals who despise Christianity and will celebrate any religion that doesn’t hold Jesus Christ as its savior. They treat the Amerindian religion the same way, as well as Islam. The most intolerant, most illiberal religion in the world can always expect a positive depiction in movies and TV shows, especially if they’re fighting off crusaders. The Muslims are wise and tolerant, unlike the priggish Christians invading their land. These secular liberals would be horrified by sharia, but they realize they don’t live under it. They live under Christianity instead; Islam is just an exotic minority faith in their eyes.

It’s not so much that they admire the value of Nordic paganism — it’s that it serves as a useful vehicle to bash Christianity. They don’t mind the volkisch connotations. It’s something that can be overlooked. It may unintentionally make heathenry look cool to some impressionable young men, but the overall point is to stick it to the dominant Western religion.

It’s too early to say whether the Odinism in Assassin’s Creed will be based or cringe, though my guess is cringe. It at least appears the game will not have black and brown Vikings, which should deserve some praise. Left-wing academics would prefer a multiracial crew on the longship rather than an all-white one.

Our politically correct culture can’t get enough of the Northmen. Our culture makers may try their best to transform the Vikings into proto-liberals, but they will fail. The Vikings will always come across as archetypal blond beasts. That’s what makes them popular, and no imaginary bugman faith can hide that fact.

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11 Comments

  1. Erc
    Posted May 4, 2020 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    Christianity is a deep psychological op and using all techniques of manipulation and deception including using reverse psychology to keep the folk on the plantation if you will, by which you worship (i.e the neo definition of “worship” ie. “prostrating oneself to as a slave, not the ancient definition of honoring your ancestors) a dead man of those trying to conquer your folk as a Deity … it’s ridiculous and as soon as the Nordic man rid’s he folk of this balderdash the better…

  2. Headz
    Posted May 4, 2020 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    Isn’t it something that the History Channel Series ruined our modern depiction by creating a dumbed down sons-of-anarchy ripoff with swords.

    PS:
    The Pope survives the encounter in AC II

  3. Digital Samizdat
    Posted May 4, 2020 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    It’s easy: if both sides are White, then the side that is both White AND Christian must necessarily be worse. Of course, if one side is NOT White and the other side is, then religion is irrelevant and the non-Whites are good guys.

    All clear? 😉

  4. Nikandros
    Posted May 4, 2020 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    I don’t know how this new game will turn out as there’s always a chance for a series to fall to liberal subversion. However, I thought the last game, AC Odyssey, was amazing. It takes place in Ancient Greece, and there was only minimal poz if I remember correctly (stuff about women not being allowed in the Olympics and a flamboyant, bisexual character). But the world building was very well done. The game is massive, and I was blown away by the renderings of the cities especially. It even has Socrates, who was true to form. Anyway, if Valhalla is anything like the last game, it should be pretty historically accurate. Of course, I doubt they’re going to show much raping and pillaging for the sake of ratings.

    Here are videos from Odyssey showing some of Athens and other locations.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-a8cWF-29lI
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VRuHLCpOoF0&list=PLkOo_Hy3liELnL_0p7__5gj6EzsNFLhgJ&index=6

  5. John
    Posted May 4, 2020 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    I have found that the popularity of Viking shows and games is a great way to introduce a European identity to rootless bugmen. These young White people in America, while raised Christian, aren’t too fond of Christianity. We can take advantage of that. Talking about our native European spirituality and our ancestors is an easy path to White identity. Most White kids have never even heard someone say “our people” in a positive context before, let alone offer some sort of unifying substance for them to latch on to. Of course you’re correct in noting that the people making these games have ill intentions. But we live in a post-Christian society, and we have to be looking forward.

    Also worth noting, these secular liberals are only against Christianity if it’s White people. They have no issue with Mexicans or blacks being Christians (most of them are). So they aren’t actually anti-Christian, they’re just anti-White.

  6. Vehmgericht
    Posted May 4, 2020 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

    In seeking to understand the Christianisation of Northern Europe we should put aside contemporary prejudices, be they of Hollywood or the Neopagans.

    Bede in his Ecclesiastical History of the English relates the tale of the Northumbrian King Edwin who sought a reason why he should convert to the new faith of Christ. His minister compared mens’ lives to the winter flight of a sparrow from the cold into the light and cheer of a feasting hall and back out into darkness. If Christianity could offer more than that bleak prospect it would be worth adopting.

    For all the vigor of the Old Ways, they were not for everyone. Odin was a god of warriors and poets, the common folk looked to Thor and Freya for protection from evil and for prosperity. It would not have been difficult to adopt Christ and the Virgin Mary in their stead. Christianity brought literacy (for some) and a more settled existence: not only the thralls but also the rulers welcomed it.

    And there is no returning to the ancient forests of Germania or the sacred groves of the Druids. Yet Christianity itself being an infusion of the Hellenistic ethos into a Judaic substrate is also adapted to the Western mind. We need not wholly embrace it, but we cannot simply repudiate it as alien to us.

  7. Posted May 4, 2020 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been racking my brains, trying to figure out who all in the entertainment industry might have a self-serving interest in constantly putting down Christianity. (Not that I have a dog in the fight, but still…) Boy howdy, I was really drawing a blank for a long while.

    Then it came to me in a sudden flash – it’s those dadgum Scientologists! Yeah, that’s it! What a heap of trouble them fellers are!

    Then after some more lengthy deliberation, it occurred to me that maybe whatever positive portrayal of our ancestral religion these Scientologists might present, it’s for impure motives, they’re only going to tell whatever they want to say about it, and they might have some other agendas bundled with that too. I say we shouldn’t take the bait. Instead we should hang tight with our kinfolk, no matter whether they’re Christians, heathens, or atheists.

  8. Bob
    Posted May 5, 2020 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

    The White Viking must be Carolyn Emerick’s favorite move.

  9. Adrian
    Posted May 6, 2020 at 3:57 am | Permalink

    An interesting article, and one which makes me glad of the absence in my life of TV, Netflix and video games. Give it a try.

  10. Brooklyn Dave
    Posted May 6, 2020 at 6:19 am | Permalink

    I find the whole fascination with paganism, not only Asatru, but all forms of paganism, rather amusing. Maybe I am totally off base, but when people or groups convert to a religion, I like to look at the practical reasons rather than the theological ones. When the Anglo-Saxons came upon the shores of Britain, they found a Romanized Celtic society that was a good deal more advanced than themselves. Not that the German tribes were absolute primitives, for they had been interacting in one way or another with Roman culture for a number of centuries. Some-where in the mind a light bulb saying “Jesus = higher culture” must have gone off. I can’t really believe that those old Angles, Saxons and Jutes were really enthralled by the theological sermons of Augustine of Canterbury. I am glad the author clearly touches upon the Hollywood take on the Christian/Pagan dynamic and adds his own take on a more based Paganism as described in the Last Kingdom. If all one wants is a libertine sex life, one needs not trod down the road of Odinism, Drudism, or Wicca to achieve that.

  11. Ninian O'Coughlan
    Posted May 11, 2020 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

    This trailer showed nothing that ought to be objectionable to someone who would seem to profess a desire to bring back the ethos of the pagan world. There is the silliness of Viking “Carbonari” who protect women and children while out raiding, but that’s what these games are about, fanciful storytelling which inserts fantastical secret societies into history. But to object to the presentation of weaselly Christians trying to smash the pagans? Come on! Pagans all over Europe (and before that in the Middle East) were engaged in a life or death struggle with Christians, who operated like the most malignant virus ever to infect our poor unfortunate globe. Or rather, like the Borg: either you assimilate, or you are obliterated. Once you turned Christian, you saw your compatriots as the enemy, and some old mummy of a bishop on the other side of the world as your father. There is no making peace with people who will not accept peace as long as you are who you are, as long as you are not the same as them. It’s kill or be killed. And the Christians won. They won and killed the European spirit for centuries, burying it under thick sludgy Oriental muck and burning all who fought back with the flame that scorched Horeb’s peak. As we crawl out of the muck with huge parts of our history forever turned to ash, and having to live under the latest mutation of the Abrahamic spirit in the form of liberalism, we cannot afford to give quarter to those who almost destroyed us.

    I recommend “Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey” to anyone who wants to experience a little of the ancient spirit. You’ll have to stomach the same sort of “Masonic” secret society silliness, and you will have to accept that the developers see sexual mores in Ancient Greece to have been a bit laxer than one (certainly on this site) might prefer, although the latter is usually restricted to known degenerates like the arch-degenerate of all arch-degenerates Alcibiades, but a more excellent reconstruction of the glory that was Greece does not exist today. And, taking place in 431 BCE, it is a Greece blissfully unsullied by the plague from Galilee.

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