“Viking” was a specialized occupation that existed during a bygone age, so no one is actually a “viking” these days. However, the image of the viking is so popular in American circles that it feels almost inseparable from Norse Heathenry.

You may be surprised to learn this is a very American phenomenon. Surviving Scandinavian practices don’t actually focus on the vikings. Instead, practices are based around regional/familial customs and folklore, the likes of which served as the original framework for Heathenry to begin with. This works because the Scandinavian countries kept their original cultural identities despite Christianization—because they were converted as opposed to colonized.

Unlike Northern Europeans, North Americans don’t have access to that cultural framework. Our only exposure to Norse Heathenry often comes in the form of viking-genre media and/or neo-Völkisch propaganda, both of which almost exclusively portray Norse Heathenry in the context of a romanticized “viking” aesthetic.

Does this mean we can’t add a viking flare to our practices? Of course not. The viking aesthetic brings joy, fulfillment, and playfulness to many North American Heathen practices. Many Heathens find great importance in this genre because it introduced them to the Norse gods to begin with.

However, Norse Heathenry itself is not a “viking” spirituality, despite the fact it’s commodified as such in the western hemisphere. Adding this aesthetic is purely optional, and is not required in a Norse Heathen practice.