The prophecy of RagnarÃ¶k (judgment of the powers) held vital importance in Viking society. In other societies around the world, all had their own prophecies of the end of the world. Christianity has Judgment Day, as well as the Mayans with the calendar ending on December 21, 2012, prophesying a rebirth of mankind. Prophecies affect all religions, for they create a blueprint to daily life in every culture. One must behave and act a certain way in order to reach each religious version of heaven. In Christianity, one must live a life without sin in order to be accepted into heaven.
In Norse culture, in order to reach Valhalla, a man must die in battle. The Valkyrie are warrior maidens who go around the battlefield and choose men to die so they can be sent to Valhalla to fight in RagnarÃ¶k. Prophecy is something all humans are afraid of. Most prophecies are bad in nature and lead to destruction or death. Yet people are fascinated by prophecy because they tell what is supposed to happen in the future, for they are hard to change. Most religions believe fate and prophecies go hand in hand, and fate cannot be changed. Other religions believe fate can be changed and prophecies can be broken. In Scandinavian culture, prophecies coincide with divination. Divination is seen as a paganism ritual and mostly associated with witchcraft. Vikings would seek divination to consult prophecies and matters of the future. In mythology, the Fates are called the Narns. The Narns are the Norse form of the Greek Fates, where one spins the cloth of life, the second measures the lifespan, and the last cuts the thread to seal the fate of that person.
The Vikings took their religion as a serious way of life. Their religion was interwoven into their lives which they worked to please the gods daily. They participated in religious sacrifices to earn their gods’ pleasure. Archeologists have found red altars also known as hÃ¶rgr, most likely from blood staining the sacrificial area. From Adam of Bremen, the Scandinavian society would sacrifice nine people from each social class. This would happen only in nine-year intervals, for the number nine held significance such as the number seven to Christians. The sacrifices would be male only, and most slaves were killed. Scandinavians would also sacrifice horses, which probably helped the warrior men reach Valhalla or so they had a horse to ride during the battle in RagnarÃ¶k.
The Northmen had areas of worship, mostly a sacred grove or a scared object placed in a specific area. The Eddic poems have referenced to the building of places of worship such as the high-timbered altar and temple of the VÃ¶luspÃ¡. Usually, pagan temples have idols in earlier Scandinavian religion and were placed in groups of three. In the Prose Edda, the groups of three are shown in the traveling trio of Thor, Odin, and Loki. Vikings did not seem to have a separate class of religious leaders like priests in Christianity. The term goÃ°i implies a religious function for leaders of the Icelandic society before the conversion to Christianity. The SÃ¡mi peoples of northern Scandinavia retained open-air priestless paganism worship well after the conversion since they were far from such Christian influences. Each day of the week would also be dedicated to a god, such as Thursday (Thor’s Day) and Wednesday (Wodin’s Day). The Vikings would also pray to Njord to protect them during their seafaring trips, and have feasts in honor of each god daily.