Peter Taylor On The Saga Of Nidhoggr Mead And Viking Philosophy

Viking mythology and philosophy is endlessly fascinating. The great sagas of the Norse gods and heroes continue to be retold and revamped through pop culture. Mead was a central part of viking culture, a source of celebration, worship and connecting with their roots.

Today, mead is experiencing a boom in popularity and its people like Peter Taylor who’re leading the charge in the UK and beyond. Taylor is the founder of Nidhoggr Mead and it was a pleasure to interview him about his love of viking philosophy, storytelling and great drinks.

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Old Norse Philosophy: Be As Good As Your Wyrd

Examining the philosophies of different cultures is useful for bringing into your own perspective if there is a personal connection. For the vikings, they felt personally connected to themes of strength, bravery and family that are as timeless today as they were back then.

A key theme of Old Norse philosophy was the concept of wyrd. Translating to fate, wyrd encompassed personal choices, the gods and more.

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The vikings believed in concepts that existed outside the material world. Gods, magic and myths mingled with the everyday of raiding, farming, living, fighting and loving. This was Old Norse philosophy in practice and vikings sought to change their fate and raise their fortunes with a concept called seidr.

In Old Norse, seidr translates to cord or string. It’s a magic-based ideology that looks at fate as a flowing, malleable object. It’s about symbolically changing the course of one’s life and bringing new events into reality. 

To do this, seidr practitioners relied on specific objects to bring them closer to the gods. They needed to enter a trance in order to enter the world of the spirits. 

The following photo collection tells the story of seidr through Norse objects and viking runes.

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Old Norse Philosophy: Untangling The Strings Of Seidr

Of the many fascinating things about philosophy, different cultures interpret it differently and the vikings were no different. Old Norse philosophy has many similarities to the practices of ancient Greek and Roman cultures in the sense that the philosophy emphasised happiness through living a life of virtue.

Characteristics of wisdom, self-control, bravery and personal independence were all valued within Old Norse philosophy. But as Norse Mythology Org points out, the vikings didn’t express their worldview through the logos, i.e. universal concepts of rationality and theoretical exposition.

Rather, Old Norse philosophy had its foundations built on mythos, a story-based worldview of gods, heroes, myths and legends. This distinction is important when seeking to understand how the vikings approached life and I’ll be delving into different concepts across the culture and bringing them into a philosophical perspective.

The first concept is seidr.

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