The Viking Age is the most interesting age filled with varied cultures and beliefs. However, the one thing that really stands out about the Vikings is their battles. In Norse Mythology, the battle boar is one of the things that stands out. But what does the battle boar mean?
According to Norse Mythology, the Norse fertility gold Freyr owned a wild boar that was referred to as Gullinbursti, which meant the ‘Golden Mane.’ The bristles of the boar supposedly used to glow in the dark, illuminating the dark in the process. Freyr’s sister, Freya, also had a boar known as Hildesvini, meaning the Battle Swine. Freya rode the boar to battle.
This is not, however, the only reason why the boar was of great significance in Norse Mythology. The other significance of the boar relates to how Merlin was driven to madness by grief after his men were slaughtered in battle. Merlin was forced to find refuge out in the Caledonian Forest, where he gained the gift of prophecy. Later on, Merlin was seen running wild with a boar and a wolf.
And in the animated film Princess Mononoke, the boars were the guardians of the forest. One of the forest gods was a boar, but then, he went on a rampage, and he destroyed multiple villages as he was enraged by how humans mistreated the forest. In this magical and symbolic film that revolves around the forest’s destruction and the relationship of humanity with nature, the place of the boars in society is believed to be powerful.
Interestingly, the fierce image of the boars is rather contrasting what is known about these animals because the boar is a fairly peaceful animal that poses no threat to humans. But with numerous stories revolving around the hunting of boars, which is a situation that would naturally provoke the boars’ anger, the feisty image of the battle boars seems to make sense completely.
And just to note, in contrast with the Druidic lore, the female boars or sore symbolized generosity, as well as the nourishment of Mother Nature.
The battle boar is also found in Greek mythology and among legends. In one account of the Herculian times, the 4th of Hercules’ 12 labors was supposed to subdue the Erymanthian Boar, which is the monster that had been terrorizing the locals. This didn’t prove to be much of a problem for Hercules, though, and he startled it with a simple but mighty shout before fastening it using chains.
Norse Word for Boar
In the Old Norse etymology, the name Sæhrímnir, though problematic, was used to describe the boar. In modern scholarships, Sæhrímnir means the ‘sooty sea-beast’ or the ‘sooty sea-animal,’ and this might have been connected to the Old Norse for Cooking Ditch. Note that Sæhrímnir, in the Norse religion, refers to the creature that was killed and eaten each night by the Æsir and einherjar; and that the cook of the gods called Andhrímnir slaughtered Sæhrímnir.