Did you know that Vikings loved to have and keep bears in their homes as pets? What you may not know is that the bear was more than a pet to them, and being able to tame the bear took a lot to them, dedication, and commitment that they had to make.
Why? To the Vikings, the bear was an important symbol believed to be Sacred to the Viking God, Odin. The Norse bear symbol is believed to have inspired berserkers, who represent the most popular and the best-known class of the Vikings. It is believed that a Berserker gained not only the bear’s spirit but also its bravery, which is why this class of Vikings was known as the bravest warriors and the real champions from the Viking Age. And so, before going into battle, the berserkers would take on the spirit and the essence of the bears.
What is the Norse word for bear?
Throughout history, there has been a rather commendable desire that has led to the reduction of conflict with bears. As a result, there are numerous variant forms of the word bear across the numerous languages in the Indo-European Family, including Russian, English, and French, among other modern and ancient tongues known to have descended from a common ancestor thousands of years ago.
Notably, one of the major achievements made in the 19th Century had to do with the discovery of a highly developed but unwritten language. This language is now known as the Proto-Indo-European (PIE) language, and it came about from the distinct comparisons made for words, sounds, and expressions of the modern and ancient languages. Thanks to these discoveries, variations in words like the Bear made sense.
In Old Norse, as well as the descendants of the language, the Swedish and Danish, the Norse word for bear is ‘Bjorn.’ The word is believed to have been adopted from the Proto-Germanic word bernuz. Note, however, that the English version of the word is never used forbear, while the Old Norse word isn’t to be used to mean ‘Warrior,’ ever!
What does the bear symbolize in Norse mythology?
While all kinds of animals held deep meaning and were revered in Norse mythology, the bear appears to be at the top of the list of the revered animals.
In Norse mythology, bears held different meanings. Some of the myths around the roles of the bears in the Scandinavian communities include:
- The bear was the preferred disguise of the Gods
In Norse folklore, it is said that during Odin’s and Thor’s visits to the human world, the gods would appear disguised as bears. So, the bears would be looked upon, and they are said to symbolize strength, wisdom, and healing; and that they also brought balance between the seen and unseen world. The male bears are a representation of masculinity, while the female bears are symbols of femininity.
- Restrain for Fenrir, the Son of Loki
The bear’s most notable contribution is restraining Fenrir, the Son of Loki. The bear was one of the ingredients used in the leash (the Gleipnir) that would keep Fenrir restrained. Restraining Fenrir was important in ensuring that Kattegat was kept safe.
Norse Bear Names
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