The Vikings Consumed Mushroom to Become Berserkers?

Posted by Ms Elly on

The Vikings Consumed Mushroom to Become Berserkers?

In the Viking legends, the berserkers were the most skilled warriors who would join battle without wearing any piece of armor. Many scholars do believe that the Viking berserkers existed only in legends, others claim that groups of Viking warriors must have consumed a kind of "drugs" to make them reach "their full potential in battle". 

Legend had it that the Viking berserkers came into war with only one thought: spare no life. They knew nothing but smash the shields of enemies and split them with their mighty axes. Some accounts told that they wore wolf or bearskin which coined them their "bear-skin" name. 

Recently, a group of scientists comes into the conclusion that these Viking warriors consumed a kind of mushroom to enter this trance.

Whether the Viking berserkers historically existed or not remains a mystery

Berserkers knew nothing but to kill and to join Valhalla with Odin the Allfather the Supreme Viking god that the berserkers worshipped

Of course, this kind of mushroom was not used for everyday meals. It contained an element that could make anyone who consumed it to go berserk. Amanita Muscaria is the mushroom name. Commonly, it is known as the Fly Agaric - classic red mushroom with white spots. The scientists believe that this kind of mushroom can cause hallucination, delirium, and other nasty symptoms. 

In one story, a Viking warrior was treated with a mushroom soup after his battle. All of a sudden, this warrior felt a source of energy running through his body and he was somehow recharged after drinking the soup. Seeing another warrior lying on the grass, this fully-recharged man came close and split the leg of the lying warrior for no specific reason. The scholars believe that this was a sign of hallucination after consuming the toxic mushroom. 

Other experts argue that these warriors were just men with epilepsy which made them grow up with larger size compared with ordinary people. However, this theory is not so widely accepted as that of the mushroom. 

Viking artifact depicting berserkers

Artifact depicting berserker with bear/wolf skin and spears

When the archaeologists found out inside a Viking grave with a pocket full of henbane, it aroused a question as to whether henbane was the cause of berserkers' trance. Inside the grave belonging to a Viking woman, the archaeologists found out the henbane pocket.

One more important thing was that the woman inside the buried seemed to hold a high social rank as a volva - a seeress in Viking society. This made them come into a belief that the woman offered the Viking warriors with this kind of seeds in formal ceremonies turning them into the most fierce warriors. 

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