Lately, a new kind of music has infiltrated my playlists and fire dance performances: Viking music. When I first heard the magnificent song in the video below — Helvegen*, or The Road to Hel, I was instantly smitten, and not just because I work with Hel, the Norse goddess of the peaceful death realm. I was instantly drawn into the majesty and beauty of this song and the musicians’ abilities to weave Viking/ pagan/polytheistic spirituality into music.
It’s easy to feel the spirit soar when listening to these songs, with their natural drums, pipes, and strong, throaty vocals. After a few weeks of searching and buying a lot of albums, I found I was completely hooked on the genre, even before I started watching the pagan tv show Vikings, with its great soundtrack. In fact, watching the show only deepened my love for pagan Viking music. There’s something about it that makes me feel connected to my Norse ancestors’ past. When listening, I feel entrenched in the realm of the old gods.
Here are some of the most popular Viking musicians, many of whom are Asatru/pagan/polytheistic.
Wardruna is a Nordic band whose members summon the old gods and are described as “a conjunction of the earthy, the organic, and the ethereal.” The foreman, Einar Selvik, identifies as a polytheistic/animistic heathen heavily influenced by Asatru.
He compares their performances to ritual or a ceremony, and it’s clear to me that there’s quite a bit of power in their music. They’re touring right now, but I wasn’t able to make it to the coasts to see this amazing band.
Many of the songs are made only with reconstructed instruments, though a synthesizer can be heard now and again. Sometimes, the lyrics are from ancient Norse poems, but many of the lyrics are new, which is fine with me. Some even remind me of my favorite pagan gathering drum circles.
The other major musician on the Viking music scene is Danheim, a Danish Viking band who uses most, if not all, traditional instruments. Denmark is called the “spiritual and historic home of the Vikings” by some. Their music doesn’t have a lot of lyrics, but the musicians make up for it in the raw ambience of sound.
Check out the tracks below, which start with the powerful Ivar’s Revenge, then slides into other songs such as Temple of Odin.
Danheim is also firmly in the pagan realm, as is evident in his quote, “a Viking lifestyle can be learned and practiced by anyone who wishes to walk the path of the old Nordic gods.” That’s pretty much the definition of Asatru, the pagan Norse religion. Danheim makes a couple of albums a year, and they’re all excellent.
Another modern Scandinavian pagan band on the scene is Heilung, whose music might best described as pre-Viking, Bronze age trance. I didn’t find any solid evidence about whether they are pagan/polytheistic/Asatru, but they have been said to “tap into their Viking heritage” and they wear horns unlike anyone else.
Other musicians/bands include Eivor,
Mari Boine and Liu Sola,
Adrain Von Zeigler,
While I’m unclear whether all of the musicians mentioned here are pagan/Asatru/polytheistic/etc., listening to their music brings me into a spiritual state, which is sometimes primal, sometimes mystical. I’m so grateful for this genre of music, as it has brought me much strength and joy.
Let me know if I left out any of your favorite musicians. I’m always interested in finding more great Viking music. Skol!
~ Align with Starlight Witch ~
* Although the Nordic singer Aurora doesn’t usually sing with Wardruna, I included this video because it’s such a great introduction to the Viking music genre.