Aside from the Princess Kwentirith and her strangeness ( as if that isn’t enough for anyone to handle!) there was so much other strangeness going that it was difficult to keep up with it! Before we see what the next chapter reveals, we should look at those odd events. When we spoke of Torstein’s fate, and of Kwentirith, I mentioned some celebration which included mushrooms? I believe those mushrooms were part of the cause for the lack of treatment to Torstein’s arm. So, first let us look at that celebration and those mushrooms.
Of important note relating to this celebration involving mushrooms- mushrooms have been long known for their hallucinogenic properties and are still often used in many shamanic rituals and vision quests. In a previous episode, Floki fed his friends a certain type of mushroom, “food of the Gods” to put them into death like trance. Mushrooms have often been referred to as food of the Gods because of their various hallucinogenic properties and other affects. One must be extremely cautious when eating mushrooms and know exactly what kind they are eating. Some will cause the hallucinations, some will have the death trance affect, and yet other will cause types of crazed behavior such as that of going Berserker… A number of resources have made reference to the Norse people using mushrooms to help achieve that Berserker affect.
Mushrooms as food of Gods
After the battle with Kwentirith’s Uncle, the group engaged in celebration that centered around the eating of mushrooms. Their celebration turned bizarre to say the least! Floki, after ingesting some of them, found Kwentirith’s behavior amusing and had no issue with going out to retrieve her Uncle’s head for her to chop into bits!
Whether Kwentirith’s behavior was due partially to ingestion of said shrooms or her general insanity is uncertain…
I should mention here that Aethelwulf and his Priest were not impressed or amused by the celebration or the behaviors that ensued!
I hate to admit it, but it was our Rollo who was responsible for encouraging the consumption of large quantities of the mushrooms. Being a good friend and good host, he offered his find to everyone, including Torstein. Rollo offered Torstein mushrooms as a form of pain relief, which I suppose could go to his favor as he was trying to aid his friend in the only way he knew of at the time?
Rollo’s behavior due to the mushrooms was by far the most bizarre and begs to answer the question of, “How many mushrooms are too many?” Rollo obviously consumed far too many of the shrooms!
To say that Rollo’s behavior was bizarre would be understating and putting it mildly? It started as just a curious observation on his part of watching the group of prisoners and then descended into an obsessive thought concerning one captive and his leg?
After chopping off the offensive leg, Rollo staggers away and realizes that yes, maybe there is such a thing as too many mushrooms?
The shrooms did have some helpful affect on Torstein… he was so dazed that he did not seem phased by Rollo’s act other than to casually ask, “Why did you do that?” Rollo’s reply… “It was that leg, I did not like the angle of it!”
Rollo’s ingestion of said shrooms also affected him in that after a rather embarrassing encounter with Kwentirith, he found the whole event hilarious?
I do think that they all embibed far too many mushrooms and their next action was a direct result of that…
It did have the desired affect of scaring the crap out of their enemy but once the shrooms wore off, they were then faced with another rather nasty after affect? While it seemed like a great idea at the time, it was one of those things where you rethink your decision once you have to clean it all up the next day!
The other strangeness had nothing to do with mushrooms or celebrating… though, I do wonder if the women perhaps being bored- were ingesting a few mushrooms of their own? This event took place in Kattegat and involved the women left behind. Aslaug, Helga and Siggy were left behind at Kattegat to fend for themselves… This event could only be described as “Nightmare in Kattegat”! The women began having an odd shared dream experience where they each saw the same strange man, and the impending death of their ancient Seer?
I can not discount the idea or concept of shared dreams because I have had my own personal experience involving them. For me it had nothing to do with the mystical or religious/spiritual ritual connotations but was more of what I believe might have been some past life memory that we all might have shared? I will delve more into it in a separate post at a later time. I just mention it because, having had my own experience with the shared dreams, this event struck a chord with me. I do believe that they exist for any number of different reasons. They come from some deeper place in our consciousness and serve to connect our spirits or souls in some way to teach us a group lesson, to possibly bond us together for some reason? These three women left in Kattegat are three very different women going on very different paths of life. They are not necessarily that good friends with each other, but they do have one thing in common. These women are deeply rooted in the old religion, the old ways and they are not yet swayed or prone to believing in the new Christian religion. While the others travel to England and become more exposed to new beliefs and traditions, these three women will hold more firmly to their own ways and beliefs. Aslaug was considered to be a Volva or seer in her own right. What the dreams mean to them, or are predicting is uncertain as yet. There any number of things that they could be representing and everyone has their own theory on what the dreams are foreshadowing or telling us. Their dreams are of a wandering traveler arriving at their village. All of the women agree that part of the dream is not frightening but exciting? It is a dream from which they are disappointed to wake from and realize it is not real. They look forward to this stranger coming. In their dreams, he arrives with one hand covered in blood and the other hand holding a ball of flaming snow? The dream that disturbs them is one of the death of their ancient Seer… What should we read into these dreams? I really have no more idea than the women at this point! Could the wanderer be Odin in disguise, some think this a possibility. Could the death of the Seer be a representation of the death or demise of their religion, their beliefs? I think this could be a good possibility. If that is the case, then does the Wanderer have something to do with bringing about this demise, this change? Is he some sort of prophet sent to test them and tempt them? Or is he just some sort of Charlatan or trickster who sees lonely gullible women to take advantage of with intent to sell them some fabrication of his creation?
Shared Dreaming- does it exist?
As I stated, perhaps they were a bit bored, a bit frustrated, and a bit worried about their futures? They were wandering around Kattegat with far too much free time on their hands and their minds…
The curious and mysterious dream of a strange wanderer turned to a nightmare of seeing their Seer slaughtered, coved in blood…
Awaking from the nightmare, they all tried to assure each other that is was just a bad dream… Yes, just a bad dream
Or was it? The wanderer that they had seen in their dreams made his appearance in Kattegat!
These three women will be tested, tempted and each will fight their own personal inner battle- perhaps that is what the Wanderer is there for? To simply guide these women through their own choices and set them on their own varying paths of life. While the Wanderer is testing these women in Kattegat, in England Athelstan faces his own tests of faith.
There are so many layers of subtle clues and connections that it is difficult to pinpoint them all! I do find it interesting and curious that while the Wanderer is dripping blood from his injured hand, Athelstan is also dripping blood from his own hands? Athelstan makes a very profound and prophetic analogy too, when he is trying to explain the differences in beliefs but mentions how closely they are actually connected. His comparison of Odin dying on a tree and being reborn to Christ being crucified and resurrected speaks volumes in connecting the two religions. In his thoughtful perception that Odin’s death and rebirth story was so similar but happened so many centuries before the story of Christ, Athelstan was able to bridge that basic lack of understanding and acceptance of beliefs. Would it sink in and have affect on the others he spoke to such as Judith? That remains to be seen. Ecbert already has an understanding and some acceptance of the concept but he has a higher priority that concerns him. Whether Ecbert believes in Christianity or not is rather a moot point… he understands the power of the Christian Church, the politics of that Church. He knows that in order to continue with his own quest for power, he needs the backing of the Church. Ecbert will play the good and devout Christian because it is in his best interests to do so. Lagertha is faithful to Odin and her beliefs, but in all reality, Odin has not been all that generous or kind to her lately? If she should face yet another crisis in her life and feel let down or feel that Odin has once more turned his back upon her, she may be open to other options… She is also a very intelligent woman who will make her own choices and decisions based on what she sees and experiences. Ragnar is already at the point of questioning his beliefs because of Athelstan’s guidance, so Lagertha may make her own way down that path as well. Judith, a devout Christian would have the most difficult time accepting any religion or belief system that goes against her own. Her mind is so engrained in the Church’s teachings that to question anything different would be almost impossible for her to comprehend.
Athelstan is destined to a higher purpose in life. His mind, his body and his soul are being tested now and it seems that it will only be a matter of time before he passes these tests and is called back to God? He has already had an affect on both Ecbert and Ragnar… how many others will his spirit touch before he leaves this earth. Peacemakers such Athelstan made it possible for some to find a way of accepting other beliefs than their own. Many of the people who converted to Christianity in the beginning did so because they already had a belief in more than one God, so in their mindset, they could look upon the Christian God as just another of the many Gods they held belief in. It is far easier to accept one God into a house of many than it is to share your one personal God with a whole house of other ones. Many early converts also saw the advantages and benefits that the all powerful church could provide and thus went along with the ruse of belief even if they thought it was all nonsense?
Setting Athelstan’s personal struggles aside for now- he is struggling with those more earthly lessons of passion and desire… and is being tested in that area by the Lady Judith. She is also being tested greatly and as her Father in law, King Ecbert reminds her, she is treading in dangerous waters with her desire and fascination for Athelstan. This is a personal test for both of them and what ever the results, I am sure they will both suffer some consequence for it. There is a far greater test facing Athelstan right now that involves all of the new settlers as well, including Lagertha.
I have mentioned previously, the wounds on Athelstan’s hands that do not seem to ever heal completely. Those wounds occurred when he was tortured and crucified by other “Christian” Priests…
Ecbert saved his life that day and their bond began there.
Now, he seems marked forever by God and though he does not seek or want the attention, his affliction is seen as a mark of holiness and greatness by some? So, while Athelstan does not reach for fame or want it, he will most likely receive it. It is a belief of the Norsemen that fame and reputation are the greatest of gifts and accomplishments that one could receive from the Gods. They often desire and crave it more than anything else, for then when you enter Valhalla, the Gods will know of you from your actions and your fame on earth? Kalf in Hedeby- the one who would betray Lagertha for such greatness speaks of this exact desire. His one goal, his one desire is to be as famous as Ragnar, so that all will know his name.
Kalf does not really care how he becomes famous, only cares that the Gods know his name and remember him? He will do anything to pursue this greatness while Athelstan on the other hand, would most likely do anything not to be so famous?
It remains to be seen yet as to how the Gods and the spinners of fate will answer Kalf’s wishes? Meanwhile, God has already given Athelstan his destiny whether he wants it or not…
Stigmata (singular stigma) is a term used by members of the Christian faith to describe body marks, sores, or sensations of pain in locations corresponding to the crucifixion wounds of Jesus Christ, such as the hands, wrists, and feet.
The term originates from the line at the end of Saint Paul‘s Letter to the Galatians where he says, “I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.” Stigmata is the plural of the Greek word στίγμα stigma, meaning a mark, tattoo, or brand such as might have been used for identification of an animal or slave. An individual bearing stigmata is referred to as a stigmatic or a stigmatist.
Stigmata are primarily associated with the Roman Catholic faith. Many reported stigmatics are members of Catholic religious orders. St. Francis of Assisi was the first recorded stigmatic in Christian history. For over fifty years, St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin reported stigmata which were studied by several 20th-century physicians.
Athelstan’s hands that will not heal and that often drip blood are his destiny, his fate… they are his God’s mark, his testimony and his lesson to others? God has sent this sign through Athelstan to show others. Actions speak louder than words… While Athelstan is a gifted teacher, speaker and preacher, sometimes it takes more than words to convince people. The settlers are all pagans who deeply resent the Christian interference in their lives. When Lagertha settled into the new home, Ecbert made much of insisting that Athelstan bless the home. This offended some of the people. It caused anger and dissent between our own people, some of whom were already feeling a pull towards these new beliefs.
It was some time after this house blessing event that Athelstan came to us in great despair and concern… he was as frightened and alarmed as the rest of us were by his hands! He entered the house and called to us in much emotional if not physical pain. When Lagertha turned and saw his hands, her fear and puzzlement were apparent on her face. None knew what to make of this sudden pouring out of blood from his hands.
Even I, being a half hearted, doubtful and non-practicing Christian who has heard of such things before, was at a complete loss for words or explanation. If it should scare me, then I can only imagine what thoughts ran through everyone else’s minds and hearts? It is one of those events that causes you to pause, wonder and fear that is truly a sign from God, or the Gods… and then your next thought is immediately of what could it mean? It is a much soul shocking event that unsettles even the most rational and logical minds!
What is the reason, what does it mean? Right now, I am as puzzled and fearful as all others… I have no rational answers or explanations! I only know that my personal faith is being questioned and tested as are those of so many others here and in Kattegat. For the time being, all I can do is put my faith in the Spinners of Fate- those most ancient ones who sit together weaving our lives and our destinies. Those spinners of fate, I do believe in. They weave all of our lives together in a pattern, a story that unfolds over time with no regard or concern for our personal choices of which God, which King, which road or river to follow. We think that we make the choices, but really they will take us where they choose in the end. I will content myself with that and I will simply follow where they lead me to.