Animal associations

Vikings and Animal Symbolism Explained

Warning: this article contains spoilers for The man from the north.

Animals play a big role in The man from the north and Nordic cultures that inspired the film and here is the meaning and symbolism of the animals present in the film. The man from the north is a Viking revenge epic directed by Robert Eggers, known for The witch and Lighthouse. Animals play a vital role in all of Eggers’ films, with the evil goat in The witch and the seagulls in Lighthousethe latter appearing as the ghosts of the sailors’ past. The man from the north continues this trend, and the animals in the film both influence the plot and educate the audience about the characters.

The characters of The man from the north are played by a stellar cast that includes Alexander Skarsgård, Anya Taylor-Joy, Ethan Hawke and Nicole Kidman, among others. Critics praised the cast and the film’s ability to immerse audiences in the world of 10th-century Iceland and the Viking culture that permeates the setting. Director Robert Eggers is known for his specificity and dedication to historical accuracy. This is in full display in The man from the north as it depicts Viking rituals and the brutality of certain tribes of warriors, such as berserkers.

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Some scenes in The man from the north may therefore seem odd at first, as Eggers never outright explains aspects of the film that were directly inspired by historical knowledge of Norse cultures and Icelandic sagas. One of these unexplained aspects concerns the animals of the film, four of which are the most present: bears, wolves, crows and foxes. Norse people believed that each animal was representative of certain characteristics, for example, foxes generally symbolize intelligence, protection and good fortune. This is displayed when the foxes help Amleth as he poses as a slave and initiates his final plan to get revenge on his uncle Fjölnir. With that in mind, here’s what the other animals in The man from the north symbolize and the true story of the Vikings’ connection with animals.

The Northman Fact Check: Scandinavians Believed in Spirit Animals

The Northman True Story Vikings and Animal Symbolism Explained

In Norse culture, people held a belief known as totemism. It is the belief that each person had a totem or spirit animal, which they also called fylgia. The five most common spirit animals in Norse culture were bears, wolves, birds, snakes, and boars. Since the Norse believed that each animal was representative of certain traits, when needed, people would call on their spirit animal in hopes that they would acquire the characteristics of said animal. One such example is the warrior tribes known as Úlfhédnar, who wore wolf skins when going into battle – like Amleth (Alexander Skarsgård) in The man from the north. These warriors called upon the powers of wolves before attacking their enemies. The Norse gods, otherwise known as the Æsir, also had spirit animals. Loki’s main spirit animal was a serpent, representing his cunning, while Hel, the goddess of the dead, had her black dog Garm as a spirit animal. The emphasis on totem animals in The man from the north is further proof that Robert Eggers conducts extensive research when constructing his films and is one of the key characteristics that allow his films to be so immersive.

The Northman Ritual Shows How Amleth Obtains His Spirit Animal

Some Norse groups believed that tribes and families could share totems, Amleth’s family in The Northman appears to be one such family. At the start of the film, Amleth and his father participate in a ritual with Willem Dafoe’s character, Heimir the Fool, where they imitate wolves by howling, growling, crawling and drinking from a bowl like dogs. . While this ritual seems to signify Amleth coming of age and includes the boy swearing revenge if his father is killed, more importantly, it seems to be how Amleth gets his spirit animal. Amleth’s spirit animal is a wolf, where he embodies a wolf’s bloodlust as he later bites a man’s throat and then howls. Amleth even wears a hat made from a wolf’s head during various scenes. Amleth reflects a wolf’s pack mentality as he seeks to protect his mother and exact revenge on his father’s behalf, but he also displays a wolf’s ability to be independent, as he is estranged from his family. at a young age and nevertheless survives. . The ritual in The man from the north This is how King Aurvandil (Ethan Hawke) emboldens Amleth with the wolf as his totem animal.

Viking Berserkers Believed Bears To Be Their Spirit Animals

the man from the north

After Amleth becomes a man, he becomes part of a group of berserkers. Although berserkers are most commonly associated with Norse tribes, there are references to warriors clad in bear and wolf hoods that date back to Roman times. In Old Norse texts, berserkers were said to be among the most feared warriors, due to their tendency to fight in trance-like states believed to be the result of the use of psychoactive drugs. They were recorded as fighting while screaming and foaming at the mouth – this state of fury gave way to the modern term of going “berserk.” The most disturbing aspect of berserkers was that in Hrólf Kraki’s saga, they are said to be able to transform into bears and use bear power in battle. Although this is probably an embellishment, it indicates that the berserkers considered the bear to be their spirit animal and would act like a beast to emulate the savagery of the bears. They believed they could harness the powers of bears and many were devoted to bear worship, the widespread bear worship throughout the northern hemisphere. As a berserker, Amleth evidently believes that a bear is also his spirit animal, as he refers to himself as the “wolf bear” in The man from the north.

Related: Why The Northman’s Reviews Are So Positive

King Aurvandil of the Northman was related to the crows

the man from the north

In the ritual of The man from the north, Amleth’s father, King Aurvandil, may have granted his son the wolf as a totem animal, however, Aurvandil is more related to crows. In the movie he is called “The Raven King” several times, or “War Raven King”, and his men carry banners with a raven seal. In Norse mythology, crows are most often associated with Odin, the father of the Norse gods. After Odin sacrificed his eye for wisdom, he relied on his two ravens Huginn and Muninn, who after a day of travel in Midgard would return to Odin each evening and report to him what they had seen. Beyond their association with Odin, crows are considered one of the most intelligent animals on earth, and as totem animals they symbolized prophecy and a helping hand. Therefore, when they appear at Amleth in The man from the north, they both remind Amleth of his destiny to kill Fjölnir (Claes Bang) and help him in this mission. At one point in the film, they peck at the rope that binds Amleth, freeing him and finally allowing him to challenge his uncle and exact revenge.

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