Mythical Monday: Berserkr Bloodlust by Mae Clair

Happy Mythical Monday, friends! Let’s start today with a question–how would you like to face a towering, snarling, foaming-at-the-mouth Norse warrior whose sole purpose in life was to bring destruction and death?

No? Well, “Berserkrs” as they were known, lived for the sole intent of wreaking havoc on their enemies. Brutal, blood-thirsty kill-at-all cost havoc. These guys were specialized warriors who normally dressed in a shirt or coat made from the pelt of a bear–which they probably mauled to death with their teeth and hands. Okay, author opinion. Point is they were lethal.

bigstock-Sexy-powerful-warrior-screamin-39922279As much as I’m a fan of Norse mythology, the legend of Berserkrs is not one I can warm up to. When under the influence of the berserkergang (the fit of madness that drove normally sane men to become killing machines), a Berserkr didn’t have the mental capacity to tell friend from foe. Bad news if you had one in the family.

The fit could befall them in battle but also when engaged in physical labor. Intense toil of any kind paved the way for a trance-like state, during which the Berserkr could perform feats impossible for mere mortals. The onslaught usually began with a bout of shivering and teeth-chattering. The man’s face swelled and changed color, all signals for anyone in the vicinity to hightail it in the opposite direction. Once consumed by the berserkergang, the man flew into a blind rage, howling like an animal, destroying everything in his path. Neither fire nor iron had any effect on a Berserkr. Clubs and blunt instruments were the best defense, but the odds of bringing a Berserkr down were slim. When the episode was over, the man succumbed to a feeble state of mind which could last for days.

There are some people who attribute the werewolf legend to Berserkrs, one an offshoot of the other. In some tales, a Berserkr is able to change into animal form and become a bear or wolf. It’s also rumored certain medical conditions or consuming food or drink with psychoactive drugs was responsible for creating the berserkergang.

Some Nordic warriors deliberately sought to induce the madness by working themselves into a blood fury before combat. Many times they strode naked into battle but for a bear skin. Reputation and terror were great for leveling a battlefield. If you saw a gigantic nude warrior charging toward you howling like an animal, impervious to swords and fire, you’d hoist the surrender flag and turn tail. Exactly what many of the Norsemen’s foes did.

I enjoy reading about Vikings. I especially love a good Viking romance with a Norse hero. Just leave the berserkgang tendency someplace else please. What about you? Are you a Viking girl/guy  or do you prefer another type of hero/heroine in your stories?

Mae Clair’s Winter Celebration

We all know the world is ending today according to the Mayan Calendar . . . well, actually they ran out of room and neglected to chisel a new set of hieroglyphics for the next century.  That aside, (yeah, I know it’s hard to be blasé about  an apocalyptic event, but Y2K had it wrong first), today is also the first day of winter and the Winter Solstice. It’s the longest day of the year which means dark falls early.

Seems like an odd day for celebration.

Usually, my husband and I will fill  mugs with coffee or hot chocolate and drive around looking at displays of Christmas lights (not sure that’s going to happen this year as he’s fighting a bad cold). Occasionally, I’ve even packed cookies in the car to make the event more festive. By this time, we pretty much have a handle on the holidays. Decorations are up, cards are mailed, shopping is done, and it’s a time to kick-back and enjoy a bit of seasonal fun. I still have gifts to wrap, but I always reserve that for Christmas Eve during the day.

I can’t say I’m all that thrilled to officially usher in a season of cold, snow and ice, but there’s a spark of magic to be found in the mix. A stillness that settles on the land, especially at night, when the surroundings are wrapped in a hush. It’s an ageless music, underscored by a whisper of earth and sky, something the Vikings surely heard as they trekked across plateaus of snow ribboned with skeins of ice. As much as I could embrace a sun-kissed lifestyle in a tropical setting, I’d have to visit northern climates for the occasional dose of snow and cold. Sporadically, you understand, because winter isn’t without perks.

Happy couple near fireplaceCold weather is great for snuggling with your guy or curling up in front of a warm fire. If you’re the outdoorsy type there’s sledding, tobogganing and ice-skating. For astronomers or amateur stargazers, winter is the best time for viewing the heavens. The stars are like cut crystal on a bed of black licorice. They never seem closer.

You might say the romantic in me prefers to overlook the less savory unappealing okay, downright nasty features that go hand-in-hand with winter in the northern hemisphere.Things like snow shoveling, falling on the ice (been there, done that), scraping the windshield because-the-weather-guys-had-the-forecast-wrong-again-and-your-car-got-iced-while-you-were-at-work. There’s also the ever popular getting stuck on the drive home because you didn’t bring the SUV (see reference to highly inaccurate weather guys). And then there’s my favorite – – hives.

Yes, folks, I suffer from something called cold urticaria, a lovely little perk I developed during the Blizzard of ‘93.  If I’m exposed to the cold for an extended period of time, I break out in hives, yet another argument for living in a warm climate. My husband tells me I’m like a tropical fish who needs a minimal temperature of 76 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit to exist.

So assuming we’re all still around tomorrow and the world doesn’t implode, what do you like most about winter? What do you like least? I’d love to hear your opinions as the solstice and the purported end of the world draw nigh. After all, this might be your last chance to share. 😉