Did the vikings eat fly agaric mushrooms before they went to battle?

Jul 2010
75
So, theres a popular belief that the vikings, and in particular the viking berserks, would eat a poisonious mushroom called fly agaric, before going into a fight with their opponents. It was first suggested back in 1784 by a professor of theology, who believed that fly agaric mushrooms would be given to some of the most fearsome vikings, who would then go berserk as described in the old norse saga.

Torstein_nordstrand-wolfkin_skirmishers[1].jpg
 
Nov 2018
351
Denmark
There is no telling whether the Vikings consumed hallucinogens before going to battle.
Moreover, it doesn’t sound likely, because when you're high on something you can't fight very effectively.
The fact that they might have looked deep into the beer barrel is an entirely different matter.
As for the berserkers, there are also no reports that they took something.
Possibly, they have used rituals and self-hypnosis to get into a state of rage and invulnerability to weapons.
However, it is not unlikely that they have learned to use fly agaric of Sami shamans.
Another option is henbane, whose seeds have been found in connection with excavations from the Viking Age in both Denmark, England, Ireland and Russia.
Henbane has also been added to the beer to jazz it up.
 
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Nov 2016
1,115
Germany
I wouldn't put the theory aside so quickly. Combined with a considerable amount of alcohol, it cannot be ruled out that fly agarics have an aggression-increasing effect on people who are already very aggressive. That these mushrooms are highly toxic is a fairy tale created to deter people from using them. A girl once led me to a place in the Bavarian forest where these things grow, and we ate them right away. There were no physical problems afterwards.


The ingestion of hallucinogenic mushrooms by Siberian tribes of the Kamchatka peninsula and by Indians of the Mexican highlands has been carried out in ritual and orgy for centuries. Ødman and Schübeler have advanced the hypothesis that the furious rage of the Berserks in the heyday of Viking culture a thousand years ago was brought about by the same agency, specifically the Amanita muscaria mushroom. A few years ago it was found that these fungi contain bufotenine, or n-n-dimethyl serotonin, a substance which is under scrutiny at this time for its possible neurochemical role in the causation of schizophrenia. Recent observations on the intravenous injection of bufotenine in man disclose that it is an hallucinogen, and that its psychophysiological effects bear a resemblance to the Berserksgang of the Norsemen in the time of the Sagas. These observations appear to offer support to the Ødman-Schübeler contention that the famed fury of the Berserks was what we would call a model psychosis today.
 
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