The Berserkir Rage

The legendary Viking warriors known as berserkirs were renowned for their ferocity in battle, purportedly fighting in a trancelike state of blind rage (berserkergang), howling like wild animals, biting their shields, and often unable to distinguish between friend and foe in the heat of battle. But historians know very little about the berserkers apart from scattered Old Norse myths and epic sagas.

WIRED magazine

The berserkir rage is not derived from anger. It’s an altered state of mind, likely enhanced by consuming a mushroom called Amanita muscaria, or a flowering plant known as henbane. These are very toxic but have hallucinogenic properties.

This state allowed the warrior to bypass fear and ignore pain. It was a fierce, primal place that was ideal for striking terror in enemies (and occasionally allies).

Today we associate the term “going berserk” as a fit of uncontrolled anger. But these kinds of outbursts are not akin to the berserkir rage. What we see today is a fit that results from the personal inability to control one’s own emotions. It is weak, not strong.

A modern berserkir will likely never find themselves in the same hand-to-hand, brutal combat that the Viking berserkir found themselves. However the rage state is not only for combat. The intent you take with you when you enter an altered state will define how you use it.

Some mundane examples: exercise, physical projects such as house work or yard work, dancing, sex, creative endeavors

How you reach that state can take many forms (I don’t recommend consuming toxic plants without knowing what you are doing). There are a lot of safer plant and fungi based alternatives. And for those who don’t feel comfortable with psycho-actives, altered states can be induced with light and sound (for me strobes and heavy bass EDM beats work great together).

The berserkir rage still has value today. It’s not a recreational activity, but one of purpose, focus and power. It’s primal and can be productive, intense and satisfying.

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