Only in extreme cases
were wives or husbands ever "put aside" (divorced). An example in literature is
Sigimund in the Volsung Saga, who divorces his wife Borghilda after she poisons
his son Svenfjotli upon learning that Svenfjotli brought about the death of one
of her kinsman in a fair duel.
Rare was the barbarian who never married. Only those who worked with magic,
called vitki (wizards) and spae-crafters (seers or mystics) would live solitary
lives in order to better devote themselves to their magic.
Rarer yet was the practice of homosexuality in barbarian culture. Relations
between members of the same sex was not looked down upon for moral reasons such
as the Christians espoused, but for sheer practical ones: in a culture with very
few resources, the reproduction of the race was paramount. Again, it was
generally the vitki and spae-workers, if any, who engaged in such practices
(mainly for magical workings), and they were both venerated and feared for their
activities (both sexual and magical).
Regardless of class or level of sophistication, barbarians loved and
cherished their offspring. Recognizing that children were synonymous with their
future, barbarian parents did their best to raise their children to be able to
survive and thrive in the harsh conditions of their society and environment.
Discipline was strict, but not harsh, and tempered with mercy. It was not until
many centuries later, after the introduction of Christianity and the power of
the Medieval Church to these people, that they developed the concept of children
being "born in sin" and "inherently evil", in which discipline became harsh and
even cruel and abusive.
PART - 2
When a child was born, there was a waiting period of nine days before
the naming ceremony. This was in recognition that it would take the Soul nine
days, one for each world it passed through, to pass through the Nine Worlds of
the Germanic/Norse cosmology into Midgard (Earth) to claim its new form.
During those nine days, the newborn was considered to have no "Soul" and
therefore to be "not a person." It was over this time period that infants who
were deemed to be mentally and/or physically deficient were abandoned at a
crossroads, given over to Odin and Hel (Hulda, Holle).
From an early age, children were taught how to fend for themselves within
their culture. Fathers would take their sons with them to the fields or hunting;
daughters would learn from their mothers the arts of cooking, spinning, weaving,
and sewing. In high war-based societies, the young men would be taught the arts
of smithing, weaponry, fighting, and horsemanship. Barbarians also encouraged
play among their children.
Barbarian men and women were skilled craftsmen and were able to fashion
delightful toys for their children, including wooden dolls, warriors, animals,
and small, crude, but effective games.
Offenses against children were treated with the same importance as offenses
against adults. For that reason, practices of child molestation and abuse were
rare in this culture, compared to more Mediterranean cultures such as Greece
which practiced, and even sanctioned, paederasty in schools and other aspects of
As children grew and matured, they began being trained for their careers. In
more civilized Northern European cultures, a son could be apprenticed to a
craftsman for a trade, or he could follow along in his father's profession of
milling, baking, vinting, brewing, carpentry, lapidary, farming, trapping,
hunting, or other trades. War-based tribes had the more heroic young men
preparing to be warriors, or "thanes", under a Drighten (warlord) or king.
Young women continued to be schooled in the domestic arts, although many of
them could seek outside craft-oriented trades such as tailoring, lapidary, or
Although women could enter battle (and some, like Queen Boadicea, did lead
troops), this practice was very rare and not at all encouraged. Young women also
began being groomed for marriage, since matrimony was highly encouraged among
the Northern people.
By the age of 13-14, the adolescent male/female was ready for his/her
particular rite of passage into adulthood, and matrimony.
Contrary to popular opinion, most barbarians were not sword-swinging
adventurers. There were warriors, of course, mainly in large communities headed
by a drighten (warlord), but these served as guards for their tribe and in
waging raids on other tribes.
The bulk of landed barbarians were agrarians (farmers) and hunters. Neither
did these barbarians appear as bulky, muscle-bound heros.