While binging History channel's Vikings, a scene appeared where they tossed a plant on the fire that created vivid hallucinations while a character told the story of Ragnorok. Though it is unlikely they were suggesting it was cannabis, it did send us down the rabbit hole on whether or not historical Vikings actually used cannabis. Our little adventure into the past made for some interesting education.
It is known that many cultures used cannabis for fiber production, and the Vikings were no different. According to Ancient Origins, a farmstead belonging to a Viking settlement was discovered in France, stating, "Sosteli is located much less centrally than other places where similar findings have been made, indicating that cannabis cultivation was common throughout the Viking Age."
Psyc, a website dedicated to scientific news, released an article with details about a Viking burial ship that was discovered in Oseburg. They state, "Among the numerous objects is a small leather bag containing cannabis, found on one of the two women buried with the longship dug up at Oseberg." They also noted that the cannabis seeds found with one of the women may have been used for either medical or recreational purposes.
Though there is no for sure way of knowing if Vikings used cannabis for recreational or medical purposes, there is evidence that they used the fibers for textiles and other necessary goods such as rope, as shown by the Sosteli farmstead. However, Vikings were among some of the earliest travelers to visit foreign countries, including those who did use cannabis for recreational and medical purposes. With each discovery, we gain another piece of the puzzle.
The Vikings were a diverse and complex people who sailed to new lands in the names of their gods and goddesses. It's no wonder that cannabis had a place in their culture. And as we relearn how to unlock the full potential of the cannabis plant, we are retracing the footsteps of the past.