The Viking Legacy
Outside of Copenhagen there is a museum dedicated to Viking culture and history. The museum guides took us out sailing on a replica of a viking sailboat and showed us how the Vikings made rope from flax seed and seal skin. The art and artifacts showed traces of both Christianity and pre-Christian mythology. The tapestry shown below (which is from Christiansborg Palace in Copenhagen, not the Viking museum) gives a beautiful representation of the Vikings' golden age.
My favorite place that I went by myself was Roskilde, the home of one of Denmark's most famous cathedrals. Roskilde cathedral was the first Gothic cathedral in the world to be built out of brick. Inside, I saw breathtaking frescoes, thought-provoking tombs, and a wall of portraits of every bishop that has served the cathedral since its 12-century construction.
While visiting the Roskilde cathedral, I reflected a lot on the Protestant reformation and on my family's roots in this religion, even though I was not raised with a religion. I thought about how the Lutherans' impulse to read and study and discover the truth within one's conscience had influenced my way of thinking (and indeed had influenced the entire New Thought movement). The metaphor of a church as a voyaging spiritual ship also resonated with me, especially in the context of experiencing kirkehygge with my family.
I also recalled being in Guatemala and hearing Bruno's comment to me about el evangelio (remember, this is the Spanish word for the Protestant religion). He told me I had an affinity for the evangelio, and he said this with such an auspicious smile that I wondered all this time what he had meant. After all, in Guatemala I was more interested in indigenous spirituality than the colonial religion. And yet, now that I was connecting with my own roots, I realized what Bruno must have seen: he saw in me a lineage of spiritual practice rooted in how we read and study and reflect deeply on the truth, and even come together to share it with hygge.
Sitting inside the Roskilde Cathedral and in the churches in Møn, I could feel my Nordic ancestors calling, just like the ancestral voices that call to the Mapuche through the wind. And yet I sensed that there was something deeper that preceded their identity as Christians. To find out what it was, I needed to get out of the church and the city. I needed to sleep under the stars in the very place in which my ancestors originated: Norway.