Week 3: We designed our own personal totems and burned them into wooden cutting boards.
Kings, Jarls, Karls, Bondsmen and Thralls were all part of the Viking Caste System. It is very similar to the class system in medieval Europe. Jarls were the nobles. Karls were free men who practiced a trade such as farming and the smithy. Thralls and bondsmen were both slaves. Thralls usually became slaves after being captured in battle, whereas bondsmen were Vikings who couldn't pay their debt. They therefore became slaves until their debt was paid.
Here's a fun role playing activity for kids to gain a better understanding of the Viking Caste System.
1. Give each child a slip of paper with a colored dot. (one red dot, three blue dots, yellow dots for all other children).
2. The adult running the activity is declared king. The person with the red dot is the jarl, the blue dots are karls and the yellow dots are thralls.
3. Next the jarl must to swear allegience to the king, by bowing. The karls to the jarls and the thralls to the karls.
4. Then the king tells the jarl what to do... "find men for war". The jarl carries out the king's wishes and directs the karls. The karls carry out the jarls wishes and the thralls do what the jarls tell them.
5. Pass paper to child on left and repeat activity.
The Vikings had spiritual beliefs associated with animals. Different animals had characteristics which distinguished them. Some were thieves, some protected their young, some were showy, and others were fierce. Many of the ways animals are portrayed in fairy tales (the sly fox) we are familiar with, came from animal spirituality of past cultures known as totems. OOcities provides a long list of animals and their totem characteristics.
After learning about different totem animals, the children each chose animals they felt a kin to and designed a personal totem.
Then the totems were burned onto wooden cutting boards.