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The Clan of the Wolf was all-powerful in 2019, but now is the time of the Clan of the Bear…
It is said that the berserkers drew their power from the bear as devotees to the bear cult, which was once widespread across the northern hemisphere. The berserkers maintained their religious observances despite their fighting prowess, as the Svarfdæla saga tells of a challenge to single-combat that was postponed by a berserker until three days after Yule. The bodies of dead berserkers were laid out in bearskins before their funeral rites. The bear-warrior symbolism survives to this day in the form of the bearskin caps worn by the guards of the Danish monarchs.
During the battle, berserkers were subject to fits of frenzy, that they would howl like wild beasts, foam at the mouth, and gnaw the iron rim of their shields; during these fits, they were immune to steel and fire and made great havoc in the ranks of the enemy. When the fever abated, they were weak and tame.
To “go berserk” was to “hamask”, which translates as “change form”, in this case, as with the sense “enter a state of wild fury”. Some scholars have interpreted those who could transform as a berserker was typically as “hamrammr” or “shapestrong” – literally able to shapeshift into a bear’s form. For example, the band of men who go with Skallagrim in Egil’s Saga to see King Harald about his brother Thorolf’s murder are described as “the hardest of men, with a touch of the uncanny about a number of them … they [were] built and shaped more like trolls than human beings.” This has sometimes been interpreted as the band of men being “hamrammr”, though there is no major consensus. Another example of “hamrammr” comes from the Saga of Hrólf Kraki. One tale within tells the story of Bödvar Bjarki, a berserker who can shapeshift into a bear and uses this ability to fight for king Hrólfr Kraki. “Men saw that a great bear went before King Hrolf’s men, keeping always near the king. He slew more men with his forepaws than any five of the king’s champions.
So, to celebrate these illustrious warriors, we now give you the dedicated HRH: Clan of the Bear Limited Edition Tee to coincide with Xmas and to give someone something extra special and unique or just treat yourself!
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