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The Berserkrgangr: Going Forth


My name is Wayland Skallagrimsson, moderator of the somafera forum. Many years ago, when I first took my initiation into the practice of the berserkergang, I looked around online to find others like me, in the hopes of learning from those more experienced than myself. The best resource I found was a pair of websites by Gunnwar Skadhasdottir. Unfortunately, She left no contact information. Over the years I have tried looking for her, to no avail. Friends said she had dropped out of contact. There were rumors she was dead.

Eventually I formed the somafera forum, to attract other berserks to me, and this proved to be very successful. Eventually I found that Skadhasdottir's sites were down. I searched around, and found a copy of this one. (Unfortunately the other is lost.) So I am putting it up here so that it is not lost as a resource. If she is no longer online, I guess she won't mind. If she is... maybe my use of her writing will bring her to me, finally.

In any event; enjoy.


What do you feel when you enter the berserkrgangr state? What do you experience? If you have been in a berserkrgangr (and not every berserk has), then you know what it feels like to be literally ridden by energy that seems to control your thoughts, feelings, emotions, and actions. If you have not, that is well and good, for now. But someday, you may find yourself there without knowing how you got there and even worse, how to get back from there. Control of the large will also enable control of the small, as in broken dishes and feelings, or simple embarrassment at overexuberance not shared or understood by others.

"Going Berserk" is defined by Webster's Unabridged Dictionary as entering "into a state of violent rage or frenzy." Webster's further defines "frenzy" as: "wild excitement; frantic outburst; brief delirium that is almost insanity," and as: "passionate, madly excited." This is really a rather descriptive term for a berserkrgangr, which does not depend on rage alone, but on passion, or deeply felt emotion, which brings the mind to a level of high excitement.

Examination of the Norse terminology, however, adds to the definition. The word "gangr" means "going/faring." The meaning implies a form of "out," in the sense that you can "gangr" to the store, but you probably wouldn't "gangr" to read the book (as in: I am going to read this book.) The sense of "out" implicit in this term lends itself to the "letting out" or "expressing" of the "frenzy" that has been raised in the berserk state. It also has expression in the "going out" from one's body and ordinary senses.

Let us examine what happens during a berserkrgangr: the physical and emotional changes that one undergoes in this state. First, of course, is the emotion or feeling that "charges" the body. The vision begins to change. Everything will appear to become crisper and brighter, as if you have entered a bright room from a dark place. Then the visual field will "sparkle" and "waver" and things will become slightly out-of-focus. A checkered-type pattern follows. A red tinge will color the visual field, working from the sides toward the center. The red will then fade out to "animal vision." This is somewhat hard to describe, as the "seeing" is different from normal- - but there is more clarity and awareness to the vision. You may be aware of objects and people to your sides and behind that you couldn't possibly really see. The visual changes occur as the eyes physically change their shape, in a manner similar to focusing, only on a more extreme level (one reason why vision can deteriorate as a berserk ages--muscles become weak, damaged, or torn.)

The physical body will tense, and the hands may form into claws as a result of this tensing of the body. You may feel that you want to cry (a result of the eye changes-- and sometimes the reason why you may find yourself sobbing when you are really, really angry and cannot express it well.) The breathing may become rapid for a short period of time. As the body starts to oxygenate, the breathing will deepen into stomach/diaphragmatic breathing that is very similar to the meditative breathing taught in yoga, though it may seem shallow to outside observers. The face will flush red, as the muscles and the posture pull in. This is the peak of the "change," when the heart will "lock and load" (the feeling that it's been slammed against a wall doing 90 miles .an hour.) After the "change," the body posture and limbs reverse and "reach out," as the body muscles relax. (full-blown gangr.) You will start to assume animal posture.

Whatever emotions may have brought you to this state will now become very pure. There is hatred rather than anger, and an impersonalness and lack of human regard for those around you. It is cold, rather than hot-- logic, reasoning, and training will function- - but your focus is very directed. There is a joy and exultation running with it. A good sound track would probably be Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, "Ode to Joy," or even Rossini's "William Tell Overture."

These changes can occur in a matter of minutes or seconds, or they may come on so gradually that you are "there" in a long-term mild state without being fully aware of it.

Another phenomenon that frequently occurs is psychetachia. Psychetachia is a phenomenon in which time seems to slow down, and everything and everyone around you is moving in slow motion, but yourself. It is a distortion of the perception of time. It frequently can occur to normal people is stressful situations, such as car accidents, or to police officers in shooting situations. ,Well-trained martial artists can sometimes learn to bring it on at will. This phenomenon is a result of the altered state of the stressed brain fighting for survival, which is why it will more than likely occur in a full-blown berserkrgangr.

When in berserkrgangr, you are in a total state of "beingness." Whatever disturbs, or irritates, the sense of beingness can make you hate whatever it is.

When the berserkrgangr starts to end, a period of "frothiness" can occur. By "frothiness" is meant the throwing around of emotions and "snapping at thin air." It is possible to avert a berserkrgangr by "frothing" instead, but it isn't always desirable to do so.

The vision can become confused in images and somewhat disjointed. A reversal of the visual changes will take place as the eye resumes its normal shape. For a period of time afterwards, the vision will seem abnormally bright, with possibly a green tinge (counter-image to the red from the blood pumped into the eye initially.)

The body will experience physical lethargy that is proportionate to the amount of time spent in the berserkrgangr state. The muscles of the body will frequently spasm, making the jaw chatter and clench, and the hands form claws. The body will try to tense up, but it can't really because of the fatigue.

Emotionally, you will be very sensitive and may find yourself having the shakes and crying as the emotions surge up and down. Aurically, you will be very, very sensitive-- as if your aura had a bad sunburn and anything that touches it hurts like hell. A headache will usually occur, though for some reason there is usually a small portion of the brain that feels incredibly at peace (according to one berserk, about the only reason you don't just give up and die from the way you feel.)

Mentally you may feel like you want to go back into that state, and just stay there (ecstasy.) You may even try. But your body just won't handle it.

The description given here is rather clumsy, because it is difficult to try to describe a state that almost seems to need another language to define it. Our language is based on our human experience and relationship, but the berserkrgangr experience somewhat transcends the human experience. It is a shamanic experience; it. is a transforming experience. The berserkrgangr is truly an altered bodily state that alters the consciousness of the individual.

Now that we have looked at the experience of berserkrgangr from the inside, it is important to be able to understand why some of these things happen-- what their mechanisms are. You cannot live with, control, nor guide these energies, unless you understand what and why things happen.

As life happens, you will have to adapt and adjust to meet it. Unless you realize, and have the knowledge to figure out, what is going on with yourself (to have true self-knowledge) you can easily find yourself unable to contend with difficulties, and experiencing "blocks." Because a berserk's reactions to life are more extreme than most people's, this advice is much more important for them to follow than anyone else. Plan "A" may solve your problem today, but it may not tomorrow. But if you experience what Plan "A" does for you and you understand why, then you will be able to find for yourself an alternative solution, a Plan "B."

Most importantly, by studying the extremes, you can learn to recognize the lesser states that are so easy to fall into for long periods of time. You can really put yourself into an emotional spin this way, without mentioning what you can do to the physical body!

So, enough lecture. The body basically functions like a loop system between the brain, the body systems, and the hormones/enzymes. Notable examples of this co-functioning are the menstrual cycle in women, the hunger/eat cycle, and the infamous "fight or flight" adrenaline syndrome. Each of these systems involves the brain initiating an activity that acts upon a body system, which then feeds back to the brain, which will eventually shut of f the activity.

In a berserker, the brain initiates the flow of hormones and enzymes that work on systems throughout the body. They become "charged," and when fully "charged," the brain acts to "discharge" the body's systems. Of course, this is an oversimplification. But the reason why I choose to describe it in this way is that a berserkrgangr can occur on a mental/emotional/ astral level- - when you are writing music, a book, doing seidhr, or having an orgasm. What is important to know is that the energy will be discharged, MUST be discharged, whether it is through a physical action or not. THIS IS ALSO WHY A BERSERK AND THE BERSERKRGANGR IS NOT A MEWING, FROTHING DISPLAY OF BAD TEMPER. Beethoven might have been hard to get along with, and so might Egill Skallagrimsson-- but they chose to "discharge" through the artistic media of music and poetry respectively.

Of course, gross physical actions will discharge it more efficiently, and more quickly. Learning to recognize by "feel" the emotional state of your brain, the way the energy comes "up" and goes "down," practicing different mechanisms to "release" the energy and how it feels to do so, and keeping the body in tune to be able to handle the energies to the best of its ability (berserks can be prone to neglecting their bodies horribly because they are so used to having them function when someone else might be falling down that they get spoiled.)

The berserkrgangr can be brought into a trained state and used at will. But that requires hours and years of dedicated training and understanding of yourself and the mechanisms of a berserkrgangr. It can take a much shorter period of time to learn to live comfortably with yourself, which is not the same thing as learning to deliberately induce a "gangr" and keep it fully under one's control. There is the same difference in learning to defend oneself in a street fight, and in achieving mastery of a martial art.


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