Originally Posted by Runesinger
OK, now I have to stand up against a common misconception about Norse beliefs. The Norse society was not patriarchal in nature. Both men and women held a more balanced status of differing abilities and strengths. Norse society recognized that men and women were not the same, but equal.
The use of the Patronymic in naming and the prowess of men in feats of physical strength and battle would tend to make one think that Norse society was male-dominated.
However, women were seen as greater in spiritual/psychic abilities. The Norse version of shaman, the Seidhkona, was almost exclusively a female role. Women were also seen as the lore-keepers. They had great authority in rulings on law and customs.
Women were the source of wisdom in the community. Women were expected to grow in wisdom as they matured. Consequently, as a woman grew older, her value in the community increased. This is a very different view from our youth-obsessed modern society.
Th sagas have many incidents where great heroes sought wisdom from their grandmothers. Even the name "Edda" comes from the old Icelandic word from "Great-Grandmother," for a Great-grandmother would be seen as the greatest source of wisdom. The older women were often counseled before a battle.
This is not to sat that women stayed home while men went to battle. There were sagas that showed husband and wife fighting side-by-side. Also single women went to battle as shield-maidens (Skjoldmar).
In Norse society there was more cross-over in gender roles. Each person did what he or she did best. The Norse environment was harsh, and everyone had to perform to their greatest potential.
I never meant to say that they were unequal in culture or anything Runesinger (far from the truth, it's one of the traits I'm most proud of in fact); I was just mentioning a comparison between the two cultures. I was mainly referring to the "Patronymic in naming" in my post.
Next time I will word my post more carefully