Category: Gods Featured

Hel

helThe goddess of the dead and the afterlife was Hel (Holle, Hulda), and was portrayed by the Vikings as being half-dead, half alive herself. The Vikings viewed her with considerable trepidation. The Dutch, Gallic, and German barbarians viewed her with some beneficence, more of a gentler form of death and transformation. She is seen by them as Mother Holle; a being of pure Nature, being helpful in times of need, but vengeful upon those who cross her or transgress natural law.

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Loki

Loki, the Trickster, challenges the structure and order of the Gods which is necessary in bringing about needed change. In the Prose Edda Snorri Sturluson writes that Loki:

is handsome and fair of face, but has an evil disposition and is very changeable of mood. He excelled all men in the art of cunning, and he always cheats. He was continually involving the Aesir in great difficulties and he often helped them out again by guile.

loki

Neither an Aesir or a Vanir, he is the son of two giants and yet the foster-brother of Odin. Loki embodies the ambiguous and darkening relationship between the gods and the giants. He is dynamic and unpredictable and because of that he is both the catalyst in many of the myths and the most fascinating character in the entire mythology. Without the exciting, unstable, flawed figure Loki, there would be no change in the fixed order of things, no quickening pulse, and no Ragnarok.

He is responsible for a wager with a giant which puts Freyja into peril (Myth 3) but by changing both shape and sex (characteristics he has in common with Odin) he bails her out. In Myth 10 he shears Sif’s hair which is more mischievous than evil, but he makes amends in the end. In Myth 8 his deceit leads to the loss of the golden apples of youth… but he retrieves them again. He helps the Gods and gets them out of predicaments, but spawns the worst monsters ever seen on the face of the Earth: Fenrir, Jormungand, the Midgard Wyrm. His other children include the goddess Hel (Hella, Holle), and Sleipnir, Odin’s 8-legged horse.

It is now generally accepted that he is not a late invention of the Norse poets but an ancient figure descended from a common Indo-European prototype and as such, Loki’s origins are particularly complex. He has been compared to a number of European and other mythological figures, most notably the Trickster of Native American mythology.

Loki

As the myths play out, the playful Loki gives way to a cruel predator, hostile to the gods. He not only guides the mistletoe dart that kills Balder but stands in his way on his return from Hel (the citadel of Niflheim). His accusations against the gods at Aegir’s feast (Myth 30) are vicious. He is an agent of destruction causing earthquakes. And when he breaks loose at Ragnarok, Loki reveals his true colors; he is no less evil than his three appalling children, the serpent Jormungand, the wolf Fenrir and the half-dead, half-alive Hel (Myth 7), and he leads the giants and monsters into battle against the gods and heros.

Tyr

TyrTyr is the ancient god of War and the Lawgiver of the gods. The bravest of the gods, it is Tyr who makes the binding of Fenrir (Myth 7) possible by sacrificing his right hand. At one time he was the leader of the Norse Pantheon, but was supplanted by Odin much later.

Tyr also seems to be a god of justice. His name is derived from Tiw or Tiwaz an Tacticus and other Roman writers have equated this character to Mars, the receiver of human sacrifice. His day is Tuesday.

Tyr was the son of Odin though in Myth 17 he is made out to be the son of the giant Hymir. Like Odin, he has many characteristics of the earlier Germanic gods of battle. Parallels in other mythologies along with archaeological discoveries relating to a one-handed god, suggest that this character is very old and was known in Northern Europe somewhere between one and two thousand years before Snorri Sturluson included it in his Prose Edda. Similarities can be found in the one-handed Naudu in Irish mythology and in Mitra, just god of the day, of Indian mythology.

Freyja

freyjaFreyja (modern forms of the name include Freya, Freja, Freyia, Frøya, and Freia) is considered to be the goddess of Love and Beauty, but is also a warrior goddess and one of great wisdom and magick. She and her twin brother Freyr are of a different “race” of gods known as the Vanir. Many of the tribes venerated her higher than the Aesir, calling her “the Frowe” or “The Lady.” She is known as Queen of the Valkyries, choosers of those slain in battle to bear them to Valhalla (the Norse heaven). She, therefore, is a psychopomp like Odhinn and it is said that she gets the “first pick” of the battle slain. She wears the sacred necklace Brisingamen, which she paid for by spending the night with the dwarves who wrought it from the bowels of the earth. The cat is her sacred symbol. There seems to be some confusion between herself and Frigga, Odin’s wife, as they share similar functions; but Frigga seems to be strictly of the Aesir, while Freyja is of the Vanic race. The day Friday (Frejyasdaeg) was named for her (some claim it was for Frigga).

Thor

thorThor, also known as the Thunderer, was considered to be a son of Fjorgyn (Jord) and Odin by some, but among many tribes Thor actually supplanted Odin as the favorite god. He is considered to be the protector of all Midgard, and he wields the mighty hammer Mjollnir. Thor is strength personified. His battle chariot is drawn by two goats, and his hammer Mjollnir causes the lightning that flashes across the sky. Of all the deities, Thor is the most “barbarian” of the lot; rugged, powerful, and lives by his own rules, although he is faithful to the rest of the Aesir. The day Thursday (Thorsdaeg) is sacred to him.

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Odin

odinOdin or, depending upon the dialect Woden or Wotan, was the Father of all the Gods and men. Odin is pictured either wearing a winged helm or a floppy hat, and a blue-grey cloak. He can travel to any realm within the 9 Nordic worlds. His two ravens, Huginn and Munin (Thought and Memory) fly over the world daily and return to tell him everything that has happened in Midgard. He is a God of magick, wisdom, wit, and learning. In later times, he was associated with war and bloodshed from the Viking perspective, although in earlier times, no such association was present. If anything, the wars fought by Odin exist strictly upon the Mental plane of awareness; appropriate for that of such a mentally polarized God. He is both the shaper of Wyrd and the bender of Orlog; again, a task only possible through the power of Mental thought and impress. It is he who sacrifices an eye at the well of Mimir to gain inner wisdom, and later hangs himself upon the World Tree Yggdrasil to gain the knowledge and power of the Runes. All of his actions are related to knowledge, wisdom, and the dissemination of ideas and concepts to help Mankind.

Odin can make the dead speak in order to question the wisest amongst them. His hall in Asgard is Valaskjalf (“shelf of the slain”) where his throne Hlidskjalf is located. From this throne he observes all that happens in the nine worlds. He also resides in Valhalla, where the slain warriors are taken.

Odin’s attributes are the spear Gungnir, which never misses its target, the ring Draupnir, from which every ninth night eight new rings appear, and his eight-footed steed Sleipnir. He is accompanied by the wolves Freki and Geri, to whom he gives his food for he himself consumes nothing but wine. Odin has only one eye, which blazes like the sun. His other eye he traded for a drink from the Well of Wisdom, and gained immense knowledge. On the day of the final battle, Odin will be killed by the wolf Fenrir.

Just as a point of curiosity: in no other pantheon is the head Deity also the God of Thought and Logic.  It’s interesting to note that the Norse people set such a great importance upon logic. The day Wednesday (Wodensdaeg) is named for him.

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