Tag: mythological characters

The Norse Gods

The Norse Gods are the mythological characters that, as far as we know, came from the Northern Germanic tribes of the 9th century AD. These stories were passed down in the form of poetry until the 11th – 18th centuries when the Eddas and other medieval texts were written.

Norse mythology comprises the pre-Christian beliefs and legends of the Scandinavian peoples including those who settled on Iceland where most of the written sources for Norse mythology were assembled. Norse mythology not only has it’s gods, goddesses and immortals but also a myriad of other characters and creatures that populate the stories including giants, dwarfs, monsters, magical animals and objects.

A List of The Norse Gods
Mythological Realms of The Norse Gods
The Norse Myths

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The Nine Worlds of Norse mythology

The Norsemen visualized the universe in three vertical levels; a tricentric structure. Between each level and its adjacent level was a space.

The axis of the three levels and nine worlds was the Yggdrasill tree, a mighty ash which is timeless, has no origin and will survive Ragnarok.

The first level

  • Asgard, world of the Aesir
  • Vanaheim, land of the Vanir
  • Alfheim, land of the light elves.

The second level

  • Midgard, Land of humans (middle world/garden)
  • Nidavellir, Land of the dwarfs
  • Jotunheim, Land of the giants (Jotuns)
  • Svartalfheim, Land of the dark elves.

The third level

  • Hel, Realm of the dead
  • Niflheim, World of the dead.

If Hel and Niflheim comprised one world, as is suggested in some sources, the ninth may have been Muspelheim (Muspell), the land of the fire giants. This region had no place in the tricentric structure of the universe, and Snorri Sturluson wrote that is was the first world to exist and that is lies in the southern hemisphere. Also, the worlds of Svartalfheim and Nidavellir may have been the same. No valid distinction can be drawn between the dwarfs and dark elves; they appear to have been interchangeable.

The Origins of the Norse Mythology

Norse mythology comprises the indigenous pre-Christian religion, beliefs and legends of the Scandinavian peoples, including those who settled on Iceland, where most of the written sources for Norse mythology were assembled.

Norse mythology is the best-preserved version of the older common Germanic paganism, which also includes the very closely related Anglo-Saxon mythology.

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Vanir

In Norse mythology, the Vanir are originally a group of wild nature and fertility gods and goddesses, the sworn enemies of the warrior gods of the Aesir. They were considered to be the bringers of health, youth, fertility, luck and wealth, and masters of magic. The Vanir live in Vanaheim.

The Aesir and the Vanir had been at war for a long time when they decided to make peace. To ensure this peace they traded hostages: the Vanir sent their most renowned gods, the wealthy Njord and his children Freya and Freyr. In exchange the Aesir sent Honir, a big, handsome man who they claimed was suited to rule. He was accompanied by Mimir, the wisest man of the Aesir and in return the Vanir sent their wisest man Kvasir.

Honir however, was not as smart as the Aesir claimed he was and it Mimir who gave him advice. The Vanir grew suspicious of the answers Honir gave when Mimir was not around. Eventually they figured out that they had been cheated and they cut Mimir’s head off and sent it back to the Aesir. Fortunately, this betrayal did not lead to another war and all the gods of the Vanir were subsequently integrated with the Aesir. There is not much known about the Vanir of the time before the assimilation.

Gullveig

Gullveig (“goldbranch”) is the sorceress and seer who had a great love and lust for gold. She talked of nothing else when she visited the Aesir. They listened with loathing and eventually thought the world would be better off without her so they hurled her into the fire. She was burned to death, but stepped from the flames unscathed. Three times she was burned, and three times she was reborn.

When the Vanir learned about how the Aesir had treated Gullveig they became incensed with anger. They swore vengeance and began to prepare for war. The Aesir heard about this and moved against the Vanir. This was the first war in the world. For a long time the battle raged to and fro, with neither sides gaining much ground. Eventually the gods became weary of war and began to talk of peace. Both sides swore to live side by side in peace.

Gullveig is also known under the name of Heid (“gleaming one”). She is probably the goddess Freya, who also has a great love of gold in the various myths.

Aesir

The collective name for the the principal race of Norse gods; they who lived in Asgard, and with the All-Father Odin, ruled the lives of mortal men, the other was the Vanir.

The Aesir gods under the leadership of Odin, included:

  • Balder (god of beauty)
  • Bragi (god of eloquence)
  • Forseti (god of mediation)
  • Freyr (god of fertility, who originally was from the Vanir)
  • Heimdall (guardian of the bridge)
  • Hod (the blind god)
  • Loki (god of fire and ally of the frost giants)
  • Njord (the sea god, and another ex-Vanir)
  • Thor (god of thunder)
  • Tyr (god of war)
  • Vili (brother to Odin)
  • Ve (brother to Odin)
  • Vidar (Odin’s son)

The goddesses included:

  • Freya (the fertility goddess)
  • Frigga (Odin’s wife)
  • Sif (Thor’s wife)
  • Idun (keeper of the apples of youth)

Valkyries

Valkyries, in Scandinavian mythology, are the warrior maidens who attended Odin, ruler of the gods. The Valkyries rode through the air in brilliant armor, directed battles, distributed death lots among the warriors, and conducted the souls of slain heroes to Valhalla, the great hall of Odin. Their leader was Brunhilde.

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