Tag: mythology (Page 1 of 2)

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.

Norse Mythology: A Brief Synopsis

According to Norse mythology, the beginning of life was fire and ice, with the existence of only two worlds: Muspelheim and Niflheim. When the warm air of Muspelheim hit the cold ice of Niflheim, the jötunn Ymir and the icy cow Audhumla were created. Ymir’s foot bred a son and a man and a woman emerged from his armpits, making Ymir the progenitor of the Jotun. Whilst Ymir slept, the intense heat from Muspelheim made him sweat, and he sweated out Surtr, a jötunn of fire. Later Ymir woke and drank Audhumbla’s milk. Whilst he drank, the cow Audhumbla licked on a salt stone. On the first day after this a man’s hair appeared on the stone, on the second day a head and on the third day an entire man emerged from the stone. His name was Búri and with an unknown jötunn female he fathered Bor, the father of the three gods Odin, Vili and Ve.

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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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Bifrost

In Norse mythology, Bifrost is the bridge between Midgard, the realm of man, and Asgard, the realm of the gods. Since it is the only way for the giants to enter Asgard it is closely guarded by Heimdall, the watchman of the gods.

Bifrost was made of three colors with magic and great skill by the Aesir and is incredibly strong. It is also called Asbru, referring to its makers. At the end of the cosmos, this rainbow-bridge will collapse.

Helheim

Helheim (“house of Hel”) is one of the nine worlds of Norse mythology. It is ruled by Hel, the monstrous daughter of the trickster god Loki and his wife Angrboda.

This cold, dark and misty abode of the dead is located in the world of Niflheim, on the lowest level of the Norse universe. No one can ever leave this place, because of the impassable river Gjoll that flows from the spring Hvergelmir and encircles Helheim.

Once they enter Helheim, not even the gods can leave. Those who die of old age or disease, and those not killed in battle, go to Helheim while those who die bravely on the battlefield go to Valhalla.

The entrance to Helheim is guarded by Garm, a monstrous hound, and Modgud. The giant Hraesvelg (“corpse eater”) sits at the edge of the world, overlooking Helheim. In the form of an eagle with flapping wings he makes the wind blow.

Niflheim

Niflheim (“house of mists”) is the far northern region of icy fogs and mists, darkness and cold. It is situated on the lowest level of the universe.

The realm of death, Helheim is part of the vast, cold region. Niflheim lies underneath the third root of Yggdrasil, close to the spring Hvergelmir (“roaring cauldron”).

Also situated on this level is Nastrond, the Shore of Corpses, where the serpent Nidhogg eats corpses and gnaws on the roots of Yggdrasil.

After Ragnarok, there will be a hall here for the punishment of murderers, oath breakers, and philanderers.

Midgard

In Norse myth, the defensive fortress which the gods build about the middle portion of the earth allotted to men in order to protect mankind from the giants.

Midgard (“middle world”) is on the same level as Nidavellir (land of the dwarfs), Svartalfheim (land of the dark elves/dwarfs) and Jotunheim (the land of the giants).

Alfheim

Alfheim (“elf home”), in Norse mythology, is one of the nine worlds.

It is located on the highest level of the Norse universe. Also found on this level are the worlds of Asgard and Vanaheim.

Alfheim is the palace of the god Freyr and the homeland of the elves of light.

Neither the elves of light nor the elves of darkness, who live in Svartalfheim, participate in any of the events described in the Norse myths. Elves do, however, have active roles in the literature of quite a few of the other branches of Indo-European mythology.

Vanaheim

Vanaheim (“home of the Vanir”) is the land of the Vanir. It is located in Asgard, on the highest level of the universe.

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