Category: The Gods (Page 2 of 3)

Aegir

Aegir is the god of the sea in Norse mythology. He was both worshipped and feared by sailors, for they believed that Aegir would occasionally appear on the surface to take ships, men and cargo alike, with him to his hall at the bottom of the ocean. Sacrifices were made to appease him, particularly prisoners before setting sail.

His wife is the sea goddess Ran with whom he has nine daughters (the billow maidens), who wore white robes and veils. His two faithful servants are Eldir and Fimafeng. The latter was killed by the treacherous god Loki during a banquet the gods held at Aegir’s undersea hall near the island of Hler (or Hlesey). Aegir was known for the lavish entertainment he gave to the other gods.

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.

Freyr

freyrFreyr is Freyja’s twin brother. He is the horned God of fertility, and has some similarities to the Celtic Cernunnos or Herne, although he is NOT the same being. He is known as King of the Alfs (elves). Both the Swedish and the English are said to be descendents of his. The Boar is his sacred symbol, which is both associated with war and with fertility. His golden boar, “Gullenbursti”, is supposed to represent the daybreak. He is also considered to be the God of Success, and is wedded to Gerda, the Jotun, for whom he had to yield up his mighty sword. At Ragnarok, he is said to fight with the horn of an elk (much more suited to his nature rather than a sword.)

Njord

njordNjord is the God of the wind and fertility as well as the sea and merchants at sea and therefore was invoked before setting out to sea on hunting and fishing expeditions. He is also known to have the ability to calm the waters as well as fire.

Njord, one of the Vanir gods, was first married to his sister Nerthus and had two children with her, Frey and Freyja. His second wife was Skadi (Skade), a Giantess. When Skadi’s father was killed by the Aesir she was granted three “acts” of reparation one of which was to let her choose a husband from among the gods. She was allowed to pick her new husband but the choice had to be made by looking only at the feet. She picked Njord by mistake, assuming his feet belonged to Balder.

Njord and Skadi could not agree on where to live. She didn’t like his home Noatun at the Sea, and he didn’t like hers Trymheim, in the mountain with large woods and wolves, so they lived the first half of the year in Noatun and the other half in Trymheim.

Njord is said to be a future survivor of Ragnarök in stanza 39 of the poetic Edda:

“In Vanaheim the wise Powers made him and gave him as hostage to the gods; at the doom of men he will come back home among the wise Vanir.”

Balder

balderBalder, son of Odin and Frigga, the god of Love and Light, is sacrificed at Midsummer by the dart of the mistletoe, and is reborn at Jul (Yule). Supposedly his return will not occur until after the onslaught of the Ragnarok, which I see as a cleansing and enlightenment more than wanton, purposeless destruction. Balder’s blind brother Hodur was his slayer, whose hand was guided by the crafty Loki. He is married to the goddess of Joy, Nanna.

Balder’s dreams are the beginning of the end. He dreams of his own death and shows Loki the truly evil god that he is which shows the ultimate limitations and mortality of the gods. The gods capture and punish Loki but they cannot rescue Balder from Hel and the beautiful, passive god who embodies the qualities of mercy and love is lost to them. This is the beginning of the end, the first step towards Ragnarok begins.

There is nothing but good to be told of him. He is the best of them and everyone sings his praises. He is so fair of face and bright that a splendor radiates from him, and there is a flower so white that it is likened to Balder’s brow; it is the whitest of all flowers. From that you can tell how beautiful his body is, and how bright his hair. He is the wisest of gods, and the sweetest-spoken, and the most merciful, but it is a characteristic of his that once he has pronounced a judgement it can never be altered. – Snorri Sturluson

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.

Check Wikipedia for more information.

Frigga

friggaFrigga (Frigg, Fricka), Odin’s wife, was considered to be the Mother of all; and protector of children. She spins the sacred Distaff of life, and is said to know the future, although she will not speak of it. Some believe that Friday was named for her instead of Freya, and there is considerable confusion as to “who does what” among the two. The Norns (Urd, Verdande, and Skuld), are the Norse equivalent of the greek Fates. It is they who determine the orlogs (destinies) of the Gods and of Man, and who maintain the World Tree, Yggdrasil.

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