Norse Mythology Gods and Goddesses
The Origin of Norse Mythology and the Pantheon of Gods and Goddesses
Norse mythology is a complex and fascinating world, the origin of which is not well understood. It is believed that Norse mythology originated from the ancient beliefs of people who lived in Scandinavia thousands of years ago.
The pantheon of Norse gods and goddesses consists of twelve deities divided into two groups, the Aesir and the Vanir. The Aesir are considered to be more warlike while the Vanir are associated with fertility and earth.
Lets start with the most well known Gods and Goddesses of the Norse pantheon.
Odin, King of Asgard, Leader of the Æsir.
Odin is the god of wisdom and war, and the leader of the Æsir. He is also known as All-Father, or Father of Heroes. Odin is often depicted with a spear in one hand and a drinking horn in the other.
Odin's wife was Frigg, who was said to know what would happen (and what would not happen) on earth before it happened. Odin had two ravens, Huginn and Muninn, who flew around Earth daily and reported back to him anything that they observed. He is portrayed as one-eyed because he traded his eye to the beheaded god Mimir for a drink from Mímisbrunnr, the well of wisdom.
Odin also hangs himself upside-down from a tree (generally agreed to be Yggdrasil) denies himself food and drink, stabs himself with a spear, dies and resurrects to gain hidden knowledge – most notably the secrets of the Runes.
Thor - God of Thunder - protector of mankind.
Thor is a popular character in Norse mythology. He was the son of Odin and Jörð and the husband of Sif. Thor is known as the protector of mankind, so he protects them from giants and other creatures.
Thor is a powerful god who has an arsenal of iconic powers at his disposal: he can control lightning, fly through the air, walk on water, heal wounds with his hammer Mjolnir, and change shape into a giant red-haired woman. At Ragnarök, he is fated to battle Loki’s son, the serpent monster Jörmungandr, which ends with the two of them killing each other.
Freyja - Goddess of Love and fertility.
Freyja is a powerful Norse goddess. She is the goddess associated with love, beauty, fertility, sex, war, gold, and seiðr (magic for seeing and influencing the future). Freyja was married to Óðr, she is the mother of two daughters, Hnoss and Gersemi.
Along with her twin brother Freyr, her father Njörðr, and her mother she is a member of the Vanir. She had many lovers - both men and women. Freyja also has a strong connection to the earth and its bounty. This is because she was said to be a protector of the earth's fruits and grains.
Freyr - Ruler of peace and fertility.
In Norse mythology, the ruler of peace and fertility, rain, and sunshine and the son. Although originally one of the Vanir tribe, he was included with the Aesir.
He was the son of Njord and twin brother of the goddess Freya, making him one of the most prominent Vanir gods. Like his father and sister, he was associated more with plenty and positivity than the more war-like Aesir.
Tyr - God of war, order and justice.
Tyr is the son of Odin and a giantess, or alternatively the son of Jotunheim's king Hymir and his mother. Tyr is an impressive fighter, which is what we would expect from someone called the God of War. As a son of Odin, he is stronger than the average Asgardian, although not nearly as strong as his half-brother, Thor.
He is often associated with law and justice, yet he was not always a god of peace. In Norse mythology, he was a fierce god of war who presided over battles.
After losing his arm during the Binding of the enormous wolf Fenrir, Tyr could only use his left hand to hold his sword, so he carried a shield in his right hand.
Loki - Trickster God of Mischief.
Loki is a Norse god of mischief, who was known for his cunning, shapeshifting, and clever schemes. He was the son of the giant Farbauti and Laufey. Loki was also the father of the goddess Hel and the wolf Fenrir.
There are many tales about Loki's adventures in Asgard (the home of gods). The most famous one is probably his tricking Hoenir and Odin into getting him out of a promise he made to Freya.
At Ragnarök, Loki is fated to break free and lead the armies of the gods’ enemies against them. This “god of lies” will duel with Heimdallr, a god of truth and forthrightness, until the two finally kill each other.
Frigg - Goddess of Motherhood and Fertility.
Frigg is the Norse goddess of motherhood and fertility. She is known as the wife and mother of Odin, king of the gods.
Frigg's name comes from a Proto-Germanic word meaning "beloved". She is also called Fjorgyn or Fjorgvin.
The goddess Frigg had many duties including overseeing childbirth, marriage, and the overall well-being of children. She was also in charge of spinning wool for Odin’s cloak that he wore at all times.
Hel - Goddess of death.
In Norse mythology, Hel is the goddess of death and ruler over the underworld. She was appointed by Odin to watch over those who have died from disease or old age.
Hel is the daughter of Loki and Angrboda. She resides in Helheim, a world of the dead. Hel was not always evil, but she was banished by Odin, some say, for plotting with her father to overthrow Midgard; others say for asking too many questions about the nature of the Gods and Valhalla.
Bragi - God of music and poetry.
Bragi is a Norse god, son of Odin and brother of Thor. He was the god of poetry, eloquence, and the inventor of the Runic alphabet. Bragi was revered as a god for many things, from his wisdom and eloquence to his knowledge of poetry. He was also the god of ceremonies and the god of bards (poets). He is also associated with healing and fertility.
Baldr - God of Beauty, Light, Purity, Joy.
In Norse mythology, Baldr is the son of Odin and Frigg. He is a god of beauty and purity. He had two brothers: Höðr (the blind god) and Váli (the god who avenged Baldr's death).
The goddess Hel hated Baldr and made everything in the world turn against him. His mother, Frigg, made all the things across the Nine Realms vow not to hurt him. The mistletoe did not vow, however, as Frigg considered it to be so unimportant that she thought nothing of it.
Icelandic stories suggest how the gods amused themselves by throwing objects at him, knowing that he was immune from harm. Loki found out that the mistletoe had not vowed, and thus made a spear out of the dreaded planted, as he tricked Höðr into throwing it at Baldr, thus killing him.
Heimdall- God of Foresight, Vigilant of the Aesir.
Heimdallr or Heimdall is a god in Norse mythology that is known for his foresight and vigilance. He is the son of Odin, the ruler of the Aesir.
He was born with a caul over his face and had great knowledge of the future. Heimdallr is the watchman of the Gods who guards the rainbow bridge Bifröst, which connects Midgard and Asgard. He is fated to announce the coming of Ragnarök, at which point he and Loki will die fighting one another.
Vidar - God of Vengeance, Space, Silence.
Víðarr stabbing Fenrir while holding his jaws apart
The Norse god, Vidar, is the son of Odin and the giantess, Grid. He has a strong connection with space and silence. In the Norse myths, he avenges his father by killing Fenrir at the end of time.
Vidar is often depicted wearing a cloak and carrying a shoe-shaped shield, as well as having an unusually large shoe on his other foot.
Iðunn - Goddess of spring or rejuvenation.
Iðunn is a goddess of youth, newness, renewal and vitality. She is described as being highly regarded, and her apples are the food of the gods – because of them, the gods remain youthful and strong.
She is described as golden, just like Freya, and the giants are constantly attempting to bargain with the Æsir to obtain her as a bride.
Surprisingly, the giants appear to be after Iðunn rather than her apples.
The tale of how the jötunn Thiazi kidnaps her is the best-known example of this. It is one of the most deadly tragedies to have befallen the gods.
Njord - God the sea and seafarers.
Njord is the god of the wind and of the sea and its riches. His aid was invoked in seafaring and in hunting, and he was considered the god of “wealth-bestowal,” or prosperity. He was the father of Freyr and Freyja by his own sister.
It is not surprising that the Vikings associated wealth with the sea, since much of their wealth was gained from sea raids.
Skaði - Goddess of Winter, and Mountains.
Skaði is the goddess of the Winter season, winter storms, snow, ice, hunting, skiing, and archery. Her father is the giant Thiazi. Despite being a giantess, she became accepted by the gods of Asgard when she married the sea god Njord.
Skaði’s other great appearance in the lore happens around the subduing and binding of Loki. The giantess had never forgotten how Loki caused the death of her father, and in retribution, she is the one who places the venomous snake above his head, where it is intended to drip poison onto his face for eternity.
Heimdall brings forth the gift of the gods to humanity.
Norse Gods in modern era paganism.
The Old Norse religion was suppressed from the 11th century, when Norway's kings forcibly imposed the Christian religion. The Vikings started to convert to Christianity around the 900s for a couple of reasons. One of these was because Europe at the time had some very lucrative trade networks with Christian regions and this meant that there was also an increased level of political and religious pressure from the German empire, which is south towards Scandinavia. By the end of the Viking period, around 1050, most Vikings were Christians.
The Norse gods are worshiped in the modern era. Modern era paganism is a religion that has been revived from ancient pagan religions such as Norse mythology.
Followers of Norse Paganism believe that life is centered on a vast sacred tree called the Yggdrasil, which has different realms extending out from it. Humans inhabit one realm, which is known as Midgard. The other realms are home to multiple gods and goddesses, as well as other beings like giants, dwarves and elves.
Norse mythology gods are also pretty common in modern day pop culture, comics and movies with superheroes.