|“||Harken to me, all holy races, Sons of Heimdall, high and low, Thou wilt, Valfather, that well I tell of old tales I remember of men long ago||”|
–Stanza 1, Völuspa
Norse mythology, or Scandinavian mythology, is the body of mythology of the North Germanic peoples stemming from Norse paganism and continuing after the Christianization of Scandinavia and into the Scandinavian folklore of the modern period. The northernmost extension of Germanic mythology, Norse mythology consists of tales of various deities, beings, heroes, and gods are mentioned in the source texts derived from numerous sources from both before and after the pagan period, including medieval manuscripts, archaeological representations, and folk tradition. Once, the Germanic gods where known across Northern Europe and southern England, but at the start of the Viking Age the religion had been (often violently) replaced by Christianity leaving the Norse tribes the last followers.
This is still the belief system in Vikings.
|“||I remember yet the giants of yore, Who gave me bread in the days gone by; Nine worlds I know, the nine in the tree, With mighty roots beneath the earth.||”|
–Stanza 2, Völuspa
The cosmology of the nine worlds in which all beings inhabit centers around a cosmological tree, Yggdrasil. Odin and his brothers Vili and Ve created the tree from the body of Ymir.
Numerous creatures live on Yggdrasil, such as the insulting messenger squirrel Ratatoskr and the perching hawk Veðrfölnir. The tree itself has three major roots, and at the base of one of these roots live a trio of norns. The norns are female beings who rule the destiny of gods and men.
The gods inhabit the heavenly realm of Asgard whereas mankind inhabits Midgard, a region in the center of the cosmos. At the edge of Midgard lies the Iron Wood, where the witch-giant Angerboda breeds the children of Fenrir. The giants dwell in the world around Midgard, Jötunheimr.
Outside of the gods, mankind, and the jötnar, these Nine Worlds are inhabited by a variety beings, such as elves and dwarfs. Travel between the worlds is frequently recounted in the myths, where the gods and other beings may interact directly with mankind.
Elements of the cosmos are personified, such as the Sun (Sól, a goddess), the Moon (Máni, a god), and Earth (Jörð, a goddess), as well as units of time, such as day (Dagr, a god) and night (Nótt, a jötunn). Two wolves, Hatí (hate) and Sköll (trechery), chases the moon across the heavens.
The afterlife is a complex matter in Norse mythology. The dead may go to the murky realm of Hel—a realm ruled over by a female being of the same name, may be ferried away by valkyries to Odin's martial hall Valhalla, or may be chosen by the goddess Freyja to dwell in her field Fólkvangr. The goddess Rán may claim those that die at sea, and the goddess Gefjon is said to be attended by virgins upon their death. References to reincarnation are also made.
Time itself is presented between cyclic and linear, and some scholars have argued that cyclic time was the original format for the mythology. Various forms of a cosmological creation story are provided in Icelandic sources, and references to a future destruction and rebirth of the world—Ragnarök—are frequently mentioned in some texts. Ragnarök is a word of many meanings: "ragna" means "the powers" or "the forces" and is a common poetic term for the gods. "Rök" is a complex word since it both refers to fate and development, as well as cause (as in cause and effect) and origin. This means that Ragnarök is simply to end of one story and the beginning of the next.
Odin, Hönr and Lodurr created mankind. The three found two pieces of wood floating in the water and decided to sculpt figures out of them for decorations. Wishing to take their creation further the gods decided to create the first humans. Odin gave them breath (spirit), Hönr gave them sense (thought), and Lodurr gave them blood (body).
Gods and Deities
|“||Hail to the Aesir and the Vanir. Hail to the gods and goddesses. Hail to Odin, Thor, and Frey. Hail to Vali, Sif, and Heimdallr. Hail to Baldr, Bragi, and Eir. Hail to Freyja, Loki, and Frigg. Hail to Lin, Ifon, and Mimir. Hail to Njord, Ran, and Tyr. Hail to Odin's spear, Thor's hammer. Hail to the mighty fecund earth. All hail.||”|
–A goði, Sacrifice
There are two groups of gods during this time: the Æsir and the Vanir.
Meanwhile, the Vanir are the group of gods also honored alongside Aesir. Althrough sometimes stated to be more peacefull than the Aesir, this really only applies to Freyr, who is the god of peace and fertility. Freyr and Freyja are the foremost of the Vanir and they reside amongst the Aesir in Asgard. In the beginning, the Aesir and Vanir went to war, but when no one could reign supreme over the other, the tribes made peace and treaties.
Unlike the gods of some other religions, the Aesir and Vanir are not immortal; many will die at Ragnarok with some very few exceptions who will survive and rebuild the glory of the Asgard.
The gods also act as role models for how humans should act and behave. However, this is complcated and problematic as the god themselves do not always see eye to eye with each others behaviour and values. The pondering and dishonest Odin is at odds with the simple and rude yet heroic Thor. The only value all the gods agree upon is that of valour in the face of death.
- Odin (The Furious One): the chief god in the Norse Pantheon, often called "Allfather", which is the name of the primordial deity who initiated the creation. In the series, Ragnar Lothbrok has visions of Odin and his ravens and interprets them as different signs. He also claims to be descended from Odin. Wednesday is named after his Anglo-Saxon name "Woden". He is known as Allfather and Valfather, Ravengod, the Hanged God, Lord of Draugr, High God, Enemy of the Wolf, All-Wise, Ravenruler, father of magic songs and of treachery.
- Thor (Thunder): The son of Odin and Fjorgyn, Thor is among the three most important figures in the Norse pantheon, and the most popular of the gods because he was considered the protector of mankind. He lends his name to Thursday, a development of his Anglo-Saxon name "Thunres". Thor is also known as Defender of Ásgard and of Midgard, Enemy of the Giants, Thunder of the Gods, son of the earth, Foe of the Midgard Serpent and Red-Thor (as opposed to White Christ).
- Loki: considered the "trickster" god who was more a hindrance than help to the other gods and was eventually cast out of Asgard and tied up for all eternity for this. One should periphrase him as the Sly God, Father of the Wolf, father of the sea-thread, father of Hel, Thief of the Giants, slanderer as well as Wrangling Foe of Heimdallr and of Skadi.
- Heimdallr (The Shining World): A god born of 9 Giantess mother simultaneously, he wandered the earth (Midgard) as Riger, impregnating women to found the serf, peasant, and warrior races. He was the guardian of the rainbow bridge, Bifrost. One should periphrase him as Son of Nine Mothers, White God, Foe of Loki and Rigr.
- As guardian of Bifrost, Heimdallr prevented Giants invading Asgard. In order to make this job easier, the gods gave him incredibly acute senses. He could "hear the wool growing on a sheeps' back". in addition, along with Bragi, he welcomed heroes to Valhalla.
- In the series, Lagertha refers to Heimdallr when judging a case involving an illegitimate baby. ("A King's Ransom") She attests that one of Heimdallr's alter egos was "Rig", also the name of the bastards' father.
- Frigg (Beloved One): the consort of Odin. Is said to assist in childbirth. Queen of the gods. Friday is derived from her name.
- Tyr (God): The war god and patron of soldiers. He is also the god of bravery and justice. He sacrificed his right hand so the gods could trick and seal away Fenrir. He gives name to Tuesday. One should periphrase him as the One-handed God, Fosterer of the Wolf and God of Battles.
- Vidar (Expander): One of Odin's illegitimate sons and the god of vengeance, space, and woodlands. He is known as the "Silent God" and "Avenger of the Gods". He is the second strongest god after Thor and one of the few that will survive Ragnarök.
- Idun (Renewing Nature): She grows the magic apples that gives the gods eternal life. She is the goddess of harvest and agriculture.
- Sif (Kinship, Spouce): The goddess of marriage and wife of Thor.
- Ullr (Glory): The god of hunting, sking, and glory. The stepson of Thor. He is also prayed to for help in single combat.
- Máni (Moon): The moon god, the man in the moon. He drags the moon in his chariot chased by the wolf Hatí. Rollo has this scene tattooed on his body.
- Sól/Sönna (Sun): The sun goddess. She drags the sun in her chariot and is chased by the wolf Sköll. Rollo has this scene tattooed on his body.
- Skadi (Harmer): The goddess of sking. Wife of Njord.
- Hönir (Bird-like, High One): One of the three gods who created mankind. The god of birds. One should periphrase him as the Swift of God.
- Fulla (Complete): Frigg's handmaiden and possibly her sister. Frigg confides her secrets to Fulla, making her the goddess of secrets.
- Baldr (Brave, Bald One): The bleeding god of tears who was slain by his brother Hödr, out of jealousy. Son of Odin. Horik compares Björn Ironside to Baldr.
- Hödr (Strife): The son of Odin who killed his brother Baldr with mistletoe, in some accounts an actual arrow of mistletoe and in other a sword by that name.
- Syn (Vision): The goddess of vision.
- Bragi (Poet): Husband of Idun. God of poetry.
- Eir (Healer): Eir is a valkyrie and the goddess of healing. Eir sits upon Lyfjaberg (the mountain of healing).
- Dellingr (Bright One): The god of the passage of time. He is the father of Dagr (Day) with Nött (Night). He is the great-grandfather of Thor and personification of dawn (since he is the father of Day).
- Sigyn (Victory Girlfriend): The consort of Loki. Siggy's name is likely derived from her name.
- Glenr (opening in the clouds): The consort of Sun who carries the shield Svalin so the sun will not burn earth.
- Vindsval (Cool wind): The father of winter.
- Vàli: A son of Odin by Rindr. He was conceived to avenge Baldr. He did not "wash or comb his hair" until doing so. Some has suggested this reflects a ritual surrounding vengeance in Norse Society.
- Freyja (lady sovereign): The most important and powerful of the Vanir. She is the queen of the valkyries and takes half of the warriors they have collected after battle and will take those of them that where shield maidens. Freyja is a warlike goddess who is the patron of the "Völvor" (Norse witch shamans) and rules over sexuality. In Scandinavia she lends her name to Friday (Fredag) rather than Frigg. She should be periphrased as Posseser of the Slain, Goddess Beautiful in Tears, Vanadís and Goddess of Love.
- Freyr (lord sovereign): A fertility god, god of peace and the brother of Freyja. He is sometimes called Yngve-Frej and is considered the ancestral father of the noble ættir (clans) of Sweden.
- Njord: The god of sailors. First husband of Skadi and father of Freyja and Freyr.
- Mimir (The rememberer, the wise one): A giant who watches over Mímisbrunnr, where Odin's eye lies. He is Odin's mentor but lost his head during the war between the Æsir and Vanir. His head lives on and gives advise to Odin.
- Hel (Consealer): The protector of graves and goddess of death. To "go to hell" was to die. Hel is the illegitimate daughter of Loki with Angerboda and sister of Fenrir and Jörmungandr. She cares for the dead who goes to Helheim. She is considered an unpleasant but benevolent. In some of the older sources she is not called Hel but is refered to only as "Loki's Daughter" who lives in Hel and protects graves so the name "Hel" might have been a late name for the goddess and she was not referred to as "Hel" at first. Hel is the origin of the word "Hell" in modern English.
- Ægir (Sea): The sea giant. An ally of the gods who often invites them and the elves to feasts in his hall.
- Ran (Robber): The sea godess, consort of Ægir and the "mother of the waves". She captures drowned sailors in her net and brings them to her bed. When she is done having her way with them they continue to dwell in Ægir's hall in a watery after life. Ran appears in the opening credits, collecting the dead as they sink into the ocean.
- The Norns: The three Norns are neighter gods or giants really but simply the Norns. They weave the fate of every being. No one may escape their fate, not men, not giants or gods.
The jötunn or the Giants are primordial, chaotic forces in Norse Mythology representing chaos. They are not inherently evil but their chaotic nature is a threat to the order of the gods which is needed for the worlds of Yggdrasil to be.
- Ymir (The Scream): The first being and ancestor of all of the giants. He was killed by Odin, Vili & Ve and his body was used to build the world.
- Surtr (Black): The father of the fire giants and the lord of Muspelheim.
- Angerboda (she who brings sorrow): The first wife of Loki with whom he fathered Hel, Fenrir and Jörmungandr.
- Útgarða-Loki (Loki of Utgard): A clevear giant who lives in the fortress Utgard in Jötunnheim. A dishonest giant who invites gods and men to games which he cheats in,
- Thrym (Uproar): A giant who once stole Thor's hammer Mjölnir and demanded Freyja as payment for it. Heimdallr had Thor disguised as Freyja and Loki as "her" maid. Loki tricked Thrym into beliving Thor really was Thrym and convinced him to give Mjölnir to "Freyja" as a gift. Thrym did and Thor then killed Thrym and his household, still in his wedding dress.
- Skrymir (Big Looking): A giant who won a bet with a farmer and demanded his son as payment. The farmer begged both Odin and Hönir for help but none of them could outsmart Skrymir and gave up. Loki ended up making a stand for the farmer and his boy and tricked and violently killed the giant.
- Thjazi: A giant who Loki started a fight with and the giant ended up forcing Loki to help him kidnapp Idun. Loki did so, but then was forced by the gods to save her. Thjazi was the father of Skadi.
- The Valkyries are beautiful young women, mounted upon winged horses and armed with helmets and spears. They scout battlefields, selecting the bravest of slain warriors and escorting them to Valhalla. Valkyries are also Odin's messengers and when they ride forth on their errands, their armor causes the lights known as Aurora Borealis. The queen of the Valkyrie is Freyja. The Valkyrie are also known as the virgin demi-goddesses, the warrior maidens of Odin. They are said to remain immortal and invulnerable as long as they obey the Gods and remain virginal.
- The dwarves are subterranean beings. They are unmatched craftsmen.
- The vættr are animistic spirits of the land and lakes.
- The elves (alfr) are mysterious beings. Their true nature is not fully understood but are theorized to be ancestors.
- Draugr are the undead. Through the curse of another draug, unproper burial or a life as a greedy and wicked person a human may rise again after death to torment (and kill and even feed on) the living. They may swell in size at will and enter the dream world to torment the dreams of the living. Their main driving force is greed and hatred of the living, simply for being alive unlike them. They are the vampires and zombies of the Scandinavian tradition.
- Fylgja is a female spirit that follows every living man and woman from birth to death. They where likely considered to be the ancestral mothers of the family. They whould appear in dreams, sometimes in animal form. Seeing a Fylgja while awake was considered a sign of one's imminant death.
- Tompta Gudhi or Tomte or Nisse are house gods. They are said to be the spirit of farms original owner and builder and works to ensure the farms continuation.
- Asgard - Home of the Æsir. Here most the major gods, like Odin and Thor, dwell and has many halls like Valhalla, Thrudvang and Folkvang.
- Vanaheim - Home of the Vanir.
- Alfheim - The world of the Elves, lesser deities, given to Freyr.
- Thrudheim - The realm of Thor.
- Midgard - The middle world and the world of humans: Earth.
- Jötunnheim - Home of the giants. Located around Midgard.
- Svartalfheim - The underground world of the dwarfes and the dark elves.
- Muspelheim - One of the two original worlds. Muspelheim is the realm of fire and home of the fire giant Surtr.
- Helheim - Home of the hidden ones. The underworld where most of the spirits of the dead dwells.
- Nifleheim - One of the two original worlds. The icy mist world. Búri, the first god emerged from the ice of Nifleheim.