Hey, everyone. Sorry about the post being late again! I got really sick this passed weekend and I’m only just getting better. The good news is that you get two posts on Norse this week: a double Norse gods feature! Norse myth has contemporary two clans of gods, the Aesir and the Vanir.
The Aesir lived in Asgard and were associated with warriors, war, and order. The Vanir lived in Vanaheimr and were associated with fertility, sex, nature and magic. Very little about the Vanir survives today other than the names of the three major Vanir gods, and argueably they only survived the test of time because they were incorporated into the Aesir after a war between the clans.
Here is a quick rundown of the Norse gods:
Odin: The All-Father, Father and King of the Aesir, Odin was associated with war, battle, victory, death, magic, prophecy, wisdom, knowledge, travel, poetry, and the hunt (just to name a few). Odin received half of the souls of warriors who died in battle in his hall in Asgard. Odin had four sons for sure Thor, Baldur, Hod, and Vali, but he may have also fathered Heimdall, Vidar and other gods. Odin had children with several women, some gods and some giantesses. Odin also was fond of taking the form of an old man in gray and travel the realm of mortals.
Frigg: Wife of Odin, Queen of the Aesir, and mother of Baldur (and possibly Hod). She specialized in marriage, motherhood, marriage, and prophecy. Frigga was the most powerful female goddess. Such was her magical power that she could see the future, which plays a major role in the myth of the death of her son Baldur who she tried to save.
Thor: Probably the best known Norse god today other than Odin, Thor is the most powerful of the sons of Odin. His mother was the giantess Jörd (Earth). Thor was married to Sif, and had three children by her, two sons named Modí and Magni, and a daughter named Thrúd (Strength). He was associated with weather, thunderstorms, rain, protection, strength and killing giants. He was really fond of that. In fact, nearly all of the myths about Thor feature him killing at least one giant. Thor’s other favorite activities included: threatening to kill Loki, trying to kill Loki, drinking, throwing weapons at Baldur, more drinking, eating, more drinking, and sleeping. Thor was particularly fond of humans and was their protector, and accordingly was the favorite of the gods for most Norsemen. Interestingly, many consider Thor to be a war god, but in fact he was not considered to be a war god by the Norse as much as Odin, Tyr and Freyja.
Baldur(er): Son of Odin and Frigga. The husband of Nanna and father of Forseti. Baldur was the god of light, innocence, beauty, and purity. His death was prophesied to be one of the signs of Ragnarok’s coming. I will be devoting an entire post to tell his story, so I’m going to leave Baldur there for now.
Hodr: Hodr (Anglicized: Hod) blind god, but exceedingly strong; and the gods would wish that this asa never needed to be named, for the work of his hand will long be kept in memory both by gods and men. Hod was tricked by Loki into killing his brother Baldur.
Tyr: God of victorious battle, bravery, and honor. Tyr lost one of his hands to Fenris, Loki’s wolf son.
Njörd: God of the Sea. Njörd was originally an important Vanir god, but was traded to the Aesir clan following the Aesir-Vanir War along with his children, Freyja and Freyr.
Freyja (Lady): Goddess of magic, divination, war, lust, sexual love, and death. Wife of Od, for whom she cries tears of red gold when he goes on long journeys. Originally a Vanir god, but traded and incorporated in the Aesir clan. She brought seid to the Aesir. Freyja is a complicated and mysterious figure and I will be devoting an entire post to her.
Freyr (Lord): God of fertility and fair weather. He was portrayed as a very phallic fertility god. When he was traded to the Aesir from the Vanir, the Aesir recognized his worth and awarded to him Alfheim, land of the elves, as his realm to rule.
Heimdall: Guardian of Asgard and the Bilröst Bridge from the giants. He is called the White-god, and is large and holy. Myth says that he was born from nine women, all sisters. His teeth were made of gold. His mighty horn will be the final sign of Ragnarok’s coming and it will be a call to arms for the gods to gather and ride off to their final battle with the giants and their doom.
Bragi: God of poetry. May have been the same as a mortal poet of the same name.
Vidar: The silent god. He has a very thick shoe, and he is the strongest next after Thor. From him the gods have much help in all hard tasks.
Vali: Avenger of Baldur. Odin’s son by Rind, Vali grew to manhood in single day to slay Hodr for his crime of killing Baldur.
Ullr: The god of archery and hunting. Ullr was the son of Sif and stepson of Thor.
Forseti: God of Judgment. Forseti was the son of Balder and Nanna, Nep’s daughter. He has in Asgard the hall, Glitner. All who come to him with disputes go away perfectly reconciled. No better tribunal is to be found among gods and men.
Sif: Wife of Thor who has beautiful and magical golden hair made by the dwarfs for her.
Fulla: A maid of Frigga, she wears her hair flowing and has a golden ribbon about her head; she carries Frigg’s chest, takes care of her shoes and knows her secrets. In fact she is said to know the future because of her close contact with Frigga.
Idunn: Goddess of youth. Idunn holds a most important job among the gods: keeper of the tree that bears the golden apples which the gods eat to keep their immortality and youthful appearance.
Eir: Maid of Frigga and the goddess of healing.
There are a few other minor gods and goddesses, but I won’t go into them right now.
There is one more figure that I should mention, and he is perhaps one of the most complicated figures to me in Norse myth, Loki. I won’t say much about him now because I will discuss him in as full detail as I can in my post next week, but I will say that he is a god and yet is not a god, and he is a deeply misunderstood figure, I think, considering he is described as the backbiter of the Aesir, the originator of deceit, and the disgrace of all gods and men.
My second post this weekend, which is about the Aesir-Vanir War, will be up tomorrow afternoon.
Until next time, have a great day everyone and DFTBA!
In case you missed my previous posts on Norse myth, here are the links to those posts:
1. Norse Myth Part 1: The Cosmology: https://dmmaster42.wordpress.com/2012/03/26/norse-myth-part-1-norse-cosmology/
2. Norse Myth Part 2: The Creation Myth: https://dmmaster42.wordpress.com/2012/03/31/norse-myth-part-2-the-creation-myth/