Norse mythology
Overview
 
Norse mythology, a subset of Germanic mythology
Germanic mythology
Germanic mythology is a comprehensive term for myths associated with historical Germanic paganism, including Norse mythology, Anglo-Saxon mythology, Continental Germanic mythology, and other versions of the mythologies of the Germanic peoples...

, is the overall term for the myths, legends and beliefs about supernatural beings of Norse pagans
Norse paganism
Norse paganism is the religious traditions of the Norsemen, a Germanic people living in the Nordic countries. Norse paganism is therefore a subset of Germanic paganism, which was practiced in the lands inhabited by the Germanic tribes across most of Northern and Central Europe in the Viking Age...

. It flourished prior to the Christianization of Scandinavia
Christianization of Scandinavia
The Christianization of Scandinavia took place between the 8th and the 12th century. The realms of Scandinavia proper, Denmark, Norway and Sweden, established their own Archdioceses, responsible directly to the Pope, in 1104, 1154 and 1164, respectively...

, during the Early Middle Ages
Early Middle Ages
The Early Middle Ages was the period of European history lasting from the 5th century to approximately 1000. The Early Middle Ages followed the decline of the Western Roman Empire and preceded the High Middle Ages...

, and passed into Nordic folklore, with some aspects surviving to the modern day. The mythology from the Romanticist Viking revival
Viking revival
Early modern publications dealing with Old Norse culture appeared in the 16th century, e.g. Historia de gentibus septentrionalibus and the first edition of the13th century Gesta Danorum , in 1514...

 came to be an influence on modern literature and popular culture
Norse mythology in popular culture
The Norse mythology, preserved in such ancient Icelandic texts as the Poetic Edda, the Prose Edda, and other lays and sagas, was little known outside Scandinavia until the 19th century. With the widespread publication of Norse myths and legends at this time, references to the Norse gods and heroes...

.

Norse mythology is the study of the myths told in Germanic countries (Germany, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Denmark, Faroe islands) during the pre-Christian times, especially during the Viking age.
Most of the existing records on Norse mythology date from the 11th to 18th century, having gone through more than two centuries of oral preservation in what was at least officially a Pagan society.
Encyclopedia
Norse mythology, a subset of Germanic mythology
Germanic mythology
Germanic mythology is a comprehensive term for myths associated with historical Germanic paganism, including Norse mythology, Anglo-Saxon mythology, Continental Germanic mythology, and other versions of the mythologies of the Germanic peoples...

, is the overall term for the myths, legends and beliefs about supernatural beings of Norse pagans
Norse paganism
Norse paganism is the religious traditions of the Norsemen, a Germanic people living in the Nordic countries. Norse paganism is therefore a subset of Germanic paganism, which was practiced in the lands inhabited by the Germanic tribes across most of Northern and Central Europe in the Viking Age...

. It flourished prior to the Christianization of Scandinavia
Christianization of Scandinavia
The Christianization of Scandinavia took place between the 8th and the 12th century. The realms of Scandinavia proper, Denmark, Norway and Sweden, established their own Archdioceses, responsible directly to the Pope, in 1104, 1154 and 1164, respectively...

, during the Early Middle Ages
Early Middle Ages
The Early Middle Ages was the period of European history lasting from the 5th century to approximately 1000. The Early Middle Ages followed the decline of the Western Roman Empire and preceded the High Middle Ages...

, and passed into Nordic folklore, with some aspects surviving to the modern day. The mythology from the Romanticist Viking revival
Viking revival
Early modern publications dealing with Old Norse culture appeared in the 16th century, e.g. Historia de gentibus septentrionalibus and the first edition of the13th century Gesta Danorum , in 1514...

 came to be an influence on modern literature and popular culture
Norse mythology in popular culture
The Norse mythology, preserved in such ancient Icelandic texts as the Poetic Edda, the Prose Edda, and other lays and sagas, was little known outside Scandinavia until the 19th century. With the widespread publication of Norse myths and legends at this time, references to the Norse gods and heroes...

.

Norse mythology is the study of the myths told in Germanic countries (Germany, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Denmark, Faroe islands) during the pre-Christian times, especially during the Viking age.

Sources

Most of the existing records on Norse mythology date from the 11th to 18th century, having gone through more than two centuries of oral preservation in what was at least officially a Pagan society. At this point scholars started recording it, particularly in the Edda
Edda
The term Edda applies to the Old Norse Poetic Edda and Prose Edda, both of which were written down in Iceland during the 13th century in Icelandic, although they contain material from earlier traditional sources, reaching into the Viking Age...

s
and the Heimskringla
Heimskringla
Heimskringla is the best known of the Old Norse kings' sagas. It was written in Old Norse in Iceland by the poet and historian Snorri Sturluson ca. 1230...

by Snorri Sturluson
Snorri Sturluson
Snorri Sturluson was an Icelandic historian, poet, and politician. He was twice elected lawspeaker at the Icelandic parliament, the Althing...

, who believed that pre-Christian deities trace real historical people. There is also the Danish Gesta Danorum
Gesta Danorum
Gesta Danorum is a patriotic work of Danish history, by the 12th century author Saxo Grammaticus . It is the most ambitious literary undertaking of medieval Denmark and is an essential source for the nation's early history...

by Saxo Grammaticus
Saxo Grammaticus
Saxo Grammaticus also known as Saxo cognomine Longus was a Danish historian, thought to have been a secular clerk or secretary to Absalon, Archbishop of Lund, foremost advisor to Valdemar I of Denmark. He is the author of the first full history of Denmark.- Life :The Jutland Chronicle gives...

, where the Norse gods are more strongly Euhemerized
Euhemerus
Euhemerus was a Greek mythographer at the court of Cassander, the king of Macedon. Euhemerus' birthplace is disputed, with Messina in Sicily as the most probable location, while others champion Chios, or Tegea.-Life:...

.
The Prose or Younger Edda
Prose Edda
The Prose Edda, also known as the Younger Edda, Snorri's Edda or simply Edda, is an Icelandic collection of four sections interspersed with excerpts from earlier skaldic and Eddic poetry containing tales from Nordic mythology...

 was written in the early 13th century by Snorri Sturluson
Snorri Sturluson
Snorri Sturluson was an Icelandic historian, poet, and politician. He was twice elected lawspeaker at the Icelandic parliament, the Althing...

, who was a leading skáld
Skald
The skald was a member of a group of poets, whose courtly poetry is associated with the courts of Scandinavian and Icelandic leaders during the Viking Age, who composed and performed renditions of aspects of what we now characterise as Old Norse poetry .The most prevalent metre of skaldic poetry is...

, chieftain, and diplomat
Diplomacy
Diplomacy is the art and practice of conducting negotiations between representatives of groups or states...

 in Iceland
Iceland
Iceland , described as the Republic of Iceland, is a Nordic and European island country in the North Atlantic Ocean, on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Iceland also refers to the main island of the country, which contains almost all the population and almost all the land area. The country has a population...

. It may be thought of primarily as a handbook for aspiring skálds. It contains prose
Prose
Prose is the most typical form of written language, applying ordinary grammatical structure and natural flow of speech rather than rhythmic structure...

 explications of traditional "kennings," or compressed metaphors found in poetry. These prose retellings make the various tales of the Norse gods systematic and coherent.

The Poetic Edda
Poetic Edda
The Poetic Edda is a collection of Old Norse poems primarily preserved in the Icelandic mediaeval manuscript Codex Regius. Along with Snorri Sturluson's Prose Edda, the Poetic Edda is the most important extant source on Norse mythology and Germanic heroic legends, and from the early 19th century...

(also known as the Elder Edda) was committed to writing about 50 years after the Prose Edda. It contains 29 long poems, of which 11 deal with the Germanic deities, the rest with legendary heroes like Sigurd the Volsung (the Siegfried
Sigurd
Sigurd is a legendary hero of Norse mythology, as well as the central character in the Völsunga saga. The earliest extant representations for his legend come in pictorial form from seven runestones in Sweden and most notably the Ramsund carving Sigurd (Old Norse: Sigurðr) is a legendary hero of...

 of the German version Nibelungenlied
Nibelungenlied
The Nibelungenlied, translated as The Song of the Nibelungs, is an epic poem in Middle High German. The story tells of dragon-slayer Siegfried at the court of the Burgundians, how he was murdered, and of his wife Kriemhild's revenge....

). Although scholars think it was transcribed later than the other Edda, the language and poetic forms involved in the tales appear to have been composed centuries earlier than their transcription.

Besides these sources, there are surviving legends in Norse folklore. Some of these can be correlated with legends appearing in other Germanic literature e.g. the tale related in the Anglo-Saxon Battle of Finnsburgh and the many allusions to mythological tales in Deor
Deor
"Deor" is an Old English poem found in the late 10th century collection the Exeter Book. The poem consists of the lament of the scop Deor, who lends his name to the poem, which was given no formal title. Modern scholars do not actually believe Deor to be the author of this poem.In the poem, Deor's...

. When several partial references and tellings survive, scholars can deduce the underlying tale. Additionally, there are hundreds of place names in the Nordic countries named after the gods.

A few runic inscriptions, such as the Rök Runestone
Rök Runestone
The Rök Runestone is one of the most famous runestones, featuring the longest known runic inscription in stone. It can now be seen by the church in Rök , Östergötland, Sweden...

 and the Kvinneby amulet
Kvinneby amulet
The Kvinneby amulet is an 11th century runic amulet which was found in the mid-1950s in the soil of the village Södra Kvinneby in Öland, Sweden. The amulet is a square copper object measuring approximately 5 cm on each side...

, make references to the mythology. There are also several runestones and image stones that depict scenes from Norse mythology, such as Thor
Thor
In Norse mythology, Thor is a hammer-wielding god associated with thunder, lightning, storms, oak trees, strength, the protection of mankind, and also hallowing, healing, and fertility...

's fishing trip, scenes depicting Sigurd (Sigfried) the dragon slayer
Sigurd stones
The Sigurd stones form a group of seven or eight runestones and one image stone that depict imagery from the legend of Sigurd the dragon slayer...

, Odin
Odin
Odin is a major god in Norse mythology and the ruler of Asgard. Homologous with the Anglo-Saxon "Wōden" and the Old High German "Wotan", the name is descended from Proto-Germanic "*Wodanaz" or "*Wōđanaz"....

 and Sleipnir
Sleipnir
In Norse mythology, Sleipnir is an eight-legged horse. Sleipnir is attested in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources, and the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson...

, Odin being devoured by Fenrir, and one of the surviving stones from the Hunnestad Monument
Hunnestad Monument
The Hunnestad Monument , listed as DR 282 through 286 in the Rundata catalog, were once located at Hunnestad in Marsvinsholm north-west of Ystad, Sweden. It was the largest and most famous of the Viking Age monuments in Scania, and in Denmark, only comparable to the Jelling stones...

 appears to show Hyrrokkin
Hyrrokkin
In Norse mythology, Hyrrokkin is a giantess. She appears to be depicted on from the Hunnestad Monument near Marsvinsholm, Sweden called DR 284.- Hyrrokkin at Baldr's funeral :...

 riding to Baldr's funeral (DR 284).

In Denmark, one image stone depicts Loki
Loki
In Norse mythology, Loki or Loke is a god or jötunn . Loki is the son of Fárbauti and Laufey, and the brother of Helblindi and Býleistr. By the jötunn Angrboða, Loki is the father of Hel, the wolf Fenrir, and the world serpent Jörmungandr. By his wife Sigyn, Loki is the father of Nari or Narfi...

 with curled dandy-like mustaches and lips that are sewn together and the British Gosforth cross
Gosforth cross
upright|thumb|Gosforth Cross outside St Mary's church in Gosforth.The Gosforth Cross is a large stone Anglo-Saxon high cross in the churchyard at Gosforth in the English county of Cumbria. Formerly part of the kingdom of Northumbria, the area was settled by Scandinavians some time in either the 9th...

 shows several mythological images.

Cosmology

In Norse mythology there are 'nine worlds' (Níu Heimar in Old Norse), each joined to the other via the "World Tree" Yggdrasil
Yggdrasil
In Norse mythology, Yggdrasil is an immense tree that is central in Norse cosmology. It was said to be the world tree around which the nine worlds existed...

. A list of these worlds can only be deduced from the limited sources given to us in the two eddas. A complete list of the nine worlds is never mentioned entirely, in either of the eddas.
A summary list of the worlds, with an example reference to where they are mentioned, either in the older Poetic or younger Prose Edda. (in no particular order) -

  • Ásgarðr, world of the Æsir
    Æsir
    In Old Norse, áss is the term denoting a member of the principal pantheon in Norse paganism. This pantheon includes Odin, Frigg, Thor, Baldr and Tyr. The second pantheon comprises the Vanir...

    . (Poetic and Prose)
  • Vanaheimr
    Vanaheimr
    In Norse mythology, Vanaheimr is one of the Nine Worlds and home of the Vanir, a group of gods associated with fertility, wisdom, and the ability to see the future...

    , world of the Vanir
    Vanir
    In Norse mythology, the Vanir are a group of gods associated with fertility, wisdom and the ability to see the future. The Vanir are one of two groups of gods and are the namesake of the location Vanaheimr . After the Æsir–Vanir War, the Vanir became a subgroup of the Æsir...

    . (Poetic and Prose)
  • Álfheimr, world of the Álfar (Elves). (Poetic and Prose)
  • Miðgarðr, world of humans. (Poetic and Prose)
  • Jötunheimr
    Jötunheimr
    Jötunheimr is one of the Nine Worlds and the homeland of the Giants of Norse Mythology — Rock Giants and Frost Giants.-Legend:...

    , world of the Jötnar (Giants). (Poetic and Prose)
  • Niðavellir
    Niðavellir
    In Norse mythology, Nidavellir is one of the Nine Worlds and home of the Dwarves. Hreidmar is the king of Nidavellir.-Völuspá:It is mentioned in the Völuspá:Stóð fyr norðan, / á Niðavöllom / salr úr gulli / Sindra ættar...

    , world of the Dvergar (Dwarfs). (Poetic) / Svartálfaheimr (Prose)
  • Múspell, world of fire and the Fire Jötnar. (Poetic and Prose) / Múspellsheimr (Prose)
  • Niflhel
    Niflhel
    Niflhel is the name of a location in Norse mythology which appears in the eddic poems Vafþrúðnismál and Baldrs draumar, and also in Snorri Sturluson's Gylfaginning...

    , world of ice and mist, into which the wicked dead are cast. (Poetic and Prose) / Niflheimr (Prose)
  • Hel, world of the inglorious dead, located within Niflhel/Niflheimr and ruled over by the giantess Hel
    Hel (being)
    In Norse mythology, Hel is a being who presides over a realm of the same name, where she receives a portion of the dead. Hel is attested in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources, and the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson...

    . (Poetic and Prose)

Each world also had significant places within. Valhalla
Valhalla
In Norse mythology, Valhalla is a majestic, enormous hall located in Asgard, ruled over by the god Odin. Chosen by Odin, half of those that die in combat travel to Valhalla upon death, led by valkyries, while the other half go to the goddess Freyja's field Fólkvangr...

 is Odin
Odin
Odin is a major god in Norse mythology and the ruler of Asgard. Homologous with the Anglo-Saxon "Wōden" and the Old High German "Wotan", the name is descended from Proto-Germanic "*Wodanaz" or "*Wōđanaz"....

's hall located in Asgard
Asgard
In Norse religion, Asgard is one of the Nine Worlds and is the country or capital city of the Norse Gods surrounded by an incomplete wall attributed to a Hrimthurs riding the stallion Svadilfari, according to Gylfaginning. Valhalla is located within Asgard...

. It was also home of the Einherjar
Einherjar
In Norse mythology, the einherjar are those that have died in battle and are brought to Valhalla by valkyries. In Valhalla, the einherjar eat their fill of the nightly-resurrecting beast Sæhrímnir, and are brought their fill of mead by valkyries...

, who were the souls of the greatest warriors. These warriors were selected by the Valkyries. The Einherjar
Einherjar
In Norse mythology, the einherjar are those that have died in battle and are brought to Valhalla by valkyries. In Valhalla, the einherjar eat their fill of the nightly-resurrecting beast Sæhrímnir, and are brought their fill of mead by valkyries...

 would help defend the gods during Ragnarok
Ragnarök
In Norse mythology, Ragnarök is a series of future events, including a great battle foretold to ultimately result in the death of a number of major figures , the occurrence of various natural disasters, and the subsequent submersion of the world in water...

.

These worlds are connected by Yggdrasil
Yggdrasil
In Norse mythology, Yggdrasil is an immense tree that is central in Norse cosmology. It was said to be the world tree around which the nine worlds existed...

, the world tree, with Asgard
Asgard
In Norse religion, Asgard is one of the Nine Worlds and is the country or capital city of the Norse Gods surrounded by an incomplete wall attributed to a Hrimthurs riding the stallion Svadilfari, according to Gylfaginning. Valhalla is located within Asgard...

 at its top. Chewing at its roots in Niflheim
Niflheim
Niflheim is one of the Nine Worlds and is a location in Norse mythology which overlaps with the notions of Niflhel and Hel...

 is Nidhogg, a ferocious serpent
Serpent (symbolism)
Serpent in Latin means: Rory Collins :&, in turn, from the Biblical Hebrew word of: "saraf" with root letters of: which refers to something burning-as, the pain of poisonous snake's bite was likened to internal burning.This word is commonly used in a specifically mythic or religious context,...

 or dragon
Dragon
A dragon is a legendary creature, typically with serpentine or reptilian traits, that feature in the myths of many cultures. There are two distinct cultural traditions of dragons: the European dragon, derived from European folk traditions and ultimately related to Greek and Middle Eastern...

. Asgard can be reached by Bifrost
Bifröst
In Norse mythology, Bifrost or Bilröst is a burning rainbow bridge that reaches between Midgard and Asgard, the realm of the gods...

, a rainbow bridge guarded by Heimdall
Heimdall
In Norse mythology, Heimdallr is a god who possesses the resounding horn Gjallarhorn, owns the golden-maned horse Gulltoppr, has gold teeth, and is the son of Nine Mothers...

, a god who can see and hear for a hundred league
League (unit)
A league is a unit of length . It was long common in Europe and Latin America, but it is no longer an official unit in any nation. The league originally referred to the distance a person or a horse could walk in an hour...

s.

Supernatural beings

Numerous beings exist in Norse mythology, including the Æsir
Æsir
In Old Norse, áss is the term denoting a member of the principal pantheon in Norse paganism. This pantheon includes Odin, Frigg, Thor, Baldr and Tyr. The second pantheon comprises the Vanir...

 and Vanir
Vanir
In Norse mythology, the Vanir are a group of gods associated with fertility, wisdom and the ability to see the future. The Vanir are one of two groups of gods and are the namesake of the location Vanaheimr . After the Æsir–Vanir War, the Vanir became a subgroup of the Æsir...

, two groups of gods, the Jötnar, the Álfar (Elves) and the dwarfs. The distinction between Æsir and Vanir is relative, for the two are said to have made peace, exchanged hostages and reigned together after the events of the Æsir–Vanir War.

In addition, there are many other beings: Fenrir the gigantic wolf, Jörmungandr
Jörmungandr
In Norse mythology, Jörmungandr , mostly known as Jormungand, orJörmungand , or Midgard Serpent , or World Serpent, is a sea serpent, and the middle child of the giantess Angrboða and the god Loki...

 the sea-serpent (or "worm") that is coiled around Midgard, and Hel
Hel (being)
In Norse mythology, Hel is a being who presides over a realm of the same name, where she receives a portion of the dead. Hel is attested in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources, and the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson...

, ruler of Helheim. These three monsters are described as the progeny of Loki
Loki
In Norse mythology, Loki or Loke is a god or jötunn . Loki is the son of Fárbauti and Laufey, and the brother of Helblindi and Býleistr. By the jötunn Angrboða, Loki is the father of Hel, the wolf Fenrir, and the world serpent Jörmungandr. By his wife Sigyn, Loki is the father of Nari or Narfi...

. Other creatures include Huginn and Muninn (thought and memory, respectively), the two ravens who keep Odin, the chief god, apprised of what is happening on earth, since he gave an eye to the Well of Mimir
Well of Mimir
In Norse mythology, Mímisbrunnr is a well associated with the being Mímir, located beneath the world tree Yggdrasil. Mímisbrunnr is attested in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources, and the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson...

 in his quest for wisdom, Geri and Freki
Geri and Freki
In Norse mythology, Geri and Freki are two wolves which are said to accompany the god Odin. They are attested in the Poetic Edda, a collection of epic poetry compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources, in the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson, and in...

 Odin's two wolves, Sleipnir
Sleipnir
In Norse mythology, Sleipnir is an eight-legged horse. Sleipnir is attested in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources, and the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson...

, Loki's eight legged horse son belonging to Odin and Ratatoskr, the squirrel which scampers in the branches of Yggdrasil.

Völuspá

In the Poetic Edda poem Völuspá
Völuspá
Völuspá is the first and best known poem of the Poetic Edda. It tells the story of the creation of the world and its coming end related by a völva addressing Odin...

("Prophecy [spá] of the völva
Völva
A vǫlva or völva is a shamanic seeress in Norse paganism, and a recurring motif in Norse mythology....

"), Odin, the chief god of the Norse pantheon, has conjured up the spirit of a dead völva and commanded this spirit to reveal the past and the future. She is reluctant; she cries, "What do you ask of me? Why tempt me?" Since she is already dead, she shows no fear of Odin, and continually taunts him, "Well, would you know more?" But Odin insists: if he is to fulfill his function as king of the gods, he must possess all knowledge. Once the völva has revealed the secrets of past and future, she falls back into oblivion: "I sink now".

Abiogenesis and anthropogenesis

According to Norse myth, 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
Ymir
In Norse mythology, Ymir, also called Aurgelmir among the giants themselves, was the founder of the race of frost giants and was later killed by the Borrs.-Etymology:...

 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 Jötnar. Whilst Ymir slept, the intense heat from Muspelheim made him sweat, and he sweated out Surtr
Surtr
In Norse mythology, Surtr or Surt is an eldjötunn. Surtr is attested in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources, and the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson...

, a jötunn of fire. Later Ýmir woke and drank Auðhumla'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
Búri
Búri was the first god in Norse mythology. He is the father of Borr and grandfather of Odin, Vili and Ve. He was formed by the cow Auðumbla licking the salty ice of Ginnungagap. The only extant source of this myth is Snorri Sturluson's Prose Edda.Búri is mentioned nowhere in the Poetic Edda and...

 and with an unknown jötunn female he fathered Borr
Borr
Borr or Burr was the son of Búri and the father of Odin in Norse mythology. He is mentioned in the Gylfaginning, part of Snorri Sturluson's Prose Edda....

 (Bor), the father of the three gods Odin
Odin
Odin is a major god in Norse mythology and the ruler of Asgard. Homologous with the Anglo-Saxon "Wōden" and the Old High German "Wotan", the name is descended from Proto-Germanic "*Wodanaz" or "*Wōđanaz"....

, Vili and Ve
VE
VE, Ve or ve may refer to:* Vili and Vé, gods in Norse mythology* Vé , a shrine in Germanic paganism and modern place name element* Ve , a character from the Cyrillic alphabet* Ve , a character of the Arabic alphabet...

.

When the gods felt strong enough they killed Ymir. His blood flooded the world and drowned all of the jötunn, except two. But jötnar grew again in numbers and soon there were as many as before Ymir's death. Then the gods created seven more worlds using Ymir's flesh for dirt, his blood for the Oceans, rivers and lakes, his bones for stone, his brain as the clouds, his skull for the heaven. Sparks from Muspelheim flew up and became stars.

One day when the gods were walking they found two tree trunks. They transformed them into the shape of humans. Odin gave them life, Vili gave them mind and Ve gave them the ability to hear, see, and speak. The gods named them Askur and Embla
Ask and Embla
In Norse mythology, Ask and Embla —male and female respectively—were the first two humans, created by the gods. The pair are attested in both the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources, and the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson...

 and built the kingdom of Middle-earth for them; and, to keep out the jötnar, the gods placed a gigantic fence made of Ymir's eyelashes around Middle-earth.

The völva goes on to describe Yggdrasill and three norns; Urður (Wyrd), Verðandi and Skuld
Skuld
Skuld may refer to:* Skuld, one of a group of three norns in Norse mythology* Skuld , a princess in Norse mythology* 1130 Skuld, an asteroid discovered on 2 September 1929 and named after the Norn...

. She then describes the war between the Æsir and Vanir and the murder of Baldur, Óðinn's (Odin) handsome son whom everyone but Loki loved. (The story is that everything in existence promised not to hurt him except mistletoe. Taking advantage of this weakness, Loki made a projectile of mistletoe
Mistletoe
Mistletoe is the common name for obligate hemi-parasitic plants in several families in the order Santalales. The plants in question grow attached to and within the branches of a tree or shrub.-Mistletoe in the genus Viscum:...

 and tricked Höður, Óðinn's (Odin) blind son and Baldur's brother, into using it to kill Baldur. Hel
Hel (being)
In Norse mythology, Hel is a being who presides over a realm of the same name, where she receives a portion of the dead. Hel is attested in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources, and the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson...

 said she would revive him if everyone in the nine worlds wept. A female jötunn - Thokk
Thokk
Þökk is a giantess in Norse mythology, presumed to be Loki in disguise, who refuses to weep for the slain Baldr, thus forcing him to stay in Hel.-Prose Edda:...

, who may have been Loki in shape-shifted form - did not weep.) After that she turns her attention to the future.

Ragnarök

Ragnarök refers to a series of major events, including a great battle foretold to ultimately result in the death of a number of major figures (including the gods
Æsir
In Old Norse, áss is the term denoting a member of the principal pantheon in Norse paganism. This pantheon includes Odin, Frigg, Thor, Baldr and Tyr. The second pantheon comprises the Vanir...

 Odin
Odin
Odin is a major god in Norse mythology and the ruler of Asgard. Homologous with the Anglo-Saxon "Wōden" and the Old High German "Wotan", the name is descended from Proto-Germanic "*Wodanaz" or "*Wōđanaz"....

, Thor
Thor
In Norse mythology, Thor is a hammer-wielding god associated with thunder, lightning, storms, oak trees, strength, the protection of mankind, and also hallowing, healing, and fertility...

, Freyr
Freyr
Freyr is one of the most important gods of Norse paganism. Freyr was highly associated with farming, weather and, as a phallic fertility god, Freyr "bestows peace and pleasure on mortals"...

, Heimdall
Heimdall
In Norse mythology, Heimdallr is a god who possesses the resounding horn Gjallarhorn, owns the golden-maned horse Gulltoppr, has gold teeth, and is the son of Nine Mothers...

, and the jötunn Loki
Loki
In Norse mythology, Loki or Loke is a god or jötunn . Loki is the son of Fárbauti and Laufey, and the brother of Helblindi and Býleistr. By the jötunn Angrboða, Loki is the father of Hel, the wolf Fenrir, and the world serpent Jörmungandr. By his wife Sigyn, Loki is the father of Nari or Narfi...

), the occurrence of various natural disasters, and the subsequent submersion of the world in water. Afterwards, the world resurfaces anew and fertile, the surviving gods meet, and the world is repopulated by two human survivors.

Kings and heroes

The mythological literature relates the legends of heroes and kings, as well as supernatural creatures. These clan and kingdom founding figures possessed great importance as illustrations of proper action or national origins. The heroic literature may have fulfilled the same function as the national epic
National epic
A national epic is an epic poem or a literary work of epic scope which seeks or is believed to capture and express the essence or spirit of a particular nation; not necessarily a nation-state, but at least an ethnic or linguistic group with aspirations to independence or autonomy...

 in other European literatures, or it may have been more nearly related to tribal identity. Many of the legendary figures probably existed, and generations of Scandinavian scholars have tried to extract history from myth in the sagas
Norse saga
The sagas are stories about ancient Scandinavian and Germanic history, about early Viking voyages, the battles that took place during the voyages, about migration to Iceland and of feuds between Icelandic families...

.

Sometimes the same hero resurfaces in several forms depending on which part of the Germanic world the epics survived such as Weyland
Weyland
In Germanic and Norse mythology, Wayland the Smith is a legendary master blacksmith. In Old Norse sources, Völundr appears in Völundarkviða, a poem in the Poetic Edda, and in Þiðrekssaga, and his legend is also depicted on the Ardre image stone VIII...

/Völund and Siegfried
Siegfried
Siegfried is a German language male given name, meaning "victory peace".Siegfried may also refer to:-People:* Sigfrid of Sweden , English missionary to Sweden and patron saint of Växjö...

/Sigurd
Sigurd
Sigurd is a legendary hero of Norse mythology, as well as the central character in the Völsunga saga. The earliest extant representations for his legend come in pictorial form from seven runestones in Sweden and most notably the Ramsund carving Sigurd (Old Norse: Sigurðr) is a legendary hero of...

, and probably Beowulf
Beowulf (hero)
Beowulf is a legendary Geatish hero and later turned king in the epic poem named after him, one of the oldest surviving pieces of literature in the English language.-Etymology and origins of the character:...

/Bödvar Bjarki
Bödvar Bjarki
Bödvar Bjarki , meaning 'Warlike Little-Bear', is the hero appearing in tales of Hrólf Kraki in the Saga of Hrólf Kraki, in the Latin epitome to the lost Skjöldunga saga, and as Biarco in Saxo Grammaticus' Gesta Danorum...

. Other notable heroes are Hagbard
Hagbard
Hagbard , the brother of Haki and son of Hamund, was a famous Scandinavian sea-king in Norse mythology. He is mentioned in Skáldskaparmál, Ynglinga saga, Nafnaþulur, Völsunga saga and Gesta Danorum...

, Starkad
Starkad
Starkad, Old Norse: Starkaðr or Störkuðr, Latin: Starcaterus, and during the late Middle Ages, also known as Starkodder, was a legendary hero in Norse mythology....

, Ragnar Lodbrok
Ragnar Lodbrok
Ragnar Lodbrok was a Norse legendary hero from the Viking Age who was thoroughly reshaped in Old Norse poetry and legendary sagas.-Life as recorded in the sagas:...

, Sigurd Ring
Sigurd Ring
Sigurd Hring was a Swedish and Danish king mentioned in many old Scandinavian legends. According to Bósa saga ok Herrauds, there was once a saga on Sigurd Hring, but this saga is now lost...

, Ivar Vidfamne
Ivar Vidfamne
Ivar Vidfamne was a Danish and Swedish king hailing from Scania. He may have died c. 700. According to the Heimskringla and the Hervarar saga, Ivar was also the king of Norway, Denmark, Saxony and parts of England.- Ivar in the Sagas :He began as king of Scania and conquered Sweden by defeating...

 and Harald Hildetand. Notable are also the shieldmaiden
Shieldmaiden
A shieldmaiden was a woman who had chosen to fight as a warrior in Scandinavian folklore and mythology. They are often mentioned in sagas such as Hervarar saga and in Gesta Danorum. Shieldmaidens also appear in stories of other Germanic nations: Goths, Cimbri, and Marcomanni. The mythical Valkyries...

s who were ordinary women who had chosen the path of the warrior. These women function both as heroines and as obstacles to the heroic journey.

Centres of faith

The Germanic tribes rarely or never had temples in a modern sense. The Blót, the form of worship practiced by the ancient Germanic and Scandinavian people, resembled that of the Celts
Celtic mythology
Celtic mythology is the mythology of Celtic polytheism, apparently the religion of the Iron Age Celts. Like other Iron Age Europeans, the early Celts maintained a polytheistic mythology and religious structure...

 and Balts
Balts
The Balts or Baltic peoples , defined as speakers of one of the Baltic languages, a branch of the Indo-European language family, are descended from a group of Indo-European tribes who settled the area between the Jutland peninsula in the west and Moscow, Oka and Volga rivers basins in the east...

. It occurred either in sacred grove
Sacred grove
A sacred grove is a grove of trees of special religious importance to a particular culture. Sacred groves were most prominent in the Ancient Near East and prehistoric Europe, but feature in various cultures throughout the world...

s, at home, or at a simple altar of piled stones known as a "horgr
Hörgr
A hörgr or hearg was a type of religious building or altar possibly consisting of a heap of stones, used in Norse paganism...

." However, there seem to have been a few more important centres, such as Skiringssal
Kaupang
Kaupang was in Old-Norwegian a word that means a market-place. It is today used as a name of the first urban market-place in the area that today is Norway, also named Kaupang in Skiringssal...

, Lejre
Lejre
Lejre is a town with a population of 2,343 and a municipality on the island of Zealand in east Denmark. It belongs to Region Sjælland. The town's Old Norse name was Hleiðra. The municipality has an area of 240 km² and a total population of ca. 26,603 . Its mayor is Mette Touborg, representing the...

 and Uppsala
Gamla Uppsala
Gamla Uppsala is a parish and a village outside Uppsala in Sweden. It had 16,231 inhabitants in 1991.As early as the 3rd century AD and the 4th century AD and onwards, it was an important religious, economic and political centre...

. Adam of Bremen
Adam of Bremen
Adam of Bremen was a German medieval chronicler. He lived and worked in the second half of the eleventh century. He is most famous for his chronicle Gesta Hammaburgensis Ecclesiae Pontificum .-Background:Little is known of his life other than hints from his own chronicles...

 claims that there was a temple at Uppsala
Temple at Uppsala
The Temple at Uppsala was a religious center in Norse paganism once located at what is now Gamla Uppsala , Sweden attested in Adam of Bremen's 11th century work Gesta Hammaburgensis ecclesiae pontificum and in Heimskringla, written by Snorri Sturluson in the 13th century...

 with three wooden statues of Odin, Thor and Freyr.

Priests

While a kind of priesthood seems to have existed, it never took on the professional and semi-hereditary character of the Celtic druidical class. This was because the shamanistic tradition was maintained by women, the Völva
Völva
A vǫlva or völva is a shamanic seeress in Norse paganism, and a recurring motif in Norse mythology....

s. It is often said that the Germanic kingship evolved out of a priestly office. This priestly role of the king was in line with the general role of gothi
Gothi
A goði or gothi is the Old Norse term for a priest and chieftain. Gyðja signifies a priestess.The name appears in Wulfila's Gothic language translation of the bible as gudja for "priest", but in Old Norse it is only the feminine form gyðja that perfectly corresponds to the Gothic form...

, who was the head of a kindred group of families (for this social structure, see norse clans
Norse clans
The Scandinavian clan or ætt was a social group based on common descent or on the formal acceptance into the group at a þing.-History:...

), and who administered the sacrifices.

Human sacrifice

A unique eye-witness account of Germanic human sacrifice
Human sacrifice
Human sacrifice is the act of killing one or more human beings as part of a religious ritual . Its typology closely parallels the various practices of ritual slaughter of animals and of religious sacrifice in general. Human sacrifice has been practised in various cultures throughout history...

 survives in Ibn Fadlan's account of a Rus
Rus' (people)
The Rus' were a group of Varangians . According to the Primary Chronicle of Rus, compiled in about 1113 AD, the Rus had relocated from the Baltic region , first to Northeastern Europe, creating an early polity which finally came under the leadership of Rurik...

 ship burial
Ship burial
A ship burial or boat grave is a burial in which a ship or boat is used either as a container for the dead and the grave goods, or as a part of the grave goods itself. If the ship is very small, it is called a boat grave...

, where a slave-girl had volunteered to accompany her lord to the next world. More indirect accounts are given by Tacitus
Tacitus
Publius Cornelius Tacitus was a senator and a historian of the Roman Empire. The surviving portions of his two major works—the Annals and the Histories—examine the reigns of the Roman Emperors Tiberius, Claudius, Nero and those who reigned in the Year of the Four Emperors...

, Saxo Grammaticus
Saxo Grammaticus
Saxo Grammaticus also known as Saxo cognomine Longus was a Danish historian, thought to have been a secular clerk or secretary to Absalon, Archbishop of Lund, foremost advisor to Valdemar I of Denmark. He is the author of the first full history of Denmark.- Life :The Jutland Chronicle gives...

 and Adam von Bremen.

However, the Ibn Fadlan account is actually a burial ritual. Current understanding of Norse mythology suggests an ulterior motive to the slave-girl's 'sacrifice'. It is believed that in Norse mythology a woman who joined the corpse of a man on the funeral pyre would be that man's wife in the next world. For a slave girl to become the wife of a lord was an obvious increase in status. Although both religions are of the Indo-European tradition, the sacrifice described in the Ibn Fadlan account is not to be confused with the practice of Sati
Sati (practice)
For other uses, see Sati .Satī was a religious funeral practice among some Indian communities in which a recently widowed woman either voluntarily or by use of force and coercion would have immolated herself on her husband’s funeral pyre...

.

The Heimskringla tells of Swedish King Aun
Aun
Ane, On, One, Auchun or Aun the Old , English: Edwin, was a mythical Swedish king of the House of Yngling, the ancestors of Norway's first king, Harald Fairhair...

 who sacrificed nine of his sons in an effort to prolong his life until his subjects stopped him from killing his last son Egil
Egil
-People:*Agilaz, a legendary archer of Germanic mythology and a brother of Völund.*Egil, a character in the poem Hymiskvida.*Egill Örn Egilsson, also known as Eagle Egilsson, Icelandic director and cinematographer....

. According to Adam of Bremen, the Swedish kings sacrificed male slaves every ninth year during the Yule
Yule
Yule or Yuletide is a winter festival that was initially celebrated by the historical Germanic people as a pagan religious festival, though it was later absorbed into, and equated with, the Christian festival of Christmas. The festival was originally celebrated from late December to early January...

 sacrifices at the Temple at Uppsala. The Swedes had the right not only to elect kings but also to depose them, and both king Domalde
Domalde
In Norse mythology, Domalde, Dómaldi or Dómaldr was a Swedish king of the House of Ynglings, cursed by his stepmother, according to Snorri Sturluson, with ósgæssa, "ill-luck". He was the son of Visbur....

 and king Olof Trätälja
Olof Trätälja
Olaf Tree Feller was the son of the Swedish king Ingjald Ill-ruler of the House of Yngling according to Ynglingatal.-Heimskringla:...

 are said to have been sacrificed after years of famine.

Odin was associated with death by hanging, and a possible practice of Odinic sacrifice by strangling has some archeological support in the existence of bodies such as Tollund Man
Tollund Man
The Tollund Man is the naturally mummified corpse of a man who lived during the 4th century BC, during the time period characterised in Scandinavia as the Pre-Roman Iron Age. He was found in 1950 buried in a peat bog on the Jutland Peninsula in Denmark, which preserved his body. Such a find is...

 that perfectly preserved by the acid of the Jutland
Jutland
Jutland , historically also called Cimbria, is the name of the peninsula that juts out in Northern Europe toward the rest of Scandinavia, forming the mainland part of Denmark. It has the North Sea to its west, Kattegat and Skagerrak to its north, the Baltic Sea to its east, and the Danish–German...

 peat
Peat
Peat is an accumulation of partially decayed vegetation matter or histosol. Peat forms in wetland bogs, moors, muskegs, pocosins, mires, and peat swamp forests. Peat is harvested as an important source of fuel in certain parts of the world...

bogs, into which they were cast after having been strangled. However, scholars possess no written accounts that explicitly interpret the cause of these stranglings, which could obviously have other explanations.

Interactions with Christianity


An important note in interpreting this mythology is that often the closest accounts that scholars have to "pre-contact" times were written by Christians. The Younger Edda and the Heimskringla were written by Snorri Sturluson in the 13th century, over two hundred years after Iceland became Christianized. This results in Snorri's works carrying a large amount of Euhemerism.

Virtually all of the saga literature came out of Iceland
Iceland
Iceland , described as the Republic of Iceland, is a Nordic and European island country in the North Atlantic Ocean, on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Iceland also refers to the main island of the country, which contains almost all the population and almost all the land area. The country has a population...

, a relatively small and remote island, and even in the climate of religious tolerance there, Snorri was guided by an essentially Christian viewpoint. The Heimskringla
Heimskringla
Heimskringla is the best known of the Old Norse kings' sagas. It was written in Old Norse in Iceland by the poet and historian Snorri Sturluson ca. 1230...

provides some interesting insights into this issue. Snorri introduces Odin as a mortal warlord in Asia who acquires magical powers, settles in Sweden, and becomes a demi-god following his death. Having undercut Odin's divinity, Snorri then provides the story of a pact of Swedish King Aun
Aun
Ane, On, One, Auchun or Aun the Old , English: Edwin, was a mythical Swedish king of the House of Yngling, the ancestors of Norway's first king, Harald Fairhair...

 with Odin to prolong his life by sacrificing his sons. Later in the Heimskringla, Snorri records in detail how converts to Christianity such as Saint Olaf Haraldsson brutally converted Scandinavians to Christianity.

Trying to avert civil war, the Icelandic parliament voted in Christianity, but for some years tolerated heathenry in the privacy of one's home. Sweden, on the other hand, had a series of civil wars in the 11th century, which ended with the burning of the Temple at Uppsala
Temple at Uppsala
The Temple at Uppsala was a religious center in Norse paganism once located at what is now Gamla Uppsala , Sweden attested in Adam of Bremen's 11th century work Gesta Hammaburgensis ecclesiae pontificum and in Heimskringla, written by Snorri Sturluson in the 13th century...

. In England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

, Christianization occurred earlier and sporadically, rarely by force. Conversion by coercion was sporadic throughout the areas where Norse gods had been worshipped. However, the conversion did not happen overnight. Christian clergy did their utmost to teach the populace that the Norse gods were demons, but their success was limited and the gods never became evil in the popular mind in most of Scandinavia.

The length of time Christianization took is illustrated by two centrally located examples of Lovön and Bergen. Archaeological studies of graves at the Swedish island of Lovön
Lovön
Lovön is an island located in the Swedish Lake Mälaren in Ekerö Municipality of Stockholm County. It was a municipality of its own until 1952, when it was joined with Ekerö Municipality. Lovön's greatest attraction is Drottningholm Palace and its many public gardens, which were built on the island...

 have shown that the Christianisation took 150–200 years, and this was a location close to the kings and bishops. Likewise in the bustling trading town of Bergen, many runic inscriptions have been found from the 13th century, among the Bryggen inscriptions
Bryggen inscriptions
The Bryggen inscriptions are a find of some 670 medieval runic inscriptions on wood and bone found from 1955 and forth at Bryggen in Bergen, Norway. It has been called the most important runic find in the twentieth century...

. One of them says may Thor receive you, may Odin own you, and a second one is a galdra which says I carve curing runes, I carve salvaging runes, once against the elves, twice against the trolls, thrice against the thurs
Thurs
Thurs may refer to:*Thurs, also Thurse, a mythological race with superhuman strength in Norse mythology. See Jötunn.*a name of Thor*Thurisaz ᚦ, the rune expressing the thorn phoneme*Thursday, as an abbreviation...

. The second one also mentions the dangerous Valkyrie
Valkyrie
In Norse mythology, a valkyrie is one of a host of female figures who decides who dies in battle. Selecting among half of those who die in battle , the valkyries bring their chosen to the afterlife hall of the slain, Valhalla, ruled over by the god Odin...

 Skögul
Skögul
In Norse mythology, Skögul and Geirskögul are valkyries who alternately appear as separate or individual figures...

. Another contrast in Norse beliefs is the Gimle
Gimlé
In Norse mythology, Gimlé was a place where the survivors of Ragnarök were to live. It is mentioned in the Prose Edda and Völuspá and described as the most beautiful place on Earth, more beautiful than the Sun....

, the supposed "high heaven", which is thought to be a Christian addition to Norse mythology, and the Ragnarokk, the "fate" of Æsir
Æsir
In Old Norse, áss is the term denoting a member of the principal pantheon in Norse paganism. This pantheon includes Odin, Frigg, Thor, Baldr and Tyr. The second pantheon comprises the Vanir...

 gods. This seems to be a Christian addition to the native mythology, since it ends the "reign" of the Æsir
Æsir
In Old Norse, áss is the term denoting a member of the principal pantheon in Norse paganism. This pantheon includes Odin, Frigg, Thor, Baldr and Tyr. The second pantheon comprises the Vanir...

 gods.

There are few accounts from the 14th to the 18th century, but the clergy, such as Olaus Magnus
Olaus Magnus
Olaus Magnus was a Swedish ecclesiastic and writer, who did pioneering work for the interest of Nordic people. He was reported as born in October 1490 in Östergötland, and died on August 1, 1557. Magnus, Latin for the Swedish Stor “great”, is a Latin family name taken personally, and not a...

 (1555) wrote about the difficulties of extinguishing the old beliefs. The story related in Þrymskviða
Þrymskviða
Þrymskviða is one of the best known poems from the Poetic Edda...

appears to have been unusually resilient, like the romantic story of Hagbard and Signy
Hagbard and Signy
Hagbard and Signe or Habor and Sign'ild were a pair of lovers in Scandinavian mythology and folklore whose legend was widely popular. The heroes' connections with other legendary characters place the events in the 5th century AD...

, and versions of both were recorded in the 17th century and as late as the 19th century. In the 19th and early 20th century Swedish folklorists documented what commoners believed, and what surfaced were many surviving traditions of the gods of Norse mythology. However, the traditions were by then far from the cohesive system of Snorri's accounts. Most gods had been forgotten and only the hunting Odin and the jötunn-slaying Thor figure in numerous legends. Freyja is mentioned a few times and Baldr only survives in legends about place names.

Other elements of Norse mythology survived without being perceived as such, especially concerning supernatural beings in Scandinavian folklore
Scandinavian folklore
Scandinavian folklore is the folklore of Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, the Faroe Islands, and the Swedish speaking parts of Finland.Collecting folklore began when Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden sent out instructions to all of the priests in all of the parishes to collect the folklore of their area...

. Moreover, the Norse belief in destiny has been very firm until modern times. Since the Christian hell
Hell
In many religious traditions, a hell is a place of suffering and punishment in the afterlife. Religions with a linear divine history often depict hells as endless. Religions with a cyclic history often depict a hell as an intermediary period between incarnations...

 resembled the abode of the dead in Norse mythology one of the names was borrowed from the old faith, Helvíti i.e. Hel's punishment. Many elements of the Yule
Yule
Yule or Yuletide is a winter festival that was initially celebrated by the historical Germanic people as a pagan religious festival, though it was later absorbed into, and equated with, the Christian festival of Christmas. The festival was originally celebrated from late December to early January...

 traditions persevered, such as the Swedish tradition of slaughtering the pig at Christmas (Christmas ham
Christmas ham
A Christmas ham or Yule ham is a traditional ham dish associated with modern Christmas, Yule and Fennoscandian Jul. The tradition is suggested to have begun among the Germanic peoples as a tribute to Freyr, a god in Germanic Paganism associated with boars, harvest and fertility. It was later...

), which originally was part of the sacrifice to Freyr.

Modern influences

Day (Old Norse) Meaning
Mánadagr Moon's day
Týsdagr Tyr's day
Óðinsdagr Odin's day
Þórsdagr Thor's day
Frjádagr Freyja's day
Laugardagr Washing day
Sunnudagr/Dróttinsdagr Sun's day


The Germanic gods have left numerous traces in modern vocabulary and elements of every day western life in most Germanic language speaking countries. An example of this is some of the names of the days of the week: modelled after the names of the days of the week in Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 (named after Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, and Saturn), the names for Tuesday through to Friday were replaced with Germanic equivalents of the Roman gods and the names for Monday and Sunday after the Sun and Moon. In English, Saturn was not replaced.

Viking revival

Early modern editions of Old Norse literature begins in the 16th century, e.g. Historia de gentibus septentrionalibus (Olaus Magnus, 1555) and the first edition of the
13th century Gesta Danorum
Gesta Danorum
Gesta Danorum is a patriotic work of Danish history, by the 12th century author Saxo Grammaticus . It is the most ambitious literary undertaking of medieval Denmark and is an essential source for the nation's early history...

(Saxo Grammaticus
Saxo Grammaticus
Saxo Grammaticus also known as Saxo cognomine Longus was a Danish historian, thought to have been a secular clerk or secretary to Absalon, Archbishop of Lund, foremost advisor to Valdemar I of Denmark. He is the author of the first full history of Denmark.- Life :The Jutland Chronicle gives...

), in 1514. The pace of publication increased during the 17th century with Latin translations of the Edda
Edda
The term Edda applies to the Old Norse Poetic Edda and Prose Edda, both of which were written down in Iceland during the 13th century in Icelandic, although they contain material from earlier traditional sources, reaching into the Viking Age...

 (notably Peder Resen's Edda Islandorum of 1665). The renewed interest of Romanticism
Romanticism
Romanticism was an artistic, literary and intellectual movement that originated in the second half of the 18th century in Europe, and gained strength in reaction to the Industrial Revolution...

 in the Old North had political implications. Myths about a glorious and brave past is said to have given the Swedes the courage to retake Finland
Finland
Finland , officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland.Around 5.4 million people reside...

, which had been lost in 1809 during the war between Sweden and Russia
Finnish War
The Finnish War was fought between Sweden and the Russian Empire from February 1808 to September 1809. As a result of the war, the eastern third of Sweden was established as the autonomous Grand Duchy of Finland within the Russian Empire...

. The Geatish Society
Geatish Society
The Geatish Society, or Gothic League was created by a number of Swedish poets and authors in 1811, as a social club for literary studies among academics in Sweden with a view to raising the moral tone of society through contemplating Scandinavian antiquity...

, of which Geijer was a member, popularized this myth to a great extent.

A focus for early British enthusiasts was George Hicke, who published a Linguarum vett. septentrionalium thesaurus in 1703–5. In the 1780s, Denmark
Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

 offered to cede Iceland
Iceland
Iceland , described as the Republic of Iceland, is a Nordic and European island country in the North Atlantic Ocean, on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Iceland also refers to the main island of the country, which contains almost all the population and almost all the land area. The country has a population...

 to Britain in exchange for Crab Island (West Indies), and in the 1860s Iceland was considered as a compensation for British support of Denmark in the Slesvig-Holstein conflicts. During this time, British interest and enthusiasm for Iceland and Nordic culture grew dramatically.

Germanic Neopaganism

Romanticist interest in the Old North gave rise to Germanic mysticism
Germanic mysticism
Germanic mysticism or Germanic occultism may refer to* Ariosophy* more generally, various schools of Esotericism in Germany and Austria* various modern systems of runic magic...

 involving various schemes of occultist "Runology
Runology
Runology is the study of the Runic alphabets, Runic inscriptions and their history. Runology forms a specialized branch of Germanic linguistics.-History:...

", notably following Guido von List
Guido von List
Guido Karl Anton List, better known as Guido von List was an Austrian/German poet, journalist, writer, businessman and dealer of leather goods, mountaineer, hiker, dramatist, playwright, and rower, but was most notable as an occultist and völkisch author who is seen as one of the most important...

 and his Das Geheimnis der Runen
Das Geheimnis der Runen
Das Geheimnis der Runen is a book by Austrian mystic Guido von List, in which he presents his "Armanen Futharkh".It appeared as a periodical article in 1906, and as a standalone publication in 1908.-Contents:...

(1908) in the early 20th century.

Since the 1970s, there have been revivals of the old Germanic religion as Germanic Neopaganism
Germanic Neopaganism
Germanic neopaganism is the contemporary revival of historical Germanic paganism. Precursor movements appeared in the early 20th century in Germany and Austria. A second wave of revival began in the early 1970s...

 (Ásatrú) in both Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

 and the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

.

Modern popular culture

Norse mythology influenced Richard Wagner
Richard Wagner
Wilhelm Richard Wagner was a German composer, conductor, theatre director, philosopher, music theorist, poet, essayist and writer primarily known for his operas...

's use of literary themes from it to compose the four operas that make up Der Ring des Nibelungen
Der Ring des Nibelungen
Der Ring des Nibelungen is a cycle of four epic operas by the German composer Richard Wagner . The works are based loosely on characters from the Norse sagas and the Nibelungenlied...

(The Ring of the Nibelung).

Subsequently, J. R. R. Tolkien
J. R. R. Tolkien
John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, CBE was an English writer, poet, philologist, and university professor, best known as the author of the classic high fantasy works The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion.Tolkien was Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Pembroke College,...

's writings, especially The Silmarillion
The Silmarillion
The Silmarillion is a collection of J. R. R. Tolkien's mythopoeic works, edited and published posthumously by his son Christopher Tolkien in 1977, with assistance from Guy Gavriel Kay, who later became a noted fantasy writer. The Silmarillion, along with J. R. R...

, were heavily influenced by the indigenous beliefs of the pre-Christian Northern Europeans. As his related novel The Lord of the Rings
The Lord of the Rings
The Lord of the Rings is a high fantasy epic written by English philologist and University of Oxford professor J. R. R. Tolkien. The story began as a sequel to Tolkien's earlier, less complex children's fantasy novel The Hobbit , but eventually developed into a much larger work. It was written in...

became popular, elements of its fantasy world moved steadily into popular perceptions of the fantasy genre. In many fantasy novels today can be found such Norse creatures as elves
Elf
An elf is a being of Germanic mythology. The elves were originally thought of as a race of divine beings endowed with magical powers, which they use both for the benefit and the injury of mankind...

, dwarves
Dwarf (Germanic mythology)
In Germanic mythology, a dwarf is a being that dwells in mountains and in the earth, and is associated with wisdom, smithing, mining, and crafting...

, and frost jötnar.

Primary sources

  • The Prose Edda
    Prose Edda
    The Prose Edda, also known as the Younger Edda, Snorri's Edda or simply Edda, is an Icelandic collection of four sections interspersed with excerpts from earlier skaldic and Eddic poetry containing tales from Nordic mythology...

  • The Poetic Edda
    Poetic Edda
    The Poetic Edda is a collection of Old Norse poems primarily preserved in the Icelandic mediaeval manuscript Codex Regius. Along with Snorri Sturluson's Prose Edda, the Poetic Edda is the most important extant source on Norse mythology and Germanic heroic legends, and from the early 19th century...

  • Gesta Danorum
    Gesta Danorum
    Gesta Danorum is a patriotic work of Danish history, by the 12th century author Saxo Grammaticus . It is the most ambitious literary undertaking of medieval Denmark and is an essential source for the nation's early history...

  • Ynglinga saga
    Ynglinga saga
    Ynglinga saga is a legendary saga, originally written in Old Norse by the Icelandic poet Snorri Sturluson about 1225. It was first translated into English and published in 1844....

  • Saga
    Saga
    Sagas, are stories in Old Norse about ancient Scandinavian and Germanic history, etc.Saga may also refer to:Business*Saga DAB radio, a British radio station*Saga Airlines, a Turkish airline*Saga Falabella, a department store chain in Peru...

    s

General secondary works

(2011). Myths of the Pagan North: the Gods of the Norsemen. London: Continuum. ISBN 978-18-47252-47-0. (1998). A Piece of Horse Liver: Myth, Ritual and Folklore in Old Icelandic Sources (translated by Terry Gunnell & Joan Turville-Petre). Reykjavík: Félagsvísindastofnun. ISBN 9979-54-264-0. (editors) (2006). Old Norse Religion in Long-Term Perspectives: Origins, Changes and Interactions. Lund: Nordic Academic Press. ISBN 91-89116-81-X. (1980). Gods of the North. London: Thames and Hudson. (Revised from an earlier hardback edition of 1955). ISBN 0-500-27177-1. (2002). The Norsemen in the Viking Age. Malden, Mass.: Blackwell. ISBN 1-4051-4964-7. (1994). Prolonged Echoes: Old Norse Myths in Medieval Northern Society, vol. 1: The Myths. Odense: Odense Univ. Press. ISBN 87-7838-008-1. (1964). Gods and Myths of Northern Europe. Baltimore: Penguin. New edition 1990 by Penguin Books. ISBN 0-14-013627-4. (Several runestones)
  • —— (1969). Scandinavian Mythology. London and New York: Hamlyn. ISBN 0-87226-041-0. Reissued 1996 as Viking and Norse Mythology. New York: Barnes and Noble.
  • —— (1988). Myths and Symbols in Pagan Europe. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse Univ. Press. ISBN 0-8156-2438-7.
  • —— (1993). The Lost Beliefs of Northern Europe. London & New York: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-04937-7. Altgermanische Religionsgeschichte, 2 vols., 2nd. ed., Grundriss der germanischen Philologie, 12–13. Berlin: W. de Gruyter. (1999). Nordic Religions in the Viking Age. Philadelphia: Univ. Pennsylvania Press. ISBN 0-8122-1714-4. (1973). Gods of the Ancient Northmen. Ed. & trans. Einar Haugen. Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-03507-0. (1888). Teutonic Mythology, 4 vols. Trans. S. Stallybras. London. Reprinted 2003 by Kessinger. ISBN 0-7661-7742-4, ISBN 0-7661-7743-2, ISBN 0-7661-7744-0, ISBN 0-7661-7745-9. Reprinted 2004 Dover Publications. ISBN 0-486-43615-2 (4 vols.), ISBN 0-486-43546-6, ISBN 0-486-43547-4, ISBN 0-486-43548-2, ISBN 0-486-43549-0.
  • —— (2001). Norse Mythology: A Guide to the Gods, Heroes, Rituals, and Beliefs. Oxford: Oxford University Press
    Oxford University Press
    Oxford University Press is the largest university press in the world. It is a department of the University of Oxford and is governed by a group of 15 academics appointed by the Vice-Chancellor known as the Delegates of the Press. They are headed by the Secretary to the Delegates, who serves as...

    . ISBN 0-19-515382-0. (A dictionary of Norse mythology.) (2006). Treasure of Norse Mythology Volume I ISBN 978-3-922800-99-6. (1996). The King, the Champion and the Sorcerer: A Study in Germanic Myth. Wien: Fassbaender. ISBN 3-900538-57-3. (2007). From Asgard to Valhalla : the remarkable history of the Norse myths. London: I. B. Tauris. ISBN 1-84511-357-8. (1997). Cassell's Dictionary of Norse Myth and Legend. London: Cassell. ISBN 0-304-36385-5. (1990). Norse Myths (The Legendary Past). London: British Museum; and Austin: University of Texas Press. ISBN 0-292-75546-5. (2002). The Viking Way: Religion and War in Late Iron Age Scandinavia. Uppsala: Dissertation, Dept. Archaeology & Ancient History. ISBN 91-506-1626-9. (1993). Dictionary of Northern Mythology. Trans. Angela Hall. Cambridge: D. S. Brewer. ISBN 0-85991-369-4. New edition 2000, ISBN 0-85991-513-1. (1853–1855) Handbuch der deutschen Mythologie. (2003). Decolonizing the Viking Age. Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell. ISBN 91-22-02006-3(v. 1); 9122020071(v. 2). (1964). Myth and Religion of the North: The Religion of Ancient Scandinavia. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson. Reprinted 1975, Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press. ISBN 0-8371-7420-1.


Romanticism

(1875). Norse Mythology, or, The Religion of Our Forefathers. Chicago: S.C. Griggs. (1909). Myths of the Norsemen: From the Eddas and Sagas. London: George G. Harrap. Reprinted 1992, Mineola, N.Y.: Dover. ISBN 0-486-27348-2. (1909), The Heroes of Asgard. New York: Macmillan Company. Reprinted 1982 by Smithmark Pub. ISBN 0-8317-4475-8. Reprinted 1979 by Pan Macmillan ISBN 0-333-07802-0.

Modern retellings

(1920). The Children of Odin: A Book of Northern Myths, illustrated by Willy Pogány
Willy Pogany
William Andrew Pogany was a prolific Hungarian illustrator of children's and other books.-Biography:...

. New York, Macmillan. Reprinted 2004 by Aladdin, ISBN 0-689-86885-5.
    • Sacred Texts: The Children of Odin. (Illustrated.) (1981). The Norse Myths. New York: Pantheon Books. ISBN 0-394-74846-8. Also released as The Penguin Book of Norse Myths: Gods of the Vikings. Harmondsworth: Penguin. ISBN 0-14-025869-8. (1967). "d'Aulaire's Book of Norse Myths". New York, New York Review of Books. (1927). Norse Mythology: Legends of Gods and Heroes, Scandinavian Classics. Trans. Sigurd Bernhard Hustvedt (1963). New York: American-Scandinavian Foundation. ISBN 0-404-04538-3.
    • etext of Munch


See also

Spelling of names in Norse mythology often varies depending on the nationality of the source material. For more information see Old Norse orthography
Old Norse orthography
The orthography of the Old Norse language was diverse, being written in both Runic and Latin alphabets, with many spelling conventions, variant letterforms, and unique letters and signs. In modern times, scholars established a standardized spelling for the language. When Old Norse names are used in...

.
  • Alliterative verse
    Alliterative verse
    In prosody, alliterative verse is a form of verse that uses alliteration as the principal structuring device to unify lines of poetry, as opposed to other devices such as rhyme. The most commonly studied traditions of alliterative verse are those found in the oldest literature of many Germanic...

  • Numbers in Norse mythology
    Numbers in Norse mythology
    The numbers three and nine are significant numbers in Norse mythology and paganism. Both numbers appear throughout surviving attestations of Norse paganism, in both mythology and cultic practice....

  • Project Runeberg
    Project Runeberg
    Project Runeberg is an initiative patterned after Project Gutenberg that publishes freely available electronic versions of books significant to the culture and history of the Nordic countries...

     - a Nordic equivalent to Project Gutenberg
    Project Gutenberg
    Project Gutenberg is a volunteer effort to digitize and archive cultural works, to "encourage the creation and distribution of eBooks". Founded in 1971 by Michael S. Hart, it is the oldest digital library. Most of the items in its collection are the full texts of public domain books...

  • List of Germanic deities

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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