The Info List - Norse Mythology

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NORSE MYTHOLOGY is the body of mythology of the North Germanic people stemming from Norse paganism
Norse paganism
and continuing after the Christianization of Scandinavia and into the Scandinavian folklore
Scandinavian folklore
of the modern period. The northernmost extension of Germanic mythology , Norse mythology consists of tales of various deities, beings, and heroes derived from numerous sources from both before and after the pagan period, including medieval manuscripts, archaeological representations, and folk tradition.

Numerous gods are mentioned in the source texts such as the hammer-wielding , humanity-protecting thunder-god Thor
, who relentlessly fights his foes; the one-eyed, raven-flanked god Odin
, who craftily pursues knowledge throughout the worlds and bestowed among humanity the runic alphabet ; the beautiful, seiðr -working, feathered cloak-clad goddess Freyja who rides to battle to choose among the slain; the vengeful, skiing goddess Skaði , who prefers the wolf howls of the winter mountains to the seashore; the powerful god Njörðr , who may calm both sea and fire and grant wealth and land; the god Freyr
, whose weather and farming associations bring peace and pleasure to humanity; the goddess Iðunn , who keeps apples that grant eternal youthfulness; the mysterious god Heimdallr , who is born of nine mothers, can hear grass grow, has gold teeth, and possesses a resounding horn; the jötunn Loki
, who brings tragedy to the gods by engineering the death of the goddess Frigg
's beautiful son Baldr ; and numerous other deities .

Most of the surviving mythology centers on the plights of the gods and their interaction with various other beings, such as humanity and the jötnar , beings who may be friends, lovers, foes or family members of the gods. The cosmos in Norse mythology
Norse mythology
consists of Nine Worlds that flank a central cosmological tree, Yggdrasil
. Units of time and elements of the cosmology are personified as deities or beings. Various forms of a creation myth are recounted, where the world is created from the flesh of the primordial being Ymir , and the first two humans are Ask and Embla . These worlds are foretold to be reborn after the events of Ragnarök , when an immense battle occurs between the gods and their enemies, and the world is enveloped in flames, only to be reborn anew. There the surviving gods will meet, and the land will be fertile and green, and two humans will repopulate the world.

Norse mythology
Norse mythology
has been the subject of scholarly discourse since the 17th century, when key texts were brought to the attention of the intellectual circles of Europe. By way of comparative mythology and historical linguistics , scholars have identified elements of Germanic mythology reaching as far back as Proto-Indo-European mythology . In the modern period, the Romanticist Viking revival re-awoke an interest in the subject matter, and references to Norse mythology
Norse mythology
may now be found throughout modern popular culture. The myths have further been revived in a religious context among adherents of Germanic Neopaganism .


* 1 Sources

* 2 Mythology

* 2.1 Gods and other beings * 2.2 Cosmology * 2.3 Humanity * 2.4 Influence on the popular culture

* 3 Further reading

* 3.1 General secondary works * 3.2 Romanticism * 3.3 Modern retellings

* 4 Notes * 5 References * 6 External links


The Rök Runestone (Ög 136 ), located in Rök , Sweden, features a Younger Futhark runic inscription that makes various references to Norse mythology
Norse mythology

Norse mythology
Norse mythology
is primarily attested in dialects of Old Norse , a North Germanic language spoken by the Scandinavian peoples during the European Middle Ages
Middle Ages
, and the ancestor of modern Scandinavian languages . The majority of these Old Norse texts were created in Iceland
, where the oral tradition stemming from the pre-Christian inhabitants of the island was collected and recorded in manuscripts. This occurred primarily in the 13th century. These texts include the _ Prose Edda
Prose Edda
_, composed in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson
Snorri Sturluson
, and the _Poetic Edda_, a collection of poems from earlier traditional material anonymously compiled in the 13th century.

The _Prose Edda_ was composed as a prose manual for producing skaldic poetry—traditional Old Norse poetry composed by skalds . Originally composed and transmitted orally, skaldic poetry utilizes alliterative verse , kennings , and various metrical forms. The _Prose Edda_ presents numerous examples of works by various skalds from before and after the Christianization process and also frequently refers back to the poems found in the _Poetic Edda_. The _Poetic Edda_ consists almost entirely of poems, with some prose narrative added, and this poetry—_Eddic_ poetry—utilizes fewer kennings . In comparison to skaldic poetry, Eddic poetry is relatively unadorned.

The _Prose Edda_ features layers of euhemerization , a process in which deities and supernatural beings are presented as having been either actual, magic-wielding human beings who have been deified in time or beings demonized by way of Christian mythology . Texts such as _ Heimskringla
_, composed in the 13th century by Snorri and _Gesta Danorum _, composed in Latin
by Saxo Grammaticus in Denmark
in the 12th century, are the results of heavy amounts of euhemerization.

Numerous further texts, such as the sagas , provide further information. The saga corpus consists of thousands of tales recorded in Old Norse ranging from Icelandic family histories ( Sagas of Icelanders ) to Migration period
Migration period
tales mentioning historic figures such as Attila the Hun
Attila the Hun
(legendary sagas ). Objects and monuments such as the Rök Runestone and the Kvinneby amulet feature runic inscriptions —texts written in the runic alphabet , the indigenous alphabet of the Germanic peoples—that mention figures and events from Norse mythology.

Objects from the archaeological record may also be interpreted as depictions of subjects from Norse mythology, such as amulets of the god Thor's hammer Mjölnir found among pagan burials and small silver female figures interpreted as valkyries or dísir , beings associated with war, fate or ancestor cults. By way of historical linguistics and comparative mythology , comparisons to other attested branches of Germanic mythology (such as the Old High German Merseburg Incantations ) may also lend insight. Wider comparisons to the mythology of other Indo-European peoples by scholars has resulted in the potential reconstruction of far earlier myths.

Of the mythical tales and poems that are presumed to have existed during the Middle Ages, Viking Age, Migration Period, and prior, only a tiny amount of poems and tales survive. Later sources reaching into the modern period, such as a medieval charm recorded as used by the Norwegian woman Ragnhild Tregagås —convicted of witchcraft in Norway in the 14th century—and spells found in the 17th century Icelandic _ Galdrabók _ grimoire also sometimes make references to Norse mythology. Other traces, such as place names bearing the names of gods may provide further information about deities, such as a potential association between deities based on placement of locations bearing their names, their local popularity, and associations with geological features.



The god Thor
wades through a river while the Æsir ride across the bridge Bifröst
in an illustration by Lorenz Frølich (1895)

Central to accounts of Norse mythology
Norse mythology
are the plights of the gods and their interaction with various other beings, such as with the jötnar , who may be friends, lovers, foes or family members of the gods. Numerous gods are mentioned in the source texts. As evidenced by records of personal names and place names, the most popular god among the Scandinavians during the Viking Age was Thor
, who is portrayed as unrelentingly pursuing his foes, his mountain-crushing, thunderous hammer Mjölnir in hand. In the mythology, Thor
lays waste to numerous jötnar who are foes to the gods or humanity, and is wed to the beautiful, golden-haired goddess Sif .

The god Odin
is also frequently mentioned in surviving texts. One-eyed, wolf and raven -flanked, and spear in hand, Odin
pursues knowledge throughout the worlds. In an act of self-sacrifice, Odin
is described as having hanged himself on the cosmological tree Yggdrasil to gain knowledge of the runic alphabet, which he passed on to humanity, and is associated closely with death, wisdom, and poetry. Odin
has a strong association with death; Odin
is portrayed as the ruler of Valhalla , where valkyries carry half of those slain in battle. Odin's wife is the powerful goddess Frigg
who can see the future but tells no one, and together they have a beloved son, Baldr . After a series of dreams had by Baldr of his impending death, his death is engineered by Loki
, and Baldr thereafter resides in Hel , a realm ruled over by a goddess of the same name .

must share half of his share of the dead with a powerful goddess; Freyja . She is beautiful, sensual, wears a feathered cloak, and practices seiðr . She rides to battle to choose among the slain, and brings her chosen to her afterlife field Fólkvangr
. Freyja weeps for her missing husband Óðr , and seeks after him in far away lands. Freyja's brother, the god Freyr
, is also frequently mentioned in surviving texts, and in his association with weather, royalty, human sexuality, and agriculture brings peace and pleasure to humanity. Deeply lovesick after catching sight of the beautiful jötunn Gerðr
, Freyr
seeks and wins her love, yet at the price of his future doom. Their father is the powerful god Njörðr . Njörðr is strongly associated with ships and seafaring, and so also wealth and prosperity. Freyja and Freyr's mother is Njörðr\'s sister (her name is unprovided in the source material). However, there is more information about his pairing with the skiing and hunting goddess Skaði . Their relationship is ill-fated, as Skaði cannot stand to be away from her beloved mountains, nor Njörðr from the seashore. Together, Freyja, Freyr, and Njörðr form a portion of gods known as the Vanir . While the Aesir and the Vanir retain distinct identification, they came together as the result of the Æsir–Vanir War .

While they receive less mention, numerous other gods and goddesses appear in the source material. (For a list of these deities, see List of Germanic deities .) Some of the gods we hear less about include the apple-bearing goddess Iðunn and her husband, the skaldic god Bragi ; the gold-toothed, white-skinned god Heimdallr , born of nine mothers ; the ancient god Týr
, who lost a hand while binding the great wolf Fenrir
; and the goddess Gefjon , who formed modern day Zealand
, Denmark

Various beings outside of the gods are mentioned. Elves
and dwarfs are commonly mentioned and appear to be connected, but their attributes are vague and the relation between the two is ambiguous. Elves
are described as radiant and beautiful, whereas dwarfs often act as earthen smiths. A group of beings variously described as jötnar , thursar , and trolls (in English these are all often glossed as "giants") frequently appear. These beings may either aid, deter, or take their place among the gods. The norns , dísir , and aforementioned valkyries also receive frequent mention. While their functions and roles may overlap and differ, all are collective female beings associated with fate.


The cosmological, central tree Yggdrasil
is depicted in "The Ash Yggdrasil" by Friedrich Wilhelm Heine (1886) Sól, the Sun, and Máni, the Moon, are chased by the wolves Sköll and Háti in "The Wolves Pursuing Sol and Mani" by J. C. Dollman (1909)

The cosmology of the worlds in which all beings inhabit—nine in total—centers around a cosmological tree, Yggdrasil
. The gods inhabit the heavenly realm of Asgard
whereas humanity inhabits Midgard , a region in the center of the cosmos. Outside of the gods, humanity, and the jötnar, these Nine Worlds are inhabited by 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 humanity. 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. 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).

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— Ragnarok —are frequently mentioned in some texts.


According to the _Poetic Edda_ poem _Völuspá_ and the _Prose Edda_, the first human couple consisted of Ask and Embla ; driftwood found by a trio of gods and imbued with life in the form of three gifts. After the cataclysm of Ragnarok, this process is mirrored in the survival of two humans from a wood; Líf and Lífþrasir . From these two humankind are foretold to repopulate the new, green earth.

Numerous heroes appear in Norse mythology
Norse mythology
and are celebrated in a variety of poems, songs, and narratives.

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Main article: Norse mythology in popular culture See also: Germanic mythology and Germanic neopaganism

With the widespread publication of Norse myths and legends at this time, references to the Norse gods and heroes spread into European literary culture, especially in Scandinavia, Germany, and Britain. In the later 20th century, references to Norse mythology
Norse mythology
became common in science fiction and fantasy literature, role-playing games, and eventually other cultural products such as Japanese animation.



* Abram, Christopher (2011). _Myths of the Pagan North: the Gods of the Norsemen_. London: Continuum. ISBN 978-1-84725-247-0 . * Aðalsteinsson, Jón Hnefill (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 . * Andrén, Anders. Jennbert, Kristina. Raudvere, Catharina. (editors) (2006). _ Old Norse Religion in Long-Term Perspectives: Origins, Changes and Interactions_. Lund: Nordic Academic Press. ISBN 91-89116-81-X . * Branston, Brian (1980). _Gods of the North_. London: Thames and Hudson. (Revised from an earlier hardback edition of 1955). ISBN 0-500-27177-1 . * Christiansen, Eric (2002). _The Norsemen in the Viking Age_. Malden, Mass.: Blackwell. ISBN 1-4051-4964-7 . * Clunies Ross, Margaret (1994). _Prolonged Echoes: Old Norse Myths in Medieval Northern Society, vol. 1: The Myths_. Odense: Odense Univ. Press. ISBN 87-7838-008-1 . * Davidson, H. R. Ellis (1964). _Gods and Myths of Northern Europe_. Baltimore: Penguin. New edition 1990 by Penguin Books. ISBN 0-14-013627-4 . (Several runestones ) * Davidson, H. R. Ellis (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. * Davidson, H. R. Ellis (1988). _Myths and Symbols in Pagan Europe_. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse Univ. Press. ISBN 0-8156-2438-7 . * Davidson, H. R. Ellis (1993). _The Lost Beliefs of Northern Europe_. London & New York: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-04937-7 . * de Vries, Jan . _Altgermanische Religionsgeschichte_, 2 vols., 2nd. ed., Grundriss der germanischen Philologie, 12–13. Berlin: W. de Gruyter. * DuBois, Thomas A. (1999). _Nordic Religions in the Viking Age_. Philadelphia: Univ. Pennsylvania Press. ISBN 0-8122-1714-4 . * Dumézil, Georges (1973). _Gods of the Ancient Northmen_. Ed. and Austin: University of Texas Press. ISBN 0-292-75546-5 . * Price, Neil S (2002). _The Viking Way: Religion and War in Late Iron Age Scandinavia_. Uppsala: Dissertation, Dept. Archaeology & Ancient History. ISBN 91-506-1626-9 . * Simek, Rudolf (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 . * Simrock, Karl Joseph (1853–1855) _Handbuch der deutschen Mythologie_. * Svanberg, Fredrik (2003). _Decolonizing the Viking Age_. Stockholm: Almqvist 9122020071(v. 2). * Turville-Petre, E O Gabriel (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 .


* Anderson, Rasmus (1875). _Norse Mythology, or, The Religion of Our Forefathers_. Chicago: S.C. Griggs. * Guerber, H. A. (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 . * Keary, A & E (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 . * Mable, Hamilton Wright (1901). _Norse Stories Retold from the Eddas_. Mead and Company. Reprinted 1999, New York: Hippocrene Books. ISBN 0-7818-0770-0 . * Mackenzie, Donald A (1912). _Teutonic Myth and Legend_. New York: W H Wise & Co. 1934. Reprinted 2003 by University Press of the Pacific. ISBN 1-4102-0740-4 . * Rydberg, Viktor (1889). _Teutonic Mythology_, trans. Rasmus B. Anderson. London: Swan Sonnenschein & Co. Reprinted 2001, Elibron Classics. ISBN 1-4021-9391-2 . Reprinted 2004, Kessinger Publishing Company. ISBN 0-7661-8891-4 .


* Bradish, Sarah Powers (1900). _ Old Norse stories_. New York: American Book Company / Internet Archive . * Colum, Padraic (1920). _The Children of Odin: The Book of Northern Myths_, illustrated by Willy Pogány . New York, Macmillan. Reprinted 2004 by Aladdin, ISBN 0-689-86885-5 . * Crossley-Holland, Kevin (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 . * d\'Aulaire, Ingri and Edgar (1967). "d\'Aulaire\'s Book of Norse Myths ". New York, New York Review of Books. * Munch, Peter Andreas (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 . * Gaiman, Neil (2017). Norse Mythology. W. W. Norton -webkit-column-width: 30em; column-width: 30em; list-style-type: decimal;">

* ^ _A_ _B_ Faulkes (1995) , pp. vi–xxi, and Turville-Petre (1964) , pp. 1–34. * ^ Faulkes (1995) , pp. xvi–xviii. * ^ Turville-Petre (1964) , pp. 27–34. * ^ Lindow (2001) , pp. 11–12, Turville-Petre (1964) , pp. 17–21, and MacLeod & Mees (2006) , pp. 27–28, 216. * ^ Regarding the dísir, valkyries, and figurines (with images), see Lindow (2001) , pp. 95–97. For hammers, see Simek (2007) , pp. 218–219, and Lindow (2001) , pp. 288–289. * ^ Lindow (2001) , pp. 29–30, 227–228, and Simek (2007) , pp. 84, 278. * ^ Puhvel (1989) , pp. 189–221, and Mallory (2005) , pp. 128–142. * ^ Turville-Petre (1964) , p. 13. * ^ Regarding Ragnhild Tregagås, see MacLeod & Mees (2006) , p. 37. For _Galdrabók_, see Flowers (1989) , p. 29. * ^ Turville-Petre (1964) , pp. 2–3, 178. * ^ Lindow (2001) , pp. 287–291. * ^ Lindow (2001) , pp. 128–129, 247–252. * ^ Lindow (2001) , pp. 118, 126–128. * ^ Lindow (2001) , pp. 121–122. * ^ Lindow (2001) , pp. 241–243. * ^ Lindow (2001) , pp. 311–312. * ^ Lindow (2001) , pp. 86–88, 135–137, 168–172, 198–199, 297–299. * ^ Lindow (2001) , pp. 99–102, 109–110, and Simek (2007) , pp. 67–69, 73–74. * ^ Simek (2007) , pp. 108–109, 180, 333, 335. * ^ Lindow (2001) , pp. 95–97, 243–246. Simek (2007) , pp. 62–62, 236–237, 349. * ^ Lindow (2001) , pp. 319–332. Simek (2007) , pp. 375–376. * ^ Lindow (2001) , pp. 91–92, 205–206, 222–223, 278–280. * ^ For Hel, see Lindow (2001) , p. 172, and Orchard (1997) , p. 79. For Valhalla, see Lindow (2001) , pp. 308–309, and Orchard (1997) , pp. 171–172. For Fólkvangr, see Lindow (2001) , p. 118, and Orchard (1997) , p. 45. * ^ For Rán, see Lindow (2001) , pp. 258–259, and Orchard (1997) , p. 129. For Gefjon, see Orchard (1997) , p. 52. * ^ Orchard (1997) , p. 131. * ^ Lindow (2001) , pp. 42–43. * ^ Lindow (2001) , pp. 1–2, 40, 254–258. * ^ Simek (2007) , p. 189.


* _Edda_. Translated by Faulkes, Anthony. Everyman . 1995. ISBN 0-460-87616-3 . * Flowers, Stephen (1989). _The Galdrabók: An Icelandic Grimoire_. ISBN 0-87728-685-X . * Lindow, John (2001). _Norse Mythology: A Guide to the Gods, Heroes, Rituals, and Beliefs_. Oxford University Press
Oxford University Press
. ISBN 0-19-515382-0 . * MacLeod, Mindy; Mees, Bernard (2006). _Runic Amulets and Magic Objects_. Boydell Press . ISBN 1-84383-205-4 . * Mallory, J. P. (2005). _In Search of the Indo-Europeans: Language, Archaeology and Myth_. Thames & Hudson . ISBN 0-500-27616-1 . * Orchard, Andy (1997). _Dictionary of Norse Myth and Legend_. Cassell . ISBN 0-304-34520-2 . * Puhvel, Jaan (1989). _Comparative Mythology_. Johns Hopkins University Press . ISBN 0-8018-3938-6 . * Turville-Petre, E. O. G. (1964). _Myth and Religion of the North: The Religion of Ancient Scandinavia_. Holt, Rinehart and Winston. * Simek, Rudolf (2007). _Dictionary of Northern Mythology_. Translated by Hall, Angela. D.S. Brewer . ISBN 0-85991-513-1 .


Media related to Norse mythology
Norse mythology
at Wikimedia Commons

* v * t * e

Norse mythology
Norse mythology

Deities Heroes Figures


* Baldr * Bragi * Dellingr *