Norse mythology refers to the body of myths of the North Germanic peoples which are confirmed in dialects of Old Norse, spoken by the Scandinavians during the European Middle Ages, and the ancestor of modern Scandinavian languages. The northernmost extension of the Norse mythology consists of tales of various deities, heroes and being derived from different sources from both before and after the pagan period; with the majority of these Old Norse texts having been created in Iceland, where the oral tradition way back from the pre-Christian inhabitants of the island was collected and recorded in manuscripts, around the 13th century combine with archaeological representation and folk tradition.

Naked giant Ymir is sucking cow Auðumbla, who is licking an ice, and she found ancestor of all gods, Búri
Naked giant Ymir is sucking cow Auðumbla, who is licking an ice, and she found ancestor of all gods, Búri

Norse mythology refers to the body of myths of the North Germanic peoples which are confirmed in dialects of Old Norse, spoken by the Scandinavians during the European Middle Ages, and the ancestor of modern Scandinavian languages. The northernmost extension of the Norse mythology consists of tales of various deities, heroes and being derived from different sources from both before and after the pagan period; with the majority of these Old Norse texts having been created in Iceland, where the oral tradition way back from the pre-Christian inhabitants of the island was collected and recorded in manuscripts, around the 13th century combine with archaeological representation and folk tradition.

Tracing back history to inform a detailed and accurate view of these beliefs, myths and customs as they were, especially for an overwhelming oral society, as was Scandinavia at the time is mean and therefore lives us with only tips of the narrative icebergs. This mythology has its gods, goddesses, immortals and other characters and creatures like the giants, monsters, dwarfs, magical animals and objects.

Norse Gods And Their Two Major Clans

The Norse Gods and Goddesses are the mythological beings which belonged to two major clans: Æsir and Vanir that came from the 9th century among the Northern Germanic tribes, which were passed down in form of poetry until other texts were written. Odin, Loki, Friggr and Balde are among the popular members of Æsir while Vanir clan belongs to the fertility gods of Njord and Freyja among others.

Most of the two clan’s Norse tales and deities got along fairly well with little distinction between them. The unification of Æsir and Vanir clans into one pantheon was a result of the war as a conflict between the two groups.

The Æsir are the gods of the primary group or pantheon of deities in Norse religion. The yellow-haired Æsir settled in the inland portion of Nordheim and called it Asgard after splitting into two remaining the pure blood Æsir, prior to a successful conquer of the place by pushing the Hyborian south and establishing Nordheim with The chieftain as the controller in their smaller administrative units.

Æsir people worshiped Ymir as their lord. The Nordheim believed in the afterlife which makes them terrible fierce warriors who believe that the souls of the valiant warriors go to Valhalla to feast and fight forever. Apart from social and economic life, the battle was also their religious life with a belief that you can come into contact with Ymir through unconscious drunkard; with dubbed both religious and social obligation. Religion is seen as an individual affair with each man is his own intermediary to Ymir despite acknowledging outdoor sacred sites including mountains, islands, rock, and fields and groves.

They often evoke “Authambla” when Ymir, dug ice well making a cow able to produce rivers of milk. Audhambla licked ice stones into man’s shape known as Buri, who was the first god according to the Norse religion.

The chieftain consolidated more than one tribe or clan with a responsibility of enforcing the law of Nordheimir society and to protect the honour of their clan against outsiders. The glaciers forced the Asgard people out until they came across Hykarnia.

Members of the Vanir clan ware also referred to as the Æsir; this was as a result of the Æsir -Vanir War, which brought them together, who later become members of the location Vanaheimr and subordinate to the warlike Æsir. The Vanir demanded monetary satisfaction or equal status during the preparation for the torture of their goddess Gullveig which left Æsir with no option but to declare war suffering numerous defeats before granting equality.

The Vanir also sent their gods Njord and Freyr to live with the Æsir and received Hoenir and Mimir in exchange. Kvasir, the poet god birth resulted from the peace ritual in which their two races mingled their saliva in one container.

The 10 Major Norse Gods and Goddesses

A depiction of the creation of the world by Odin, Vili and Vé
A depiction of the creation of the world by Odin, Vili and Vé
  1. Kvasir: Born of the mixed saliva of the Æsir and the Vanir group of gods after performing a peace ritual od spitting on a vessel, making him a poet and extremely wiser. He taught and instructed people across territorial boundaries on a number of issues and then later his blood was distilled to form mead of wisdom and inspiration for those who consumed it.
  2. Gefion: Gefion was considered the patron of virgins with every virgin girl who dies joining her and brings prosperity and good luck; married to King Skjold, a son to Odin and lived in Liere, Denmark sanctuary with the Swedish kings being her descendants.
  3. Brunhilde: female warrior and in some cases daughter of the principal God Odin. After defying Odin, she was punished, through imprisonment within a ring of fire until her rescued by a brave hero who falls in love with her.
  4. Forseti: He is believed to be the god of justice, and sired by Balder and Nanna as farther and mother respectively. His operational territory was the superior Glitnir where he served as justice in that legal dispute court.
  5. Buri: “Audhambla” licked stones into man’s shape known as Buri, who was the first god according to the Norse religion. Buri sired Bor the grandfather of Odin. Buri had neither father nor mother.
  6. Vali: is a son of Odin and his mistress Rind.Upon the death of Balder following the un-intentional killing by his twin brother, Vali was therefore born in order to avenge.
  7. Bragi: married to Idun, the goddess of eternal youth: oaths sworn over “Cup of Bragi” and drinks from it, used in honour of dead King. He never belong to the clan of goads, Poets from the later centuries made him a god.Bragi is believed to be the head of the poets and son to Odin and Frigga according to Norse mythology.
  8. Vili: one of the principal gods and brother to Odin and Ve. Both three of them were responsible for the creation of the cosmos as well as the first human.
  9. Ve: He is the brother to Odin and Vili, and is ason to the two giants Bor and Bestla. The brothers both created heaven and earth from the slain body of Ymir and then build the twelve reams; and again created the first pair humans, Ask and Embla.
  10. He: together with his wife bore the first gods Odin, Vili and Ve. Bor was married to Bestla and the son to Buri. Bestla his wife was the daughter of Bolthorn who was the frost giant.
Gefion fountain in Copenhagen c 2008 Niels Elgaard Larsen
Gefion fountain in Copenhagen c 2008 Niels Elgaard Larsen

10 Major God and Goddesses in Norse Mythology

Norse Gods and goddesses come a long way than just mythology. Legendary tales associated with Norse Gods hold significant influence in today's society. Norse mythology not only dealt with nine realms and the countless battles in it but was even considered a religion of its own.

Before a rapid surge in Christianity during the Middle Ages, Norse mythology's characters held the utmost respect in society as superstitious beings. The Germanic natives of Europe worshipped Nordic deities with all their faith. So much so that the days we know today are after prominent Norse Gods. Tuesday is known as Tyr's Day, Wednesday refers to Odin's Day, Thursday refers to Thor's Day, and Friday is remembered as Freya's Day.

How Did Norse Mythology Begin?

In ancient times, before the world came into being itself, there lived a hermaphroditic giant named Ymir. The giant's birth is an unprecedented event that dealt with two realms clashing and resulting in his unfortunate birth.

In hindsight, nearly every god and giant has descended from Ymir. While the giant slept, he unintentionally mated with the cow Audhumla resulting in asexual birth of several deities from Ymir's unusual body.

In Poetic Edda, there are narrations of how the divine brothers - Odin, Vé, and Vili, slew the giant to its ashes, leading to Midgard, Earth coming into being. Ymir's body didn't perish but, his remains became the world, we know today.

Norse Gods and Their Clans

From the myth's beginning to its end in the Ragnarok’s battle, the Norse Gods affiliated themselves with two clans, Æsir and Vanir. The Æsir is considered the most superior and notable legends and they include: Odin, Thor, Loki, Heimdall, Tyr, Balder, Hod, and the goddess, Frigg. The two families have been in shambles with each other, but differences aside, they have collaborated a lot of times. Notable figures are Njord, Freyr, and Freyr.

Norse God and Goddesses – The Major Gods

Here are a few noteworthy Norse Gods and Goddesses that you need to know more. Let's take a look at the legends:

Odin

By far, the one held in the highest regard in the hierarchy is Odin. He is known as the one who gave away one of his eyes for enlightenment, the God of Gods sacrificed more than enough for Asgard, as he was the king.

Here, Odin can be seen riding on Sleipnir. While wolves and ravens roam around
Here, Odin can be seen riding on Sleipnir. While wolves and ravens roam around

The All-father always sported ravens and wolves alongside him and was considered the God of poetry and magic. A wise deity who slew giants all his life and protected his realm from all-evil, worth remembering.

Loki                                                            

Loki, the God of mischief who manipulated every being he met, was an unjust and cruel god who acted only out of his instincts and couldn't care less for the rest of the world.

Loki's rivalry with his adopted brother was unmatched. Even more, the shape-shifter is considered as the mastermind behind the death of Balder. As a trickster, it's said that Loki gave a branch to the blind tod, Hod, and gaslighted him into throwing it at Balder, leaving him dead.

Thor

As Odin's beloved son, Thor had a plentitude of responsibilities to look after. Thor's powers were unparalleled to any God's, and the attributes he received through his signature hammer, Mjölnir, made him unstoppable.

An illustration of Thor’s display of Thunder
An illustration of Thor’s display of Thunder

Considered as a self-righteous being who stood up for justice and acted only out of sympathy, Thor is one of the most beloved heroes in Norse mythology. Thor, considered as the God of Thunder, has always emerged victorious in battles and left his enemies ashamed.

Heimdall

Heimdall is known as the gatekeeper of the Bifrost, a rainbow bridge that connects all nine realms. He was depicted in Nordic history as the god with the whitest skin.

As a guardian, Heimdall's signature weapon was his horn, Gjallarhorn. The god used it to alert his fellow gods if an intruder ever barged in. The most notable attribute associated with Heimdall was that he the all-hearing and the all-seeing. Religiously, he was worshipped fiercely because of these attributes. A God-like being we know today.

Frigg

The mother of many gods and a goddess of love herself, Frigg possessed motherhood instincts and could even foresee the future, a prophetess, perhaps. As Odin's wife, Frigg had to deal with hardships as Odin had many extramarital affairs.

In the end, Frigg dearly cared for her sons and, according to legend, feared for Balder and went miles and miles, convincing every living being in all the nine realms to never deliberately harm her son. Unfortunately, because of Loki, Frigg ended up losing both Balder and Hodr. Her spirit of resilience must not be forgotten, though.

Balder

Balder is the God who died a cruel death. A pious being who fell in the trap of his adopted brother, Loki. A beloved son of Frigga and Odin, he was known for his positive outlook on life and the optimistic energy he radiated in all fields of life.

Balder's ship, Hringhorni, was extraordinary. After his demise, the Hringhorni came into the use of transporting dead bodies to funerals and had Balder's legacy ingrained on it.

Tyr

One of the most daring and bravest gods, Tyr, was a god of war. An all-powerful being who had his limb bitten off by wolves. Tyr lived the rest of his life as a relentless god who only had one hand. It's not known whether he was a son of Odin or a giant, either way, Tyr's attitude towards justice is to be remembered.

Freyr

Not typically belonging to the Æsir clan, Freyr's history is unique in the sense that he is affiliated with the Vanir tribe of Norse Gods. Known as the God of fertility, Freyr resembled the hobo look and had the sole purpose of harvesting and fertilizing deities along the way.

Freyr was anyone's first preference when it came to marriage rituals and harvesting occasions. A wholesome deity who associated himself with elves and traveled around in his chariot.

Hel

Much like her father, Loki, Hel had nothing but ill intentions for anyone in her life and was a force to be reckoned with. Ruler of the Norse underworld, and a being who had 'death' engrained in her physique and mind alike.

In the forthcoming Ragnarok, popular to nordic beliefs, Hel is destined to fight alongside her father with the Æsir gods.

Njord

Njord initially associated himself with the Vanir tribe, but during the aftermath of their war against the Æsir tribe, he gladly joined the latter tribe. Njord was known as a principal deity who could manipulate the sea in all sorts of ways. He was busy with mundane tasks such as fishing and sailing, for the betterment of his tribe. Germanic natives of Europe considered him the 'richest' of all Norse gods.