Thursday, March 12, 2015

A Bit of Norse Myth for you on this Thor's-day

Posted by: Marie Harte

I've been in a Viking frame of mind lately, so I thought I'd dig up some information on the Norse gods and share. I love refreshers on mythology, so some fun for you this Thor's day... I mean, Thursday.

One group of gods that, in my opinion, hasn’t gotten much attention, are the Norse. Sure, they’re great when you want to talk Vikings or Valkyries (female warriors of Odin who pick the slain in battle to go to Valhalla—warrior heaven), but where the heck is Balder, Frigg, or Heimdall? How about the Vanir? We always hear about the Aesir—the warrior gods. But the Vanir, the fertility gods, lend themselves better to romance considering they’re all about propagation. 

Like the Greeks and Romans, the Norse gods have foibles and flaws, much like men. They are jealous, loving, and spiteful. And most importantly, they’re not immortal. The gods come and the gods go, and at the end of the world, a new group of gods will take over for those who die in battle.

I thought I’d share a little bit about what I know of the Norse, just for fun.

Yggdrasil—the world tree, which connects the nine worlds of existence, separated into three levels
Midgard—where people live on the middle level
Asgard—where some of the gods live on the highest level
Niflheim—the lowest level, covered in ice, where Hel reigns. It’s also where those who don’t die in battle go
Bifrost—the rainbow bridge connecting Asgard to Midgard
Odin—Father of the gods
Frigg—Odin’s wife, Mother of the gods
Sleipnir—Odin’s eight-legged horse
Loki—the son of fire giants, sworn brother to Odin and sometime friend. Known as the Trickster
Sigyn—Loki’s wife
Angrboda—Loki’s mistress, a Giantess, who gave birth to three monstrous children who will help take the world apart at the end: Fenrir, Jormungand, and Hel
Fenrir—the wolf, Loki’s son
Jormungand—the serpent destined to destroy Thor, Loki’s son
Hel—Loki’s daughter. Her top half is that of a beautiful woman, the bottom that of a rotting corpse. She’s queen of the dead in Niflheim
Thor—Odin’s eldest son, the Thunder god. He carries mjollnir, his famous hammer
Balder—the son of Odin and Frigg, beloved by everyone. Killed by his blind brother due to Loki’s trickery, his death will trigger the end of the world (Ragnarok)
Heimdall—the son of nine maidens, guardian of Bifrost (the rainbow bridge). He is watchman of the gods.
Ragnarok—the Doom of the gods and the end of the worlds as we know it.

I could go on and on, but that’s just a snippet of what I worked with when I wrote Journeyman's Ride for Carina. I can’t get enough of the gods, and that’s not even the Greeks or Romans. Not to mention all the other cultures out there with fascinating mythology. And now I’d better stop and get to work. Because if I’m not careful, I’ll get swept away by stories of the past.

NOTE: If you’re curious, a great reference is Bulfinch’s Mythology, which covers Greek, Roman, Scandinavian, Oriental, and Celtic mythology.

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