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An Overview Of Norse Mythology

Updated on May 24, 2016

Introduction

Norse mythology is itself a rich and plentiful subject, which should easily fill the appetites of all readers. Full of adventure and intrigue for the story lover, and some say ridden in symbolic meaning for the more deeper thinker. Norse myth comes from Scandinavian people, the very ancestors of the ferocious Vikings.

Norse Creation Myth

First and foremost in creation Norse myth before their is earth, air and water there was one powerful being named AllFather. He was thought as non-created and unseen, and whatever he willed took place. Norse myth tells us Ginnungagap was a huge mass of emptiness in the beginning, then Muspelheim a fiery southern land and Niflheim a freezing northern land came into being. From this fiery land Ymir an evil frost giant formed from the melting ice. Then from the ice emerged Audhumla who then licked an ice block into a male being named Buri. It is said that the very first Norse gods are indeed the grand children of Buri who are Odin, Vili and Ve. These three are said to have killed off Ymir and his body became the earth, sea's and sky.

Dwarfes were here before men a tale that rings true for many mythologies around the globe, and they were thought to have grown from maggots from the flesh of Ymir. Creation of man and woman is another popular mythology subject and religious but in Norse myth Odin, Vili and Ve are credited with creating them. From an Ash tree they created Ask and from the Elm tree they made Embla.

A world named Midgard was graciously provided to the created couple, only the giants still remained a problem. To try to keep the giants away from the humans they gave them a land named Jotunheim, far away from Midgard. Asgard was where the gods resided, it was their home but they did stay connected to the humans. A rainbow bridge named Bitfrost which was guarded by the god Heimdall was Asgard's connection to Midgard, but only gods could cross the bridge.

More On Norse Mythology

The stories told by these ancient Norse peoples, were all about gods and goddesses and brave fighting warriors. It was this Norse mythology which was the religion and beliefs of ancient northern people's and the Vikings we know in our history books today. Although some maintain today that it was nothing more than the beginnings of poetry, others argue it is a result of a super natural force expressing itself.. The main god Odin was a strong brutal warrior god, who thought nothing of disguising himself whilst travelling the world of the humans. So watch out on your travels you could meet Odin himself.

I am not even sure if we should call them gods because surely they should be immortal, yet these gods could die. As Odin's very own son was killed, they say by mistletoe his name was Baldur. A lot of peoples attitudes centre around the religion which has had the most impact on them, Norse myth in ancient times was Scandinavian religion, and their main god Odin had two wives so it stands to reason the men in his society would have had too. It seems Christianity did away with this tradition.

Odin's two wives were to very important goddesses. The fertility powered Frigg and the goddess of love the beautiful Freya. Its not hard to see where the Vikings got their warrior like ways, the belief in literal Norse myth would give one a particularly tough frame of mind. To die in battle was a great honour to these people. On the battle field after death, the Valkries who were Odin's daughters were said to fly a dead warrior's soul to Valhalla in Asgard. It is said it is here that they would live out the rest of their days happily and in peace.

These Norse gods who were connected to earth by some kind of rainbow were commonly known as Aesir, and it seems that at some point they faced a little trouble themselves. They started fighting against some other beings, who were given the name of fertility gods. Finally peace was made and even an alliance, as they came together against the old threat of the giants. All these old Norse stories were given to us from when the Vikings landed on the shores of Europe and else where. Warriors from Denmark, Sweden and Norway and Scandinavia in general. Their impact was massive, so much so two of their gods even got into the English days of the week. There is Woden's day other wise known as Odin's day and Wednesday, and Thor's day which is Thursday.

When looking into Norse myth there are two great sources of information. The Prose Edda and the poetic Edda. The Prose being a collection of mythological stories and the poetic being poems. They are an interesting read, telling us exactly what they thought about the universe and their many carvings give us a great insight into their culture. It was early Christianity that did away with much of this old northern belief system, it seems the plan was to confuse, absorb and entangle rather than do away with. Because of this many ancient pagan ideas embedded their way into Christianity, like the Easter holiday taken from the Norse goddess Easter.

A doomsday story is something that many myths and religions have, and Norse myth is no exception. Ragnarok is the Norse day of doom, when a great battle between good and evil takes place and the end of the world. As in many other myths and many is a understatement, Norse myth too has a serpent story that of the serpent Jormungand who is against the Aesir warrior gods. The Norse people's thought that their was actually three worlds with three different levels within each world, like nine dimensions altogether. These nine worlds have been a major influence behind some of today's works, like fairy tales and movies the Lord of the Rings is based on these nine worlds. In fact for many years now Norse myth has had a strong influence on customs, culture, law and language on the modern western world. Flowing in through literature and art, often unknowingly by the people.



Images from Pixabay

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