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Exploring the Gods of the Norse Tradition: Part One

Updated on May 31, 2019
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ASP52 has written on HubPages for many years and covers a wide range of subjects. These include History, the Natural World and Paganism.

The Fall of the Elder Gods.

The ancient gods who were worshipped in those years before Christianity replaced the pagan religions have always held a deep fascination for me. For many, their first encounter with anything related to Norse mythology was usually through science fiction on the television or some super hero from the panels of a comic book. I can remember watching the Incredible Hulk on television in the 1980`s when the character of Thor was introduced to me. Thor was there a ready to fight and always ready to do what was right. His strength, determination and integrity were there for all to see.

The gods of the old religions of Europe have very little relevance to many in this technological advanced modern world. Many of the ancient gods portrayed in modern media are corrupted versions of their true legends, designed for entertainment but not for education. Some people still follow the old ways that brought forward these gods but the rise of Christianity has managed to erode a lot of the power and associated knowledge that they once possessed. Despite Christianity's destruction of the heathen way of life, the gods of old are still celebrated by a select few.

This article will explore some of the known and lesser known gods of the Northern Tradition.

The Destructive Wolf

The wolf Fenrir will devour the Norse Gods
The wolf Fenrir will devour the Norse Gods | Source

Odin, The Allfather

The power and importance of Odin among both modern heathens and those who worshipped the old ways cannot ever be doubted. Odin was an all consuming god with an equal measure of nobility and cruelty. He was a god who acknowledged and appreciated sacrifice, he respected the pursuit of knowledge as much as blood spilled upon the battlefield.

Odin or the Allfather was the creator god of the cosmos, yet he himself was born to parents and his rise to supremacy came after the slaughter of those who had control of creation's destiny. Odin had two named brothers whose deeds and whereabouts are never fully revealed within the writings of the Viking Age.

What we do know about Odin, is that he is a determined defender of his order and that no wayward actions are permitted under his rule. The Allfather sacrificed his eye for greater knowledge and to understand the mysteries of the runes. As a god he possessed great intelligence and favoured those who applied it in their everyday lives.

Odin married the goddess Frigga and lived with her in the higher realm of Asgard. They had many sons together, but he also procreated with those who were classed as his enemies and through this he strengthened his power over creation.

Odin was the father of Thor to the Earth Jotun known as Jord. He had Bragi, Hodor, Baldur, Hermond, Vali and Vidar. Other sources add a number of other names to this list and the dalliances he had with mortal women, would expand this list into naming hundreds of other potential offspring.

One thing that all ancient sources agree on is that Loki is not a son of Odin. This is a modern deviation that started life in the Marvel comic book series of Thor.

King of Asgard, Leader of the Norse Gods

Odin, Lord of Asgard.
Odin, Lord of Asgard.

Tyr, The Ancient Power

The Norse god known as Tyr is thought by many followers of the old ways to be an even older god than Odin. It is believed that Tyr was supplanted by the worship of Odin sometime around the end of the Roman Age. During the Roman Age of Europe, the pagans that lived in Germania and Scandinavia followed Tyr as a war god. He was the equivalent of the Roman god of war, Mars.

Following the ascension of Odin to the figure head of the Norse gods, Tyr's role seems to have changed to that of both the moral compass of the gods and the god who inspires self-sacrifice to benefit the greater good.

Tyr is recognizable by the fact that he lost his sword arm to the great wolf Fenrir. The stories tell of him facing off against the juvenile wolf when it was brought to Asgard. The prophecy of Fenrir predicted that the wolf would destroy the world and many of the gods feared the great wolf would consume them before the start of Ragnorak. It was Tyr who volunteered to bind the monstrous wolf and he lost his right arm as retribution for holding the threat of Fenrir at bay.

Thor, Son of Odin

Thor is perhaps one of the most well known of the Norse gods, he is the defender of mankind and of Midgard, which is the world we live upon. Thor is the son of Odin and the god of thunder, he is married to the harvest goddess Sif. Thor has two sons and they are called Magni and Modi. They will inherit Thor's hammer Mjolinir when he is killed by the poison of the Midgard serpent Jormagundra. Thor also has a daughter called Thrud, she is the daughter of the goddess Sif.

The Thor of Norse mythology is often depicted as a red haired and bearded god who is often tasked with righting the fallout from Loki's schemes. In many tales, Loki is seen as a friend of Thor and often accompanies Thor on his adventures. Thor is known as a god who possesses great strength and he wears an iron belt to double his strength. Thor is often pitted against giants and is seen as an enemy by many of that ancient race.

The God of Thunder

Thor, smites his enemies with Mjolinir
Thor, smites his enemies with Mjolinir

Many of the Days of the Week Honour the Norse Gods

Mani's Day
The Moon God
Tyr's Day
The God of Right Actions
Woden's Day
Woden is the Saxon name for Odin
Thor's Day
Thor, God of Thunder
Freya's Day
Freya, Goddess of Love and Magic
Saturn's Day
A Roman God
Sunni's Day
Sunni, the Sun God

Heimdal, the Watcher

Heimdal is the keeper and watcher of the Bifrost Bridge. He is blessed with a keen vision that could see for miles in both night and day. His hearing was so acute that he could hear the grass grow upon the plains of Midgard. We are unsure of Heimdal's true parentage, as passages about the watcher allude that he is the son of the waves. Perhaps, Heimdal is a god who belongs to the water gods who are ruled by Ran and Aegir.

Surviving lore tells us that he is loyal to both Asgard and the Allfather, Odin. The watching god requires little sleep and from his vantage point can see into every corner of the nine realms of Norse mythology. Heimdal plays a key role in Ragnorak by sounding the horn that warns all that the end is nigh. The god is fated to die at Ragnorak, as both he and Loki slay one and other. Heimdal and Loki have a deep hatred of each other and it seems as though they were destined to end each other's life.

Time to test your knowledge

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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Andrew Stewart


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