The Norse Gods

All the norse gods we know today were almost exclusively created of mights of nature. They were given human thinking, feeling and wanting. For some forces of nature, humans were not capable of putting them into gods, so they imagnied them as enormous animals.

A storm seemed to be a huge flailing eagle, the sea a snake that winds around the earth, the sun was a horse and the angry pig a storm cloud - the lightning the teeth of a boar.

The gods frequently were an animal or became one as well - that belongs to the character of the philosophy of life to the primitive people. Myths of nature are the first tries to explain incomprehensoble and myterious incidents - the beginning of physics.

 

 


        O d i n

 

Odin (westgerm. Wodan/Wotan) is the highest god in the Norse Mythology. He shows uncommon many character trades and qualities. He is known for example as the god of wisdom, magic, healing and leechcraft. Therefore he is the leading example for the imagination as epitome for every spiritual pursuit.

 

Odin is represented as an old wise man with only one eye since he sacrificed his second one to drink of Mimir’s guarded well, of which he gained wisdom and knowledge.

 

At his side are shown his two ravens Hugin and Munin (thought and memory) and his wolves Geri and Freki, who report on proceedings in the nine worlds.

 

 

 

picture (http://www.deviantart.com/art/Odin-103847380)

 


H u g i n  &  M u n i n

Hugin (Thought) and Munin (Memory) are ravens sitting on Odin’s shoulder to report on proceedings in the worlds.

Understanding the language of the birds is seen as highest wisdom to have in the Norhtern mythology.  Each morning Odin sets them to fly to come back at breakfast time and contribute to Odins omniscience.

It is suspected that Hugin and Munin belong to the believe of Odin’s ability of changing characters. In many sagas it is told that the soul of a sleeping person would slip out of his mouth as a breath and experiences dreams.

In this case Hugin and Munin were probably initially one raven which represented Odin’s soul. In his sleep it would fly out of his mouth to return at his awakening.


S l e i p n i r

 

 

 

Sleipnir is the eight-legged horse of Odin and means "runner" or "jumper".

 


Loki gave birth to it when he wanted to prevent the punctual comletion of Asgard's wall which a giant built. For his work the giant wanted the marriage of the goddess Freya as a reward, so Loki took the shape of a mare to steal the giant's stallion Svadilfari who was helping him with his work. The horse was gone for a few days fathering Sleipnir. The due date passed and the wall has not been ready.
Later, Loki gave his child, Sleipnir to Odin.

 

Sleipnir has twice as much legs to show an enchanting speed and is also supposed to personify the wind on which Odin is riding.

 

 


F r e y a

 

Freya is known for her fondness of love, fertility and beauty. She is a member of the Vanir, but she became an honorary member of the Æsir.
Her father is Njord and her twin brother Freyr.
She is married to Òdr, who disappeared after their wedding.


In the Norse language “Freya” means lady.
Even though she is known for her love she has some warlike character trades as she is the leader of the Valkyries.


She claims half the souls of the warriors fallen in battle and keeps them in her home. The other half belongs to Odin and are brought to Valhalla.


She rides a chariot pulled by two cats or rides on her boar named Hildsvíni (battle swine).
Freya’s day is Friday.
 

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/cf/Freya_by_Penrose.jpg


V a l k y r i e s

 

Valkyries are warlike virgins who appear as uncanny riders, followed by the god of wind. They are the ones to choose who dies in battle and therefore also called ghosts of death.

They announce the outcome of a battle by weaving a bloodred cloth. Half of the slain warriors are brought to Vahalla while the other half goes with the goddess Freya.

Clouds were imagined as those godlike maiden who ride on fiery horses. Valkyries also liked to appear in shape of a swan or a raven as a part of their mystical appearance. They are also Odin’s shieldmaiden.


y r

Tyr is known as the god of war, law and justice. Before Odin, he has been the highest god of the Norse Pantheon. 


Tyr lost his right hand to the Fenris wolf to bind the beast. 
When the wolf became too powerful the gods decided to chain the beast. 
They ask him if he is stronger than the chains. 


Fenris fears that they might not unbind him if he cannot break them, so he wants one of the gods to lay a hand into his mouth as sign of goodwill.
As noone is willing to do that, Tyr is sacrificing his right hand to bind the beast. 
When the gods try a magical ribbon on the chains, the wolf cannot break free and realizes the gods will not release him, so he bit Tyr’s hand off. 


T h o r

 

Thor (or Donar) is the god of thunder and the first son of Odin. His mother is the giantess Jörd. He is the protector of Asgard and Midgard.

His personality is rather fiery since he is quick-tempered, determined and quickly flies into a rage. These character trades are reflected in the names of his sons: Magni (power) and Modi (rage).

His most powerful weapon is his hammer Mjölnir, but he also has iron gloves and Meginjardar - the belt of power - which doubles his power.

Thor owns a chariot which is pulled by two boars named Tanngnöstr (teeth grinder) and Tanngrisnir (snarler). He is living in an own empire named Trudvang in Bilskirne, a vast hall which is the largest house that is known to men.
Thor’s biggest enemy is Jörmungand, the Midgard serpent. He fights it at the end of the world, at Ragnarök but collapses of its poison during the fight. Hence his sons continue his duties in the Golden Age.

 

Thor’s day is Thursday.

 

 

 

 

 


M j ö l n i r

 

Mjölnir is the mightiest of all weapons of the Aesir. It translates to either “crusher” or “lightning” but the exact root of the word is not known. It is probably the best known symbol of the Norse mythology.

Mjölnir is a hammer and is the weapon of Thor the thunderer and he uses it for battles against the giants. When he is swinging his hammer the people of Midgard will hear thunder and see lightning. It never misses its mark and always returns to Thor’s hand, no matter how far he may throw it.

It was forged by the dwarves Brokkr and Sindri in Svartalfheim.

After Loki cut off Sif’s hair (Thor’s wife), Thor was enraged and said he would crush every bone in Loki’s body. So Loki promised he would go to Svartalfheim and let the dwarves forge new golden hair for his wife.

He went to the sons of the dwarf Ivaldi and so they forged golden hair, more beautiful than the old. They also forged two other masterpieces for the gods - Skidbladnir, the best ship that was ever made, with the wind always in its favor and Gungnir, the deadliest of all spears.

By the look of the perfect creations Loki decided to stay in Svartalfheim and bet with the dwarves Brokkr and Sindri (Metalworker and Spark-Sprayer) that they could not forge three creations that are equally good to those of Ivaldi’s sons.

The dwarves acceptet the bet and they were able to forge three pieces for the gods: Draupnir (dripper), a golden magic ring; every ninth night eight new golden rings shall fall from it. Gullinbursti (golden-bristled), a living golden boar that gives light in the dark and that can run better than horses, even through water and air. And finally they forged the perfect and best weapon ever made - Mjölnir the hammer.

So Loki came back to Asgard and gave Thor the new golden hair for Sif and Mjölnir, to Odin he gave the ring Draupnir and the spear Gungnir and Frey received the ship Skidbladnir and the boar Gullinbursti.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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