Scandinavian Mythology

Scandinavian mythology comprises the myths of North Germanic pre-Christian religion. Most of the written sources for Scandinavian Mythology mythology were assembled in medieval Iceland in Old Norse, notably as the Edda. Scandinavian Mythology mythology is the best-preserved version of wider Germanic paganism, which also includes the closely related Anglo-Saxon and Continental varieties. Germanic mythology can be shown to preserve certain aspects attributed to common Indo-European mythology. Scandinavian Mythology mythology has its roots in Proto-Norse Iron Age Scandinavian prehistory. It flourishes during the Viking Age and following the Christianization of Scandinavia during the High Middle Ages passed into Scandinavian folklore, some aspects surviving to the modern day. The mythology from the Romanticist Viking revival came to be an influence on modern literature and popular culture.

Most of the existing records on Scandinavian mythology date from the 11th to 18th century, having gone through more than two centuries of oral preservation in what was at least officially a Christian society. At this point scholars started recording it, particularly in the Eddas and the Heimskringla by Snorri Sturluson, who believed that pre-Christian deities trace real historical people. There is also the Danish Gesta Danorum by Saxo Grammaticus, where the Norse gods are more strongly Euhemerized. The Prose or Younger Edda was written in the early 13th century by Snorri Sturluson, who was a leading skald, chieftain, and diplomat in Iceland. It may be thought of primarily as a handbook for aspiring skalds. It contains prose explications of traditional "kennings," or compressed metaphors found in poetry. These prose retellings make the various tales of the Norse gods systematic and coherent. The Poetic Edda (also known as the Elder Edda) was committed to writing about 50 years after the Prose Edda. It contains 29 long poems, of which 11 deal with the Germanic deities, the rest with legendary heroes like Sigurd the Volsung (the Siegfried of the German version Nibelungenlied). Although scholars think it was transcribed later than the other Edda, the language and poetic forms involved in the tales appear to have been composed centuries earlier than their transcription. Besides these sources, there are surviving legends in Scandinavian folklore. Some of these can be corroborated with legends appearing in other Germanic literatures e.g. the tale related in the Anglo-Saxon Battle of Finnsburgh and the many allusions to mythological tales in Deor. When several partial references and tellings survive, scholars can deduce the underlying tale. Additionally, there are hundreds of place names in Scandinavia named after the gods. A few runic inscriptions, such as the Rök Runestone and the Kvinneby amulet, make references to the mythology. There are also several runestones and image stones that depict scenes from Norse mythology, such as Thor's fishing trip, scenes depicting Sigurd (Sigfried) the dragon slayer, Odin and Sleipnir, Odin being devoured by Fenrir, and one of the surviving stones from the Hunnestad Monument appears to show Hyrrokkin riding to Baldr's funeral (DR 284). In Denmark, one image stone depicts Loki with curled dandy-like mustaches and lips that are sewn together and the British Gosforth cross shows several mythological images. There are also smaller images, such as figurines depicting the god Odin (with one eye), Thor (with his hammer) and Freyr (with his enormous phallus).

In Scandinavian mythology there are 'nine worlds' (níu heimar), that many scholars summarize as follows:
Asgard, world of the Asgardian gods
Vanaheim, world of the Vanir gods
Midgard, world of humans
Muspellheim, world of the Fire Demons
Niflheim or Hel, world of the primordial element of ice and the dead
Svartalfaheim, world of the Dark Elves
Alfheim, world of the Light Elves
Jotunheim, world of the Giants
Nidavellir, world of the Dwarves
Note the boundaries between Niflheim, Jotunheim, Hel, Nidavellir, Svartalfaheim, and several other significant places like Utgard remain uncertain.
Each world also had significant places within. Valhalla is Odin's hall located in Asgaard. It was also home of the Einherjar, who were the souls of the greatest warriors. These warriors were selected by the Valkyries, Odin's mounted female messengers. The Einherjar would help defend the gods during Ragnarok. Niflhel is a hellish place in Hel, where oathbreakers and other criminals suffer torments. These worlds are connected by Yggdrasil, the world tree, a giant tree with Asgard at its top. Chewing at its roots in Niflheim is Nidhogg, a ferocious serpent or dragon. Asgard can also be reached by Bifrost, a rainbow bridge guarded by Heimdall, a god who can see and hear a thousand miles.

There are several "clans" of Vættir or animistic nature spirits: the Asgardians and Vanir, understood as gods, plus the Giants, Elves, Dwarves, Trolls and Demons. To this list can be added the dead in the Underworld. The distinction between the Asgardians and Vanir is relative, for the two are said to have made peace, exchanged hostages, intermarried and reigned together after the events of the Aesir-Vanir War, and afterward the gods are generally referred to collectively as Asgardians. In addition, there are many other beings: Fenrir the gigantic wolf, Jörmungandr the sea-serpent (or "worm") that is coiled around Midgard, and Hel, ruler of Helgardh. These three monsters are described as the progeny of Loki. Other creatures include Hugin and Munin (thought and memory, respectively), the two ravens who keep Odin, the chief god, apprised of what is happening on earth, since he gave his eye to the Well of Mimir in his quest for wisdom, Sleipnir, Loki's eight legged horse son belonging to Odin, Freki and Geri, who are Odin's wolves, Tanngjnóstur and Tanngrisnir who are goats that drag Thor's wagon and Ratatosk, the squirrel which scampers in the branches of Yggdrasil.

According to Norse myth, the beginning of life was fire and ice, with the existence of only two worlds: Muspelheim and Niflheim. When the warm air of Muspelheim hit the cold ice of Niflheim, the frost giant Ymir and the icy cow Audhumla were created. Ymir's foot bred a son and a man and a woman emerged from his armpits, making Ymir the progenitor of the Giants. Whilst Ymir slept, the intense heat from Muspelheim made him sweat, and he sweated out Surtr, a demon of fire. Later Ymir woke and drank Audhumbla's milk. Whilst he drank, the cow Audhumbla licked on a salt stone. On the first day after this a man's hair appeared on the stone, on the second day a head and on the third day an entire man emerged from the stone. His name was Búri and with an unknown jötunn female he fathered Bor, the father of the three gods Odin, Vili and Ve. When the gods felt strong enough they killed Ymir. His blood flooded the world and drowned all of the jötunn, except two. But jötnar grew again in numbers and soon there were as many as before Ymir's death. Then the gods created seven more worlds using Ymir's flesh for dirt, his blood for the Oceans, rivers and lakes, his bones for stone, his brain as the clouds, his skull for the heaven. Sparks from Muspelheim flew up and became stars. One day when the gods were walking they found two tree trunks. They transformed them into the shape of humans. Odin gave them life, Vili gave them mind and Ve gave them the ability to hear, see, and speak. The gods named them Ask and Embla and built the kingdom of Middle-earth for them; and, to keep out the jötnar, the gods placed a gigantic fence made of Ymir's eyelashes around Middle-earth. The völva goes on to describe Yggdrasil and three norns, Urðr (Wyrd), Verðandi and Skuld. She then describes the war between the Æsir and Vanir and the murder of Baldr, Odin's handsome son whom everyone but Loki loved. (The story is that everything in existence promised not to hurt him except mistletoe. Taking advantage of this weakness, Loki made a projectile of mistletoe and tricked Höðr, Odin's blind son and Baldr's brother, into using it to kill Baldr. Hel said she would revive him if everyone in the nine worlds wept. A female jötunn - Thokk, who may have been Loki in shape-shifted form - did not weep.) After that she turns her attention to the future.

Ragnarök refers to a series of major events, including a great battle foretold to ultimately result in the death of a number of major figures (including the gods Odin, Thor, Freya, Heimdall, and the jötunn Loki), the occurrence of various natural disasters, and the subsequent submersion of the world in water. Afterwards, the world resurfaces anew and fertile, the surviving gods meet, and the world is repopulated by two human survivors.

The mythological literature relates the legends of heroes and kings, as well as supernatural creatures. These clan and kingdom founding figures possessed great importance as illustrations of proper action or national origins. The heroic literature may have fulfilled the same function as the national epic in other European literatures, or it may have been more nearly related to tribal identity. Many of the legendary figures probably existed, and generations of Scandinavian scholars have tried to extract history from myth in the sagas. Sometimes the same hero resurfaces in several forms depending on which part of the Germanic world the epics survived such as Weyland/Völund and Siegfried/Sigurd, and probably Beowulf/Bödvar Bjarki. Other notable heroes are Hagbard, Starkad, Ragnar Lodbrok, Sigurd Ring, Ivar Vidfamne and Harald Hildetand. Notable are also the shieldmaidens who were ordinary women who had chosen the path of the warrior. These women function both as heroines and as obstacles to the heroic journey.

The Germanic tribes rarely or never had temples in a modern sense. The Blót, the form of worship practiced by the ancient Germanic and Scandinavian people, resembled that of the Celts and Balts. It occurred either in sacred groves, at home, or at a simple altar of piled stones known as a "horgr". However, there seem to have been a few more important centres, such as Skiringssal, Lejre and Uppsala. Adam of Bremen claims that there was a temple in Uppsala (see Temple at Uppsala) with four wooden statues of Thor, Odin,Loki and Freyr.

While a kind of priesthood seems to have existed, it never took on the professional and semi-hereditary character of the Celtic druidical class. This was because the shamanistic tradition was maintained by women, the Völvas. It is often said that the Germanic kingship evolved out of a priestly office. This priestly role of the king was in line with the general role of godi, who was the head of a kindred group of families (for this social structure, see norse clans), and who administered the sacrifices.

Scandinavian folklore is the folklore of Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, the Faroe Islands, and the Swedish speaking parts of Finland. Collecting folklore began when Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden sent out instructions to all of the priests in all of the parishes to collect the folklore of their area in the 1630s. They collected customs, beliefs that were not sanctioned by the church, and other traditional material. In Scandinavia, the term 'folklore' is not often used in academic circles; instead terms such as Folketro (folk belief; older Almuetro) or Folkesagn (folktales) have been coined. In common speech, it is simply referred to as den Gamle Tro (the old belief), or perhaps sæd skik og brug (customs, the way). It evolved from Norse paganism, and it is in technical terms labelled low-mythology, while the norse mythology is called high-mythology. High-mythology builds on low-mythology in its parts. Iceland and the Faroe Islands are not a part of Scandinavia (although they are Nordic countries), but should nevertheless be regarded as Scandinavian in folkloric terms. The folklore/religion of Finland and of the Sami people are clearly related to Scandinavian folklore/religion, but have retained an independent character. Because of their common Germanic origin, Scandinavian folklore shows a large correspondence with folklores elsewhere, such as England and Germany, among others. Most of what has survived there might be found, of a similar nature, in the Baltic countries.

In Scandinavian mythology, belief in the old gods still exists, but not in the form they show in high mythology. Some of the ones known in both forms of mythology are Odin (Oden), who is said to lead the Wild Hunt; Thor (Tor) who still chases trolls with his thunder, both in this context regarded as "jægere" (hunters), and we see also Ull (as Ul) and Hœnir in this role. Loki, as a housegod of the housefire, and sometimes Freyja, show up.

The best way to gain an understanding of Scandinavian folklore is to examine the creatures of the tales. A large number of different mythological creatures (or rather races, since few of them can be considered animals) from Norse mythology continue to live on, surprisingly little affected by Christian beliefs, even though the wicked ones at times find an ally in the Devil or had problems with Christian symbols. Nothing was surer, though, to scare these beings than a piece of iron or steel, such as a strategically placed pair of scissors or a knife, or with salt and fire. The stories about the livings and doings of these beings, and their interaction with humans, constitute the major part of Scandinavian folklore. Even the helpful tomte, nisse, gårdbo or gårdbuk could turn into a fearsome adversary if not treated with caution and respect. Many of them blend into each other when their morals and/or place of residence are similar, and equally when one moves from one region in Scandinavia to another (the same is true for Norse mythology). When the folktales were collected and printed, the illustrators started to give shape to the creatures hitherto had only existed at shadows. The creatures underwent a metamorphosis and became concrete figures to the people of Scandinavian countries.

Perhaps most abundant are the stories about the race of trolls. Scandinavian trolls tend to be very big, hairy, stupid, and slow to act. Any human with courage and presence of mind can outwit a troll, and those whose faith is strong can even challenge them to mortal combat. They are said to have a temperament like a bear- which are, ironically, their favorite pets- good-natured when they are left in peace, and savage when they are teased. Trolls come in many different shapes and forms, and are generally not fair to behold, as they can have as many as nine heads. Trolls live throughout the land, dwelling in mountains, under bridges, and at the bottom of lakes. While the trolls who live in the mountains are very wealthy, hoarding mounds of gold and silver in their cliff dwellings, the most dangerous trolls live in lonely huts in the forest. While few trolls have female trolls, trollkonor, as wives, most possesses a regrettable tendency to spirit away beautiful maidens, preferably princesses, who are forced to spin by day and scratch the troll’s head by night. The trolls have their own king, called Dovregubben, who lives inside the Dovre Mountains with his court. Dovregubben and his court are described in detail in Ibsen’s “Peer Gynt.” After the integration of Christianity into Scandinavian folklore, trolls developed a hatred of church-bells and the smell of Christians. Trolls are often said to be able to change their appearance and did so in order to trick humans into doing what they wanted. For example, Trolls may present a beautiful appearance in order to trick a character into following them into their mountain home, then hold the character captive for years (bergatagen) - see the similarities with Irish "elven/fiery hills." In older tales, the word troll/trold (trolla as a verb) may simply mean "to badly harm/hurt someone"; someone who is a troll is someone who may eat human flesh or engage in other socially-unacceptable acts, such as rape. Luckily, trolls are said to turn into stone when exposed to sunlight.

The Huldra, Hylda, Skogsrå or Skogfru (Forest wife/woman) is a dangerous Seductress who lives in the forest. The Huldra lures men into the forest in order to secure her freedom or sometimes to suck the life out of a man. One of her methods is to appear suddenly out of the rain and mist, friendly and enticing to the point that no man can resist her charm. She has a long cow’s tail that she ties under her skirt in order to hide it from men. If she can manage to get married in a church, her tail falls off and she becomes human. However, she also becomes very ugly. It is often said, however, that the young and beautiful Huldra is moody and dangerous, but when she becomes old and ugly, she also becomes gentle and caring to the man who her made her Christian. She has an aquatic counterpart called "havsfrun" or "Havsrå" (Sea wife/woman) who is very similar to the Sirens Odysseus meets in the Odyssey. Mermaids in most mythology have a bad reputation of luring men to their watery demise. In Scandinavian folklore, they are good-natured beings who sit on rocks and comb their beautiful gold hair. Quite unlike their wicked sister, Lorelei, who does lure men to their death, mermaids warn seafaring men of storms and other dangers. They can foretell the future, and because of this, there is often an air of melancholy around them. Witches in Norwegian folklore in particular are recognized by their long noses and cats, just as in other lands. There are at least three species of witch in this branch of folklore. Trollkjerringer, or trollkonor, is a troll’s wife who possesses magical powers. They greatly resemble their ugly troll husbands. The classic witch lives alone in a little cottage in the woods. She dabbles in magic, has a long nose and black cats, and brews mysterious potions. If one calls her “Mother” and presents her with tobacco and other gifts, she will do a favor in return. This species of witch can summon all the birds and all the animals in the woods; she can quell the north wind; and she will give one advice in an emergency.

The Fossegrimen is a spirit who lives in waterfalls and is neither good nor evil. The Fossegrimen is a magnificent musician who plays the fiddle day and night. If an aspiring fiddle player ventures to seek his help, the Fossegrimen will gladly help, for a price of course. He must go to the waterfall and offer the Fossegrimen a nice meal, usually a good plump joint of meat. Many stories tell of travelers who have tried to palm the Fossegrimen off with an inadequate piece of meat, resulting in the Fossegrimen just teaching the student how to tune his fiddle rather than play it. He never leaves his waterfall, but it is generally believed that the Fossegrimen is young and handsome. Nøkken, näcken, or strömkarlen, is a fresh water dwelling relative of the Fossegrimen, but unlike his kinsman, the nøkken is both dangerous and clever. The nøkken lures his victims out onto thin ice or in leaky boats and then draws them down to the bottom of the water where he is waiting for them. The "nøkken" is also a known shapeshifter, usually changing into a horse or a man in order to lure his victims to him. In the depths of the Baltic Sea, lives the draug. The draug is a terrible creature who sails through the sea in half a boat. If a man happens to see a <>, he is in mortal danger unless he races the draug and wins. Water spirits, among others the nix, are often presented in the shape of a devil. A water spirit would hide in the rapids and lure people into the water to drown. He was also believed to be able to transform into a predatory kelpie (bäckahäst or bækhest). In Scandinavian folklore, dragons are commonly known as lindworms, monstrous serpents with or without hind legs. In Norway and Denmark, they typically live in the ocean, and here, tales of marine monsters appear to have the widest dissemination, although a famous specimen is also said to reside in the Swedish lake Storsjön. The Norwegian lake Seljordsvatn is also famous for its claimed inhabitant, a serpent known as Selma. The coasts of Norway are reportedly also haunted by the terrifying Kraken. Sea serpents, with their glowing eyes and long manes, are also prevalent in Scandinavian folklore, as well as their invisible kin the sea-whip. Invisible Creatures Some say that the dwarves of Scandinavian folklore lived on as wights (vättar or huldrefolk), although with somewhat different characteristics. Wights live underground, often right next to human settlements, and are commonly a menace to their ground-dwelling neighbors.

A type of wight from Northern Sweden called Vittra lives underground, is invisible most of the time and has its own cattle. Most of the time Vittra are rather distant and do not meddle in human affairs, but are fearsome when enraged. This can be achieved by not respecting them properly, for example by neglecting to perform certain rituals (such as saying "look out" when putting out hot water or urinating, so they can move out of the way) or building your home to close to or, even worse, on top of their home, disturbing their cattle or blocking their roads. They can make your life very very miserable or even dangerous - they do what ever it takes to drive you away, even arrange accidents that will harm or even kill you. Even in modern days, people have re-build or moved houses in order not to block a "vittra-way", or moved from houses that are deemed a "Vittra-place" (Vittra ställe) because of bad luck - although this is rather uncommon. In tales told in the north of Sweden, Vittra often take the place that trolls, tomte and vättar hold in the same stories told in other parts of the country. Vittra are believed to sometimes "borrow" cattle that later would be returned to the owner with the ability to give more milk as a sign of gratitude. This tradition is heavily influenced by the fact that it was developed during a time when people let their cattle graze on mountains or in the forest for long periods of the year. The tomte or nisse (in the southern Sweden and Norway) is a good wight who takes care of the house and barn when the farmer is asleep, but only if the farmer reciprocates by setting out food for the Tomte and he himself also takes care of his family, farm and animals. If the Tomte is ignored or maltreated or the farm is not cared for, he can sabotage a lot of the work on the farm to teach the farmer a lesson ot two. In Swedish, the word Tomten (the Tomte in singular) is very closely linked to the word for the plot of land where a house or cottage is built, which spells the same both in singular and plural (Tomten/tomtarna) but is pronounced with slightly longer vocals. Therefore some scholars believe that the wight Tomten originates from some sort of general house god or deity from before the Asa belief. A Nisse/Tomte is said to be able to change his size between that of a 5-year old child and a thumb, and also to have the ability to make himself invisible. Land Creatures The race of dwarves (or Svartálfar/dark/black elves as opposite of the light elves "ljusalfer") was not short in the beginning, lived underground, had dark hair and gray or pale skin, and was not very fond of the sun. They were master smiths with good knowledge in various kinds of magic and rather greedy folk - in short, not very pleasant to do business with. Some scholars believe that they may have originated from some kind of Indo-European worship of dead spirits (maybe ancestors) with great knowledge - thus their original physical appearance. Over time, they grew short and less and less "ghoulish" and evolved into the dwarves whom we see in Snorres Edda and later tales. The actual Dwarven size is believed by some to have originated from German tales which were in their turn influenced by Roman stories of child slave labor in mines - but this cannot be proven.

Ängsälvor, "meadow elves", (1850), painting by Nils Blommér. Elves (in Swedish called Älva if female and Alf if male) are in some parts mostly described as female (in contrast to the light and dark elves in the Edda), otherwordly beautiful and seductive residents of forests, meadows and mires. They are skilled in magic and illusions. Sometimes they are described as small fairies, sometimes as full-sized women and sometimes as half transparent spirits - or a mix thereof. They are closely linked to the mist and it is often said in Sweden that "the Elves are dancing in the mist". The female form of Elves may have originated from the female deities called Dís (singular) and Díser (plural) found in pre-Christian Scandinavian religion. They were very powerful spirits closely linked to the seid magic. Even today the word "dis" is a synonym for mist or very light rain in Swedish. Particularly in Denmark, the female elves have merged with the dangerous and seductive huldra, skogsfrun or "keeper of the forest", often called hylde. In some parts of Sweden the elves also got some features from "Skogsfrun"/"Huldra"/"Hylda" and can seduce and bewitch careless men and suck the life out of them or make them go down in the mire and drown. But at the same time the "Skogsrå" exists as its own being with other distinct features clearly separate from the elves. In more modern tales it isn't uncommon for a rather ugly male Tomte, Troll, Vätte or a Dwarf to fall in love with a beautiful Elven female - as beginning of a story of impossible or forbidden love. One of the most notable, and evil, creatures from folklore is the devil himself, called Fanden the Fiend in Norwegian folklore. He is depicted with horns, a goatee, and a hoof instead of a left foot. He is also tall and lean and wears a top-hat. The Norwegian devil has no wife, but his great-grandmother keeps house for him. While he tends to be very cunning, it is hard for him to outwit a human, as he his extremely gullible and prideful. For example, in one story, the human escapes after betting the devil he cannot fit inside and empty nutshell (which the devil does just to prove he can). Many of the terms in Nordic beliefs are used for different kinds of creatures, and to really know what is meant, one usually needs to put them into context. That characteristics are sometimes flowing in to each other doesn't make it easier. Vætter (evil little creatures), "Underjordiske"(the hidden ones/they below ground) and "småfolk" (little people) can be used loosely as terms for nearly all of the small beings in the old beliefs. The myling is the ghost of a child left to die in the wilderness, and the mara is a wraith said to cause nightmares and sleep paralysis. Stories also tell of the will o' the wisp (irrbloss, lyktgubbar or lygtemænd), often assumed to be the spirits of people who had drowned in lakes and marshes. According to some stories, they could lead a lost wanderer to a death similar to their own; according to others, they could lead him home. These are only a few of the mythical creatures, and only shortly explained. The Effect of Christianity on Folklore

The Christianization of Scandinavia completed by the 11th century meant that the high-mythology more or less phased out of use. This process may have been quite rapid because these never were the beliefs of the lower classes. While mythology was phased out, the gods, heroes and stories are brought to life through folklore. Folklore was a key instrument in integrating Christianity into Scandinavian society, and legends once focused on the pagan religion, picked up Christian aspects. After Christian beliefs and traditions were introduced into society, there was a noticeable change in the characteristics of some of the creatures. For example, the horrid and evil trolls of the mountains developed a fear of church-bells, and the huldre preyed on good Christian men. Also, the “evil” creatures of folklore began to fight the heroes and great kings over Christian symbols, such in the tale of King Olav Haraldsson and the trolls. Needless to say, the Christians appear to always prevail. Folklore also started to develop morals about being good Christian citizens. For example, only the strong of faith could defeat the draug.

God Mimir Scandinavian Mythology
Mimir was regarded as the wisest of all the Gods. Mimir gaurded the sacred spring of knowledge under the World Tree. Even when his head was cut off during the war between the Aesir and Vanir Gods, he continued to gaurd the Spring, headless. Mimir was also consulted by Odin when he nedded advice.

Origins OF Scandinavian Mythology
The orogins of Scandinavian Mythology can be traced back as far as 1600 B.C. Beliefs were not written down but were passed on orally through stories, songs and verse. Viking poets or "Skalds" were the gaurdians of the people`s history and traditions. Everything that happened in the world around them was attributed to the Gods. Different groups in society worshipped different Gods.

Saceifices And Ceromony Scandinavian Mythology
Sacrificial offerings played a major part in the worship of some Gods. The sacrificings may be human or animal. Kings and warriors pledged to sacrifice the battle slain to Odin in return for victory. In some cases the King`s offered their sons. Food and drink was very important in ceremonies. Most famous was the feasting and caurosing of the dead warriors in the Halls of Valhalla.

The Nine Woelds in Scandinavian Mythology
Asgard : The land of the Gods of Aesir.
Vanaheim : Realm of the Vanir Gods.
Alfheim : The realm of the light elves.
Svartalheim : Land of the dark elves.
Nidavellir : The land of the dwarfes.
Midgard : The realm of the mortals.
Jotunheim : Frozen land of the frozen giants.
Muspell : The southern land of fire.
Niflheim : The land of darkness.

God Heimdall in Scandinavian Mythology
Heimdall was the White God. Heimdall kept gaurd beside the rainbow bridge at the entrance to the fortress of the Gods. He carried a great horn to warn the Gods when Ragnarok was at hand. His father was Odin and his mothers were the nine Wave Maidens.

Goddess Freya in Scandinavian Mythology
Freya was the major Vanir Goddess. She wore the enchanted Brisingamen necklace made by the dwarves. Freya was also linked with the blessing of children. Freya married Od, but after he left her, she took on many lovers.

Death and the Other World in Scandinavian Mythology
There were various ways of dealing with the body after death. Fallen warriors were buried with their horse. Those who lived on the sea were often buried with their ship. Ships were used for the burials of both men and women. Funeral Pyres wewre another way of sending Scandinavian elite to the next world. Banquets were also placed in the graves of the wealthy. Sometimes amulets and animals were placed in the graves. Warriors were expected to meet death on the battlefield bravely. As a reward, these brave warriors spent the afterlife in Valhalla, the domain of Odin. The land of the dead was ruled by the Goddess Hel. The place was also sometimes reffered to as Hel. The way was across the Echoing Bridge. The bridge made a different sound according to who was crossing.

God Bragi in Scandinavian Mythology
Bragi was the Scandinavian God of music and poetry. His wife was Idun. Bragi was Odin`s son. Bragi was a very talented musician. His song, verse and harp playing welcomed dead warriors to Valhalla.

Artefacts in Scandinavian Mythology
Many bodies were buried with grave goods. Often the dead were buried with amulets. Warriors were buried with two small bronze figures with axes in their hands and horned helmets. The symbol of Thor`s hammer was often found carved on memorial stone.

God Aegir in Scandinavian Mythology
Aegir was the God of the ocean. Aegir would rise up from the waves and grasp ships and pull them beneath the waves. Dead sailors were believed to feast with Aegir. The wife of Aegir was Ran. She was believed to trap seafarers in her net. When there was danger at sea many sailors would hold a gold coin so as to ensure a good welcome by Ran. Aegir and Ran had nine daughters.

Odin in Scandinavian Mythology
Odin is the supreme God in Scandinavian Mythology. He lived in Valhalla with spirits of fallen heroes. He was also the God of war and the dead. At the beginning of the world he set the Sun And Moon on their courses. He is informed about what is happening in the world by two ravens. He rides an eight legged horse that he named Sleipnir. Odin often travelled among the heroes in taking the form of an old man with one eye. He sacrificed his eye in return for sacred knowledge. Odin was regarded as the All Father of the other Gods, who are sometimes referred to as the children of Odin. Odin had many children across Midgard where he roamed in disguise seducing mortal women. Odin was worshipped by both warriors and leaders. Odin was also a powerfull warrior. He was associated with death in battle. Wednesday is named for him.

Nibelungs in Scandinavian Mythology
The Nibelungs were dwarfs who lived below the Earth in Niflheim. They were the protectors of a special and valuable treasure.

Nidhogger in Scandinavian Mythology
The Nidhoggr was a serpent monster who ate away at the roots of the world tree. In doing so the Nidhoggr was attempting to destroy the foundations of Earth. The Nidhoggr lived near Nastrond in the icy depths of Nifleim.

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Norns in Scandinavian Mythology
The Norns were the three Goddesses who gaurded the world tree in Scandinavian Mythology. Their names were Urd, meaning the past. Verdandi, meaning the present. Skuld, meaning the future.

Nastrond in Scandinavian Mythology
Nastrond is a hell state found in the depths of Niflheim. It is a dark, cold place with walls formed of snakes. The dead who were sent there were tormented by the serpent Nidhoggr.

Loki in Scandinavian Mythology
Loki was the God of Fire in Scandinavian Mythology. He was originally a member of the Aesir. Loki was the one who guided the mistltoe that killed Sun God Balder. The other Gods then bound Loki to a rock with a snake dripping poison venom over him. He was rescued by his wife.

Ymir in Scandinavian Mythology
From Scandinavian mythology, the Ymir was a giant who formed from the mists of Niflheim when the universe was born. Ymir became the ancestor of other giants. The Earth, Sea and Heavens formed his body. After his defeat at the hands of Odin, the world tree Yggdrasil emerged from his body

Vanir in Scandinavian Mythology
In Scandinavian mythology, Vanir was the peaceful God who provided protection for the crops and Nature. The Vanir dieties feuded with the Aesir Gods until they were admitted to the citadel in the sky known as Asgard.

Thor in Scandinavian Mythology
In Scandinavian mythology Thor was the God of sky and thunder. Thor was depited as a strong, yet friendly man who helped farmers and sailors. Yet he was the sworn enemy of the giants and demons. Thor had a red beard and possessed a famous hammer which he used to break the winter ice and make possible the arrival of spring. By the Viking era, Thor was the most popular of all the Gods. His hammer, Mjollnir, was the most important of all treasures of Asgard. At Ragnarok, Thor and the Midgard Serpent destroyed each other.

Ragnarok in Scandinavian Mythology
In Scandanavian mythology, Ragnarok was a time when nearly all the Gods, Earth, Universe and living creatures were destroyed. The God Odin lead an army from Valhalla to fight the giants and forces of evil. The heavens fell and the world was destroyed. Odin`s son Vidar, was among the survivers. He would lead an uprising, and a new Golden Age would dawn.

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