Basic Guide To Norse Mythology: 5 Important Things
If you are a newbie to Norse mythology, you might find it hard to understand what sources to read and some Norse names might confuse you. I know that feeling because I used to find myself in the same trouble. So for those who want to have a quick guide into Norse mythology, this blog post is for you.
In this blog post, I will try to explain briefly about Norse mythology so that you can find it easy to get the hang (not all) of the myth.
What is Norse mythology?
In this point, I will try to explain what is Norse myth and what sources we have to rely on to learn about Norse myth.
- Norse mythology, which is like other mythologies like Greek or Egypt, told the stories about the Norse cosmos, Norse gods, and how everything came into being (and got destroyed as well).
- The main sources that we rely on to learn about Norse mythology included Prose Edda by Snorri Sturluson, and Poetic Edda. However, both sources were written after Viking Age so all of them stood a chance of being influenced by Christianity.
Who are Norse gods?
In Norse mythology, there were two tribes of gods: the Aesir and the Vanir. But seemingly the whole story revolved around the Aesir.
- The Aesir: including Odin the Allfather (chief), Thor God of Thunder (son of Odin), Baldur Shining God (son of Odin), Tyr God of Justice, Frigg (goddess of motherhood), etc.
- The Vanir: Njord (chief, god of seafaring), Freyr (God of Summer), Freya (Goddess of war).
The two tribes fought against each other once and finally came into a peace treaty by exchanging hosts: most Vanir gods came to live in Aesir's home and the other way round.
While little was known about the Vanir, the whole story revolved around Odin and other Aesir gods.
Odin the Allfather lost one eye to gain knowledge
What are Nine Worlds in Norse mythology?
In Norse mythology, there were Nine Worlds. Although we might encounter different names of them, below are my collection of Nine Worlds' names:
- Asgard: land of Aesir gods
- Vanaheim: land of Vanir gods
- Midgard: land of humanity
- Hel: land of dead
- Muspelheim: land of fire
- Niflheim: land of ice
- Svartalfheim: land of dwarves
- Alfheim: land of elves
- Jotunheim: land of jotun (the giants, enemies of gods)
All Nine Worlds were held within the branches of Yggdrasil the Great Tree of Life. The Great Tree stood in the middle of the cosmos holding the Nine Worlds.
What are the two important events in Norse mythology?
From my viewpoint, there were two major important events: the creation and the destruction.
- The Creation: When the lava from Muspelheim met the ice from Niflheim, it caused a Norse Big Bang. And there came the cosmos. And came the first giant, Ymir and some ancient gods including father of Odin. Odin was the third generation of gods after the Norse Big Bang. Odin and his brothers killed Ymir the giant and used his dead corpse to make up the world: his teeth for the cliff, his hair for the forest, blood for the ocean, etc. And the brothers created humanity from two logs.
- The destruction - Ragnarok: Ragnarok was not the end of the cosmos. Instead, it was the end of the Norse gods only. After Ragnarok, there were some survivors who continued to build up a new world. Life carried on.
What was the connection between the Vikings and Norse mythology?
To sum it up, the Vikings nearly shaped their life viewpoint based on Norse mythology. Their community worshipped Norse gods, especially Odin, Thor, and Freyr. These gods helped them in battles and agriculture as well.
The Vikings believed in Norse gods. So to say it simply, Norse gods were the Viking faith (or religion although some disagree that Norse gods shaped a religion).