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Norse, Nordic, or Scandinavian mythology is the body of
myth Myth is a folklore genre consisting of narratives that play a fundamental role in a society, such as foundational tales or origin myths. Since "myth" is widely used to imply that a story is not objectively true, the identification of a narr ...
s belonging to the
North Germanic peoples North Germanic peoples, commonly called Scandinavians, Nordic peoples and in a medieval context Norsemen, were a Germanic linguistic group originating from the Scandinavian Peninsula. They are identified by their cultural similarities, common ...
, stemming from
Old Norse religion Old Norse religion, also known as Norse paganism, is the most common name for a branch of Germanic religion which developed during the Proto-Norse period, when the North Germanic peoples separated into a distinct branch of the Germanic pe ...
and continuing after the
Christianization of Scandinavia The Christianization of Scandinavia, as well as other Nordic countries and the Baltic countries, took place between the 8th and the 12th centuries. The realms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden established their own Archdioceses, responsible directl ...
, and into the
Nordic folklore Nordic folklore is the folklore of Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Iceland and the Faroe Islands. It has common roots with, and has been mutually influenced by, folklore in England, Germany, the Low Countries, the Baltic countries, Finland and Sapmi. ...
of the modern period. The northernmost extension of
Germanic mythology Germanic mythology consists of the body of myths native to the Germanic peoples, including Norse mythology, Anglo-Saxon mythology, and Continental Germanic mythology. It was a key element of Germanic paganism. Origins As the Germanic langua ...
and stemming from
Proto-Germanic folklore Proto-Germanic folklore is the folklore of the speakers of Proto-Germanic and includes topics such as the Germanic mythology, legendry, and folk beliefs of early Germanic culture. By way of the comparative method, Germanic philologists, a variet ...
, Norse mythology consists of tales of various deities, beings, and heroes derived from numerous sources from both before and after the pagan period, including medieval manuscripts, archaeological representations, and folk tradition. The source texts mention numerous gods such as the thunder-god
Thor Thor (; from non, Þórr ) is a prominent god in Germanic paganism. In Norse mythology, he is a hammer-wielding god associated with lightning, thunder, storms, sacred groves and trees, strength, the protection of humankind, hallowin ...
, the
raven A raven is any of several larger-bodied bird species of the genus ''Corvus''. These species do not form a single taxonomic group within the genus. There is no consistent distinction between " crows" and "ravens", common names which are assigned ...
-flanked god
Odin Odin (; from non, Óðinn, ) is a widely revered god in Germanic paganism. Norse mythology, the source of most surviving information about him, associates him with wisdom, healing, death, royalty, the gallows, knowledge, war, battle, victo ...
, the goddess
Freyja In Norse paganism, Freyja (Old Norse "(the) Lady") is a goddess associated with love, beauty, fertility, sex, war, gold, and seiðr (magic for seeing and influencing the future). Freyja is the owner of the necklace Brísingamen, rides a ch ...
, and numerous other deities. Most of the surviving mythology centers on the plights of the gods and their interaction with several other beings, such as humanity and the jötnar, beings who may be friends, lovers, foes, or family members of the gods. The cosmos in Norse mythology consists of Nine Worlds that flank a central sacred tree, Yggdrasil. Units of time and elements of the cosmology are personified as deities or beings. Various forms of a creation myth are recounted, where the world is created from the flesh of the primordial being
Ymir In Norse mythology, Ymir (, ), also called Aurgelmir, Brimir, or Bláinn, is the ancestor of all jötnar. Ymir is attested in the ''Poetic Edda'', compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional material, in the '' Prose Edda'', wri ...
, and the first two humans are
Ask and Embla In Norse mythology, Ask and Embla ( non, Askr ok Embla )—male and female respectively—were the first two humans, created by the gods. The pair are attested in both the ''Poetic Edda'', compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional ...
. These worlds are foretold to be reborn after the events of
Ragnarök In Norse mythology, (; non, Ragnarǫk) is a series of events, including a great battle, foretelling the death of numerous great figures (including the gods Odin, Thor, Týr, Freyr, Heimdallr, and Loki), natural disasters, and the submer ...
when an immense battle occurs between the gods and their enemies, and the world is enveloped in flames, only to be reborn anew. There the surviving gods will meet, and the land will be fertile and green, and two humans will repopulate the world. Norse mythology has been the subject of scholarly discourse since the 17th century when key texts attracted the attention of the intellectual circles of Europe. By way of
comparative mythology Comparative mythology is the comparison of myths from different cultures in an attempt to identify shared themes and characteristics.Littleton, p. 32 Comparative mythology has served a variety of academic purposes. For example, scholars have used ...
and
historical linguistics Historical linguistics, also termed diachronic linguistics, is the scientific study of language change over time. Principal concerns of historical linguistics include: # to describe and account for observed changes in particular languages # ...
, scholars have identified elements of Germanic mythology reaching as far back as
Proto-Indo-European mythology Proto-Indo-European mythology is the body of myths and deities associated with the Proto-Indo-Europeans, the hypothetical speakers of the reconstructed Proto-Indo-European language. Although the mythological motifs are not directly attested ...
. During the modern period, the
Romanticist Romanticism (also known as the Romantic movement or Romantic era) was an artistic, literary, musical, and intellectual movement that originated in Europe towards the end of the 18th century, and in most areas was at its peak in the approximate ...
Viking revival The Viking revival was a movement reflecting new interest in, and appreciation for Viking medieval history and culture. Interest was reawakened in the late 18th and 19th centuries, often with added heroic overtones typical of that Romantic era. ...
re-awoke an interest in the subject matter, and references to Norse mythology may now be found throughout modern popular culture. The myths have further been revived in a religious context among adherents of
Germanic Neopaganism Heathenry, also termed Heathenism, contemporary Germanic Paganism, or Germanic Neopaganism, is a modern Pagan religion. Scholars of religious studies classify it as a new religious movement. Developed in Europe during the early 20th cen ...
.


Terminology

The historical religion of the Norse people is commonly referred to as ''Norse mythology''. Other terms are ''Scandinavian mythology'', ''North Germanic mythology'' or ''Nordic mythology''.


Sources

Norse mythology is primarily attested in dialects of
Old Norse Old Norse, Old Nordic, or Old Scandinavian, is a stage of development of North Germanic dialects before their final divergence into separate Nordic languages. Old Norse was spoken by inhabitants of Scandinavia and their overseas settlement ...
, a
North Germanic language The North Germanic languages make up one of the three branches of the Germanic languages—a sub-family of the Indo-European languages—along with the West Germanic languages and the extinct East Germanic languages. The language group is also r ...
spoken by the Scandinavian people during the European Middle Ages and the ancestor of modern
Scandinavian languages The North Germanic languages make up one of the three branches of the Germanic languages—a sub-family of the Indo-European languages—along with the West Germanic languages and the extinct East Germanic languages. The language group is also ...
. The majority of these Old Norse texts were created in Iceland, where the oral tradition stemming from the pre-Christian inhabitants of the island was collected and recorded in manuscripts. This occurred primarily in the 13th century. These texts include the ''
Prose Edda The ''Prose Edda'', also known as the ''Younger Edda'', ''Snorri's Edda'' ( is, Snorra Edda) or, historically, simply as ''Edda'', is an Old Norse textbook written in Iceland during the early 13th century. The work is often assumed to have been t ...
'', composed in the 13th century by the Icelandic scholar,
lawspeaker A lawspeaker or lawman ( Swedish: ''lagman'', Old Swedish: ''laghmaþer'' or ''laghman'', Danish: ''lovsigemand'', Norwegian: ''lagmann'', Icelandic: , Faroese: '' løgmaður'', Finnish: ''laamanni'', kl, inatsitinuk) is a unique Scandin ...
, and historian
Snorri Sturluson Snorri Sturluson ( ; ; 1179 – 22 September 1241) was an Icelandic historian, poet, and politician. He was elected twice as lawspeaker of the Icelandic parliament, the Althing. He is commonly thought to have authored or compiled portions of t ...
, and the ''
Poetic Edda The ''Poetic Edda'' is the modern name for an untitled collection of Old Norse anonymous narrative poems, which is distinct from the '' Prose Edda'' written by Snorri Sturluson. Several versions exist, all primarily of text from the Icelandic ...
'', a collection of poems from earlier traditional material anonymously compiled in the 13th century., and . The ''Prose Edda'' was composed as a prose manual for producing
skald A skald, or skáld (Old Norse: , later ; , meaning "poet"), is one of the often named poets who composed skaldic poetry, one of the two kinds of Old Norse poetry, the other being Eddic poetry, which is anonymous. Skaldic poems were traditional ...
ic poetry—traditional
Old Norse Old Norse, Old Nordic, or Old Scandinavian, is a stage of development of North Germanic dialects before their final divergence into separate Nordic languages. Old Norse was spoken by inhabitants of Scandinavia and their overseas settlement ...
poetry composed by
skald A skald, or skáld (Old Norse: , later ; , meaning "poet"), is one of the often named poets who composed skaldic poetry, one of the two kinds of Old Norse poetry, the other being Eddic poetry, which is anonymous. Skaldic poems were traditional ...
s. Originally composed and transmitted orally, skaldic poetry utilizes
alliterative verse In prosody, alliterative verse is a form of verse that uses alliteration as the principal ornamental device to help indicate the underlying metrical structure, as opposed to other devices such as rhyme. The most commonly studied traditions of ...
,
kenning A kenning ( Icelandic: ) is a figure of speech in the type of circumlocution, a compound that employs figurative language in place of a more concrete single-word noun. Kennings are strongly associated with Old Norse-Icelandic and Old English ...
s, and several metrical forms. The ''Prose Edda'' presents numerous examples of works by various skalds from before and after the Christianization process and also frequently refers back to the poems found in the ''Poetic Edda''. The ''Poetic Edda'' consists almost entirely of poems, with some prose narrative added, and this poetry—''Eddic'' poetry—utilizes fewer
kenning A kenning ( Icelandic: ) is a figure of speech in the type of circumlocution, a compound that employs figurative language in place of a more concrete single-word noun. Kennings are strongly associated with Old Norse-Icelandic and Old English ...
s. In comparison to skaldic poetry, Eddic poetry is relatively unadorned. The ''Prose Edda'' features layers of euhemerization, a process in which deities and supernatural beings are presented as having been either actual, magic-wielding human beings who have been
deified Apotheosis (, ), also called divinization or deification (), is the glorification of a subject to divine levels and, commonly, the treatment of a human being, any other living thing, or an abstract idea in the likeness of a deity. The term ha ...
in time or beings
demonized Demonization or demonisation is the reinterpretation of polytheistic deities as evil, lying demons by other religions, generally by the monotheistic and henotheistic ones. The term has since been expanded to refer to any characterization of indiv ...
by way of
Christian mythology Christian mythology is the body of myths associated with Christianity. The term encompasses a broad variety of legends and narratives, especially those considered sacred narratives. Mythological themes and elements occur throughout Christian l ...
. Texts such as ''
Heimskringla ''Heimskringla'' () is the best known of the Old Norse kings' sagas. It was written in Old Norse in Iceland by the poet and historian Snorre Sturlason (1178/79–1241) 1230. The name ''Heimskringla'' was first used in the 17th century, derive ...
'', composed in the 13th century by Snorri and ''
Gesta Danorum ''Gesta Danorum'' ("Deeds of the Danes") is a patriotic work of Danish history, by the 12th-century author Saxo Grammaticus ("Saxo the Literate", literally "the Grammarian"). It is the most ambitious literary undertaking of medieval Denmark a ...
'', composed in Latin by
Saxo Grammaticus Saxo Grammaticus (c. 1150 – c. 1220), also known as Saxo cognomine Longus, was a Danish historian, theologian and author. He is thought to have been a clerk or secretary to Absalon, Archbishop of Lund, the main advisor to Valdemar I of Denma ...
in Denmark in the 12th century, are the results of heavy amounts of euhemerization. Numerous additional texts, such as the
sagas is a series of science fantasy role-playing video games by Square Enix. The series originated on the Game Boy in 1989 as the creation of Akitoshi Kawazu at Square. It has since continued across multiple platforms, from the Super NES to the P ...
, provide further information. The saga corpus consists of thousands of tales recorded in Old Norse ranging from Icelandic family histories (
Sagas of Icelanders The sagas of Icelanders ( is, Íslendingasögur, ), also known as family sagas, are one genre of Icelandic sagas. They are prose narratives mostly based on historical events that mostly took place in Iceland in the ninth, tenth, and early e ...
) to
Migration period The Migration Period was a period in History of Europe, European history marked by large-scale migrations that saw the fall of the Western Roman Empire and subsequent settlement of its former territories by various tribes, and the establishment ...
tales mentioning historic figures such as
Attila the Hun Attila (, ; ), frequently called Attila the Hun, was the ruler of the Huns from 434 until his death in March 453. He was also the leader of a tribal empire consisting of Huns, Ostrogoths, Alans, and Bulgars, among others, in Central an ...
( legendary sagas). Objects and monuments such as the Rök runestone and the Kvinneby amulet feature
runic inscriptions A runic inscription is an inscription made in one of the various runic alphabets. They generally contained practical information or memorials instead of magic or mythic stories. The body of runic inscriptions falls into the three categories of ...
—texts written in the
runic alphabet Runes are the letters in a set of related alphabets known as runic alphabets native to the Germanic peoples. Runes were used to write various Germanic languages (with some exceptions) before they adopted the Latin alphabet, and for specialise ...
, the indigenous alphabet of the Germanic peoples—that mention figures and events from Norse mythology., , and . Objects from the archaeological record may also be interpreted as depictions of subjects from Norse mythology, such as amulets of the god Thor's hammer
Mjölnir Mjölnir (from Old Norse Mjǫllnir) is the hammer of the thunder god Thor in Norse mythology, used both as a devastating weapon and as a divine instrument to provide blessings. The hammer is attested in numerous sources, including the 11th cen ...
found among pagan burials and small silver female figures interpreted as
valkyrie In Norse mythology, a valkyrie ("chooser of the slain") is one of a host of female figures who guide souls of the dead to the god Odin's hall Valhalla. There, the deceased warriors become ( Old Norse "single (or once) fighters"Orchard (1997: ...
s or dísir, beings associated with war, fate or ancestor cults.Regarding the dísir, valkyries, and figurines (with images), see . For hammers, see , and . By way of
historical linguistics Historical linguistics, also termed diachronic linguistics, is the scientific study of language change over time. Principal concerns of historical linguistics include: # to describe and account for observed changes in particular languages # ...
and
comparative mythology Comparative mythology is the comparison of myths from different cultures in an attempt to identify shared themes and characteristics.Littleton, p. 32 Comparative mythology has served a variety of academic purposes. For example, scholars have used ...
, comparisons to other attested branches of Germanic mythology (such as the
Old High German Old High German (OHG; german: Althochdeutsch (Ahd.)) is the earliest stage of the German language, conventionally covering the period from around 750 to 1050. There is no standardised or supra-regional form of German at this period, and Old High ...
Merseburg Incantations The Merseburg charms or Merseburg incantations (german: die Merseburger Zaubersprüche) are two medieval magic spells, charms or incantations, written in Old High German. They are the only known examples of Germanic pagan belief preserved in the ...
) may also lend insight., and . Wider comparisons to the mythology of other Indo-European peoples by scholars has resulted in the potential reconstruction of far earlier myths. Only a tiny amount of poems and tales survive of the many mythical tales and poems that are presumed to have existed during the Middle Ages, Viking Age, Migration Period, and before. Later sources reaching into the modern period, such as a medieval charm recorded as used by the Norwegian woman Ragnhild Tregagås—convicted of
witchcraft Witchcraft traditionally means the use of magic or supernatural powers to harm others. A practitioner is a witch. In medieval and early modern Europe, where the term originated, accused witches were usually women who were believed to have us ...
in Norway in the 14th century—and spells found in the 17th century Icelandic '' Galdrabók''
grimoire A grimoire ( ) (also known as a "book of spells" or a "spellbook") is a textbook of magic, typically including instructions on how to create magical objects like talismans and amulets, how to perform magical spells, charms and divination, an ...
also sometimes make references to Norse mythology.Regarding Ragnhild Tregagås, see . For ''Galdrabók'', see . Other traces, such as place names bearing the names of gods may provide further information about deities, such as a potential association between deities based on the placement of locations bearing their names, their local popularity, and associations with geological features. One of the surviving poems is the Old English manuscript
Beowulf ''Beowulf'' (; ang, Bēowulf ) is an Old English epic poem in the tradition of Germanic heroic legend consisting of 3,182 alliterative lines. It is one of the most important and most often translated works of Old English literature. T ...
.


Mythology


Gods and other beings

Central to accounts of Norse mythology are the plights of the gods and their interaction with various other beings, such as with the jötnar, who may be friends, lovers, foes, or family members of the gods. Numerous gods are mentioned in the source texts. As evidenced by records of personal names and place names, the most popular god among the Scandinavians during the Viking Age was Thor the thunder god, who is portrayed as unrelentingly pursuing his foes, his mountain-crushing, thunderous hammer
Mjölnir Mjölnir (from Old Norse Mjǫllnir) is the hammer of the thunder god Thor in Norse mythology, used both as a devastating weapon and as a divine instrument to provide blessings. The hammer is attested in numerous sources, including the 11th cen ...
in hand. In the mythology, Thor lays waste to numerous jötnar who are foes to the gods or humanity, and is wed to the beautiful, golden-haired goddess Sif. The god
Odin Odin (; from non, Óðinn, ) is a widely revered god in Germanic paganism. Norse mythology, the source of most surviving information about him, associates him with wisdom, healing, death, royalty, the gallows, knowledge, war, battle, victo ...
is also frequently mentioned in surviving texts. One-eyed,
wolf The wolf (''Canis lupus''; : wolves), also known as the gray wolf or grey wolf, is a large canine native to Eurasia and North America. More than thirty subspecies of ''Canis lupus'' have been recognized, and gray wolves, as popularly u ...
- and
raven A raven is any of several larger-bodied bird species of the genus ''Corvus''. These species do not form a single taxonomic group within the genus. There is no consistent distinction between " crows" and "ravens", common names which are assigned ...
-flanked, with a spear in hand, Odin pursues knowledge throughout the nine realms. In an act of self-sacrifice, Odin is described as having hanged himself upside-down for nine days and nights on the cosmological tree Yggdrasil to gain knowledge of the runic alphabet, which he passed on to humanity, and is associated closely with death, wisdom, and poetry. Odin is portrayed as the ruler of
Asgard In Nordic mythology, Asgard (Old Norse: ''Ásgarðr'' ; "enclosure of the Æsir") is a location associated with the gods. It appears in a multitude of Old Norse sagas and mythological texts. It is described as the fortified home of the Æs ...
, and leader of the Aesir. Odin's wife is the powerful goddess
Frigg Frigg (; Old Norse: ) is a goddess, one of the Æsir, in Germanic mythology. In Norse mythology, the source of most surviving information about her, she is associated with marriage, prophecy, clairvoyance and motherhood, and dwells in the we ...
who can see the future but tells no one, and together they have a beloved son,
Baldr Baldr (also Balder, Baldur) is a god in Germanic mythology. In Norse mythology, Baldr (Old Norse: ) is a son of the god Odin and the goddess Frigg, and has numerous brothers, such as Thor and Váli. In wider Germanic mythology, the god was kn ...
. After a series of dreams had by Baldr of his impending death, his death is engineered by
Loki Loki is a god in Norse mythology. According to some sources, Loki is the son of Fárbauti (a jötunn) and Laufey (mentioned as a goddess), and the brother of Helblindi and Býleistr. Loki is married to Sigyn and they have two sons, Nar ...
, and Baldr thereafter resides in Hel, a realm ruled over by an entity of the same name. Odin must share half of his share of the dead with a powerful goddess,
Freyja In Norse paganism, Freyja (Old Norse "(the) Lady") is a goddess associated with love, beauty, fertility, sex, war, gold, and seiðr (magic for seeing and influencing the future). Freyja is the owner of the necklace Brísingamen, rides a ch ...
. She is beautiful, sensual, wears a feathered cloak, and practices
seiðr In Old Norse, (sometimes anglicized as ''seidhr'', ''seidh'', ''seidr'', ''seithr'', ''seith'', or ''seid'') was a type of magic which was practised in Norse society during the Late Scandinavian Iron Age. The practice of is believed to be a ...
. She rides to battle to choose among the slain and brings her chosen to her afterlife field
Fólkvangr In Norse mythology, Fólkvangr (Old Norse: , "field of the host"Orchard (1997:45). or "people-field" or "army-field"Lindow (2001:118).) is a meadow or field ruled over by the goddess Freyja where half of those that die in combat go upon death, w ...
. Freyja weeps for her missing husband
Óðr In Norse mythology, Óðr (; Old Norse for the "Divine Madness, frantic, furious, vehement, eager", as a noun "mind, feeling" and also "song, poetry"; Orchard (1997) gives "the frenzied one"Orchard (1997:121).) or Óð, sometimes anglicized as O ...
and seeks after him in faraway lands. Freyja's brother, the god
Freyr Freyr (Old Norse: 'Lord'), sometimes anglicized as Frey, is a widely attested god in Norse mythology, associated with kingship, fertility, peace, and weather. Freyr, sometimes referred to as Yngvi-Freyr, was especially associated with Sweden ...
, is also frequently mentioned in surviving texts, and in his association with the weather, royalty, human sexuality, and agriculture brings peace and pleasure to humanity. Deeply lovesick after catching sight of the beautiful jötunn
Gerðr In Norse mythology, Gerðr (Old Norse: ; "fenced-in"Orchard (1997:54).) is a jötunn, goddess, and the wife of the god Freyr. Gerðr is attested in the ''Poetic Edda'', compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources; the ''Prose Ed ...
, Freyr seeks and wins her love, yet at the price of his future doom. Their father is the powerful god
Njörðr In Norse mythology, Njörðr (Old Norse: ) is a god among the Vanir. Njörðr, father of the deities Freyr and Freyja by his unnamed sister, was in an ill-fated marriage with the goddess Skaði, lives in Nóatún and is associated with the ...
. Njörðr is strongly associated with ships and seafaring, and so also wealth and prosperity. Freyja and Freyr's mother is Njörðr's unnamed sister (her name is unprovided in the source material). However, there is more information about his pairing with the skiing and hunting goddess
Skaði In Norse mythology, Skaði (; Old Norse: ; sometimes anglicized as Skadi, Skade, or Skathi) is a jötunn and goddess associated with bowhunting, skiing, winter, and mountains. Skaði is attested in the ''Poetic Edda'', compiled in the 13th c ...
. Their relationship is ill-fated, as Skaði cannot stand to be away from her beloved mountains, nor Njörðr from the seashore. Together, Freyja, Freyr, and Njörðr form a portion of gods known as the
Vanir In Norse mythology, the Vanir (; Old Norse: , singular Vanr ) are a group of gods associated with fertility, wisdom, and the ability to see the future. The Vanir are one of two groups of gods (the other being the Æsir) and are the namesake of t ...
. While the Aesir and the Vanir retain distinct identification, they came together as the result of the Aesir–Vanir War. While they receive less mention, numerous other gods and goddesses appear in the source material. (For a list of these deities, see
List of Germanic deities In Germanic paganism, the indigenous religion of the ancient Germanic peoples who inhabited Germanic Europe, there were a number of different gods and goddesses. Germanic deities are attested from numerous sources, including works of literatur ...
.) Some of the gods heard less of include the apple-bearing goddess
Iðunn In Norse mythology, Iðunn is a goddess associated with apples and youth. Iðunn is attested in the ''Poetic Edda'', compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources, and the '' Prose Edda'', written in the 13th century by Snorri S ...
and her husband, the skaldic god
Bragi Bragi (; Old Norse: ) is the skaldic god of poetry in Norse mythology. Etymology The theonym Bragi probably stems from the masculine noun ''bragr'', which can be translated in Old Norse as 'poetry' (cf. Icelandic ''bragur'' 'poem, melody, wise ...
; the gold-toothed god
Heimdallr In Norse mythology, Heimdall (from Old Norse Heimdallr) is a god who keeps watch for invaders and the onset of Ragnarök from his dwelling Himinbjörg, where the burning rainbow bridge Bifröst meets the sky. He is attested as possessing forek ...
, born of nine mothers; the ancient god
Týr (; Old Norse: , ) is a god in Germanic mythology, a valorous and powerful member of the and patron of warriors and mythological heroes. In Norse mythology, which provides most of the surviving narratives about gods among the Germanic peop ...
, who lost his right hand while binding the great wolf
Fenrir Fenrir (Old Norse: ; " fen-dweller")Orchard (1997:42). or Fenrisúlfr (O.N.: ; "Fenrir's wolf", often translated "Fenris-wolf"),Simek (2007:81). also referred to as Hróðvitnir (O.N.: ; "fame-wolf")Simek (2007:160). and Vánagandr (O.N.: ; ...
; and the goddess
Gefjon In Norse mythology, Gefjon (Old Norse: ; alternatively spelled Gefion, or Gefjun , pronounced without secondary syllable stress) is a goddess associated with ploughing, the Danish island of Zealand, the legendary Swedish king Gylfi, the legenda ...
, who formed modern-day
Zealand Zealand ( da, Sjælland ) at 7,031 km2 is the largest and most populous island in Denmark proper (thus excluding Greenland and Disko Island, which are larger in size). Zealand had a population of 2,319,705 on 1 January 2020. It is the ...
,
Denmark ) , song = ( en, "King Christian stood by the lofty mast") , song_type = National and royal anthem , image_map = EU-Denmark.svg , map_caption = , subdivision_type = Sovereign state , subdivision_name = Kingdom of Denmark , established ...
. Various beings outside of the gods are mentioned.
Elves An elf () is a type of humanoid supernatural being in Germanic mythology and folklore. Elves appear especially in North Germanic mythology. They are subsequently mentioned in Snorri Sturluson's Icelandic Prose Edda. He distinguishes "ligh ...
and dwarfs are commonly mentioned and appear to be connected, but their attributes are vague and the relation between the two is ambiguous. Elves are described as radiant and beautiful, whereas dwarfs often act as earthen smiths., and . A group of beings variously described as jötnar, thursar, and
trolls A troll is a being in Nordic folklore, including Norse mythology. In Old Norse sources, beings described as trolls dwell in isolated areas of rocks, mountains, or caves, live together in small family units, and are rarely helpful to human bei ...
(in English these are all often glossed as "
giant In folklore, giants (from Ancient Greek: '' gigas'', cognate giga-) are beings of human-like appearance, but are at times prodigious in size and strength or bear an otherwise notable appearance. The word ''giant'' is first attested in 1297 f ...
s") frequently appear. These beings may either aid, deter, or take their place among the gods. The
Norns The Norns ( non, norn , plural: ) are deities in Norse mythology responsible for shaping the course of human destinies.'' Nordisk familjebok'' (1907) In the '' Völuspá'', the three primary Norns Urðr (Wyrd), Verðandi, and Skuld draw ...
, dísir, and aforementioned valkyries also receive frequent mention. While their functions and roles may overlap and differ, all are collective female beings associated with fate.. .


Cosmology

In
Norse cosmology Norse cosmology is the study of the cosmos (cosmology) as perceived by the ancient North Germanic peoples. The topic encompasses concepts from Norse mythology, such as notions of time and space, cosmogony, personifications, anthropogeny, and esch ...
, all beings live in Nine Worlds that center around the cosmological tree Yggdrasil. The gods inhabit the heavenly realm of
Asgard In Nordic mythology, Asgard (Old Norse: ''Ásgarðr'' ; "enclosure of the Æsir") is a location associated with the gods. It appears in a multitude of Old Norse sagas and mythological texts. It is described as the fortified home of the Æs ...
whereas humanity inhabits
Midgard In Germanic cosmology, Midgard (an anglicised form of Old Norse ; Old English , Old Saxon , Old High German , and Gothic ''Midjun-gards''; "middle yard", "middle enclosure") is the name for Earth (equivalent in meaning to the Greek term , "inha ...
, a region in the center of the cosmos. Outside of the gods, humanity, and the jötnar, these Nine Worlds are inhabited by beings, such as
elves An elf () is a type of humanoid supernatural being in Germanic mythology and folklore. Elves appear especially in North Germanic mythology. They are subsequently mentioned in Snorri Sturluson's Icelandic Prose Edda. He distinguishes "ligh ...
and dwarfs. Travel between the worlds is frequently recounted in the myths, where the gods and other beings may interact directly with humanity. Numerous creatures live on Yggdrasil, such as the insulting messenger squirrel
Ratatoskr In Norse mythology, Ratatoskr (Old Norse, generally considered to mean "drill-tooth"Orchard (1997:129), Simek (2007:261), and Byock (2005:173). or "bore-tooth"Lindow (2001:259).) is a squirrel who runs up and down the world tree Yggdrasil to carry ...
and the perching hawk Veðrfölnir. The tree itself has three major roots, and at the base of one of these roots live the
Norns The Norns ( non, norn , plural: ) are deities in Norse mythology responsible for shaping the course of human destinies.'' Nordisk familjebok'' (1907) In the '' Völuspá'', the three primary Norns Urðr (Wyrd), Verðandi, and Skuld draw ...
, female entities associated with fate.. . Elements of the cosmos are personified, such as the Sun ( Sól, a goddess), the Moon (
Máni Máni (Old Norse: ; "Moon"Orchard (1997:109).) is the Moon personified in Germanic mythology. Máni, personified, is attested in the ''Poetic Edda'', compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources, and the ''Prose Edda'', written ...
, a god), and Earth (
Jörð Jörð ( non, Jǫrð, lit=earth) is the personification of earth and a goddess in Norse mythology. She is the mother of the thunder god Thor and a sexual partner of Odin. Jörð is attested in Danish historian ''Gesta Danorum'', composed in the ...
, a goddess), as well as units of time, such as day (
Dagr Dagr (Old Norse: , "day")Lindow (2001:91). is the divine personification of the day in Norse mythology. He appears in the ''Poetic Edda'', compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources, and the '' Prose Edda'', written in the 13t ...
, a god) and night (
Nótt In Norse mythology, Nótt (Old Norse: , "night"Orchard (1997:120).) is night personified. In both the ''Poetic Edda'', compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources, and the ''Prose Edda'', composed in the 13th century, Nótt is li ...
, a jötunn). The afterlife is a complex matter in Norse mythology. The dead may go to the murky realm of Hel—a realm ruled over by a female being of the same name, may be ferried away by valkyries to Odin's martial hall
Valhalla In Norse mythology Valhalla (;) is the anglicised name for non, Valhǫll ("hall of the slain").Orchard (1997:171–172) It is described as a majestic hall located in Asgard and presided over by the god Odin. Half of those who die in combat e ...
, or may be chosen by the goddess
Freyja In Norse paganism, Freyja (Old Norse "(the) Lady") is a goddess associated with love, beauty, fertility, sex, war, gold, and seiðr (magic for seeing and influencing the future). Freyja is the owner of the necklace Brísingamen, rides a ch ...
to dwell in her field
Fólkvangr In Norse mythology, Fólkvangr (Old Norse: , "field of the host"Orchard (1997:45). or "people-field" or "army-field"Lindow (2001:118).) is a meadow or field ruled over by the goddess Freyja where half of those that die in combat go upon death, w ...
.For Hel, see , and . For Valhalla, see , and . For Fólkvangr, see , and . The goddess
Rán In Norse mythology, Rán (Old Norse: ) is a goddess and a personification of the sea. Rán and her husband Ægir, a jötunn who also personifies the sea, have nine daughters, who personify waves. The goddess is frequently associated with a net, w ...
may claim those that die at sea, and the goddess
Gefjon In Norse mythology, Gefjon (Old Norse: ; alternatively spelled Gefion, or Gefjun , pronounced without secondary syllable stress) is a goddess associated with ploughing, the Danish island of Zealand, the legendary Swedish king Gylfi, the legenda ...
is said to be attended by virgins upon their death.For Rán, see , and . For Gefjon, see . Texts also make reference to
reincarnation Reincarnation, also known as rebirth or transmigration, is the philosophical or religious concept that the non-physical essence of a living being begins a new life in a different physical form or body after biological death. Resurrectio ...
. Time itself is presented between cyclic and linear, and some scholars have argued that cyclic time was the original format for the mythology. Various forms of a cosmological creation story are provided in Icelandic sources, and references to a future destruction and rebirth of the world— Ragnarok—are frequently mentioned in some texts.


Humanity

According to the ''Prose Edda'' and the ''Poetic Edda'' poem, ''Völuspá'', the first human couple consisted of
Ask and Embla In Norse mythology, Ask and Embla ( non, Askr ok Embla )—male and female respectively—were the first two humans, created by the gods. The pair are attested in both the ''Poetic Edda'', compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional ...
; driftwood found by a trio of gods and imbued with life in the form of three gifts. After the cataclysm of Ragnarok, this process is mirrored in the survival of two humans from a wood; Líf and Lífþrasir. From these two humankind is foretold to repopulate the new and green earth.


Influence on popular culture

With the widespread publication of translations of Old Norse texts that recount the mythology of the North Germanic peoples, references to the Norse gods and heroes spread into European literary culture, especially in
Scandinavia Scandinavia; Sámi languages: /. ( ) is a subregion in Northern Europe, with strong historical, cultural, and linguistic ties between its constituent peoples. In English usage, ''Scandinavia'' most commonly refers to Denmark, Norway, and Swe ...
, Germany, and Britain. During the later 20th century, references to Norse mythology became common in
science fiction Science fiction (sometimes shortened to Sci-Fi or SF) is a genre of speculative fiction which typically deals with imaginative and futuristic concepts such as advanced science and technology, space exploration, time travel, parallel uni ...
and
fantasy Fantasy is a genre of speculative fiction involving magical elements, typically set in a fictional universe and sometimes inspired by mythology and folklore. Its roots are in oral traditions, which then became fantasy literature and dr ...
literature,
role-playing game A role-playing game (sometimes spelled roleplaying game, RPG) is a game in which players assume the roles of characters in a fictional setting. Players take responsibility for acting out these roles within a narrative, either through literal a ...
s, and eventually other cultural products such as comic books and
Japanese animation is hand-drawn and computer-generated animation originating from Japan. Outside of Japan and in English, ''anime'' refers specifically to animation produced in Japan. However, in Japan and in Japanese, (a term derived from a shortening o ...
. Traces of the mythology can also be found in music and has its own genre, viking metal. Bands such as
Amon Amarth Amon Amarth () is a Swedish melodic death metal band from Tumba, formed in 1992. The band takes its name from the Sindarin name of Mount Doom, a volcano in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth. Their lyrics mostly deal with Viking mythology and ...
, Bathory,
Burzum Burzum (; ) was a Norwegian music project founded by Varg Vikernes in 1991. Although Burzum never played live performances, it became a part of the early Norwegian black metal scene and is considered one of the most influential acts in black ...
and Månegarm have written songs about Norse mythology. Norse mythology is prevalent in the children's book series, Magnus Chase, by Rick Riordan.


See also

*
Alliterative verse In prosody, alliterative verse is a form of verse that uses alliteration as the principal ornamental device to help indicate the underlying metrical structure, as opposed to other devices such as rhyme. The most commonly studied traditions of ...
* Family tree of the Norse gods *
Project Runeberg Project Runeberg ( sv, Projekt Runeberg) is a digital cultural archive initiative that publishes free electronic versions of books significant to the culture and history of the Nordic countries. Patterned after Project Gutenberg, it was founded ...
*
List of Germanic deities In Germanic paganism, the indigenous religion of the ancient Germanic peoples who inhabited Germanic Europe, there were a number of different gods and goddesses. Germanic deities are attested from numerous sources, including works of literatur ...
* List of valkyrie names in Norse mythology * Greek mythology *
Roman mythology Roman mythology is the body of myths of ancient Rome as represented in the literature and visual arts of the Romans. One of a wide variety of genres of Roman folklore, ''Roman mythology'' may also refer to the modern study of these represent ...


References


General sources

* * * * * * * * *


Further reading


General secondary works

* Abram, Christopher (2011). ''Myths of the Pagan North: the Gods of the Norsemen''. London: Continuum. . * Aðalsteinsson, Jón Hnefill (1998). ''A Piece of Horse Liver: Myth, Ritual and Folklore in Old Icelandic Sources'' (translated by Terry Gunnell & Joan Turville-Petre). Reykjavík: Félagsvísindastofnun. . * Andrén, Anders. Jennbert, Kristina. Raudvere, Catharina. (editors) (2006). ''Old Norse Religion in Long-Term Perspectives: Origins, Changes, and Interactions''. Lund: Nordic Academic Press. . * Branston, Brian (1980). ''Gods of the North''. London: Thames and Hudson. (Revised from an earlier hardback edition of 1955). . * Christiansen, Eric (2002). ''The Norsemen in the Viking Age''. Malden, Mass.: Blackwell. . * Clunies Ross, Margaret (1994). ''Prolonged Echoes: Old Norse Myths in Medieval Northern Society, vol. 1: The Myths''. Odense: Odense Univ. Press. . * Davidson, H. R. Ellis (1964). ''Gods and Myths of Northern Europe''. Baltimore: Penguin. New edition 1990 by Penguin Books. . (Several
runestone A runestone is typically a raised stone with a runic inscription, but the term can also be applied to inscriptions on boulders and on bedrock. The tradition began in the 4th century and lasted into the 12th century, but most of the runestones da ...
s) * Davidson, H. R. Ellis (1969). ''Scandinavian Mythology''. London & New York: Hamlyn. . Reissued 1996 as ''Viking and Norse Mythology''. New York: Barnes and Noble. * Davidson, H. R. Ellis (1988). ''Myths and Symbols in Pagan Europe''. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse Univ. Press. . * Davidson, H. R. Ellis (1993). ''The Lost Beliefs of Northern Europe''. London & New York: Routledge. . * de Vries, Jan. ''Altgermanische Religionsgeschichte'', 2 vols., 2nd. ed., Grundriss der germanischen Philologie, 12–13. Berlin: W. de Gruyter. * DuBois, Thomas A. (1999). ''Nordic Religions in the Viking Age''. Philadelphia: Univ. Pennsylvania Press. . * Dumézil, Georges (1973). ''Gods of the Ancient Northmen''. Ed. & trans. Einar Haugen. Berkeley: University of California Press. . * Grimm, Jacob (1888). ''Teutonic Mythology'', 4 vols. Trans. S. Stallybras. London. Reprinted 2003 by Kessinger. , , , . Reprinted 2004 Dover Publications. (4 vols.), , , , . * Lindow, John (1988). ''Scandinavian Mythology: An Annotated Bibliography'', Garland Folklore Bibliographies, 13. New York: Garland. . * Lindow, John (2001). ''Norse Mythology: A Guide to the Gods, Heroes, Rituals, and Beliefs''. Oxford: Oxford University Press. . (A dictionary of Norse mythology.) * Mirachandra (2006). ''Treasure of Norse Mythology Volume I'' . * Motz, Lotte (1996). ''The King, the Champion and the Sorcerer: A Study in Germanic Myth''. Wien: Fassbaender. . * O'Donoghue, Heather (2007). ''From Asgard to Valhalla: the remarkable history of the Norse myths''. London: I. B. Tauris. . * Orchard, Andy (1997). ''Cassell's Dictionary of Norse Myth and Legend''. London: Cassell. . * Page, R. I. (1990). ''Norse Myths (The Legendary Past)''. London: British Museum; and Austin: University of Texas Press. . * Price, Neil S (2002). ''The Viking Way: Religion and War in Late Iron Age Scandinavia''. Uppsala: Dissertation, Dept. Archaeology & Ancient History. . * Simek, Rudolf (1993). ''Dictionary of Northern Mythology''. Trans. Angela Hall. Cambridge: D. S. Brewer. . New edition 2000, . * Simrock, Karl Joseph (1853–1855) ''Handbuch der deutschen Mythologie''. * Svanberg, Fredrik (2003). ''Decolonizing the Viking Age''. Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell. (v. 1); (v. 2). * Turville-Petre, E O Gabriel (1964). ''Myth and Religion of the North: The Religion of Ancient Scandinavia''. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson. Reprinted 1975, Westport, CN: Greenwood Press. .


Romanticism

* Anderson, Rasmus (1875). ''Norse Mythology, or, The Religion of Our Forefathers''. Chicago: S.C. Griggs. * Guerber, H. A. (1909). ''Myths of the Norsemen: From the Eddas and Sagas''. London: George G. Harrap. Reprinted 1992, Mineola, NY: Dover. . * Keary, A & E (1909), ''The Heroes of Asgard''. New York: Macmillan Company. Reprinted 1982 by Smithmark Pub. . Reprinted 1979 by Pan Macmillan . * Mable, Hamilton Wright (1901). ''Norse Stories Retold from the Eddas''. Mead and Company. Reprinted 1999, New York: Hippocrene Books. . * Mackenzie, Donald A (1912). ''Teutonic Myth and Legend''. New York: W H Wise & Co. 1934. Reprinted 2003 by University Press of the Pacific. . * Rydberg, Viktor (1889). ''Teutonic Mythology'', trans. Rasmus B. Anderson. London: Swan Sonnenschein & Co. Reprinted 2001, Elibron Classics. . Reprinted 2004, Kessinger Publishing Company. .


Modern retellings

* * Colum, Padraic (1920). ''The Children of Odin: The Book of Northern Myths'', illustrated by Willy Pogány. New York: Macmillan. Reprinted 2004 by Aladdin, . * Crossley-Holland, Kevin (1981). ''The Norse Myths''. New York: Pantheon Books. . Also released as ''The Penguin Book of Norse Myths: Gods of the Vikings''. Harmondsworth: Penguin. . * d'Aulaire, Ingri and Edgar (1967). " d'Aulaire's Book of Norse Myths". New York, New York Review of Books. * Munch, Peter Andreas (1927). ''Norse Mythology: Legends of Gods and Heroes'', Scandinavian Classics. Trans. Sigurd Bernhard Hustvedt (1963). New York: American–Scandinavian Foundation. . * Gaiman, Neil (2017). ''
Norse Mythology Norse, Nordic, or Scandinavian mythology is the body of myths belonging to the North Germanic peoples, stemming from Old Norse religion and continuing after the Christianization of Scandinavia, and into the Nordic folklore of the modern per ...
''. W.W. Norton & Company. . * Syran, Nora Louise (2000). ''Einar's Ragnarok''


External links

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