Norse mythology is the body of myths of the North Germanic people stemming from Norse paganism and continuing after the Christianization of Scandinavia and into the Scandinavian folklore of the modern period. The northernmost extension of Germanic mythology, 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.
Numerous gods are mentioned in the source texts such as the hammer-wielding, humanity-protecting thunder-god Thor, who relentlessly fights his foes; the one-eyed, raven-flanked god Odin, who craftily pursues knowledge throughout the worlds and bestowed among humanity the runic alphabet; the beautiful, seiðr-working, feathered cloak-clad goddess Freyja who rides to battle to choose among the slain; the vengeful, skiing goddess Skaði, who prefers the wolf howls of the winter mountains to the seashore; the powerful god Njörðr, who may calm both sea and fire and grant wealth and land; the god Freyr, whose weather and farming associations bring peace and pleasure to humanity; the goddess Iðunn, who keeps apples that grant eternal youthfulness; the mysterious god Heimdallr, who is born of nine mothers, can hear grass grow, has gold teeth, and possesses a resounding horn; the jötunn Loki, who brings tragedy to the gods by engineering the death of the goddess Frigg's beautiful son Baldr; and numerous other deities.
Most of the surviving mythology centers on the plights of the gods and their interaction with various 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 Realms that flank a central cosmological 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, and the first two humans are Ask and Embla. These worlds are foretold to be reborn after the events of Ragnarök, 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 were brought to the attention of the intellectual circles of Europe. By way of comparative mythology and historical linguistics, scholars have identified elements of Germanic mythology reaching as far back as Proto-Indo-European mythology. In the modern period, the Romanticist Viking revival 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.
Norse mythology is primarily attested in dialects of Old Norse, a North Germanic language spoken by the Scandinavian people during the European Middle Ages, and the ancestor of modern Scandinavian languages. 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, composed in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson, and the Poetic Edda, a collection of poems from earlier traditional material anonymously compiled in the 13th century.
The Prose Edda was composed as a prose manual for producing skaldic poetry—traditional Old Norse poetry composed by skalds. Originally composed and transmitted orally, skaldic poetry utilizes alliterative verse, kennings, and various 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 kennings. 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 in time or beings demonized by way of Christian mythology. Texts such as Heimskringla, composed in the 13th century by Snorri and Gesta Danorum, composed in Latin by Saxo Grammaticus in Denmark in the 12th century, are the results of heavy amounts of euhemerization.
Numerous further texts, such as the sagas, provide further information. The saga corpus consists of thousands of tales recorded in Old Norse ranging from Icelandic family histories (Sagas of Icelanders) to Migration period tales mentioning historic figures such as Attila the Hun (legendary sagas). Objects and monuments such as the Rök Runestone and the Kvinneby amulet feature runic inscriptions—texts written in the runic alphabet, the indigenous alphabet of the Germanic peoples—that mention figures and events from Norse mythology.
Objects from the archaeological record may also be interpreted as depictions of subjects from Norse mythology, such as amulets of the thunder-god Thor's hammer Mjölnir found among pagan burials and small silver female figures interpreted as valkyries or dísir, beings associated with war, fate or ancestor cults. By way of historical linguistics and comparative mythology, comparisons to other attested branches of Germanic mythology (such as the Old High German Merseburg Incantations) may also lend insight. Wider comparisons to the mythology of other Indo-European peoples by scholars has resulted in the potential reconstruction of far earlier myths.
Of the mythical tales and poems that are presumed to have existed during the Middle Ages, Viking Age, Migration Period, and prior, only a tiny amount of poems and tales survive. Later sources reaching into the modern period, such as a medieval charm recorded as used by the Norwegian woman Ragnhild Tregagås—convicted of witchcraft in Norway in the 14th century—and spells found in the 17th century Icelandic Galdrabók grimoire also sometimes make references to Norse mythology. 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 placement of locations bearing their names, their local popularity, and associations with geological features.
Norse mythology has numerous divine figures among it's accounts, with Odin, Thor and Loki been the most prominent, and also most used Norse gods in popular culture, such as comic books, television and film. Among the many Norse gods and goddesses there are:
Family Tree of the Main Deities
Main article: Items in Norse mythology
The triquetra is a knot-like formation with three ends, commonly shown interlaced around a circle. The symbol is also known as the symbol of charm, and is used in the depiction of several norse and scandinavian items such as the Mjölnir. The Triquetra was heavily used by Norse pagans, as they used articles like pendants resembling the Mjolnir with a Triquetra symbol crafted on it.
The Mjölnir, also known as Mjolnir (or Mjollnir), prenounced "MYOL-neer", is a heavy mystic hammer forged by dwarf smiths known as Brokk and Eitri, which were the sons of Sindri. The hammer is wielded by the Norse god of thunder, Thor.
The valknut (coined from Old Norse valr, "slain warriors" and knut, "knot") is a symbol consisting of three interlocked triangles. Scholars have proposed a variety of explanations for the symbol, sometimes associating it with the god Odin, and it has been compared to the three-horned symbol found on the 9th-century Snoldelev Stone, with which it may be related.
The Nine Worlds
Main article: Norse cosmologyIn Norse mythology, the nine worlds also known as nine realms, are planets or massive city-like places located throughout the cosmos, connected by the world three known as Yggdrasil. The interdimensional rainbow-like path known as rainboraBifröst , bridges Asgard with other realms.
In Popular Culture
Main article: Norse mythology in popular culture
ComicsNorse mythology has been heavily used by Marvel Comic's as source material for various of their storylines in the Thor comic books. Not to forget, Marvel Comic's used Norse mythology's deities like Thor and Loki to create their own super heroic and villainous versions of the characters respectively.
A very popular comic series called "Valhalla" made by the Danish Peter Madsen detailed many of the stories and legends of the Norse Mythology.
Some bands are influenced by Norse Mythology and make music about it.
Richard Wagner's "Der Ring des Nibelungen" is greatly inspired by Norse Mythology.
Rick Riordan wrote about the norse gods in his book series Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard.