MILKY WAY MYTHOLOGY - THE ORIGIN OF THE CREATION STORIES
 
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NORSE COSMOGONY AND COSMOLOGY

- In the following telling, I will concentrate on the very basically Mythological; Cosmological and Cosmological ingredients in the Norse Mythology.   

(Still under Construction)

My Box Comments

The Voluspa opens with the Norse account of the creation of the present universe :

Old tales I remember | of men long ago. I remember yet | the giants of lore [...] Of old was the age | when Ymir lived; No Sea nor cool waves | nor sand there were; Earth had not been, | nor heaven above, Only a yawning gap, | and grass nowhere.

My Comments: What was/is in the Universe before everything was/is created?

Creation and Milky Way Giants

In the beginning there was nothing except for the ice of Niflheim, to the north, and the fire of Muspelheim, to the south. Between them was a yawning gap (the phrase is sometimes left untranslated as a proper name: Ginnungagap), and in this gap a few pieces of ice met a few sparks of fire. The ice melted to form Eiter, which formed the bodies of the hermaphrodite giant Ymir and the cow Auđumbla, whose milk fed Ymir. Ymir fathered Thrudgelmir, as well as two humans, one man and one woman. Auđumbla fed by licking the rime ice, and slowly she uncovered a man's  hair. After a day, she had uncovered his face. After another day, she had uncovered him completely. His name was Buri.

Ginnungagap

In Norse mythology, Ginnungagap ("magical (and creative) power-filled space"[1]) was the vast, primordial void that existed prior to the creation of the manifest universe.[2] In the northern part of Ginnungagap lay the intense cold of Niflheim, to the southern part lay the equally intense heat of Muspelheim. The cosmogonic process began when the effulgence of the two met in the middle of Ginnungagap.

My Comments: "A power-filled space" is related to the modern term of Cosmic Micro Wave Background Radiation. This is a description of the 4 basically elements of Water; Fire; Air and Soil in the Universe and how the creation process is started. Read the retold Norse Creation Myth here: Myths of Creation

(Cosmogony)

Cosmogony, or cosmogeny, is any theory concerning the coming into existence or origin of the universe, or about how reality came to be. The word comes from the Greek κοσμογονία (or κοσμογενία), from κόσμος "cosmos, the world", and the root of γί(γ)νομαι / γέγονα "to be born, come about". In the specialized context of space science and astronomy, the term refers to theories of creation of (and study of) the Solar System.

My Comments: When mythological "theories of creation" is mentioned, it not just concerns our Earth and the Solar System, but also our Galaxy and beyond in the Universe.

Cosmogony can be distinguished from cosmology, which studies the universe at large and throughout its existence, and which technically does not inquire directly into the source of its origins.

My Comments: Mythology was originally the 1 Story of it All without any distinctions. And when fully understood, Mythological telling can support or even better all other scientifically branches because of the Holistic and Cyclic concepts in Mythology.

The Mythological Worlds

My Comments: Before going further in the description of the major deities, it would be convenient to describe the Norse perception of their 3  Worlds:
1. Midgaard for the Humans.
2. Asgaard for the nearer celestial day and night objects.
3. Udgaard for the Giants in the Milky Way.
Each of these 3 worlds or dimensions was furthermore divided in 3 "vertically" dimensions, for instants the Earth Upper, Middle and Under hemispheres or Northern, Equatorial and Southern hemispheres.
All these 3 Worlds also have their own 4 directional horizontal lines in order to locate all dimensions or Worlds in the whole mythological perception and telling of Cosmos.
1: Midgaard for the Humans. 2: Asgaard for the nearer celestial World. 3: Udgaard for the giant Milky Way figures and deities. 4: The extragalactic World, the Universe, the Ginnungagap.
All the 3 worlds with their 4 directions, telling of the 3 world Wheels within Wheels in the cosmological play.
(The scheme is vertically flipped)

The first Symbols of Creation

My Comments: Use these schemes above and below in order to analyse and understand your chosen favourite religion or creative deities/creative powers.

My Comments: The full contours of our Milky Way with the left Northern hemisphere (Niflheim) and the Southern right (Muspelheim) hemisphere. These 2 figures is the origin for all global mythological stories of Creation.
The inserted Swirl on the right figure marks the swirling center of our galaxy in the star constellation of Sagittarius from where all life in the galaxy was/is created.
The mythological stories of Creation all tells of life created in the middle of garden Eden from where it was "expelled" i.e. pushed out in the galactic surrounding milky Way rivers i.e. the galactic arms.
By telling of such a movement out from the Milky Way center, the mythological stories are quite opposite the modern cosmology that claims that everything is sucked inwards to the center by a "black hole".
This figure above is the most important symbol of all human symbols as it represent the elementary Story of Creation in connection to the specific creation of our milky Way galaxy in where we live.

Mythological Keywords and Qualities

NORTHERN HEMISPHERE

MILKY WAY GALAXY

SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE

Male Subjects

Creation Story – Giants

Female Subjects

Insert Subject and Quality

Gods, Goddesses & Animals

Insert Subject and Quality

Name

Quality

Anthropomorphic Beings

Name

Quality

Examples

 

Ouroboros Beings

 Examples

 

  Odinn

 

 Frigg

 

 Jahve

 

 Ashera

 

 Shu

 

 Nut

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Milky Way Contours with a common Earth Pole centre. The red “star” marks the Milky Way Centre, 29 degree Sagittarius, from where all Creation in our Galaxy is unfolded. (Drawing of an Atlas Star Map)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 1. Primary Keywords: GIANTS. Left columns: Northern hemisphere/Male Subjects. Right columns: Southern hemisphere/Female Subjects.

Secondary Keywords: White; Light; Primary God; Hero; Primary Goddess; Heroin; Animals; Anthropomorphic Beings; Airy and Winged. Omnipotent power and knowledge of Male and Female qualities. Swirling symbols.

Opposite Figures. Against Each other. "War against each other". Complementary stories as well.

2. The full Milky Way Circle is often mentioned as a Serpent or Ouroboros, and of course the crescent Ships of North and South with its many Animals (zodiac signs) is very well known. Okeanos or Atlantis is the Heavenly Water; The Milky Way River; the Great Flood.

3. Movement: The seemingly revolving figures are mythological described as a cycle of: Rising-Flying-Diving and Dying. That is: You have to imagine the contours in these 4 directions or positions in order to understand the full mythological context and interactive possibilities of the movement and the celestial objects involved in a story.

The stories can of course goes clockwise or anticlockwise around in the Milky Way figure above. If starting in the red centre going clockwise, the story can be: “The heavenly Mother at the right gives birth to a Son at the left” – and going further on to the top of the left figure:  “a man is searching for a heavenly maiden” Or, when using the terms of “oppositional forces”: The Hero is fighting a Dragon” . The story possibilities are endless!

4. Dividing the full contour above in 2 halves, this gives a story telling technique of “opposite (but complementary) forces” fighting each other, but indeed also searching for each other. For each others halves or cosmically Twins; for the individual Soul or individual Twin, and of course: Searching for the Ancestral pathway of Generations and Knowledge and for the origin of Life it self.

5. The Creational Story Telling: From the red Swirl on the right Milky Way figure above, everything is born and has moved out from the Galaxy Centre. (A telling quite opposite the telling of modern Cosmology which is wrong on this issue – nothing is contracted inwards in our Galaxy – it’s the other way around)

The beginning of the Creation Story often takes place in the telling of “nothing in the beginning” and goes on to tell about the very elementary interaction between cold water and hot air and the also interactive forces of soil, water, air and fire.

The Story of Creation often starts of when all these 6 qualities are hit by a suddenly Light that stirs up all  the clouded matter of molecular dust and gas, creating big right- and left turning SWIRLS that accelerates and concentrates, swallowing up all matter in a giant melting pot and spits (explodes) it out again in a creational discs of Suns, Planets of Matter and Gas – which later on creates all kinds of Life – all interacting with each other because it ALL was/is created from equal sources.

Links:

Deities all over the World:
http://native-science.net/Myths.Links.htm
 
John O`Neill, author of "The night of the Gods", published in 1893: Cosmic, Cosmogonic Myths and Symbols - Which all describes my text above and on the whole website.
 
http://www.archive.org/stream/nightgods00unkngoog#page/n6/mode/1up
 
General Links:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cosmogony
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Niflheim

Niflheimr or Niflheim ("Mist Home", the "Abode of Mist" or "Mist World"); being cognate with the Old English Nifol ("dark" and Nebel, a German and Latin root meaning fog) is a location in Norse mythology which overlaps with the notions of Niflhel and Hel. The name Niflheimr only appears in two extant sources and they are Gylfaginning and the much debated Hrafnagaldr Óđins.

According to Gylfaginning, it was one of the two primordial realms, the other one being Muspelheim, the realm of fire. Between these two realms of cold and heat, creation began. Later, it became the location of Hel, the abode of those who did not die a heroic death.

My Comments: When describing the Creation as such, the old Norse used terms from the seasonal changes on Earth and transformed the descriptions to larger conditions in the Universe. As in almost any other old culture, the Norse basically also divided the Earth hemisphere in 2: The Upper World (of Niflheim) and the Underworld (of Muspelheim).
 
This 2 fold division could both tell of observations of the Earth orbiting in the Solar System, but also of the location of the Solar System in our Milky Way Galaxy, to which the mythical story of Creation is very close connected and described with all kind of gigantic superlatives.
 
Muspelhiem becoming the location of Hel has nothing to do with "those who not died a heroic death". Hel is the creative center in our galaxy in which coming Heroes and Heroines was reborn when visiting the center of Creation and getting knowledge of them selves; the Creation; and their individual and collective task on the Earth.

Múspellsheimr

In Norse mythology, Muspellheim ("Muspel land"), also called Múspell, is a realm of fire. It is home to the fire demons or the Sons of Muspell, and Surtr, their ruler. It is fire; and the land to the North, Niflheim, is ice. The two mixed and created water from the melting ice in Ginnungagap.

My Comments: We have Niflheim in the North and Muspelheim in the South. We are talking of a Creation before the Creation. Ginnungagap is the center in which the Creation takes place. Out of this center are the first Giants created. As described in the Mythological Worlds above, the Giants belongs mythological to the Milky Way contours and therefore we are talking of a specific creation taking place in the middle of our galaxy, the Milky Way.

Audhumbla

Auđumbla (also spelled Auđumla, Auđhumbla or Auđhumla) is the primeval cow of Norse mythology. She is attested in Gylfaginning, a part of Snorri Sturluson's Prose Edda, in association with Ginnungagap and Ymir.

Auđumbla's name appears in different variations in the manuscripts of the Prose Edda. Its meaning is unclear. The auđ- prefix can be related to words meaning "wealth", "ease", "fate" or "emptiness", with "wealth" being, perhaps, the most likely candidate. The -(h)um(b)la suffix is unclear but, judging from apparent cognates in other Germanic languages, could mean "polled cow". Another theory links it with the name Ymir. The name may have been obscure and interpreted differently even in pagan times.

My Comments: The choice of a Cow fits very well when describing the creation in our galaxy: There is a thundering low frequent creation sound coming from the middle of our galaxy and the whitish galactic arms floats as rivers of heavenly milk.
But when studying comparative mythology, all kinds of animals, humans and anthropomorphic beings are used in order to describe the first physical appearances in our galaxy.
The Milky Way center is located on the Earth southern hemisphere in the general direction of the Star Constellation of Sagittarius/Scorpio.
 
The Swedish scholar Viktor Rydberg, writing in the late 19th century, drew a parallel between the Norse creation myths and accounts in Zoroastrian and Vedic mythology, postulating a common Proto-Indo-European origin. While many of Rydberg's theories were dismissed as fanciful by later scholars his work on comparative mythology was sound to a large extent. Zoroastrian mythology does have a primeval ox which is variously said to be male or female and comes into existence in the middle of the earth along with the primeval man.
 
My Comments: Not "in the middle of the Earth" but in the middle of our Milky Way Galaxy.
 
In Egyptian mythology the Milky Way, personified as the cow goddess Hathor, was seen to be a river of milk flowing from the udders of a heavenly cow. Hathor also has a role in Egyptian creation myths. Due to the large distance in time and space separating the Old Norse and Ancient Egyptian cultures a direct connection seems unlikely. Similar mythological themes may arise independently in different cultures.
 
My Comments: When observing the contours of our Milky Way no wonder if there are global similarities in Myths. And when taking the human spiritual dimension in consideration, the very time concept itself completely disappears. The intuitive or spiritual language of genuine myths is eternal cyclic and it deals not with linear time concepts.

Ymir

In Norse mythology, Ymir, also named Aurgelmir (Old Norse gravel-yeller) among the giants themselves, was the founder of the race of frost giants and an important figure in Norse cosmology.

My Comments: Ymir as a part of "Frost Giants", shall not be interpreted as "cold beings" but as a Giant, the first Giant appearing on the Niflheim hemisphere in the northern celestial night Sky over the Earth. The other minor "frost giants" mentioned in the Norse Mythology therefore also belongs to the northern night celestial hemispheres - either as smaller parts or details of the Milky Way contours, or maybe as different Star Constellations in the northern celestial night Sky.

Snorri Sturluson combined several sources, along with some of his own conclusions, to explain Ymir's role in the Norse creation myth. The main sources available are the great Eddic poem Völuspá, the question and answer poem Grímnismál, and the question and answer poem Vafţrúđnismál.

According to these poems, Ginnungagap existed before Heaven and Earth. The Northern region of Ginnungagap became full of ice, and this harsh land was known as Niflheim.

Opposite of Niflheim was the southern region known as Muspelheim, which contained bright sparks and glowing embers. Ymir was conceived in Ginnungagap when the ice of Niflheim met with Muspelheim's heat and melted, releasing "eliwaves" and drops of eitr. The eitr drops stuck together and formed a giant of rime frost (a hrimthurs) between the two worlds and the sparks from Muspelheim gave him life. While Ymir slept, he fell into a sweat and conceived the race of giants. Under his left arm grew a man and a woman, and his legs begot his six-headed son Ţrúđgelmir.

My Comments: "Eliwaves" relates to Elivagar, the Milky Way River. For the meaning of Eitr, se below.

Ymir fed from the primeval cow Auđhumla's four rivers of milk, who in turn fed from licking the salty ice blocks. Her licking the rime ice eventually revealed the body of a man named Búri. Búri fathered Borr, and Borr and his wife Bestla had three sons given the names Odin, Vili and .

My Comments: Se the text of these qualities below.

Encyclopaedia Britannica on Ymir vs. Aurgelmir: In Norse mythology, the first being, a giant who was created from the drops of water that formed when the ice of Niflheim met the heat of Muspelheim. Aurgelmir was the father of all the giants; a male and a female grew under his arm, and his legs produced a six-headed son. A cow, Audumla, nourished him with her milk. Audumla was herself nourished by licking salty, rime-covered stones. She licked the stones into the shape of a man; this was Buri, who became the grandfather of the great god Odin and his brothers.

These gods later killed Aurgelmir, and the flow of his blood drowned all but one frost giant. The three gods put Aurgelmir’s body in the void, Ginnungagap, and fashioned the earth from his flesh, the seas from his blood, mountains from his bones, stones from his teeth, the sky from his skull, and clouds from his brain. Four dwarfs held up his skull. His eyelashes (or eyebrows) became the fence surrounding Midgard, or Middle Earth, the home of mankind.

The sons of Borr killed Ymir, and when Ymir fell the blood from his wounds poured forth. Ymir's blood drowned almost the entire tribe of Frost Giants or Jotuns. Only two jotuns survived the flood of Ymir's blood, one was Ymir's grandson Bergelmir (son of Ţrúđgelmir), and the other his wife. Bergelmir and his wife brought forth new families of Jotuns.

Odin and his brothers used Ymir's body to create Midgard, the earth at the center of Ginnungagap. His flesh became the earth. The blood of Ymir formed seas and lakes. From his bones mountains were erected. His teeth and bone fragments became stones. From his hair grew trees and maggots from his flesh became the race of dwarfs. The gods set Ymir's skull above Ginnungagap and made the sky, supported by four dwarfs. These dwarfs were given the names East, West, North and South. Odin then created winds by placing one of Bergelmir's sons, in the form of an eagle, at the ends of the earth. He cast Ymir's brains into the wind to become the clouds.

 

Next, the sons of Borr took sparks from Muspelheim and dispersed them throughout Ginnungagap, thus creating stars and light for Heaven and Earth. From pieces of driftwood trees the sons of Borr made men. They made a man named Ask-ash tree and a woman named Embla-elm tree. On the brow of Ymir the sons of Bor built a stronghold to protect the race of men from the giants.

Two other names associated with Ymir are Brimir and Bláinn according to Völuspá, stanza 9, where the gods discuss forming the race of dwarfs from the "blood of Brimir and the limbs of Bláinn". Later in stanza 37, Brimir is mentioned as having a beer hall in Ókólnir. In Gylfaginning "Brimir" is the name of the hall itself, destined to survive the destruction of Ragnarök and providing an "abundance of good drink" for the souls of the virtuous.

Eitr

Eitr is a mythical substance in Norse mythology. This liquid substance is the origin of all living things, the first giant Ymir was conceived from eitr. The substance is supposed to be very poisonous and is also produced by Jörmungandr (the Midgard serpent) and other serpents.

Etymology

The word eitr exists in most North Germanic languages (all derived from the Old Norse language) in Icelandic eitur, in Danish edder, in Swedish etter. Cognates also exist in Dutch ether, in German Eiter (lit. pus),in Old Saxon ĕttar, in Old English ăttor. The meaning of the word is very broad: poisonous, evil, bad, angry, sinister etc. The word is used in common Scandinavian folklore as a synonym for snake poison.

My Comments: How can anyone state that a life-giving substance can be poisoning, evil, bad, angry and sinister?
They can when they confuse the Milky Way Serpent of Creation for a physical poisonous Snake on Earth.
So much for the etymological analysis of the right word connected to the wrong cosmological and mythological concept.

Ţrúđgelmir

In Norse mythology, Ţrúđgelmir (Old Norse "Strength Yeller") is a frost giant, the son of the primordial giant Aurgelmir (who Snorri Sturluson in Gylfaginning identifies with Ymir), and the father of Bergelmir.

My Comments: Here we have a discrepancy between Ymir as the first primordial Giant and Aurgelmir. Maybe the better choice is Aurgelmir because of the etymological connection to the Audhumbla Cow.

Attestations

Ţrúđgelmir appears in the poem Vafţrúđnismál from the Poetic Edda. When Odin (speaking under the assumed name Gagnrad) asks who was the eldest of the Ćsir or of the giants in bygone days, Vafţrúđnir answers:

"Uncountable winters before the earth was made,

then Bergelmir was born,

Thrudgelmir was his father,

and Aurgelmir his grandfather."

Vafţrúđnismál (29)[1]

According to Rudolf Simek, Ţrúđgelmir is identical to the six-headed son that was begotten by Aurgelmir's feet (Vafţrúđnismál, 33)[2], but the fact that (apart from the ţulur) he is mentioned in only one source led John Lindow to suggest that he might have been invented by the poet[3]. Additionally, the identification of one with the other cannot be established with certainty since, according to stanza 33, Aurgelmir had more than one direct male offspring:

"They said that under the frost-giant's arms (Gundestrup Cauldron Image)

a girl and boy grew together;

one foot with the other, of the wise giant,

begot a six-headed son."[1]

Buri

Búri was the first god in Norse mythology. He was the father of Borr and grandfather of Odin.

The meaning of either Búri or Buri is not known. The first could be related to búr meaning "storage room" and the second could be related to burr meaning "son". "Buri" may mean "producer."

Borr

Borr or Burr (sometimes anglicized Bor or Bur) was the son of Búri and the father of Odin in Norse mythology. He is mentioned in the Gylfaginning part of Snorri Sturluson's Prose Edda.

[Búri] gat son ţann er Borr er nefndr. Hann fekk ţeirar konu er Bestla er nefnd, dóttir Bölţorns jötuns, ok gátu ţau ţrjá sonu. Hét einn Óđinn, annarr Vili, ţriđi Vé.

Normalized Text of W

[Búri] begat a son called Borr, who wedded the woman named Bestla, daughter of Bölthorn the giant; and they had three sons: one was Odin, the second Vili, the third .

Brodeur's translation

 

Borr is not mentioned again in the Prose Edda. In skaldic and eddaic poetry Odin is occasionally referred to as Borr's son but no further information on Borr is given. Other sources are silent.

The role of Borr in the mythology is unclear and there is no indication that he was worshipped in Norse paganism.

 

Odin - The Great God

Odin (pronounced /ˈoʊdɨn/ from Old Norse Óđinn), is considered the chief god in Norse paganism. Homologous with the Anglo-Saxon Wōden and the Old High German Wotan, it is descended from Proto-Germanic *Wōđinaz or *Wōđanaz. The name Odin is generally accepted as the modern translation; although, in some cases, older translations of his name may be used or preferred. His name is related to ōđr, meaning "fury, excitation", besides "mind", or "poetry". His role, like many of the Norse gods, is complex. He is associated with wisdom, war, battle, and death, and also magic, poetry, prophecy, victory, and the hunt.

Odin was referred to by more than 200 names which hint at his various roles. He was Known as Yggr (terror) Sigfodr (father of Victory) and Alfodr (All Father) [15] in the skaldic and Eddic traditions of heiti and kennings, a poetic method of indirect reference, as in a riddle.

Some epithets establish Odin as a father god: Alföđr "all-father", "father of all"; Aldaföđr "father of men (or of the age)"; Herjaföđr "father of hosts"; Sigföđr "father of victory"; Valföđr "father of the slain". http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_names_of_Odin

Origins

A depiction of Odin entering Valhalla riding on Sleipnir from the Tjängvide image stone.
The 7th century Tängelgarda stone shows Odin leading a troop of warriors all bearing rings. Valknut symbols are drawn beneath his horse, which is depicted with four legs.

Worship of Odin may date to Proto-Germanic paganism. The Roman historian Tacitus may refer to Odin when he talks of Mercury. The reason is that, like Mercury, Odin was regarded as Psychopompos,"the leader of souls."

As Odin is closely connected with a horse and spear, and transformation/shape shifting into animal shapes, an alternative theory of origin contends that Odin, or at least some of his key characteristics, may have arisen just prior to the sixth century as a nightmareish horse god (Echwaz), later signified by the eight-legged Sleipnir. Some support for Odin as a latecomer to the Scandinavian Norse pantheon can be found in the Sagas where, for example, at one time he is thrown out of Asgard by the other gods — a seemingly unlikely tale for a well-established "all father". Scholars who have linked Odin with the "Death God" template include E. A. Ebbinghaus, Jan de Vries and Thor Templin. The later two also link Loki and Odin as being one-and-the-same until the early Norse Period.

Scandinavian Óđinn emerged from Proto-Norse *Wōdin during the Migration period, artwork of this time (on gold bracteates) depicting the earliest scenes that can be aligned with the High Medieval Norse mythological texts. The context of the new elites emerging in this period aligns with Snorri's tale of the indigenous Vanir who were eventually replaced by the Ćsir, intruders from the Continent.[1]

Parallels between Odin and Celtic Lugus have often been pointed out: both are intellectual gods, commanding magic and poetry. Both have ravens and a spear as their attributes, and both are one-eyed. Julius Caesar (de bello Gallico, 6.17.1) mentions Mercury as the chief god of Celtic religion. A likely context of the diffusion of elements of Celtic ritual into Germanic culture is that of the Chatti, who lived at the Celtic-Germanic boundary in Hesse during the final centuries before the Common Era. (It should be remembered that many Indo-Europeanists hypothesize that Odin in his Proto-Germanic form was not the chief god, but that he only gradually replaced Týr during the Migration period.)

Adam of Bremen

A detail from a rune- and image stone from Gotland, in the Swedish Museum of National Antiquities in Stockholm. The three men are interpreted as Odin, Thor and Freyr.

Written around 1080, one of the oldest written sources on pre-Christian Scandinavian religious practices is Adam of Bremen's Gesta Hammaburgensis ecclesiae pontificum. Adam claimed to have access to first-hand accounts on pagan practices in Sweden. His description of the Temple at Uppsala gives some details on the god.

In hoc templo, quod totum ex auro paratum est, statuas trium deorum veneratur populus, ita ut potentissimus eorum Thor in medio solium habeat triclinio; hinc et inde locum possident Wodan et Fricco. Quorum significationes eiusmodi sunt: 'Thor', inquiunt, 'praesidet in aere, qui tonitrus et fulmina, ventos ymbresque, serena et fruges gubernat. Alter Wodan, id est furor, bella gerit, hominique ministrat virtutem contra inimicos. Tertius est Fricco, pacem voluptatemque largiens mortalibus'. Cuius etiam simulacrum fingunt cum ingenti priapo.
Gesta Hammaburgensis 26, Waitz' edition
In this temple, entirely decked out in gold, the people worship the statues of three gods in such wise that the mightiest of them, Thor, occupies a throne in the middle of the chamber; Wotan and Frikko have places on either side. The significance of these gods is as follows: Thor, they say, presides over the air, which governs the thunder and lightning, the winds and rains, fair weather and crops. The other, Wotan—that is, the Furious—carries on war and imparts to man strength against his enemies. The third is Frikko, who bestows peace and pleasure on mortals. His likeness, too, they fashion with an immense phallus.
Gesta Hammaburgensis 26, Tschan's translation
 

Poetic Edda

"Odin and the Völva" (1895) by Lorenz Frřlich.
"Odin Rides to Hel" (1908) by W. G. Collingwood.
The sacrifice of Odin (1895) by Lorenz Frřlich.

Völuspá

In the poem Völuspá, a völva tells Odin of numerous events reaching into the far past and into the future, including his own doom. The Völva describes creation, recounts the birth of Odin by his father Borr and his mother Bestla and how Odin and his brothers formed Midgard from the sea. She further describes the creation of the first human beings - Ask and Embla - by Hśnir, Lóđurr and Odin.

Amongst various other events, the Völva mentions Odin's involvement in the Ćsir-Vanir War, the self-sacrifice of Odin's eye at Mímir's Well, the death of his son Baldr. She describes how Odin is slain by the wolf Fenrir at Ragnarök, the subsequent avenging of Odin and death of Fenrir by his son Víđarr, how the world disappears into flames and, yet, how the earth again rises from the sea. She then relates how the surviving Ćsir remember the deeds of Odin.

Lokasenna

In the poem Lokasenna, the conversation of Odin and Loki started with Odin trying to defend Gefjun and ended with his wife, Frigg, defending him. In Lokasenna, Loki derides Odin for practicing seid (witchcraft), implying it was women's work. Another example of this may be found in the Ynglinga saga where Snorri opines that men who used seid were ergi or unmanly.

Hávamál

In Rúnatal, a section of the Hávamál, Odin is attributed with discovering the runes. He was hung from the world tree, Yggdrasil, while pierced by his own spear for nine days and nights, in order to learn the wisdom that would give him power in the nine worlds. Nine is a significant number in Norse magical practice (there were, for example, nine realms of existence), thereby learning nine (later eighteen) magical songs and eighteen magical runes.

One of Odin's names is Ygg, and the Norse name for the World Ash —Yggdrasil—therefore could mean "Ygg's (Odin's) horse". Another of Odin's names is Hangatýr, the god of the hanged. Sacrifices, human or otherwise, in prehistoric times were commonly hung in or from trees, often transfixed by spears[citation needed].

Hárbarđsljóđ

In Hárbarđsljóđ, Odin, disguised as the ferryman Hárbarđr, engages his son Thor, unaware of the disguise, in a long argument. Thor is attempting to get around a large lake and Hárbarđr refuses to ferry him.

Prose Edda

A depiction of Odin riding Sleipnir from an eighteenth century Icelandic manuscript.
Odin with his ravens and weapons (MS SÁM 66, eighteenth century)

Odin had three residences in Asgard. First was Gladsheim, a vast hall where he presided over the twelve Diar or Judges, whom he had appointed to regulate the affairs of Asgard. Second, Valaskjálf, built of solid silver, in which there was an elevated place, Hlidskjalf, from his throne on which he could perceive all that passed throughout the whole earth. Third was Valhalla (the hall of the fallen), where Odin received the souls of the warriors killed in battle, called the Einherjar. The souls of women warriors, and those strong and beautiful women whom Odin favored, became Valkyries, who gather the souls of warriors fallen in battle (the Einherjar), as these would be needed to fight for him in the battle of Ragnarök. They took the souls of the warriors to Valhalla. Valhalla has five hundred and forty gates, and a vast hall of gold, hung around with golden shields, and spears and coats of mail.

Odin has a number of magical artifacts associated with him: the spear Gungnir, which never misses its target; a magical gold ring (Draupnir), from which every ninth night eight new rings appear; and two ravens Huginn and Muninn (Thought and Memory), who fly around Earth daily and report the happenings of the world to Odin in Valhalla at night. He also owned Sleipnir, an octopedal horse, who was given to Odin by Loki, and the severed head of Mímir, which foretold the future. He also commands a pair of wolves named Geri and Freki, to whom he gives his food in Valhalla since he consumes nothing but mead or wine. From his throne, Hlidskjalf (located in Valaskjalf), Odin could see everything that occurred in the universe. The Valknut (slain warrior's knot) is a symbol associated with Odin. It consists of three interlaced triangles.

Odin is an ambivalent deity. Old Norse (Viking Age) connotations of Odin lie with "poetry, inspiration" as well as with "fury, madness and the wanderer." Odin sacrificed his eye (which eye he sacrificed is unclear) at Mímir's spring in order to gain the Wisdom of Ages. Odin gives to worthy poets the mead of inspiration, made by the dwarfs, from the vessel Óđ-rśrir.[2]

Odin is associated with the concept of the Wild Hunt, a noisy, bellowing movement across the sky, leading a host of slain warriors.

Consistent with this, Snorri Sturluson's Prose Edda depicts Odin as welcoming the great, dead warriors who have died in battle into his hall, Valhalla, which, when literally interpreted, signifies the hall of the slain. The fallen, the einherjar, are assembled and entertained by Odin in order that they in return might fight for, and support, the gods in the final battle of the end of Earth, Ragnarök. Snorri also wrote that Freyja receives half of the fallen in her hall Folkvang.

He is also a god of war, appearing throughout Norse myth as the bringer of victory.[citations needed] In the Norse sagas, Odin sometimes acts as the instigator of wars, and is said to have been able to start wars by simply throwing down his spear Gungnir, and/or sending his valkyries, to influence the battle toward the end that he desires. The Valkyries are Odin's beautiful battle maidens that went out to the fields of war to select and collect the worthy men who died in battle to come and sit at Odin's table in Valhalla, feasting and battling until they had to fight in the final battle, Ragnarök. Odin would also appear on the battle-field, sitting upon his eight-legged horse Sleipnir, with his two ravens, one on each shoulder, Hugin (Thought) and Munin (Memory), and two wolves (Geri and Freki) on each side of him.

Odin is also associated with trickery, cunning, and deception. Most sagas have tales of Odin using his cunning to overcome adversaries and achieve his goals, such as swindling the blood of Kvasir from the dwarves.

Prologue

Snorri Sturluson feels compelled to give a rational account of the Ćsir in the prologue of his Prose Edda. In this scenario, Snorri speculates that Odin and his peers were originally refugees from the Anatolian city of Troy, folk etymologizing Ćsir as derived from the word Asia. In any case, Snorri's writing (particularly in Heimskringla) tries to maintain an essentially scholastic neutrality. That Snorri was correct was one of the last of Thor Heyerdahl's archeoanthropological theories, forming the basis for his Jakten pĺ Odin. Odin was the first of the Aesir gods in Norse Mythology. (B.K.)

Gylfaginning

"Odin's last words to Baldr" (1908) by W.G. Collingwood.

According to the Prose Edda, Odin, the first and most powerful of the Ćsir, was a son of Bestla and Borr and brother of Ve and Vili. With these brothers, he cast down the frost giant Ymir and made Earth from Ymir's body. The three brothers are often mentioned together. "Wille" is the German word for "will" (English), "Weh" is the German word (Gothic wai) for "woe" (English: great sorrow, grief, misery) but is more likely related to the archaic German "Wei" meaning 'sacred'.

Odin has fathered numerous children. With his wife, Frigg, he fathered his doomed son Baldr and fathered the blind god Höđr. By the personification of earth, Fjörgyn, Odin was the father of his most famous son, Thor. By the giantess Gríđr, Odin was the father of Vídar, and by Rinda he was father of Váli. Also, many royal families claimed descent from Odin through other sons. For traditions about Odin's offspring, see Sons of Odin.

Odin and his brothers, Vili and Ve, are attributed with slaying Ymir, the Ancient Giant, to form Midgard. From Ymir's flesh, the brothers made the earth, and from his shattered bones and teeth they made the rocks and stones. From Ymir's blood, they made the rivers and lakes. Ymir's skull was made into the sky, secured at four points by four dwarfs named East, West, North, and South. From Ymir's brains, the three Gods shaped the clouds, whereas Ymir's eye-brows became a barrier between Jotunheim (giant's home) and Midgard, the place where men now dwell. Odin and his brothers are also attributed with making humans.

After having made earth from Ymir's flesh, the three brothers came across two logs (or an ash and an elm tree). Odin gave them breath and life; Vili gave them brains and feelings; and Ve gave them hearing and sight. The first man was Ask and the first woman was Embla.

Odin was said to have learned the mysteries of seid from the Vanic goddess and völva Freyja, despite the unwarriorly connotations of using magic.

Skáldskaparmál

"Odin with Gunnlöđ" (1901) by Johannes Gehrts.

In section 2 of Skáldskaparmál, Odin's quest for wisdom can also be seen in his work as a farmhand for a summer, for Baugi, and his seduction of Gunnlod in order to obtain the Mead of Poetry.

In section 5 of Skáldskaparmál, the origins of some of Odin's possessions are described.

Sagas of Icelanders

Ynglinga saga

According to the Ynglinga saga:

Odin had two brothers, the one called Ve, the other Vili, and they governed the kingdom when he was absent. It happened once when Odin had gone to a great distance, and had been so long away that the people Of Asia doubted if he would ever return home, that his two brothers took it upon themselves to divide his estate; but both of them took his wife Frigg to themselves. Odin soon after returned home, and took his wife back.

In Ynglinga saga, Odin is considered the 2nd Mythological king of Sweden, succeeding Gylfi and was succeeded by Njörđr.

Further, in Ynglinga saga, Odin is described as venturing to Mímir's Well, near Jötunheimr, the land of the giants; not as Odin, but as Vegtam the Wanderer, clothed in a dark blue cloak and carrying a traveler's staff. To drink from the Well of Wisdom, Odin had to sacrifice his eye (which eye he sacrified is unclear), symbolizing his willingness to gain the knowledge of the past, present and future. As he drank, he saw all the sorrows and troubles that would fall upon men and the gods. He also saw why the sorrow and troubles had to come to men.

Mímir accepted Odin's eye and it sits today at the bottom of the Well of Wisdom as a sign that the father of the gods had paid the price for wisdom.

Other Sagas

"Odhin" (1901) by Johannes Gehrts.

According to Njáls saga: Hjalti Skeggiason, an Icelander newly converted to Christianity, wished to express his contempt for the native gods, so he sang:

"Ever will I Gods blaspheme
Freyja methinks a dog does seem,
Freyja a dog? Aye! Let them be
Both dogs together Odin and she!"[3]

Hjalti was found guilty of blasphemy for his infamous verse and he ran to Norway with his father-in-law, Gizur the White. Later, with Olaf Tryggvason's support, Gizur and Hjalti came back to Iceland to invite those assembled at the Althing to convert to Christianity (which happened in 999).[4][5]

The Saga of King Olaf Tryggvason, composed around 1300, describes that following King Olaf Tryggvason's orders, to prove their piety, people must insult and ridicule major heathen deities when they are newly converted into Christianity. Hallfređr vandrćđaskáld, who was reluctantly converted from paganism to Christianity by Olaf, also had to make a poem to forsake pagan deities. Below is an example:

The whole race of men to win
Odin's grace has wrought poems
(I recall the exquisite
works of my forebears);
but with sorrow, for well did
Viđrir's [Odin's] power please the poet,
do I conceive hate for the first husband of
Frigg [Odin], now I serve Christ. (Lausavísur 10, Whaley's translation)

Flateyjarbók

Odin (1825-1827) by H. E. Freund.

Sörla ţáttr is a short narrative from a later and extended version of the Saga of Olaf Tryggvason[6] found in the Flateyjarbók manuscript, which was written and compiled by two Christian priests, Jon Thordson and Magnus Thorhalson, from the late 14th[7] to the 15th century.[8]

"Freyja was a human in Asia and was the favorite concubine of Odin, King of Asialand. When this woman wanted to buy a golden necklace (no name given) forged by four dwarves (named Dvalinn, Alfrik, Berling, and Grer), she offered them gold and silver but they replied that they would only sell it to her if she would lie a night by each of them. She came home afterward with the necklace and kept silent as if nothing happened. But a man called Loki somehow knew it, and came to tell Odin. King Odin commanded Loki to steal the necklace, so Loki turned into a fly to sneak into Freyja's bower and stole it. When Freyja found her necklace missing, she came to ask king Odin. In exchange for it, Odin ordered her to make two kings, each served by twenty kings, fight forever unless some christened men so brave would dare to enter the battle and slay them. She said yes, and got that necklace back. Under the spell, king Högni and king Heđinn battled for one hundred and forty-three years, as soon as they fell down they had to stand up again and fight on. But in the end, the great Christian lord Olaf Tryggvason arrived with his brave christened men, and whoever slain by a Christian would stay dead. Thus the pagan curse was finally dissolved by the arrival of Christianity. After that, the noble man, king Olaf, went back to his realm."[9]

Vili - Brothers of Odin

In Norse mythology, Vili and are the brothers of Odin, sons of Bestla daughter of Bölţorn and Borr son of Búri:

Hann [Borr] fekk ţeirar konu er Bettla hét, dóttir Bölţorns jötuns, ok fengu ţau ţrjá sonu. Hét einn Óđinn, annarr Vili, ţriđi Vé.

Old Norse Vili means "will". Old Norse refers to a type of Germanic shrine; a .

Vé - Brothers of Odin

In Norse paganism, a is a type of shrine or sacred enclosure. The term appears in skaldic poetry and in place names in Scandinavia (with the exception of Iceland), often in connection with a Norse deity or a geographic feature. The name of the Norse god , refers to the practice.[1] Andy Orchard says that a vé may have surrounded a temple or have been simply a marked, open place where worship occurred. Orchard points out that Tacitus, in his 1st century CE work Germania, says that the Germanic peoples, unlike the Romans, "did not seek to contain their deities within temple walls."[2]

Poetic Edda

Völuspá

In the poem Völuspá, a völva tells Odin of numerous events reaching into the far past and into the future, including his own doom. The Völva describes creation, recounts the birth of Odin by his father Borr and his mother Bestla and how Odin and his brothers formed Midgard from the sea. She further describes the creation of the first human beings - Ask and Embla - by Hśnir, Lóđurr and Odin.

Amongst various other events, the Völva mentions Odin's involvement in the Ćsir-Vanir War, the self-sacrifice of Odin's eye at Mímir's Well, the death of his son Baldr. She describes how Odin is slain by the wolf Fenrir at Ragnarök, the subsequent avenging of Odin and death of Fenrir by his son Víđarr, how the world disappears into flames and, yet, how the earth again rises from the sea. She then relates how the surviving Ćsir remember the deeds of Odin.

Lokasenna

In the poem Lokasenna, the conversation of Odin and Loki started with Odin trying to defend Gefjun and ended with his wife, Frigg, defending him. In Lokasenna, Loki derides Odin for practicing seid (witchcraft), implying it was women's work. Another example of this may be found in the Ynglinga saga where Snorri opines that men who used seid were ergi or unmanly.

Hávamál

In Rúnatal, a section of the Hávamál, Odin is attributed with discovering the runes. He was hung from the world tree, Yggdrasil, while pierced by his own spear for nine days and nights, in order to learn the wisdom that would give him power in the nine worlds. Nine is a significant number in Norse magical practice (there were, for example, nine realms of existence), thereby learning nine (later eighteen) magical songs and eighteen magical runes.

One of Odin's names is Ygg, and the Norse name for the World Ash —Yggdrasil—therefore could mean "Ygg's (Odin's) horse". Another of Odin's names is Hangatýr, the god of the hanged. Sacrifices, human or otherwise, in prehistoric times were commonly hung in or from trees, often transfixed by spears.

Hárbarđsljóđ

In Hárbarđsljóđ, Odin, disguised as the ferryman Hárbarđr, engages his son Thor, unaware of the disguise, in a long argument. Thor is attempting to get around a large lake and Hárbarđr refuses to ferry him.

Frigg - the Great Goddess

"Frigga Spinning the Clouds"

The asterism Orion's Belt was known as "Frigg's Distaff/spinning wheel" (Friggerock) or "Freyja's Distaff" (Frejerock)[6]. Some have pointed out that the constellation is on the celestial equator and have suggested that the stars rotating in the night sky may have been associated with Frigg's spinning wheel[7].

Frigg's name means "love" or "beloved one" (Proto-Germanic *frijjō, cf. Sanskrit priyā "dear woman") and was known among many northern European cultures with slight name variations over time: e.g. Friggja in Sweden, Frīg (genitive Frīge) in Old English, and Fricka in Richard Wagner's operatic cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen.[8] Modern English translations have sometimes altered Frigg to Frigga, presumably to avoid the English vulgarism frig. It has been suggested that "Frau Holle" of German folklore is a survival of Frigg.[9]

Frigg's hall in Asgard is Fensalir, which means "Marsh Halls."[10] This may mean that marshy or boggy land was considered especially sacred to her but nothing definitive is known. The goddess Saga, who was described as drinking with Odin from golden cups in her hall "Sunken Benches," may be Frigg by a different name.[11]

Frigg was a goddess associated with married women. She was called up by women to assist in giving birth to children, and Scandinavians used the plant Lady's Bedstraw (Galium verum) as a sedative, they called it Frigg's grass)[6].

Frigg's grass.

Frigg (sometimes anglicized as Frigga) is a major goddess in Norse paganism, a subset of Germanic paganism. She is said to be the wife of Odin, and is the "foremost among the goddesses" and the queen of Asgard.[1] Frigg appears primarily in Norse mythological stories as a wife and a mother. She is also described as having the power of prophecy yet she does not reveal what she knows.[2] Frigg is described as the only one other than Odin who is permitted to sit on his high seat Hlidskjalf and look out over the universe. The English term Friday derives from the Anglo-Saxon name for Frigg, Frigga.[3]

In Norse mythology, Hliđskjálf (sometimes Anglicized Hlidskjalf; from hlid "side, gate" or hlifd "protection", and skjalf "shelf, bench, plane"[1]) is the high seat of Odin enabling him to see into all worlds.

Frigg's children are Baldr and Höđr, her stepchildren are Thor, Hermóđr, Heimdall, Tyr, Vidar, Váli, and Skjoldr. Frigg's companion is Eir, a goddess associated with medical skills. Frigg's attendants are Hlín, Gná, and Fulla.

In the Poetic Edda poem Lokasenna 26, Frigg is said to be Fjörgyns mćr ("Fjörgynn's maiden"). The problem is that in Old Norse mćr means both "daughter" and "wife", so it is not fully clear if Fjörgynn is Frigg's father or another name for her husband Odin, but Snorri Sturluson interprets the line as meaning Frigg is Fjörgynn's daughter (Skáldskaparmál 27), and most modern translators of the Poetic Edda follow Snorri. The original meaning[dubious ] of fjörgynn was the earth, cf. feminine version Fjorgyn, a byname for Jörđ, the earth.[4]

Etymology

Main article: Frijjō

*Frijjō ("Frigg-Frija"), cognate to Sanskrit Priya, is the name or epithet of a Common Germanic love goddess, the most prominent female member of the *Ansiwiz (gods), and often identified as the spouse of the chief god, *Wōdanaz (Woden-Odin).

The two Old Norse goddesses Freyja and Frigg appear to be reflected by only a single goddess in West Germanic and likely derive from a single Common Germanic goddess, one of whose epithets was *frijjō "beloved" and *frawjō "lady". Freyja "Lady" is thus considered a hypostasis of the chief "Frigg-Frija" goddess, together with other hypostases like Fulla and Nanna derived from skaldic epithets, similar to Odhr besides many other aspects in skaldic tradition deriving from Odin.

Old Norse Frigg (genitive Friggjar), Old Saxon Fri, and Old English Frig are derived from Common Germanic Frijjō.[5] Frigg is cognate with Sanskrit prīyā́ which means "wife".[5] The root also appears in Old Saxon fri which means "beloved lady", in Swedish as fria ("to propose for marriage") and in Icelandic as frjá which means "to love".[5]

Eir - Friig´s Companion

Frigg's companion is Eir In Norse mythology, Eir (Old Norse "help, mercy"[1]) is a goddess and/or valkyrie associated with medical skill. Eir is attested in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources; the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson; and in skaldic poetry, including a runic inscription from Bergen, Norway from around 1300. Scholars have theorized about whether or not these three sources refer to the same figure, and debate whether or not Eir may have been originally a healing goddess and/or a valkyrie. In addition, Eir has been theorized as a form of the goddess Frigg and has been compared to the Greek goddess Hygiea.

Frigg's Attendants

Hlín

In Norse mythology, Hlín (Old Norse "protectoress"[1]) is a goddess associated with the goddess Frigg. Hlín appears in a poem in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources, the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson, and in kennings found in skaldic poetry. Hlín has been theorized as possibly another name for Frigg.

In the Poetic Edda poem Völuspá, Hlín receives a mention regarding the foretold death of the god Odin during the immense battle waged at Ragnarök:
Then is fulfilled Hlín's
second sorrow,
when Óđinn goes
to fight with the wolf,
and Beli's slayer,
bright, against Surtr.
Then shall Frigg's
sweet friend fall.[2]

In chapter 35 of the Prose Edda book Gylfaginning, Hlín is cited twelfth among a series of sixteen goddesses. High tells Gangleri (earlier in the book described as King Gylfi in disguise) that Hlín "is given the function of protecting people whom Frigg wishes to save from some danger." High continues that, from this, "someone who escapes finds refuge (hleinar)."[3] In chapter 51, the above mentioned Völuspá stanza is quoted.[4] In chapter 75 of the book Skáldskaparmál Hlín appears within a list of 27 ásynjur names.[5]

In skaldic poetry, the name Hlín is frequent in kennings for women. Examples include Hlín hringa ("Hlín of rings"), Hlín gođvefjar ("Hlín of velvet") and arm-Hlín ("arm-Hlín"). The name is already used frequently in this way by the 10th-century poet Kormákr Ögmundarson and remains current in skaldic poetry through the following centuries, employed by poets such as Ţórđr Kolbeinsson, Gizurr Ţorvaldsson and Einarr Gilsson.[6] The name remained frequently used in woman kennings in rímur poetry, sometimes as Lín.[7]

In a verse in Hávarđar saga Ísfirđings, the phrase á Hlín fallinn ("fallen on Hlín") occurs. Some editors have emended the line[8][9] while others have accepted the reading and taken Hlín to refer to the earth.[10]

Gná

In Norse mythology, Gná is a goddess who runs errands in other worlds for the goddess Frigg and rides the flying, sea-trodding horse Hófvarpnir (Old Norse "he who throws his hoofs about",[1] "hoof-thrower"[2] or "hoof kicker"[3]). Gná and Hófvarpnir are attested in the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson. Scholarly theories have been proposed about Gná as a "goddess of fullness" and as potentially cognate to Fama from Roman mythology. Hófvarpnir and the eight-legged steed Sleipnir have been cited examples of transcendent horses in Norse mythology.

In chapter 35 of the Prose Edda book Gylfaginning, the enthroned figure of High provides brief descriptions of 16 ásynjur. High lists Gná thirteenth, and says that Frigg sends her off to different worlds to run errands. High adds that Gná rides the horse Hófvarpnir, and that this horse has the ability to ride through the air and atop the sea.[3] High continues that "once some Vanir saw her path as she rode through the air" and that an unnamed one of these Vanir says, in verse:
"What flies there?
What fares there?
or moves through the air?"[4]

Gná responds in verse, in doing so providing the parentage of Hófvarpnir; the horses Hamskerpir and Garđrofa:

"I fly not
though I fare
and move through the air
on Hofvarpnir
the one whom Hamskerpir got
with Gardrofa."[4]

The source for these stanzas is not provided and they are otherwise unattested. High ends his description of Gna by saying that "from Gna's name comes the custom of saying that something gnaefir [looms] when it rises up high."[4] In the Prose Edda book Skáldskaparmál, Gná is included among a list of 27 ásynjur names.[5]

Fulla

In Germanic mythology, Fulla (Old Norse, possibly "bountiful"[1]) or Volla (Old High German) is a goddess. In Norse mythology, Fulla is described as wearing a golden snood and as tending to the ashen box and the footwear owned by the goddess Frigg, and, in addition, Frigg confides in Fulla her secrets. Fulla is attested in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources; the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson; and in skaldic poetry. Volla is attested in the "Horse Cure" Merseburg Incantation, recorded anonymously in the 10th century in Old High German, in which she assists in healing the wounded foal of Phol and is referred to as Frigg's sister. Scholars have proposed theories about the implications of the goddess.

Poetic Edda

In the prose introduction to the Poetic Edda poem Grímnismál, Frigg makes a wager with her husband—the god Odin—over the hospitality of their human patrons. Frigg sends her servant maid Fulla to warn the king Geirröd—Frigg's patron—that a magician (actually Odin in disguise) will visit him. Fulla meets with Geirröd, gives the warning, and advises to him a means of detecting the magician:

Henry Adams Bellows translation:
Frigg sent her handmaiden, Fulla, to Geirröth. She bade the king beware lest a magician who was come thither to his land should bewitch him, and told this sign concerning him, that no dog was so fierce as to leap at him.[2]
Benjamin Thorpe translation:
Frigg sent her waiting-maid Fulla to bid Geirröd be on his guard, lest the trollmann who was coming should do him harm, and also say that a token whereby he might be known was, that no dog, however fierce, would attack him.[3]
 

Prose Edda

In chapter 35 of the Prose Edda book Gylfaginning, High provides brief descriptions of 16 ásynjur. High lists Fulla fifth, stating that, like the goddess Gefjun, Fulla is a virgin, wears her hair flowing freely with a gold band around her head. High describes that Fulla carries Frigg's eski, looks after Frigg's footwear, and that in Fulla Frigg confides secrets.[4]

In chapter 49 of Gylfaginning, High details that, after the death of the deity couple Baldr and Nanna, the god Hermóđr wagers for their return in the underworld location of Hel. Hel, ruler of the location of the same name, tells Hermóđr a way to resurrect Baldr, but will not allow Baldr and Nanna to leave until the deed is accomplished. Hel does, however, allow Baldr and Nanna to send gifts to the living; Baldr sends Odin the ring Draupnir, and Nanna sends Frigg a robe of linen, and "other gifts." Of these "other gifts" sent, the only specific item that High mentions is a finger-ring for Fulla.[5]

The first chapter of the Prose Edda book Skáldskaparmál, Fulla is listed among eight ásynjur who attend an evening drinking banquet held for Ćgir.[6] In chapter 19 of Skáldskaparmál, poetic ways to refer to Frigg are given, one of which is by referring to her as "queen [...] of Fulla."[7] In chapter 32, poetic expressions for gold are given, one of which includes "Fulla's snood."[8] In chapter 36, a work by the skald Eyvindr skáldaspillir is cited that references Fulla's golden snood ("the falling sun [gold] of the plain [forehead] of Fulla's eyelashes shone on [...]").[9] Fulla receives a final mention in the Prose Edda in chapter 75, where Fulla appears within a list of 27 ásynjur names.[10]

Frigg´s Son and Stepsons

Baldr

Balder is a god in Norse Mythology associated with light and beauty.

Loki tricks Höđr into shooting Baldr.

In the 12th century, Danish accounts by Saxo Grammaticus and other Danish Latin chroniclers recorded a euhemerized account of his story. Compiled in Iceland in the 13th century, but based on much older Old Norse poetry, the Poetic Edda and the Prose Edda contain numerous references to the death of Baldr as both a great tragedy to the Ćsir and a harbinger of Ragnarök.

According to Gylfaginning, a book of Snorri Sturluson's Prose Edda, Baldr's wife is Nanna and their son is Forseti. In Gylfaginning, Snorri relates that Baldr had the greatest ship ever built, named Hringhorni, and that there is no place more beautiful than his hall, Breidablik.

Poetic Edda

"Mímer and Balder Consulting the Norns" (1821-1822) by H. E. Freund.

In the Poetic Edda the tale of Baldr's death is referred to rather than recounted at length. Among the visions which the Völva sees and describes in the prophecy known as the Völuspá is one of the fatal mistletoe, the birth of Váli and the weeping of Frigg (stanzas 31-33). Yet looking far into the future the Völva sees a brighter vision of a new world, when both Höđr and Baldr will come back (stanza 62). The Eddic poem Baldr's Dreams mentions that Baldr has bad dreams which the gods then discuss. Odin rides to Hel and awakens a seeress, who tells him Höđr will kill Baldr but Vali will avenge him (stanzas 9, 11).

Prose Edda

Baldr's death is portrayed in this illustration from an 18th century Icelandic manuscript.

In Gylfaginning, Baldur is described as follows:

Annar sonur Óđins er Baldur, og er frá honum gott ađ segja. Hann er svá fagr álitum ok bjartr svá at lýsir af honum, ok eitt gras er svá hvítt at jafnat er til Baldrs brár. Ţat er allra grasa hvítast, ok ţar eptir máttu marka fegrđ hans bćđi á hár og á líki. Hann er vitrastr ása ok fegrst talađr ok líknsamastr. En sú náttúra fylgir honum at engi má haldask dómr hans. Hann býr ţar sem heita Breiđablik, ţat er á himni. Í ţeim stađ má ekki vera óhreint[.][2]
The second son of Odin is Baldur, and good things are to be said of him. He is best, and all praise him; he is so fair of feature, and so bright, that light shines from him. A certain herb is so white that it is likened to Baldr's brow; of all grasses it is whitest, and by it thou mayest judge his fairness, both in hair and in body. He is the wisest of the Ćsir, and the fairest-spoken and most gracious; and that quality attends him, that none may gainsay his judgments. He dwells in the place called Breidablik, which is in heaven; in that place may nothing unclean be[.] — Brodeur's translation[3]
 

Apart from this description Baldr is known primarily for the story of his death. His death is seen as the first in the chain of events which will ultimately lead to the destruction of the gods at Ragnarok. Baldr will be reborn in the new world, according to Völuspá.

He had a dream of his own death and his mother had the same dreams. Since dreams were usually prophetic, this depressed him, so his mother Frigg made every object on earth vow never to hurt Baldr. All objects made this vow except mistletoe.[4] Frigg had thought it too unimportant and nonthreatening to bother asking it to make the vow (alternatively, it seemed too young to swear).

"Odin's last words to Baldr" (1908) by W. G. Collingwood.

When Loki, the mischief-maker, heard of this, he made a magical spear from this plant (in some later versions, an arrow). He hurried to the place where the gods were indulging in their new pastime of hurling objects at Baldr, which would bounce off without harming him. Loki gave the spear to Baldr's brother, the blind god Höđr, who then inadvertently killed his brother with it (other versions suggest that Loki guided the arrow himself). For this act, Odin and the giantess Rindr gave birth to Váli who grew to adulthood within a day and slew Höđr.[5]

Baldr was ceremonially burnt upon his ship, Hringhorni, the largest of all ships. As he was carried to the ship, Odin whispered in his ear. This was to be a key riddle asked by Odin (in disguise) of the giant Vafthrudnir (and which was, of course, unanswerable) in the poem Vafthrudnismal. The riddle also appears in the riddles of Gestumblindi in Hervarar saga.[6]

The dwarf Litr was kicked by Thor into the funeral fire and burnt alive. Nanna, Baldr's wife, also threw herself on the funeral fire to await Ragnarok when she would be reunited with her husband (alternatively, she died of grief). Baldr's horse with all its trappings was also burned on the pyre. The ship was set to sea by Hyrrokin, a giantess, who came riding on a wolf and gave the ship such a push that fire flashed from the rollers and all the earth shook.

"Balder the Good" by Jacques Reich.

Upon Frigg's entreaties, delivered through the messenger Hermod, Hel promised to release Baldr from the underworld if all objects alive and dead would weep for him. And all did, except a giantess, Ţökk, who refused to mourn the slain god. And thus Baldr had to remain in the underworld, not to emerge until after Ragnarok, when he and his brother Höđr would be reconciled and rule the new earth together with Thor's sons.

When the gods discovered that the giantess Ţökk had been Loki in disguise, they hunted him down and bound him to three rocks. Then they tied a serpent above him, the venom of which dripped onto his face. His wife Sigyn gathered the venom in a bowl, but from time to time she had to turn away to empty it, at which point the poison would drip onto Loki, who writhed in pain, thus causing earthquakes. He would free himself, however, in time to attack the gods at Ragnarok.

Höđr

Höđr (often anglicized as Hod[1]) is the brother of Baldr in Norse mythology. Guided by Loki he shot the mistletoe missile which was to slay the otherwise invulnerable Baldr.

According to the Prose Edda and the Poetic Edda the goddess Frigg made everything in existence swear never to harm Baldr, except for the mistletoe which she found too young to demand an oath from. The gods amused themselves by trying weapons on Baldr and seeing them fail to do any harm. Loki, upon finding out about Baldr's one weakness, made a missile from mistletoe, and helped Höđr shoot it at Baldr. After this Odin and the giantess Rindr gave birth to Váli who grew to adulthood within a day and slew Höđr.

The Danish historian Saxo Grammaticus recorded an alternative version of this myth in his Gesta Danorum. In this version the mortal hero Hřtherus and the demi-god Balderus compete for the hand of Nanna. Ultimately Hřtherus slays Balderus.

The Prose Edda

In the Gylfaginning part of Snorri Sturluson's Prose Edda Höđr is introduced in an ominous way.

Höđr heitir einn ássinn, hann er blindr. Śrit er hann styrkr, en vilja mundu gođin at ţenna ás ţyrfti eigi at nefna, ţvíat hans handaverk munu lengi vera höfđ at minnum međ gođum ok mönnum. - Eysteinn Björnsson's edition "One of the Ćsir is named Hödr: he is blind. He is of sufficient strength, but the gods would desire that no occasion should rise of naming this god, for the work of his hands shall long be held in memory among gods and men." - Brodeur's translation  

Höđr is not mentioned again until the prelude to Baldr's death is described. All things except the mistletoe (believed to be harmless) have sworn an oath not to harm Baldr, so the Ćsir throw missiles at him for sport.

En Loki tók mistiltein ok sleit upp ok gekk til ţings. En Höđr stóđ útarliga í mannhringinum, ţvíat hann var blindr. Ţá mćlti Loki viđ hann: "Hví skýtr ţú ekki at Baldri?" Hann svarar: "Ţvíat ek sé eigi hvar Baldr er, ok ţat annat at ek em vápnlauss." Ţá mćlti Loki: "Gerđu ţó í líking annarra manna ok veit Baldri sśmđ sem ađrir menn. Ek mun vísa ţér til hvar hann stendr. Skjót at honum vendi ţessum."

Höđr tók mistiltein ok skaut at Baldri at tilvísun Loka. Flaug skotit í gögnum hann ok fell hann dauđr til jarđar. Ok hefir ţat mest óhapp verit unnit međ gođum ok mönnum. - Eysteinn Björnsson's edition

"Loki took the mistletoe and pulled it up and went to the Thing. Hödr stood outside the ring of men, because he was blind. Then spake Loki to him: 'Why dost thou not shoot at Baldr?' He answered: 'Because I see not where Baldr is; and for this also, that I am weaponless.' Then said Loki: 'Do thou also after the manner of other men, and show Baldr honor as the other men do. I will direct thee where he stands; shoot at him with this wand.'

Hödr took mistletoe and shot at Baldr, being guided by Loki: the shaft flew through Baldr, and he fell dead to the earth; and that was the greatest mischance that has ever befallen among gods and men." - Brodeur's translation

 

The Gylfaginning does not say what happens to Höđr after this. In fact it specifically states that Baldr cannot be avenged, at least not immediately.

Ţá er Baldr var fallinn, ţá fellusk öllum ásum orđtök ok svá hendr at taka til hans, ok sá hverr til annars ok váru allir međ einum hug til ţess er unnit hafđi verkit. En engi mátti hefna, ţar var svá mikill griđastađr. - Eysteinn Björnsson's edition "Then, when Baldr was fallen, words failed all the Ćsir, and their hands likewise to lay hold of him; each looked at the other, and all were of one mind as to him who had wrought the work, but none might take vengeance, so great a sanctuary was in that place." - Brodeur's translation  

It does seem, however, that Höđr ends up in Hel one way or another for the last mention of him in Gylfaginning is in the description of the post-Ragnarök world.

Ţví nćst koma ţar Baldr ok Höđr frá Heljar, setjask ţá allir samt ok talask viđ ok minnask á rúnar sínar ok rśđa of tíđindi ţau er fyrrum höfđu verit, of Miđgarđsorm ok um Fenrisúlf. - Eysteinn Björnsson's edition "After that Baldr shall come thither, and Hödr, from Hel; then all shall sit down together and hold speech with one another, and call to mind their secret wisdom, and speak of those happenings which have been before: of the Midgard Serpent and of Fenris-Wolf." - Brodeur's translation  

Snorri's source of this knowledge is clearly Völuspá as quoted below.

In the Skáldskaparmál section of the Prose Edda several kennings for Höđr are related.

Hvernig skal kenna Höđ? Svá, at kalla hann blinda ás, Baldrs bana, skjótanda Mistilteins, son Óđins, Heljar sinna, Vála dólg. - Guđni Jónsson's edition "How should one periphrase Hödr? Thus: by calling him the Blind God, Baldr's Slayer, Thrower of the Mistletoe, Son of Odin, Companion of Hel, Foe of Váli." - Brodeur's translation  

None of those kennings, however, are actually found in surviving skaldic poetry. Neither are Snorri's kennings for Váli which are also of interest in this context.

Hvernig skal kenna Vála? Svá, at kalla hann son Óđins ok Rindar, stjúpson Friggjar, bróđur ásanna, hefniás Baldrs, dólg Hađar ok bana hans, byggvanda föđurtófta. - Guđni Jónsson's edition "How should Váli be periphrased? Thus: by calling him Son of Odin and Rindr, Stepson of Frigg, Brother of the Ćsir, Baldr's Avenger, Foe and Slayer of Hödr, Dweller in the Homesteads of the Fathers." - Brodeur's translation  

It is clear from this that Snorri was familiar with the role of Váli as Höđr's slayer, even though he does not relate that myth in the Gylfaginning prose. Scholars have speculated that he found it distasteful since Höđr is essentially innocent in his version of the story.

The Poetic Edda

Höđr is referred to several times in the Poetic Edda, always in the context of Baldr's death. The following strophes are from Völuspá.

Ek sá Baldri,
blóđgom tívur,
Óđins barni,
řrlög fólgin:
stóđ um vaxinn
völlum hćrri
mjór ok mjök fagr
mistilteinn.
Varđ af ţeim meiđi,
er mćr sýndisk,
harmflaug hćttlig:
Höđr nam skjóta.
Baldrs bróđir var
of borinn snemma,
sá nam, Óđins sonr,
einnćttr vega.
Ţó hann ćva hendr
né höfuđ kembđi,
áđr á bál um bar
Baldrs andskota.
En Frigg um grét
í Fensölum
vá Valhallar -
vituđ ér enn, eđa hvat?
- EB's edition
I saw for Baldr,
the bleeding god,
The son of Othin,
his destiny set:
Famous and fair
in the lofty fields,
Full grown in strength
the mistletoe stood.
From the branch which seemed
so slender and fair
Came a harmful shaft
that Hoth should hurl;
But the brother of Baldr
was born ere long,
And one night old
fought Othin’s son.
His hands he washed not,
his hair he combed not,
Till he bore to the bale-blaze
Baldr’s foe.
But in Fensalir
did Frigg weep sore
For Valhall’s need:
would you know yet more?
- HAB's translation
I saw for Baldr—
for the bloodstained sacrifice,
Óđinn's child—
the fates set hidden.
There stood full-grown,
higher than the plains,
slender and most fair,
the mistletoe.
There formed from that stem
which was slender-seeming,
a shaft of anguish, perilous:
Hǫđr started shooting.
A brother of Baldr
was born quickly:
he started—Óđinn's son—
slaying, at one night old.
He never washed hands,
never combed head,
till he bore to the pyre
Baldr's adversary—
while Frigg wept
in Fen Halls
for Valhǫll's woe.
Do you still seek to know? And what?
- UD's translation
 

This account seems to fit well with the information in the Prose Edda, but here the role of Baldr's avenging brother is emphasized.

Baldr and Höđr are also mentioned in Völuspá's description of the world after Ragnarök.

Munu ósánir
akrar vaxa,
böls mun alls batna,
Baldr mun koma.
Búa ţeir Höđr ok Baldr
Hropts sigtóptir
vel, valtívar -
vituđ ér enn, eđa hvat? - Eysteinn Björnsson's edition
Unsown shall
the fields bring forth,
all evil be amended;
Baldr shall come;
Hödr and Baldr,
the heavenly gods,
Hropt´s glorious dwellings shall inhabit.
Understand ye yet, or what? - Thorpe's translation
 

The poem Vafţrúđnismál informs us that the gods who survive Ragnarök are Viđarr, Váli, Móđi and Magni with no mention of Höđr and Baldr.

The myth of Baldr's death is also referred to in another Eddic poem, Baldrs draumar.

Óđinn kvađ:
"Ţegj-at-tu, völva,
ţik vil ek fregna,
unz alkunna,
vil ek enn vita:
Hverr mun Baldri
at bana verđa
ok Óđins son
aldri rćna?"
Völva kvađ:
"Höđr berr hávan
hróđrbađm ţinig,
hann mun Baldri
at bana verđa
ok Óđins son
aldri rćna;
nauđug sagđak,
nú mun ek ţegja."
Óđinn kvađ:
"Ţegj-at-tu, völva,
ţik vil ek fregna,
unz alkunna,
vil ek enn vita:
Hverr mun heift Heđi
hefnt of vinna
eđa Baldrs bana
á bál vega?"
Völva kvađ:
Rindr berr Vála
í vestrsölum,
sá mun Óđins sonr
einnćttr vega:
hönd of ţvćr
né höfuđ kembir,
áđr á bál of berr
Baldrs andskota;
nauđug sagđak,
nú mun ek ţegja." - Guđni Jónsson's edition
Vegtam
"Be thou not silent, Vala!
I will question thee,
until I know all.
I will yet know
who will Baldr’s
slayer be,
and Odin’s son
of life bereave."
Vala
"Hödr will hither
his glorious brother send,
he of Baldr will
the slayer be,
and Odin’s son
of life bereave.
By compulsion I have spoken;
I will now be silent."
Vegtam
"Be not silent, Vala!
I will question thee,
until I know all.
I will yet know
who on Hödr vengeance
will inflict
or Baldr’s slayer
raise on the pile."
Vala
"Rind a son shall bear,
in the western halls:
he shall slay Odin’s son,
when one night old.
He a hand will not wash,
nor his head comb,
ere he to the pile has borne
Baldr’s adversary.
By compulsion I have spoken;
I will now be silent." - Thorpe's translation
 

Höđr is not mentioned again by name in the Eddas. He is, however, referred to in Völuspá in skamma.

Váru ellifu
ćsir talđir,
Baldr er hné,
viđ banaţúfu;
ţess lézk Váli
verđr at hefna,
síns of bróđur
sló hann handbana. - Guđni Jónsson's edition
There were eleven
Ćsir reckoned,
when Baldr on
the pile was laid;
him Vali showed himself
worthy to avenge,
his own brother:
he the slayer slew. - Thorpe's translation

 

Frigg´s Stepchildren

Thor

Thor (Old Norse: Ţōrr, Ţunarr; Old English: Ţunor, Ţūr; Old Saxon: Ţunćr;[1] Frisian: Tonger, Old Dutch: Donar; Old High German: Donar; Proto-Germanic: *Thunaraz) is the red-haired and bearded[2][3] god of thunder in Germanic mythology and Germanic paganism, and its subsets: Norse paganism, Anglo-Saxon paganism and Continental Germanic paganism.

Most surviving stories relating to Germanic mythology either mention Thor or center on Thor's exploits. Thor was a much revered god of the ancient Germanic peoples from at least the earliest surviving written accounts of the indigenous Germanic tribes to over a thousand years later in the late Viking Age.

Thor was appealed to for protection on numerous objects found from various Germanic tribes. Miniature replicas of Mjolnir, the weapon of Thor, became a defiant symbol of Norse paganism during the Christianization of Scandinavia.

Etymology

Sami people worshiping and offering to a wooden idol representing thunder god Thor, Diermes or Tiermes. Thor was also called Horagalles and was highest of the three main Gods of the Sami [6]. A copper stitch by Picart [7].

Proto-Germanic *thunaraz,[8] "thunder" gave rise to Old Norse Ţorr, German Donner, Dutch donder as well as Old English Ţunor whence Modern English thunder with epenthetic d.

Swedish tordön and Danish and Norwegian torden have the suffix -dön/-den originally meaning "rumble" or "din". The Scandinavian languages also have the word dunder, borrowed from Middle Low German.

Characteristics

Family

In the Poetic Edda and Prose Edda, Thor is the son of Odin and the giantess Jörd (Jord, the Earth). His wife is called Sif, and little is known of her except that she has golden hair, which got cut off by Loki. With his mistress, the giantess Járnsaxa, Thor had two sons, Magni and Modi, with Sif he had his daughter Thrud.

The euhemeristic prologue of the Prose Edda also indicates he has a son by Sif named Lóriđi, along with an additional 17 generations of descendants, but the prologue was meant to give a plausible explanation on how the Aesir came to be worshiped even though they were not gods in order to appease the Christian church. Thor also has a stepson called Ullr who is a son of Sif. Skáldskaparmál mentions a figure named Hlóra who was Thor's foster mother, corresponding to Lora or Glora from Snorri Sturluson's prologue, although no additional information concerning her is provided in the book.

Mjolnir

Drawing of an archaeological find from Öland, Sweden of a gold plated depiction of Mjolnir in silver.

Thor owns a short-handled hammer, Mjolnir, which, when thrown at a target, returns magically to the owner. His Mjolnir also has the power to throw lightning bolts. To wield Mjolnir, Thor wears the belt Megingjord, which boosts the wearer's strength and a pair of special iron gloves, Járngreipr, to lift the hammer. Mjolnir is also his main weapon when fighting giants. The uniquely shaped symbol subsequently became a very popular ornament during the Viking Age and has since become an iconic symbol of Germanic paganism.

Chariot

Thor travels in a chariot drawn by the goats Tanngrisnir and Tanngnjóstr and with his servant and messenger Ţjálfi and with Ţjálfi's sister Röskva. The skaldic poem Haustlöng relates that the earth was scorched and the mountains cracked as Thor traveled in his wagon. According to the Prose Edda, when Thor is hungry he can roast the goats for a meal. When he wants to continue his travels, Thor only needs to bless the remains of the goats with his hammer Mjolnir, and they will be instantly restored to full health to resume their duties, assuming that the bones have not been broken.

Bilskirnir

Bilskirnir, in the kingdom Ţrúđheimr or Ţrúđvangr, is the hall of Thor in Norse mythology. Here he lives with his wife Sif and their children. According to Grímnismál, the hall is the greatest of buildings and contains 540 rooms, located in Asgard, as are all the dwellings of the gods, in the kingdom of Ţrúđheimr (or Ţrúđvangar according to Gylfaginning and Ynglinga saga).

Stories

A detail from a rune- and image stone from Gotland, in the Swedish Museum of National Antiquities in Stockholm. The three men are interpreted as Odin, Thor and Freyr, due to the objects they hold in their hands: a spear, a hammer-like object and a scythe.

According to one myth in the Prose Edda, Loki was flying as a hawk one day and was captured by Geirrod. Geirrod, who hated Thor, demanded that Loki bring his enemy (who did not yet have his magic belt and hammer) to Geirrod's castle. Loki agreed to lead Thor to the trap. Grid was a giantess at whose home they stopped on the way to Geirrod's. She waited until Loki left the room, then told Thor what was happening, and gave him her iron gloves and magical belt and staff. Thor killed Geirrod, and all other frost giants he could find (including Geirrod's daughters, Gjálp and Greip).

According to Alvíssmál, Thor's daughter was promised to Alviss, a dwarf. Thor devised a plan to stop Alviss from marrying his daughter: he told Alviss that, because of his small height, he had to prove his wisdom. Alviss agreed, and Thor made the tests last until after the sun had risen - all dwarves turned to stone when exposed to sunlight, so Alviss was petrified.

The runestone found in Sřnder Kirkby, Falster, Denmark calls upon Thor to "hallow these runes!".
[The] Giant Skrymir and Thor, by Louis Huard. "Skrymir" is the name used for Útgarđa-Loki in the Gylfaginning.

Thor was once outwitted by a giant king, Útgarđa-Loki. The king, using his magic, tricked Thor by racing Thought itself against Thor's fast servant, Ţjálfi (nothing being faster than thought, which can leap from land to land, and from time to time, in an instant). Then, Loki (who was with Thor) was challenged by Útgarđa-Loki to an eating contest with Logi, one of his servants. Loki lost, eventually. The servant even ate up the trough containing the food. The servant was an illusion of "Wild-Fire", no living thing being able to equal the consumption rate of fire. He called Thor weak when he only lifted the paw of a cat, the cat being the illusion of the Midgard Serpent. Thor was challenged to a drinking contest, and could not empty a horn which was filled not with mead but was connected to the ocean. This action started tidal changes. And here, Thor wrestled an old woman, Elli who was Old Age, something no one could beat, to one knee. Thor left humiliated, but was heartened later when he met a messenger who told him that in fact he had done tremendous deeds worthy of a powerful warrior god, in doing as well as he did with those challenges.

Another noted story involving Thor was the time when Ţrymr, King of the Thurse (Giants), stole his hammer, Mjölnir. Thor went to Loki, hoping to find the culprit responsible for the theft, then Loki and Thor went to Freyja for council. Freyja gave Loki the Feather-robe so that he could travel to the land of the giants, to speak to their king. The king admitted to stealing the hammer, and would not give it back unless Freyja gave him her hand in marriage.

Freyja refused when she heard the plan, so the gods decided to think of a way to trick the King. Heimdall suggested dressing up Thor in a bridal gown, so that he could take Freyja's place. Thor at first refused to do such a thing, as it would portray him as a womanly coward, but Loki insisted that he do so or the Giants would attack Asgard, and win it over if he were not to retrieve the hammer in time. Thor reluctantly agreed (in the end), and took Freyja's place.

Odin rode Thor to the land of the Giants, and a celebration ensued. The king noticed a few odd things that his bride was doing; he noted that she ate and drank significantly more than what he would expect from a bride. Loki, who was in disguise as the false Freyja's servant, commented that she rode for eight full nights without food in her eagerness to take his hand. He then asked why his bride's eyes were so terrifying - they seemed to be aglow with fire - again Loki responded with the same lie, saying that she did not sleep for eight full nights in her eagerness for his hand. Then, the giant commanded that the hammer be brought to his wife and placed on her lap. Once it was in Thor's possession, he threw off his disguise and attacked all the giants in the room. Due to the success of this ruse, the giants were careful not to make the same mistake again.

According to the Prose Edda, Thor was to meet his death during Ragnarök at the hands of Jörmungandr. The two mortal enemies were locked in combat and though Thor did defeat the great serpent, he was only able to take nine steps before falling dead from the venom.

Literary sources

Eddic depictions

The runestone at Stenkvista in Södermanland, Sweden, shows Thor's hammer instead of a cross.

The two largest sources of information regarding Thor are the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier oral tradition, and the Prose Edda, written by Snorri Sturluson. Both works are from 13th century Iceland.

Poetic Edda

Prose Edda

Sagas

"Elli and Thor" (1939-1940) by Einar Jónsson.

Thor is also mentioned in numerous sagas, which made use of skaldic poetry and oral traditions.

Frigg´s Stepchildren

Hermóđr

Hermóđr the Brave (Old Norse "war-spirit"[1]) is a figure in Norse mythology.

Prose Edda

Hermóđr appears distinctly in section 49 of the Prose Edda book Gylfaginning. There, it is described that the gods were speechless and devastated at the death of Baldr, unable to react due to their grief. After the gods gathered their wits from the immense shock and grief of Baldr's death, Frigg asked the Ćsir who amongst them wished "to gain all of her love and favor"[2] by riding the road to Hel. Whomever agreed was to offer Hel a ransom in exchange for Baldr's return to Asgard. Hermóđr agrees to this and set off with Sleipnir to Hel.

Hermóđr rode Odin's horse Sleipnir for nine nights through deep and dark valleys to the Gjöll bridge covered with shining gold, the bridge being guarded by the maiden Móđguđr 'Battle-frenzy' or 'Battle-tired'. Móđguđr told Hermóđr that Baldr had already crossed the bridge and that Hermóđr should ride downwards and northwards.

Upon coming to Hel's gate, Hermóđr dismounted, tightened Sleipnir's girth, mounted again, and spurred Sleipnir so that Sleipnir leapt entirely over the gate. So at last Hermóđr came to Hel's hall and saw Baldr seated in the most honorable seat. Hermóđr begged Hel to release Baldr, citing the great weeping for Baldr among the Ćsir. Thereupon Hel announced that Baldr would only be released if all things, dead and alive, wept for him.

Baldr gave Hermóđr the ring Draupnir which had been burned with him on his pyre, to take back to Odin. Nanna gave a linen robe for Frigg along with other gifts and a finger-ring for Fulla. Thereupon Hermóđr returned with his message.

Hermóđr is called "son" of Odin in most manuscripts, while in the Codex Regius version—normally considered the best manuscript—Hermóđr is called sveinn Óđins 'Odin's boy', which in the context is as likely to mean 'Odin's servant'. However Hermóđr in a later passage is called Baldr's brother and also appears as son of Odin in a list of Odin's sons. See Sons of Odin.

Poetic Edda

The name Hermód seems to be applied to a mortal hero in the eddic poem Hyndluljóđ (stanza 2):

The favor of Heerfather       seek we to find,
To his followers gold       he gladly gives;
To Hermód gave he       helm and mail-coat,
And to Sigmund he gave       a sword as gift. Heerfather is a name for Odin.

Skaldic poetry

In the skaldic poem Hákonarmál (stanza 14) Hermóđr and Bragi appear in Valhalla receiving Hákon the Good. It is not certain that either Hermóđr or Bragi is intended to be a god in this poem.

Beowulf

In the Old English poem Beowulf, Heremod is a Danish king who was driven into exile and in Old English genealogies Heremod appears appropriately as one of the descendants of Sceafa and usually as the father of Scyld.

Theories

Accordingly, it is debated whether Hermóđr might not have been the name of one or more ancient heroes or kings as well as the name of a god or whether the god mentioned by Snorri was in origin the same as an ancient hero or king named Hermóđr. Viktor Rydberg theorizes that Hermod is in fact Óđr, Freyja's husband, the same as Svipdag of Fjolsvinsmal and Skirnir of Skirnismal. He acts as a messenger of the gods, and like Odin himself, rides Sleipnir.

As a mortal hero, Óđr enters Valhal. His myth is an Odinic initiation. In Svipdagsmal, his mother sings 9 spells over him to keep him safe on his way. He enters the land of the giants, rescues Freyja, and returns her to Asgard. Then he goes in quest of a sword found in the underworld, at the base of the world-tree, and struggles to bring it back to Asgard. He alone can do it. Odin (Fjolsviđr, cp. Grimnismal 47) meets him at the gate. As Skirnir, he goes back to Jotunheim in quest of Gerd on behalf of his brother-in-law Frey. Again, he carries the same sword. In the Edda, when the other gods are speechless, Herm-óđr alone acts. He mounts Sleipnir and rides to Hel in search of Baldur. Odin makes the same trip in the poem Baldur's Dreams. Both see Baldur's palace there, which is most likely Mimisholt (Vafthrudnismal 45). Odr-rerir, the name of the poetic mead, and of Mimir's well, means "the óđr-stirrer", "the óđr-mover". It forms a part of the name Herm-óđr.

In Beowulf Heremod is first mentioned by a bard immediately after the bard tells an episode from the life of the hero Sigmund and his nephew Fitela. In the Old Norse Eiríksmál it is Sigmund and his nephew Sinfjötli (= Fitela) who are sent to greet the dead King Eirík Bloodaxe and welcome him to Valhalla while in the Hákonarmál it is Bragi and Hermóđr who are sent to greet King Hákon the Good in the same situation, potentially suggesting an equivalence between the two was seen.[citation needed] In Hyndluljóđ (stanza 2) Hermóđr and Sigmund are again paralleled:

To Hermód gave he       helm and mail-coat,
And to Sigmund he gave       a sword as gift.

Frigg´s Stepchildren

Heimdall

Heimdall depicted with Gjallarhorn by Lorenz Frřlich.

 

Heimdall (Old Norse Heimdallr, the prefix Heim- means home, the affix -dallr is of uncertain origin) is one of the Ćsir (gods) in Norse mythology. Heimdall is the guardian of the gods and of the link between Midgard and Asgard, the Bifrost Bridge. Legends foretell that he will sound the Gjallarhorn, alerting the Ćsir to the onset of Ragnarök where the world ends and is reborn.

Heimdall, as guardian, is described as being able to hear grass growing and single leaves falling, able to see to the end of the world, and so alert that he requires no sleep at all. Heimdall is described as a son of Odin, perhaps a foster son. Heimdall was destined to be the last of the gods to perish at Ragnarök when he and Loki would slay one another.

Characteristics

"Heimdal and his Nine Mothers" (1908) by W. G. Collingwood

Heimdall is described as the son of nine different mothers (possibly the nine daughters of Ćgir, called billow maidens) and was called the White God. His hall was called Himinbjörg (Sky Mountain) and his horse was Gulltoppr (Gold-top). Snorri Sturluson's Prose Edda relates that a kenning for sword is head of Heimdall because Heimdall was struck by a man's head and that this is treated in the poem Heimdalargaldr, a poem unfortunately lost. Similarly, a kenning for head is sword of Heimdall. The meaning may lie in Heimdall also being called "ram", the weapon of a ram being its head, including the horns. Georges Dumézil (1959) suggested that this might also be why Heimdall is called White-god.

Heimdall's nickname Hallinskíđi ("Bent Stick") also appears as a kenning for "ram", perhaps referring to the bent horns on a ram's head. Heimdall's nickname Gullintanni ("Golden-Toothed") would refer to the yellow coloring found in the teeth of old rams. A third name for Heimdall is Vindhlér ("Wind Shelter"). Dumézil cites Welsh folklore sources which tell how ocean waves come in sets of nine with the ninth one being the ram:

We understand that whatever his mythical value and functions were, the scene of his birth made him, in the sea's white frothing, the ram produced by the ninth wave. If this is the case, then it is correct to say that he has nine mothers, since one alone does not suffice, nor two, nor three.

Old Welsh practice, modern French practice and modern Basque practice is to refer to white-capped waves as sheep.

Poetic Edda

"Heimdal" (1907) by Johan Lundbye.

Völuspá

The first stanza of the Poetic Edda poem Völuspá proclaims:

I ask for a hearing       of all the holy races
Greater and lesser,       kinsman of Heimdall.

The Eddic poem Rígsthula explains how these races are kinsmen of Heimdall; the god Ríg, identified with Heimdall in a short prose introduction, apparently fathered the progenitors of the three classes of humankind, the youngest of which fathered in turn Kon the Young (Old Norse Kon ungr), the first immortal king (Old Norse konungr).

Ţrymskviđa

H. R. Ellis Davidson proposes a link between Heimdall and the Vanir [1] as do some others, partly based on stanza 15 of the Poetic Edda poem Ţrymskviđa:

Then Heimdall spoke,       whitest of the Ćsir,
Like the other Vanir he knew       the future well.

However other can be also translated even, which would mean instead that Heimdall had foresight "even" as do the Vanir.

Davidson also notes a connection with Freyja, given that one of her names, Mardoll, matches his, with mar meaning "sea" and heim meaning "earth".[1]

Prose Edda

A depiction of valkyries encountering the god Heimdallr as they carry a dead man to Valhalla (1906) by Lorenz Frřlich.

 

Húsdrápa and Heimdallargaldr

The lost Heimdallargaldr may have contained the following adventure which was also referenced in Úlfr Uggason's skaldic poem Húsdrápa of which only fragments are preserved:

Once, Freyja woke up and found that someone had stolen Brisingamen. Heimdall helped her search for it and eventually found the thief, who turned out to be Loki and they fought in the form of seals at Vágasker 'Wave-skerry' and Singasteinn, wherever they may be. Heimdall won and returned Brisingamen to Freyja.

Theories

Heimdall depicted with Gjallarhorn by Lorenz Frřlich.

Georges Dumézil considers Heimdall an old Indo-European god, a type of god he calls first god which is different from being the highest god. The Thessalian god of Romans Janus would be the Roman reflex to this concept. But there are other first gods. Heimdall is also a frame god, one who appears at the beginning and remains until the end.[2]

Dumézil suggested that the Hindu counterpart was the god Dyaus, one of the eight Vasus, who reincarnated as the frame hero Bhishma in the epic Mahabharata, he and his seven brothers being born to a mortal king by the River Ganges who herself had taken on mortal form. But the seven other brothers are returned to their immortal forms by being drowned by their mother immediately after birth.[2]

Only Dyaus was compelled to live a full life on earth in the form of Bhishma. Bhishma is destined to never hold power himself or have any direct descendants but acts as an ageless uncle on behalf of the line of lords that tortuously descend from his half-brothers, including finally the five Pandava brothers who represent four classes of society: royalty, noble warrior, lower class club-bearing warrior, and herdsmen. Bhishma is the last to die in the great battle of Kurukshetra.[2]

However Branston (1980) considers Heimdall to correspond to the Vedic Agni god of fire, who in many Vedic texts is born from the waters or hides within the waters and who is born from two, seven, nine, and ten mothers in various sources, the ten mothers being sometimes explained as the ten fingers which can manipulate a bore-stick to produce fire. This accords with Viktor Rydberg's theories on Heimdall.

Frigg´s Stepchildren

Tyr

Tyr (pronounced /ˈtɪər/;[1] Old Norse: Týr [tyːr]) is the god of single combat, victory and heroic glory in Norse mythology, portrayed as a one-handed man. In the late Icelandic Eddas, he is portrayed, alternately, as the son of Odin (Prose Edda) or of Hymir (Poetic Edda), while the origins of his name and his possible relationship to Tuisto (see Tacitus' Germania) suggest he was once considered the father of the gods and head of the pantheon. Tuesday is in fact "Tyr's Day." This is because the Anglo-Saxons at that time pronounced Tyr's name as "Tiw" thus giving his name to the 2nd day of the week.

Corresponding names in other Germanic languages are Gothic Teiws , Old English Tīw and Old High German Ziu, all from Proto-Germanic *Tîwaz. The Old Norse name became Norwegian Ty, Swedish Tyr, Danish Tyr, while it remains Týr in Modern Icelandic and Faroese.

The oldest attestation of the god is Gothic *teiws, attested as tyz, in the 9th century Codex Vindobonensis 795.[2]

Tîwaz was overtaken in popularity and in authority by both Odin and Thor at some point before the Migration Age.

Etymology

Proto-Germanic *Tîwaz, earlier *Teiwaz continues Proto-Indo-European, *deywos "celestial being, god" (whence Latin: deus, Sanskrit: deva (देव).

The name Tyr could be a generic noun in Old Norse meaning "god" (cf. Hangatyr, the "god of the hanged" as one of Odin's names; probably inherited from Tyr in his role as judge).

West Germanic Ziu / Tiw

A gloss to the Wessobrunn prayer names the Alamanni Cyowari (worshipers of Cyo) and their capital Augsburg Ciesburc.[3]

The Excerptum ex Gallica Historia of Ursberg (ca. 1135) records a dea Ciza as the patron goddess of Augsburg. According to this account, Cisaria was founded by Swabian tribes as a defence against Roman incursions. This Zisa would be the female consort of Ziu, as Dione was of Zeus.

The name of Mars Thingsus (Thincsus) is found in an inscription on an 3rd century altar from the Roman fort and settlement of Vercovicium at Housesteads in Northumberland, thought to have been erected by Frisian mercenaries stationed at Hadrian's Wall. It is interpreted as "Mars of the Thing".[4]

There is sketchy evidence of a consort, in German named Zisa: Tacitus mentions one Germanic tribe who worshipped "Isis", and Jacob Grimm pointed to Cisa/Zisa, the patroness of Augsburg, in this connection. The name Zisa could be derived from Ziu etymologically.

North Germanic Tyr

Tyr sacrifices his arm to Fenrir in a 1911 illustration by John Bauer.

According to the Poetic Edda and Prose Edda, at one stage the gods decided to shackle the wolf Fenrisulfr (Fenrir), but the beast broke every chain they put upon him. Eventually they had the dwarves make them a magical ribbon called Gleipnir. It appeared to be only a silken ribbon but was made of six wondrous ingredients: the sound of a cat's footfall, the beard of a woman, the roots of a mountain, bear's sinews (meaning nerves, sensibility), fish's breath and bird's spittle. The creation of Gleipnir is said to be the reason why none of the above exist.[5] Fenrir sensed the gods' deceit and refused to be bound with it unless one of them put his hand in the wolf's mouth.

Tyr, known for his great honesty and courage, agreed, and the other gods bound the wolf. After Fenrir had been bound by the gods, he struggled to try and break the rope. When the gods saw that Fenrir was bound they all laughed, except Tyr, who had his right hand bitten off by the wolf. Fenrir will remain bound until the day of Ragnarök. As a result of this deed, Tyr is called the "Leavings of the Wolf".

According to the Prose version of Ragnarok, Tyr is destined to kill and be killed by Garm, the guard dog of Hel. However, in the two poetic versions of Ragnarok, he goes unmentioned; unless one believes that he is the "Mighty One".

In Lokasenna, Tyr is taunted with cuckoldry by Loki, maybe another hint that he had a consort or wife at one time.

Tiwaz rune

The *Tiwaz rune is associated with Tyr.

The t-rune is named after Tyr, and was identified with this god; the reconstructed Proto-Germanic name is *Tîwaz. The rune is sometimes also referred to as *Teiwaz, or spelling variants.

The rune was also compared with Mars as in the Icelandic rune poem:

Týr er einhendr áss
ok ulfs leifar
ok hofa hilmir.
Mars tiggi.
Tyr is a one-handed god,
and leavings of the wolf
and prince of temples.
 

Lexical traces

Tyr/Tiw had become relatively unimportant compared to Odin/Woden in both North and West Germanic, and specifically in the sphere of organized warfare. Traces of the god remain, however, in Tuesday (Old English tíwesdćg "Tiw's day"; Old Frisian tîesdei, Old High German zîestag, Alemannic and Swabian dialect in south west Germany (today) Zieschdig/Zeischdig, Old Norse týsdagr), named after Tyr in both the North and the West Germanic languages (corresponding to Martis dies, dedicated to the Roman god of war and the father-god of Rome, Mars) and also in the names of some plants: Old Norse Týsfiola (after the Latin Viola Martis), Týrhialm (Aconitum, one of the most poisonous plants in Europe whose helmet-like shape might suggest a warlike connection) and Týviđr, "Tý's wood", in the Helsingor Tiveden may also be named after Tyr, or reflecting Tyr as a generic word for "god" (i.e., the forest of the gods). In Norway the parish and municipality of Tysnes are named after the god.

Toponyms

Týr, depicted here with both hands intact, before the encounter with Fenrir is identified with Mars in this illustration from an 18th century Icelandic manuscript.
The altar dedicated to Mars Thingsus, erected in the 3rd century in Housesteads, Northumberland.
  • Dewsbury, England - possibly Tiw's Burg
  • Thisted, Jutland, Denmark - Tyr's Stead.
  • Tuesley, England - Tiw's Clearing
  • Tyrsted, Jutland, Denmark - Another form of Tyr's Stead.
  • Tyrseng ("Tyr's Meadow"), Viby, Jutland, Denmark. Once a stretch of meadow near a stream called Dřdeĺ ("Stream of the Dead" or "Dead Stream"), where ballgame courts now exist. Viby contained another theonym; Onsholt ("Odin's Holt") and religious practices associated with Odin and Tyr may have occurred in these places. A spring dedicated to Holy Neils that was likely a Christianization of prior indigenous pagan practice also exists in Viby and the city itself may mean "the settlement by the sacred site". Traces of sacrifices going back 2,500 years have been found in Viby.[6]
  • Tiveden, Sweden - Tyr's Woods
  • Tysnes, Norway - Tyr's Headland

Personal names

A number of Icelandic male names are derived from Týr. Apart from Týr itself: Angantýr, Bryntýr, Hjálmtýr, Hrafntýr, Sigtýr, Valtýr and Vigtýr. When Týr is used in this way, joined to another name, it takes on a more general meaning of "a god" instead of referring to the god Týr.

For example, the meaning of a name such as Hrafntýr (hrafn means raven) is raven-god, god of the ravens. This would be a reference to Odin, who is the god of the ravens. Another case would be Valtýr, which means god of the slain, which is also a reference to Odin. In Visigothic Spain the germanic name "Gudesteo/Godesteo" or "Gustios" that remained common during the Middle Ages,seems to have an etymology in the words Goth or Gud/god and the "Thew" root,as it's in many other germanic names.The Visigoth tribal division of Tervingi has their name probably based on this divinity.

Frigg´s Stepchildren

Vidar

A depiction of Víđarr stabbing Fenrir while holding his jaws apart (1908) by W. G. Collingwood, inspired by the Gosforth Cross.

In Norse mythology, Víđarr (Old Norse, possibly "wide ruler"[1], sometimes anglicized as Vidar, Vithar, Vidarr, and Vitharr) is a god among the Ćsir associated with vengeance. Víđarr is described as the son of Odin and the jötunn Gríđr, and is foretold to avenge his father's death by killing the wolf Fenrir at Ragnarök, a conflict which he is described as surviving. Víđarr is attested in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources, the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson, and is interpreted as depicted with Fenrir on the Gosforth Cross. A number of theories surround the figure, including theories around potential ritual silence and a Proto-Indo-European basis.

Attestations

A depiction of Víđarr on horseback (1895) by Lorenz Frřlich.

Poetic Edda

In the Poetic Edda, Víđarr is mentioned in the poems Völuspá, Vafthrúdnismál, Grímnismál, and Lokasenna. In stanzas 54 and 55 of the poem Völuspá, a völva tells Odin that his son Víđarr will avenge Odin's death at Ragnarök by stabbing Fenrir in the heart.[2] In stanzas 51 and 53 of Vafthrúdnismál , Vafţrúđnir states that Víđarr and his brother Váli will both live in the "temples of the gods" after Surtr's fire has ceded and that Víđarr will avenge the death of his father Odin by sundering the cold jaws of Fenrir in battle.[3]

In stanza 17 of Grímnismál, during Odin's visions of various dwelling places of the gods, he describes Víđarr's (here anglicized as "Vidar") residence:

Brushwood grows and high grass
widely in Vidar's land
and there the son proclaims on his horse's back
that he's keen to avenge his father.[4]

According to Lokasenna, Loki rebukes the gods at the start of the poem for not properly welcoming him to the feast at Ćgir's hall. In stanza 10, Odin finally relents to the rules of hospitality, urging Víđarr to stand and pour a drink for the quarrelsome guest. Víđarr does so, and then Loki toasts the Ćsir before beginning his flyting.[5]

Prose Edda

Víđarr is referenced in the Prose Edda books Gylfaginning and Skáldskaparmál:

Gylfaginning

A depiction of Víđarr defeating Fenrir (1895) by Lorenz Frřlich.

Víđarr is referenced in the book Gylfaginning in chapters 29, 51, and 53. In chapter 29, Víđarr is introduced by the enthroned figure of High as "the silent god" with a thick shoe, that he is nearly as strong as the god Thor, and that the gods rely on him in times of immense difficulties.[6]

In chapter 51, High foretells that, during Ragnarök, the wolf Fenrir will devour Odin, Víđarr will avenge him by stepping down with one foot on the lower jaw of the monster, grabbing his upper jaw in one hand and tearing his mouth apart, killing him. Víđarr's "thick shoe" is described as consisting of all the extra leather pieces that people have cut from their own shoes at the toe and heel, collected by the god throughout all time. Therefore, anyone who is concerned enough to give assistance to the gods should throw these pieces away.[7]

In chapter 54, following Ragnarök and the rebirth of the world, Víđarr along with his brother Váli will have survived both the swelling of the sea and the fiery conflagration unleashed by Surtr, completely unharmed, and shall thereafter dwell on the field Iđavöllr, "where the city of Asgard had previously been".[8]

Skáldskaparmál

According to Skáldskaparmál, Víđarr was one of the twelve presiding male gods seated in their thrones at a banquet for the visiting Ćgir.[9] At a point in dialogue between the skaldic god Bragi and Ćgir, Snorri himself begins speaking of the myths in euhemeristic terms and states that the historical equivalent of Víđarr was the Trojan hero Aeneas who survived the Trojan War and went on to achieve "great deeds".[10]

Later in the book, various kennings are given for Víđarr, including again the "silent As", "possessor of the iron shoe", "enemy and slayer of Fenrisulf", "the gods' avenging As", "father's homestead-inhabiting As", "son of Odin", and "brother of the Ćsir".[11] In the tale of the god Thor's visit to the hall of the jötunn Geirröd, Gríđr is stated as the mother of "Víđarr the Silent" who assists Thor in his journey.[12] In chapter 33, after returning from Asgard and feasting with the gods, Ćgir invites the gods to come to his hall in three months. Fourteen gods make the trip to attend the feast, including Víđarr.[13] In chapter 75, Víđarr's name appears twice in a list of Ćsir.[14]

Archaeological record

Detail from the Gosforth Cross.

The mid-11th century Gosforth Cross, located in Cumbria, England, has been described as depicting a combination of scenes from the Christian Judgement Day and the pagan Ragnarök.[15] The cross features various figures depicted in Borre style, including a man with a spear facing a monstrous head, one of whose feet is thrust into the beast's forked tongue and on its lower jaw, while a hand is placed against its upper jaw, a scene interpreted as Víđarr fighting Fenrir.[15] This depiction has been theorized as a metaphor for Christ's defeat of Satan.[16]

Theories

A depiction of Víđarr and Váli (1892) by Axel Kulle.

Theories have been proposed that Víđarr's silence may derive from a ritual silence or other abstentions which often accompany acts of vengeance, as for example in Völuspá and Baldrs draumar when Váli, conceived for the sole purpose of avenging Baldr's death, abstains from washing his hands and combing his hair "until he brought Baldr's adversary to the funeral pyre".[17] Parallels have been drawn between chapter 31 of Tacitus' 1st century CE work Germania where Tacitus describes that members of the Chatti, a Germanic tribe, may not shave or groom before having first slain an enemy.[18]

Georges Dumézil theorized that Víđarr represents a cosmic figure from an archetype derived from the Proto-Indo-Europeans.[19] Dumézil stated that he was aligned with both vertical space, due to his placement of his foot on the wolf's lower jaw and his hand on the wolf's upper jaw, and horizontal space, due to his wide step and strong shoe, and that, by killing the wolf, Víđarr keeps the wolf from destroying the cosmos, and the cosmos can thereafter be restored after the destruction resulting from Ragnarök.[19]

Frigg´s Stepchildren

Váli

Váli in an illustration from a 17th century Icelandic manuscript

In Norse mythology, Váli is a son of the god Odin and the goddess Rindr. He was birthed for the sole purpose of killing Höđr as revenge for Höđr's accidental murder of his half-brother, Baldr. He grew to full adulthood within one day of his birth, and slew Höđr. Váli is fated to survive Ragnarök.

The Váli myth is referred to in Baldrs draumar:

Rindr will bear Váli
in western halls;
that son of Óđinn
will kill when one night old—
he will not wash hand,
nor comb head,
before he bears to the pyre
Baldr's adversary. - Ursula Dronke's translation

And in Völuspá:

There formed from that stem,
which was slender-seeming,
a shaft of anguish, perilous:
Hǫđr started shooting.
A brother of Baldr
was born quickly:
he started—Óđinn's son—
slaying, at one night old.

There is another Váli, a son of Loki by Sigyn, who was transformed by the gods into a slavering wolf who tore out the throat of his brother Narfi to punish Loki for his crimes. See Váli (son of Loki).

The two figures named Váli may originally have been conceived of as the same being.

In Gesta Danorum the figure Bous corresponds to Váli.

Frigg´s Stepchildren

Skjoldr

Skjöldr (Latinized as Skioldus, sometimes Anglicized as Skjold or Skiold) was among the first legendary Danish kings. He is mentioned in the Prose Edda, in Ynglinga saga, in Chronicon Lethrense, in Sven Aggesen's history, in Arngrímur Jónsson's Latin abstract of the lost Skjöldunga saga and in Saxo Grammaticus' Gesta Danorum. Under the name Scyld he also appears in the Old English poem Beowulf. The various accounts have little in common.

In the Skjöldunga and the Ynglinga sagas, Odin came from Asia and conquered Northern Europe. He gave Sweden to his son Yngvi and Denmark to his son Skjöldr. Since then the kings of Sweden were called Ynglings and those of Denmark Skjöldungs (Scyldings).

 

In Gesta Danorum, Skioldus is the son of Lotherus, a wicked king who met his end in an insurrection.
Cuius filius Skyoldus naturam ab ipso, non mores sortitus per summam tenerioris aetatis industriam cuncta paternae contagionis vestigia ingeniti erroris devio praeteribat. Igitur ut a paternis vitiis prudenter descivit, ita avitis virtutibus feliciter respondit, remotiorem pariter ac praestantiorem hereditarii moris portionem amplexus. Huius adolescentia inter paternos venatores immanis beluae subactione insignis exstitit mirandoque rei eventu futurae eius fortitudinis habitum ominata est. Nam cum a tutoribus forte, quorum summo studio educabatur, inspectandae venationis licentiam impetrasset, obvium sibi insolitae granditatis ursum telo vacuus cingulo, cuius usum habebat, religandum curavit necandumque comitibus praebuit. Sed et complures spectatae fortitudinis pugiles per idem tempus viritim ab eo superati produntur, e quibus Attalus et Scatus clari illustresque fuere. Quindecim annos natus inusitato corporis incremento perfectissimum humani roboris specimen praeferebat, tantaque indolis eius experimenta fuere, ut ab ipso ceteri Danorum reges communi quodam vocabulo Skioldungi nuncuparentur. Praecurrebat igitur Skioldus virium complementum animi maturitate conflictusque gessit, quorum vix spectator ob teneritudinem esse poterat.

Hic non armis modo, verum etiam patriae caritate conspicuus exstitit: siquidem impias leges abrogavit, salutares tulit, et quicquid ad emendandum patriae statum attinuit, summa diligentia praestitit. Sed et regnum patris improbitate amissum virtute recuperavit. Primus rescindendarum manumissionum legem edidit, servi, quem forte libertate donaverat, clandestinis insidiis petitus. Proceres non solum domesticis stipendiis colebat, sed etiam spoliis ex hoste quaesitis, affirmare solitus pecuniam ad milites, gloriam ad ducem redundare debere. Omnium aes alienum ex fisco suo solvebat et quasi cum aliorum regum fortitudine, munificentia ac liberalitate certabat. Aegros fomentis prosequi remediaque graviter affectis benignius exhibere solebat, se non sui sed patriae curam suscepisse testatus. Idem perditam et enervam vitam agentes continentiamque luxu labefacere solitos ad capessendam virtutem rerum agitatione sedulus excitabat.

In quo annorum virtutisque procursu ob Alvildam Saxonum regis filiam, quam summae pulchritudinis intuitu postulabat, cum Scato, Allemanniae satrapa, eiusdem puellae competitore, Theutonum Danorumque exercitu inspectante ex provocatione dimicavit interfectoque eo omnem Allemannorum gentem perinde ac ducis sui interitu debellatam tributaria ditione perdomuit.

Puellam, cuius amore conflixerat, acerrimo nuptiarum aemulo liberatus in pugnae praemium recepit eamque sibi matrimonio copulavit. Ex qua parvo post tempore Gram filium sustulit. Cuius mirifica indoles ita paternas virtutes redoluit, ut prorsus per earum vestigia decurrere putaretur. Gesta Danorum, 1.3 - 1.4 Olrik's edition

SKIOLD, his son, inherited his natural bent, but not his behaviour; avoiding his inborn perversity by great discretion in his tender years, and thus escaping all traces of his father's taint. So he appropriated what was alike the more excellent and the earlier share of the family character; for he wisely departed from his father's sins, and became a happy counterpart of his grandsire's virtues. This man was famous in his youth among the huntsmen of his father for his conquest of a monstrous beast: a marvellous incident, which augured his future prowess. For he chanced to obtain leave from his guardians, who were rearing him very carefully, to go and see the hunting. A bear of extraordinary size met him; he had no spear, but with the girdle that he commonly wore he contrived to bind it, and gave it to his escort to kill. More than this, many champions of tried prowess were at the same time of his life vanquished by him singly; of these Attal and Skat were renowned and famous. While but fifteen years of age he was of unusual bodily size and displayed mortal strength in its perfection, and so mighty were the proofs of his powers that the rest of the kings of the Danes were called after him by a common title, the SKIOLDUNGS. Those who were wont to live an abandoned and flaccid life, and to sap their selfcontrol by wantonness, this man vigilantly spurred to the practice of virtue in an active career. Thus the ripeness of Skiold's spirit outstripped the fulness of his strength, and he fought battles at which one of his tender years could scarce look on.
Skjöldr ties up the bear, illustration by Louis Moe

Skiold was eminent for patriotism as well as arms. For he annulled unrighteous laws, and most heedfully executed whatsoever made for the amendment of his country's condition. Further, he regained by his virtue the realm that his father's wickedness had lost. He was the first to proclaim the law abolishing manumissions. A slave, to whom he had chanced to grant his freedom, had attempted his life by stealthy treachery, and he exacted a bitter penalty; as though it were just that the guilt of one freedman should be visited upon all. He paid off all men's debts from his own treasury, and contended, so to say, with all other monarchs in courage, bounty, and generous dealing. The sick he used to foster, and charitably gave medicines to those sore stricken; bearing witness that he had taken on him the care of his country and not of himself. He used to enrich his nobles not only with home taxes, but also with plunder taken in war; being wont to aver that the prize-money should flow to the soldiers, and the glory to the general.

And as he thus waxed in years and valour he beheld the perfect beauty of Alfhild, daughter of the King of the Saxons, sued for her hand, and, for her sake, in the sight of the armies of the Teutons and the Danes, challenged and fought with Skat, governor of Allemannia, and a suitor for the same maiden; whom he slew, afterwards crushing the whole nation of the Allemannians, and forcing them to pay tribute, they being subjugated by the death of their captain.

Thus delivered of his bitterest rival in wooing, he took as the prize of combat the maiden, for the love of whom he had fought, and wedded her in marriage. Soon after, he had by her a son, GRAM, whose wondrous parts savoured so strongly of his father's virtues that he was deemed to tread in their very footsteps. The Danish History, Book One Elton's translation

 
Preceded by
Lotherus
Saxo's kings of Denmark Succeeded by
 

 


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