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Sep 16

The Norse Gods

The Norse Gods are mythological characters that, as far as we know, came from the Northern Germanic tribes of the 9th century AD. These stories were passed down in the form of poetry until the 11th – 18th centuries when the Eddas and other medieval texts were written.

Norse mythology comprises the pre-Christian beliefs and legends of the Scandinavian peoples including those who settled on Iceland where most of the written sources for Norse mythology were assembled. Norse mythology not only has its gods, goddesses and immortals but also a myriad of other characters and creatures that populate the stories including giants, dwarfs, monsters, magical animals and objects.

In my book, Wild Viking Princess, I have referred to several Norse gods. Though my story takes place well into the Christian era (1124AD), many Scandinavians continued to hold a curious mixture of pagan and Christian beliefs.

Freyja

My hero, Reider, calls on Freyja, goddess of Fertility, to bless his heroine. Freyja (modern forms of the name include Freya, Freja, Freyia, Frøya, and Freia) is considered to be the goddess of Love and Beauty, but is also a warrior goddess and one of great wisdom and magick. She and her twin brother Freyr are of a different “race” of gods known as the Vanir. Many of the tribes venerated her higher than the Aesir, calling her “the Frowe” or “The Lady.” She is known as Queen of the Valkyries, choosers of those slain in battle to bear them to Valhalla (the Norse heaven). She wears the sacred necklace Brisingamen, which she paid for by spending the night with the dwarves who wrought it from the bowels of the earth. The cat is her sacred symbol. There seems to be some confusion between herself and Frigga, Odin’s wife, as they share similar functions; but Frigga seems to be strictly of the Aesir, while Freyja is of the Vanic race. The day Friday (Frejyasdaeg) was named for her (some claim it was for Frigga).

My heroine, Ragna, has a dog called Thor, named after the God of Sky, thunder and fertility. He is associated with law and order in Asgard and guardian of the Norse gods. He is the son of Odin and Earth and husband of Sif. He is also known as the “thunder god” and “charioteer”. Among many tribes Thor actually supplanted Odin as the favorite god. He is considered to be the protector of all Midgard, (the realm of mankind) and he wields the mighty hammer Mjollnir. Thor is strength personified. His battle chariot is drawn by two goats, and his hammer Mjollnir causes the lightning that flashes across the sky. Of all the deities, Thor is the most “barbarian”; rugged, powerful, and lives by his own rules, although he is faithful to the rest of the Aesir gods. The day Thursday (Thorsdaeg) is sacred to him.

Thor

Thor is married to Sif, a fertility goddess, and he also had a mistress, the giantess Jarnsaxa with whom he had two sons, Magni and Modi and a daughter, Thrud. Thor is helped by Thialfi, his servant and the messenger of the gods.

Thor was the god of war, thunder and strength. He destroyed the enemies of the gods with his magic hammer. It was he who chased away the frosts and called gentle winds and warm spring rains to release the earth from its bondage of ice and snow. He was also the god of the household and of the common people. He even married Sif, a peasant woman. The lightning’s flash was his mighty hammer, Mjollnir, hurled in battle with the frost giants, and the rolling thunder was the rumble of his fiery chariot.

Thor was a good-natured, careless god, always ready for adventure, and never tired of trying his great strength. He could shoulder giant tasks with the greatest ease and slay bulls with his bare hands. For sport he sometimes rode among the cloud-veiled mountains, hurling his hammer at their peaks and cleaving them in two.

Thor is usually portrayed as a large, powerful man with a red beard and eyes of lightning. Despite his ferocious appearance, he surpassed his father Odin in popularity because, contrary to Odin, he did not require human sacrifices. In his temple at Uppsala he was shown standing with Odin at his right side. This temple was replaced by a Christian church in 1080.

Other deities making an appearance in the book include Vàr – the goddess of oaths, and Màni, the god of the moon. Wild Viking Princess is available from Amazon for $1.99.

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