Norse Mythology: The 20 Main Gods And Goddesses

The Norse gods and their  main source of inspiration have been a long repertoire of fictional stories, comics, novels and movies.

Norse mythology is the set of religious stories and myths of the Vikings that revolved around deities with fascinating and highly complex, such as Odin, Thor, Freya and Loki.

Some Viking gods

Before the Norse (Vikings) and other Germanic peoples converted to Christianity during the Middle Ages, they had their own highly sophisticated and complex religion.

The religion of the Norse and other Germanic peoples never had a name; those who practiced it called it “tradition.” They presented a worldview very different from the worldview of modern science or most modern religions. The pre-Christian Germanic religion was animistic, polytheistic, pantheistic and had a cyclical view of time.

Here we will give an account of the 22 most prominent gods and goddesses of Norse mythology, Viking gods who influenced the culture and customs of the towns of northeastern Europe.

List of the 22 main gods of Norse mythology 

1- Odin
 

His name means fury and he is the most important god in Norse mythology, being the king of the Gods. Son of the god Bor and the giant Bestla, brother of Vili and Vé, he dominates war, death, wisdom, poetry and magic.
 
Odin is, according to the legends, the father of the first two humans: Ask and Embla.
 

Furthermore, he is married to three women: Frigg, who symbolized cultivated land and with whom he had Balder, Hoder and Hermod; Jörd, who symbolizes the uninhabited land and with whom he had Thor and Meili; and Ring, who symbolizes the winter and frozen land, with her is Vali’s father. He had other children, like Idun.
 

Among all his powers, Odin is recognized as the spirit of self-improvement, due to the great challenges he had to overcome to be considered a god.
 

Just as he sacrificed his right eye when he was encouraged to drink from the Mimir spring, where wisdom was found, which elevated him to be the wisest god, owner of all universal knowledge.
 

Complex and unpredictable in character, he could be generous and reward intrepid warriors or be a traitor, making him one of the most feared creatures in creation.
 

Odin is represented with a hat and a stick. He was always accompanied by two ravens, named Hugin and Munnin, who represent the embodiment of memory and thought, respectively.
 

One of his most sacred possessions was a spear, known as a Gungner (meaning violent shaking or shaking), made by the dwarves, which had a shocking power over those who were touched by it.
 

His legend was reflected in the Marvel comic Odin , but he also appears in television series such as Guardians of the Galaxy , Hulk , The Avengers and Spiderman . He also came to the movies with the movie Thor , where the role of Odin was played by the famous Anthony Hopkins.
 

2- T hor
 

With a vast area of ​​influence in Norse mythology, Thor is the god of thunder (word from which he owes his name), he is the son of Odin and Jörd, and he dominated the climate, crops, justice, battles, travel , projection and consecration.
 

He is the husband of Sif and the father of Þrúðr (Trude), a Valkyrie whose name represents power and strength. In addition, he has two children: Magni, with the giant Járnsaxa, and Móði, whose mother is unknown.
 

Owner of a very dangerous anger, once in Asgard he occupied one of the twelve armchairs in the great courtroom.
 

His weapon was a hammer, which he looked proud and with which he crushed his enemies, the ice giants. The hammer had the wonderful ability to always return to the hands of its owner.
 

This character inspired the Marvel comic, on which the film released in 2011 was based. The leading role fell to Chris Hemsworth, who did not pass the casting in the first instance but the director (Kenneth Branagh) and the producers decided to give him a second. chance.
 

The film was a box office success, grossing more than $449 million. Its sequel saw the light in 2013 and it is expected that by the end of 2017 the saga will be completed with a third film with the same protagonists.
 

3- L oki
 

Known as the origin of all fraud, Loki is a deceitful, con and dark god, who dominates fire, with all its benefits and harms.
 

The controversies of his figure, put him in the place of mythological beings, since despite being considered one of the gods he had no faithful or cult.
 

Odin considered him a brother until he murdered his son Balder, for which he was tied to three rocks. When Loki managed to escape, he fought the gods in the final battle of the world.
 

His wives were Angrboda, Sigyn and Savadilfari, with whom he gave birth to numerous human creatures and monsters, such as the giant Fenrir, the serpent Jörmundgarder, the goddess Hela, Narfi, the giant eight-legged horse Sleipner, and Váli, who was transformed into a rabid wolf as Odin’s condemnation.
 

4- T yr
 

He is the one-handed man, god of valor and war, he is the patron of justice, who is represented with the spear that he carries with him. He is described in some passages of the legends as the son of Odin and Frigg, while in others he is considered a descendant of Frilla and the giant Ymir.
 

He lost his arm when he was bitten by the monstrous wolf Fenrir, whom he had to feed. The animal was chained by the fear of Odin (who knew that his fate was subject to that of the wolf) but was easily freed.
 

To control the beast, he commissioned a magical shackle from the dwarves. Fenrir distrusted this object and to allow it to be placed he made it a condition that one of the gods put an arm in his mouth. Tyr accepted the challenge and lost his arm.
 

In Anglo-Saxon languages, Tyr is represented on Tuesday dedicated to the god of war.
 

5- F reya
 

She is one of the most important goddesses in Norse mythology, dominating love, beauty, fine material possessions, and fertility, but also influencing magic, prophecy, wealth, war, and death.
 

In Germanic languages, his name is associated with Friday, that of the god of love. In addition, its pseudonym is used to identify some poses of hypopressive exercises.
 

Freya was part of the Vanir tribe of deities, but became an honorary member of the Æsir gods after the War between the Æsir and the Vanir. His father is Njord; his mother is unknown.
 

6- Frigg
 

She is, along with Freya, one of the greatest goddesses in Norse mythology, in fact in some legends they are considered the same creature, but they are not.
 

Frigg is the wife of Odin, goddess of the heavens and queen of Æsir. Like Freya, she dominates fertility, love, but she also rules over household management, marriage, motherhood, and the domestic arts.
 

This goddess has the power of prophecy, but (although it seems contradictory) she never tells what she sees. Together with Odin he is the only creature who can sit on the throne of Hliðskjálf and observe the nine worlds.
 

He has three sons, Balder, Hoder and Hermod, four stepsons: Heimdall, Tyr, Vidar and Váli. With Thor the relationship is not very clear, some poems name them as brothers, while others as mother and stepson.
 

7- Frey
 

God of the sun and rain, he is the son of Njord and brother of Freya. He is one of the main figures of the Vanir, one of the main pagan gods and dominates the vegetation.
 

This god received from the gods the Sword of Victory, symbol of the rays of the sun, which could move, fight and win of its own free will just by being drawn.
 

But Frey abandoned this sword to conquer Gerda, a virgin giant, with whom he fell madly in love, becoming a distracted and melancholic being.
 

When he obtained his father’s authorization to woo the giant, he handed over his weapon as a reward. For this reason, weapons are not allowed inside the temples of their veneration.

8- 
Skadi
 

Skadi is the goddess of winter, her legend is one of the most interesting in Norse mythology. A hunter with a bow, she decided to seek revenge in Asgard (the garden of the gods) after the Æsir murdered her father.
 

Upon arrival, Odin offered him a truce: to set his father’s eyes like stars and marry a god on the condition that he should choose the candidate just by seeing his feet. He chose Njord, god of the sea; she preferred Balder.
 

The couple did not overcome their differences and ended up separating. Some claim that she later married Ullr, god of snow skates and archery, while for other legends she had several children with Odin.
 

9- H eimdall
 

One of the most powerful gods in Norse mythology, not because of his powers but because of his responsibilities.
 

He is the god of light, but he is the only being who, from the edges of the sky, controls the rainbow bridge, called Bifrost, which is the only entrance to Asgard, the garden of the gods.
 

He is the son of Odin and nine giant women, owner of keen hearing and eyesight, capable of listening to grass grow, he has total perception. Hence his role as a lookout. He is also the protagonist of one of the Marvel comics.
 

10- Idunn
 

Goddess of eternal youth, she stands out for having the power to grant life and eternal youth to the gods that she chooses with some golden apples that she carries in a box.
 

She is the wife of the Viking warrior poet (skald) Bragi, son of Odin and god of poetry and the bards (who transmitted the stories).
 

11- Nerthus

Goddess of nature, she was born in a forest and represents the new life that is reborn with spring. When he is among humans, everyone must lay down their arms for peace to reign.

12- 
Balder
 

Son of Odin and Frigg, he is the god of truth, justice and light. His mother sensed his death, when he began to dream dark things.
 

Similarly, his death is epic: he asked the gods to throw all the harmful objects they could to prove his immortality, but during the challenge an arrow from Hoder (his blind brother) pierced his chest and he died on the spot.
 

13- N jord
 

God of the sea, fire and winds, he joined the Æsir as hostage of the Vanir after the war that broke out between both sides. He was chosen as Skadi’s husband in a bad marriage. 
His figure is the subject of a series of German academic texts and speeches.

14- 
Hoder
 

Another of Odin’s sons was a blind god who after killing (some say involuntarily his brother Balder) died at the hand of Vali, also Odin’s son.
 

Hoder would have caused the death of Balder deceived by Loki, and Odin gave birth to Vali to avenge him. This god is present in the story of The Almighty Johnsons , a fantastic series in New Zealand drama and comedy tone.
 

15- Vidar
 

God of silence, revenge and justice, brave and taciturn during the final battle of the world, he killed, stepping on his jaw, Fenrir, the beast that devoured his father Odin.
 

He will emerge in the reborn world after Ragnarök, his destiny is to be with his brother Vali and rule the regenerated land. The legend says that the gods had contact with the forests and nature through it.
 

He is represented in a sturdy figure, of great stature, endowed with armor and a sword with an important edge. His particularity is his iron shoes with leather, designed by his mother, the giant Grid, with which he resisted and later defeated Fenrir.

16- 
Forseti
 

Known for being the wisest and most eloquent of the Asgard gods, he is the son of Balder and Nanna. God of justice, truth and peace, he had a unique ability to resolve conflict with the power of mediation, which is why his court was considered the best of all of creation.
 

He obtained solutions that everyone considered fair, but only the most solemn sentences bore his signature. It did not participate in the war at the end of the world due to its peaceful nature.
 

17- Nanna
 

Balder’s wife and Forseti’s mother, Nanna died of grief after the death of her husband, at the hands of her brother.
 

The tragic story of this goddess was unleashed when in a macabre game of survival, Balder was stabbed to death. She decided to set sail on a boat with the corpse of his wife out to sea, where the boat burned in flames. Thus, the couple was again united according to the legends of Norse mythology.
 

There are different poems that name her, in many of them she is associated with skiers so it is inferred that her domain would be in the snow.
 

18- Hermod
 

Also son of Odin (with Frigg) and one of his closest assistants. Known as the son of god, he is brilliant and possesses an astonishing speed of movement, which is why he is recognized as the agile god.
 

His virtues made him the ideal messenger of the gods, capable of avoiding any danger. As his father’s servant, he ran to all places of creation to satisfy him.
 

He was the chosen one of the Æsir to go to Helheim, the realm of death, with the mission of having Queen Hela return Balder to the garden of the gods.
 

19- Uller
 

God of winter and agriculture, he loved the cold and enjoyed traveling with his skis, skins and skates throughout all creation. He was a skilled bow and arrow hunter in the woods.
 

He is the son of Sif and stepson of Thor, it is unknown who his father is but the belief establishes him as one of the ice giants. When Skadi divorced Njord, she was his wife.
 

20- Ran

 

Sea goddess whose faculty was to fish the drowned with an immense net to take them to her abode.
 

Its presence in Norse mythology is scarce and its prominence is given because it was considered that drowning was like falling into its jaws. His name is associated with the word robbery.
 

21- Gefjun
 

Perhaps his recognition is greater than that of many mythological gods on this list for owning a prominent statue in Copenhagen, but he also had a role in Norse legends.
 

Known as a seer, she received all the dead virgins in her living room, which is why she is called the goddess of virtue. He had dominion over the plow and good fortune.
 

King Gylfi promised her a large amount of land to plow in one night, she turned her four sons into oxen to fulfill her mission and that was portrayed in the Copenhagen statue. 
Gefjun is believed to have been one of the alternate names for Freya, goddess of fertility.

22- 
Hnoss
 

Daughter of Freya, she is the goddess of beauty, desire and lust, the owner of a charm unmatched in Norse mythology.
 

Its name is given to all the beautiful things of creation, in some legends it is even translated as jewel or treasure.

Some reviews on Norse mythology

 

This tradition was maintained for centuries, even during Viking times, and is still preserved today in some rural towns.
The stories reached our days thanks to the Eddas (the collection of Norse mythological stories) and other medieval texts, which were recovered. 

Norse cosmology was complex and particular. He based the general rules of the origin and evolution of the universe on a flat disk located in the branches of a tree, called Yggdrasil. 
There lived different creatures in conflict with each other, such as dragons, eagles, squirrels and hawks. 

Known as the mansion of all divinities, Asgard, is the garden of the gods, where the kings of divinity lived. This place is the opposite of the abode of monsters and giants, known as Utgard, and that of men, called Mitgard.

In Asgard there are also Valhalla, heaven of heroes, and Gladheim, Odin’s palace. There lived the Æsir (gods) and the Asynjur (goddesses).

The gods had a form of government similar to the current republics, with an assembly headed by Odin, the most noble and important of all the gods.

But there were several types of gods in Norse mythology, in addition to the Æsir. The Vanir, for example, who governed the sea, wind, fire, rain, sun, love, forests and natural forces with their desires. 

The differences between these gods was that the Æsir had a warrior character, while the Vanir were peaceful, however some gods were present in both abodes. 

Among other supernatural creatures, Norse mythology also reserves a place for giants (jotuns), trolls and demons, beings dangerous to man. 

The map of mythological figures is completed: the norns, who set destiny; the Valkyries, warrior virgins chosen by Odin; the beasts, some good and some bad; and the dwarves and elves, who make up a special race, which was considered an evolution of worms and was present in different passages of William Shakespeare’s literature. 

But the difference between the gods and the other supernatural creatures was that the former were mortal and could only reach the final battle of the world (Ragnarök) through the apple of Idunn, called the eternal youth. 

Many of the legends of this mythology had a strong ancestry in the Vikings, original Nordic peoples famous for their expeditions to other territories. 

At present, the history of this town is narrated in the famous Vikings television series, in which the legends of Norse mythology and their gods are recovered. This production has four seasons and 46 episodes so far.

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