Norse Mythology: an Introduction to the Norse Gods, Goddesses, Myths and Legends

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Kelly Macquire
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published on 18 June 2021
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Norse mythology was the belief of the people of Scandinavia around the Viking age between around 790 and 1100 CE. It consisted of cosmology or story of the beginning of the universe, nine realms of the world tree Yggdrasil and the end of the world known as Ragnarok. What remains of textual sources of Norse mythology is only the very surface of the history, since, at the time, Scandinavia was primarily an oral society. Gods and goddesses were venerated, and archaeology shows personal devotion to specific gods as well as community cult activity.

Like other cultures, there are multiple different versions of the creation myth, and one version is that at the beginning there were 2 realms; one of icy cold called Niflheim and one of fire called Muspelheim, and in between them was Ginnungagap, the empty void. Eventually, chaos and destruction would engulf the world, known as Ragnarok ‘the final destiny of the gods,’ or `Twilight of the Gods.’ It begins with a terrible winter, then the earth sinks into the sea and the wolf Fenrir breaks free and devours the sun. Fenrir is a monstrous wolf and an enemy to the gods — he is known in the myths as the one who maims Týr by relieving him of his right hand, and as the killer of Odin during Ragnarok.

There were two separate groups of gods in Norse mythology, the larger family known as the Æsir and the smaller and more mysterious family known as the Vanir. The term Æsir was used often when addressing the main group of gods. These main gods were mostly connected with the government and war and included gods such as Odin, Thor, Loki, Baldr, Hodr, Heimdall, and Týr. The Vanii were the gods associated with fertility such as Njord, Freyr, and Freyja. After the war between the two groups known as the Vanir Wars or Æsir-Vanir Wars, the two groups were often both referred to as Æsir.

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About the Author

Kelly Macquire
Kelly is a graduate from Monash University who has recently completed her BA (Honours) in Ancient History and Archaeology, focussing on iconography and status in Pylos burials. She has a passion for mythology and the Aegean Bronze Age.

Cite This Work

APA Style

Macquire, K. (2021, June 18). Norse Mythology: an Introduction to the Norse Gods, Goddesses, Myths and Legends. World History Encyclopedia. Retrieved from https://www.worldhistory.org/video/2584/norse-mythology-an-introduction-to-the-norse-gods/

Chicago Style

Macquire, Kelly. "Norse Mythology: an Introduction to the Norse Gods, Goddesses, Myths and Legends." World History Encyclopedia. Last modified June 18, 2021. https://www.worldhistory.org/video/2584/norse-mythology-an-introduction-to-the-norse-gods/.

MLA Style

Macquire, Kelly. "Norse Mythology: an Introduction to the Norse Gods, Goddesses, Myths and Legends." World History Encyclopedia. World History Encyclopedia, 18 Jun 2021. Web. 29 Nov 2021.

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