Norse mythology

The Norse gods were mortal, and only through Iðunn's apples could they hope to live until Ragnarök. Image by J. Penrose, 1890.
The Norse gods were mortal, and only through Iðunn's apples could they hope to live until Ragnarök. Image by J. Penrose, 1890.
Topics in Norse mythology
Æsir (gods) Andhrímnir, Baldr, Borr, Bragi, Búri, Dagr, Delling, Forseti, Heimdall, Hermóðr, Höðr, Hœnir, Kvasir, Lóðurr, Loki, Móði and Magni, Óðr, Odin, Ríg, Thor, Tyr, Váli, Ve, Vidar, Vili
Ásynjur (goddesses) Bil, Eir, Frigg, Gná, Hlín, Iðunn, Jord, Lofn, Nanna, Nótt, Saga, Sif, Sigyn, Sjöfn, Snotra, Sol, Syn, Var, Vör, Þrúðr
Vanir
(gods and goddesses)
Freyr (Yngvi), Freyja, Gullveig, Nerthus, Njord, Ullr
Norns (fates) Urd, Verdandi, Skuld
Valkyries Brynhildr, Göndul, Gunnr, Hildr, Hlaðgunnr, Róta, Skuld, Sigrdrífa, Sigrún, Skögul, Sváva, Þrúðr
Elves (Álfar) Beyla, Byggvir, Dökkálfar, Svartálfar, Volund
Jotuns (giants) Ægir, Angrboda, Baugi, Beli, Bergelmir, Bestla, Billing, Bolthorn, Byleist, Elli, Fárbauti, Fenja, Fjalar, Fornjót, Geirrod, Gerd, Gjálp and Greip, Gilling, Grid, Gunnlod, Gymir, Hel, Hrym, Hræsvelgr, Hrod, Hrungnir, Hymir, Hyndla, Hyrrokkin, Járnsaxa, Kari, Laufey, Loki, Mani (moon), Menja, Modgunn, Mundilfari, Muspel, Mökkurkálfi, Narfi, Olvaldi, Ragnhild, Rán, Rind, Skaði, Snær, Suttung, Surtr, Thokk, Þjazi, Þrívaldi, Þrúðgelmir, Þrymr, Utgardaloki, Vafþrúðnir, Ymir
Dwarves Alvíss, Andvari, Berling, Brokkr, Durin, Dvalin, Eitri, Fafnir, Fjalar and Galar, Gandalf, Hjuki, Hreidmar, Litr, Lofar, Nordri, Sudri, Austri and Vestri, Nyi and Nidi, Otr, Regin, Sindri
Humans Adils, Agne, Ask, Aslaug (Kraka), Björn Ironside, Bödvar Bjarki, Berserkers, Dag the Wise, Domalde, Draugr, Dyggve, Egil, Einherjar, Embla, Erik and Alrik, Fjölnir, Frodi, Glam, Grimhild, Gylfi, Haddingjar, Hagbard and Signy, Haki, Halfdan, Halfdan the Old, Harald Hildetand, Hedin, Helgi Hundingsbane, Hjalmar, Hrólf Kraki, Hugleik, Hvitserk, Ingeborg, Ingjald, Jorund, Karl, Krimhild, Lif and Lifthrasir, Marmennill, Nór, Ottar, Raum the Old, Röskva, Sigar, Siggeir, Sigmund, Signy, Sigurd, Sigurd Ring, Sinfjötli, Skagul Toste, Skirnir, Sveigder, Svipdag, Þjálfi, Vanlade, Völva, Yngvi and Alf, Yrsa
Beasts Arvak and Alsvid, Auðumbla, Blóðughófi, Eikþyrnir, Fenrisulfr, Garm, Geri and Freki, Grani, Gullinbursti, Gullinkambi, Gulltopp, Hati, Heiðrún, Hildisvíni, Hófvarpnir, Hræsvelgr, Hrímfaxi, Hugin and Munin, Jörmungandr, Lindorm, Mánagarmr, Níðhöggr, Ratatosk, Skinfaxi, Skoll, Sleipnir, Svadilfari, Sæhrímnir, Tanngrisnir and Tanngnjóstr, Varulf, Veðrfölnir
Locations Álfheim, Ásgard, Barri, Bifröst, Bilskirnir, Breidablik, Élivágar, Eliudnir, Fensalir, Fólkvangr, Gimlé, Ginnungagap, Gjallar Bridge, Gjöll, Gladsheim, Glasir, Glitnir, Gnipahellir, Helgrindr, Helveg, Himinbjörg, Hindarfjall, Hörgr, Körmt and Örmt, Idavoll, Jötunheimr, Ironwood, Hlidskjalf, Midgard, Muspelheim, Mirkwood, Náströnd, Niflheim, Noatun, Sessrúmnir, Singasteinn, Slidr River, Sökkvabekkr, Þrúðvangr, Þrymheimr, Utgard, Valhalla, Vanaheim, Hvergelmir, Vigrid, Vimur, Vingólf, Ýdalir, Yggdrasil
Artifacts Andvarinaut, Brisingamen, Draupnir, Eldhrímnir, Gand, Gjallarhorn, Gleipnir, Gram, Grotte, Gungnir, Helskór, Megingjord, Well of Mimir, Mistilteinn, Mjölnir, Naglfar, Óðrerir, Reginnaglar, Hringhorni, Skíðblaðnir, Tyrfing, Well of Urd
Worship Blót, Hörgr, Human sacrifice, Seid, Sumbel, Temple at Uppsala, Thor's Hammer, Völva, Yule

Norse or Scandinavian mythology comprises the pre-Christian religion, beliefs and legends of the Scandinavian people, including those who settled on Iceland, where the written sources for Norse mythology were assembled. Norse mythology is the best-preserved version of the older common Germanic mythology, which also includes the closely related Anglo-Saxon mythology. Germanic mythology, in its turn, had evolved from an earlier Indo-European mythology.

Norse mythology is a collection of beliefs and stories shared by Northern Germanic tribes. It had no one set of doctrinal beliefs. The mythology was orally transmitted in the form of poetry and our knowledge about it is mainly based on the Eddas and other medieval texts written down during and after Christianisation.

In Scandinavian folklore, these beliefs held on the longest, and in rural areas, some traditions have been maintained until today. Others have recently been reinvented as Germanic Neopaganism. The mythology also remains as an inspiration in literature (see Norse mythological influences on later literature) as well as on stage productions and movies.

Contents

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Sources

Most of this mythology was passed down orally, and much of it has been lost. However, some of it was captured and recorded by Christian scholars, particularly in the Eddas and the Heimskringla by Snorri Sturluson, who believed that pre-Christian deities were men and women rather than devils. There is also the Danish Gesta Danorum by Saxo Grammaticus, where, however, the Norse gods are strongly Euhemerized. The Prose or Younger Edda was written in the early 13th century by Snorri Sturluson, who was a leading poet, chieftain, and diplomat in Iceland. It may be thought of primarily as a handbook for aspiring poets. It contains prose explications of traditional "kennings," or compressed metaphors found in poetry. These prose retellings make the various tales of the Norse gods systematic and coherent.

The Poetic Edda (also known as the Elder Edda) was committed to writing about 50 years after the Prose Edda. It contains 29 long poems, of which 11 deal with the Germanic deities, the rest with legendary heroes like Sigurd the Volsung (the Siegfried of the German version Nibelungenlied). Although scholars think it was transcribed later than the other Edda, the language and poetic forms involved in the tales appear to have been composed centuries earlier than their transcription.

Besides these sources, there are surviving legends in Scandinavian folklore. Some of these can be corroborated with legends appearing in other Germanic literatures e.g. the tale related in the Anglo-Saxon Battle of Finnsburgh and the many allusions to mythological tales in Deor. When several partial references and tellings survive, scholars can deduce the underlying tale. Additionally, there are hundreds of place names in Scandinavia named after the gods.

A few runic inscriptions, such as the Rök Runestone and the Kvinneby amulet, make references to the mythology. There are also several runestones and image stones that depict scenes from Norse mythology, such as Thor's fishing trip, scenes from the Völsunga saga, Odin and Sleipnir, Odin being devoured by Fenrir, and one of the surviving stones from the Hunnestad Monument appears to show Hyrrokkin riding to Baldr's funeral (DR 284).

In Denmark, one image stone depicts Loki with curled dandy-like mustaches and lips that are sewn together and the British Gosforth cross shows several intriguing images. There are also smaller images, such as figurines depicting the god Odin (with one eye), Thor (with his hammer) and Freyr (with his erect phallus).

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Cosmology

Scandinavians believed that there were nine existing worlds, among them: Asgard, world of the Æsir;Vanaheimr, home of the Vanir. Valhalla was Odin's hall located within Asgard; it was also home of the Einherjar, who were the souls of the greatest warriors, selected by the valkyries, Odin's horseback riding female messengers whose armor would sparkle on such tasks, supposedly creating the famed Aurora Borealis, or the northern lights. The Einherjar would help defend the gods during Ragnarok, the final battle, when everyone would die in a great battle between the gods and their enemies (cf. good vs. evil or order vs. chaos). Other worlds included: Midgard, the mortal plane; Muspell, world of fire and home of Surt, a giant whose skin was lava and had hair of fire; Niflheim, the icy underworld ruled by Hel, Loki's half-giantess daughter, and home of the frost giants. Alfheim, world of the elves; Svartálfheim, home of the dark elves; Nidavellir, world of the dwarves, tiny men who were great miners and goldsmiths - they would often build magical items for the gods such as Thor's hammer and Freyr's mechanical boar; and Jotunheim, world of the Jotun, or giants. Connecting these worlds was Yggdrasil, or the world ash root, a giant tree with Asgard at its top. Chewing at its roots in Niffleheim was Nidhogg, a ferocious serpent. Asgard can also be reached by Bifrost, the magical rainbow bridge guarded by Heimdall, the mute god of vigilance who could see and hear a thousand miles.

The cosmology of Norse mythology also involves a strong element of duality: for example the night and the day have their own mythological counterparts Dagr/Skinfaxi and Nótt/Hrímfaxi, the sun and the chasing wolf Sol and Skoll, the moon and its chasing wolf Mani and Hati, and the total opposites of Niflheim and Muspell is the origin of the world. This might have reflected a deeper metaphysical belief in opposites as the foundation of the world.

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Supernatural beings

Thor often fought the giants.
Thor often fought the giants.

There are three "clans" of deities, the Æsir, the Vanir, and the Jotun. The distinction between Æsir and Vanir is relative, for the two are said to have made peace, exchanged hostages, intermarried and reigned together after a prolonged war, which the Æsir had finally won. Some gods belong in both camps. Some scholars have speculated that this tale symbolized the way the gods of invading Indo-European tribes supplanted older nature-deities of the aboriginal peoples, although it should be firmly noted that this is conjecture. Other authorities (compare Mircea Eliade and J.P. Mallory) consider the Æsir/Vanir division to be simply the Norse expression of a general Indo-European division of divinities, parallel to that of Olympians and Titans in Greek mythology, and in parts of the Mahabharata.

The Æsir and the Vanir are generally enemies with the Jotun; Old English Eotenas or Entas). They are comparable to the Titans and Gigantes of Greek mythology and generally translated as "giants", although "trolls" and "demons" have been suggested as suitable alternatives. However, the Æsir are descendants of Jotun and both Æsir and Vanir intermarry with them. For example, Loki was the child of two giants, and Hel was half-giantess. Not to mention the first gods, Odin, Vili and Ve were drops of milk from the icy cow Audhumla. Some of the giants are mentioned by name in the Eddas, and they seem to be representations of natural forces. There are two general types of giant: Thurses and the normal thuggish giant, but there was also a giant made of stone and a giant made of fire. There were also elves and dwarfs, whose role is shadowy but who are generally thought to side with the gods.

In addition, there are many other supernatural beings: Fenrir the gigantic wolf, and Jörmungandr the sea-serpent (or "worm") that is coiled around Midgard. These two monsters are described as the progeny of Loki, the trickster-god, and a giant (Hel is the third of these offspring). More benevolent creatures are Hugin and Munin (thought and memory, respectively), the two ravens who keep Odin, the chief god, apprised of what is happening on earth, since he gave his eye to the Well of Mimir in his quest for wisdom, Sleipner, Loki's eight legged horse son belonging to Odin and Ratatosk, the squirrel which scampers in the branches of Yggdrasil.

Along with many other polytheistic religions, this mythology lacks the good-evil dualism of the Middle Eastern tradition. Thus, Loki is not primarily an adversary of the gods, though he is often portrayed in the stories as the nemesis to the protagonist Thor, and the giants are not so much fundamentally evil, as rude, boisterous, and uncivilized (except in the case of the Thurses who were not quite so uncivilized). The dualism that exists is not good vs. evil, but order vs. chaos. The gods represent order and structure whereas the giants and the monsters represent chaos and disorder.

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Völuspá: the origin and end of the world

The origin and eventual fate of the world are described in Völuspá ("The völva's prophecy" or "The sybil's prophecy"), one of the most striking poems in the Poetic Edda. These haunting verses contain one of the most vivid creation accounts in all of religious history and a representation of the eventual destruction of the world that is unique in its attention to detail.

In the Völuspá, Odin, the chief god of the Norse pantheon, has conjured up the spirit of a dead Völva (Shaman or sybil) and commanded this spirit to reveal the past and the future. She is reluctant: "What do you ask of me? Why tempt me?"; but since she is already dead, she shows no fear of Odin, and continually taunts him: "Well, would you know more?" But Odin insists: if he is to fulfil his function as king of the gods, he must possess all knowledge. Once the sybil has revealed the secrets of past and future, she falls back into oblivion: "I sink now".

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The beginning

The Norns spin the threads of fate at the foot of Yggdrasil, the tree of the world.
The Norns spin the threads of fate at the foot of Yggdrasil, the tree of the world.

According to the Scandinavians, the beginning of life starts out with only fire and ice. It began with the existence of only two worlds: Muspell and Niflheim. When the warm air of Muspell hit the cold ice of Niflheim, the outline of the Thurses Ymir and the icy cow Audhumla were created. As Ymir slept, the continuing heat from Muspell made him sweat. He sweat out Surt, a flaming giant who went to Muspell, whose fire made him feel welcome. Later Ymir woke and drank Audhumla's milk. But each drop of milk he spilled became a god: Odin, Vili and Ve. They then created seven more worlds and their inhabitants.

The sybil describes Yggdrasil and the three norns (female symbols of inexorable fate; their names; Urðr (Urd), Verðandandi (Verdandi), and Skuld; indicate the past, present, and future), who spin the threads of fate beneath it. She describes the primeval war between Æsir and Vanir and the murder of Baldr, Odin's handsome son whom everyone but Loki loved. (The story is that everything in existence had promised not to hurt him. Well, everything except Mistltoe spear. Taking advantage of this weakness, Loki tricked Hoder, Odin's blind son and Baldr's brother, into using it to kill Baldr. Hel said she would revive him if everyone in the nine worlds wept. Loki didn't weep) After that she turns her attention to the future.

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The end times (Eschatological beliefs)

The Old Norse vision of the future is bleak. Norse mythology's vision of the end times is uniquely stark and pessimistic: not only are the Norse gods capable of being defeated by residents of Yggdrasil's other branches, but in fact are destined to be defeated, and have always lived with this knowledge. In the end, it was believed, the forces of chaos will outnumber and overcome the divine and human guardians of order. Loki and his monstrous children will burst their bonds; the dead will sail from Niflheim to attack the living. Heimdall, the watchman of the gods, will summon the heavenly host with a blast on his horn. Then will ensue a final battle between order and chaos (Ragnarök), which the gods will lose, as is their fate. The gods, aware of this, will gather the finest warriors, the Einherjar, to fight on their side when the day comes, but in the end they will be powerless to prevent the world from descending into the chaos out of which it has once emerged; the gods and their world will be destroyed. There are two optimistic facts, however: Not only will chaos also be defeated, but a new, better world will emerge from the ashes of the old one. Odin will be swallowed by Fenrir. Thor will kill Jörmungandr , but will drown in its venom. Loki will be the last to die, having taken a wound from Heimdall that, although was taken at the same time as Loki's wound on Heimdall, did not kill the god of chaos and fire so soon.

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The Mythological Beings

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Kings and heroes

The Ramsund carving depicting passages from the Völsunga saga
The Ramsund carving depicting passages from the Völsunga saga

The mythological literature relates the legends of heroes and kings, as well as supernatural creatures. These clan and kingdom founding figures possessed great importance as illustrations of proper action or national origins. The heroic literature may have fulfilled the same function as the national epic in other European literatures, or it may have been more nearly related to tribal identity. Many of the legendary figures probably existed, and generations of Scandinavian scholars have tried to extract history from myth in the sagas.

Sometimes the same hero resurfaces in several forms depending on which part of the Germanic world the epics survived such as Weyland/Völund and Siegfried/Sigurd, and probably Beowulf/Bödvar Bjarki. Other notable heroes are Hagbard, Starkad, Ragnar Lodbrok, Sigurd Ring, Ivar Vidfamne and Harald Hildetand. Notable are also the shieldmaidens who were "ordinary" women who had chosen the path of the warrior. These women function both as heroines and as obstacles to the heroic journey.

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Norse worship

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Centres of faith

Gamla Uppsala, the centre of worship in Sweden until the temple was destroyed the late 11th century.
Gamla Uppsala, the centre of worship in Sweden until the temple was destroyed the late 11th century.

The Germanic tribes rarely or never had temples in a modern sense. The Blót, the form of worship practiced by the ancient Germanic and Scandinavian people resembled that of the Celts and Balts : it could occur in sacred groves. It could also take place at home and/or at a simple altar of piled stones known as a "horgr". However, there seems to have been a few more important centres, such as Skiringsal, Lejre and Uppsala. Adam of Bremen claims that there was a temple in Uppsala (see Temple at Uppsala) with three wooden statues of Thor, Odin and Freyr.

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Priests

While a kind of priesthood seems to have existed, it never took on the professional and semi-hereditary character of the Celtic druidical class. This was because the shamanistic tradition was maintained by women, the Völvas. It is often said that the Germanic kingship evolved out of a priestly office. This priestly role of the king was in line with the general role of godi, who was the head of a kindred group of families (for this social structure, see norse clans), and who administered the sacrifices.

Despite the Shamanistic Völvas, this religion was not a form of Shamanism.

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Human sacrifice

Carl Larsson, "Midwinter Sacrifice", 1915: the sacrifice of King Domalde at Gamla Uppsala.
Carl Larsson, "Midwinter Sacrifice", 1915: the sacrifice of King Domalde at Gamla Uppsala.

A unique eye-witness account of Germanic human sacrifice survives in Ibn Fadlan's account of a Rus ship burial, where a slave-girl had volunteered to accompany her lord to the next world. More indirect accounts are given by Tacitus, Saxo Grammaticus and Adam von Bremen.

However, the Ibn Fadlan account is actually a burial ritual. Current understanding of Norse mythology suggests an ulterior motive to the slave-girl's 'sacrifice'. It is believed that in Norse mythology a woman who joined the corpse of a man on the funeral pyre would be that man's wife in the next world. For a slave girl to become the wife of a lord was an obvious increase in status. Although both religions are of the Indo-European tradition, the sacrifice described in the Ibn Fadlan account is not to be confused with the practice of Sati.

The Heimskringla tells of Swedish King Aun who sacrificed nine of his sons in an effort to prolong his life until his subjects stopped him from killing his last son Egil. According to Adam of Bremen, the Swedish kings sacrificed male slaves every ninth year during the Yule sacrifices at the Temple at Uppsala. The Swedes had the right not only to elect kings but also to depose them, and both king Domalde and king Olof Trätälja are said to have been sacrificed after years of famine.

Odin was associated with death by hanging, and a possible practice of Odinic sacrifice by strangling has some archeological support in the existence of bodies perfectly preserved by the acid of the Jutland (later taken over by Danish people) peatbogs, into which they were cast after having been strangled. An example is Tollund Man. However, we possess no written accounts that explicitly interpret the cause of these stranglings, which could obviously have other explanations.

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Interactions with Christianity

An 1830 portrayal of Ansgar, a Christian missionary invited to Sweden by its king Björn at Hauge in 829.
An 1830 portrayal of Ansgar, a Christian missionary invited to Sweden by its king Björn at Hauge in 829.

An important problem in interpreting this mythology is that often the closest accounts that we have to "pre-contact" times were written by Christians. The Younger Edda and the Heimskringla were written by Snorri Sturluson in the 13th century, over two hundred years after Iceland became Christianized. This results in Snorri's works carrying a large amount of Euhemerism.

Virtually all of the saga literature came out of Iceland, a relatively small and remote island, and even in the climate of religious tolerance there, Snorri was guided by an essentially Christian viewpoint. The Heimskringla provides some interesting insights into this issue. Snorri introduces Odin as a mortal warlord in Asia who acquires magical powers, settles in Sweden, and becomes a demi-god following his death. Having undercut Odin's divinity, Snorri then provides the story of a pact of Swedish King Aun with Odin to prolong his life by sacrificing his sons. Later in the Heimskringla, Snorri records in detail how converts to Christianity such as Saint Olaf Haraldsson brutally converted Scandinavians to Christianity.

One gruesome form of execution occurred during the Christianization of Norway. King Olaf Tryggvason had male völvas (sejdmen) tied and left on a skerry at ebb.
One gruesome form of execution occurred during the Christianization of Norway. King Olaf Tryggvason had male völvas (sejdmen) tied and left on a skerry at ebb.

Trying to avert civil war, the Icelandic parliament voted in Christianity, but for some years tolerated heathenry in the privacy of one's home. Sweden, on the other hand, had a series of civil wars in the 11th century, which ended with the burning of the Temple at Uppsala. In England, on the other hand, Christianization occurred earlier and sporadically, rarely by force. Conversion by coercion was sporadic throughout the areas where Norse gods had been worshipped. However, the conversion did not happen overnight. Christian clergy did their utmost to teach the populace that the Norse gods were demons, but their success was limited and the gods never became evil in the popular mind in most of Scandinavia.

Two centrally located and far from isolated settlements can illustrate how long the Christianization took. Archaeological studies of graves at the Swedish island of Lovön have shown that the Christianisation took 150-200 years, and this was a location close to the kings and bishops. Likewise in the bustling trading town of Bergen, many runic inscriptions have been found from the 13th century, among the Bryggen inscriptions. One of them says may Thor receive you, may Odin own you, and a second one is a galdra which says I carve curing runes, I carve salvaging runes, once against the elves, twice against the trolls, thrice against the thurs. The second one also mentions the dangerous Valkyrie Skögul.

Otherwise there are few accounts from the 14th to the 18th century, but the clergy, such as Olaus Magnus (1555) wrote about the difficulties of extinguishing the old beliefs. The story related in Þrymskviða appears to have been unusually resilient, like the romantic story of Hagbard and Signy, and versions of both were recorded in the 17th century and as late as the 19th century. In the 19th and early 20th century Swedish folklorists documented what commoners believed, and what surfaced were many surviving traditions of the gods of Norse mythology. However, the traditions were by then far from the cohesive system of Snorri's accounts. Most gods had been forgotten and only the hunting Odin and the giant-slaying Thor figure in numerous legends. Freyja is mentioned a few times and Baldr only survives in legends about place names.

Other elements of Norse mythology survived without being perceived as such, especially concerning supernatural beings in Scandinavian folklore. Moreover, the Norse belief in destiny has been very firm until modern times. Since the Christian hell resembled the abode of the dead in Norse mythology one of the names was borrowed from the old faith, Helvíti i.e. Hel's punishment. Some elements of the Yule traditions were preserved, such as the Swedish tradition of slaughtering the pig at Christmas (Christmas ham), which originally was part of the sacrifice to Freyr.

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Modern influences

Day Origin
Monday Moon's day
Tuesday Tyr's (Tiw's) day
Wednesday Odin's (Wodin's) day
Thursday Thor's day
Friday Frigg's or Freyja's day
Sunday Sun's day

The Germanic gods have left numerous traces in modern vocabulary and elements of every day western life in most Germanic language speaking countries. An example of this is some of the names of the days of the week: modelled after the names of the days of the week in Latin (named after Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, Saturn), the names for Tuesday through to Friday were replaced with Germanic equivalents of the Roman gods. In English, Saturn was not replaced, while Saturday is named after the sabbath in German, and is called "washing day" in Scandinavia.

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Germanic neopaganism

More recent have been attempts in both Europe and the United States to revive the old Germanic religion as Germanic Neopaganism, variously under the names of Ásatrú, Odinism, Wotanism, Forn Sed or Heathenry. In Iceland Ásatrú was recognized by the state as an official religion in 1973, which legalized its marriage, child-naming and other ceremonies. It is also an official and legal religion in all the Nordic countries, though it is still fairly new.

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Modern popular culture

Norse mythology also influenced Richard Wagner's use of literary themes from it to compose the four operas that make up Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung) - inspiring and laying the foundation for numerous similarly inspired works.

Subsequently, J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings was heavily influenced by the indigenous beliefs of the pre-Christian Northern Europeans. As that work became popular, elements of its fantasy world moved steadily into popular perceptions of the fantasy genre. In nearly any modern fantasy novel today can be found such Norse creatures as elves, dwarves, and frost giants. Subsequently, Norse mythology has also left a lot of influences in popular culture, in literature and modern fiction.

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See also

Spelling of names in Norse mythology often varies depending on the nationality of the source material. For more information see Old Norse orthography.

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External links

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Bibliography

Norse mythology
List of Norse gods | Æsir | Vanir | Giants | Elves | Dwarves | Valkyries | Einherjar | Norns | Odin | Thor | Freyr | Freyja | Loki | Balder | Tyr | Yggdrasil | Ginnungagap | Ragnarök
Sources: Poetic Edda | Prose Edda | The Sagas | Volsung Cycle | Tyrfing Cycle | Rune stones | Old Norse language | Orthography | Later influence
Society: Viking Age | Skald | Kenning | Blót | Seid | Numbers
The nine worlds of Norse mythology | People, places and things

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