Marvel’s Thor, Odin, and Loki may be the most well-known depiction of Norse gods in modern day, but that was not always the case. Long before they became cinematically profitable, these gods played an important role in the lives of Vikings, giving them hope and courage while providing entertainment and morale lessons through the stories told about them.
Thor, the Most Popular God
Most Vikings worshiped Thor as the master of battle and fertility. Because he was reliable, he was revered in the domain of law and order. Thor’s predictability made him the god for the common man. He wielded his mighty hammer, Mjöllnir, with great strength, could control thunder and lightning, and drove a chariot pulled by the goats, Tanngnjóstr and Tanngrisnir. Thor was strong enough to face the giants of Jötunheimar in battle. Thor’s appeal for the non-warriors included his steadfast nature.
Odin, the Allfather
Odin was the father of the gods. He sacrificed an eye to drink from Mímir’s well, the place of all wisdom. Odin, however, was unpredictable, which did not endear him to the common people. As the god of war and the ruler of Valhalla, Odin was, instead, revered by kings, warrior chieftains, and their men. They believed that if they died in battle, Valkyries, maiden servants of Odin, would come to take them to Valhalla, the land of paradise. These believers’ worship of Odin would certainly be a boon to helping them get into the warrior afterlife.
Loki, the Trickster
In Norse mythology, Loki is a giant (Jotun), who lives in Asgard, because he is also blood brother to Odin. He lies, cheats, and plays the gods against the giants. The other gods tolerate him, because his slyness can be an asset, like when he negotiated with the dwarves to get them to forge Mjöllnir. Loki was a shapeshifter who could change genders. He notably caused the death of the god Baldur when he discovered that god’s weakness. Loki fathered the goddess of death, Hel; Jörmungand, the serpent that surrounds the world; Fenrir (Fenrisúlfr), the wolf; and Sleipnir, Odin’s eight-legged horse. His untrustworthiness makes him a good foe for Thor and the other gods.
As a pantheistic culture, Norse Mythology is full of gods and goddesses. Their stories made up a complex religion that is incompletely understood today because of the lack of written information available. Asgard Alaska aims to help people understand Viking-era culture more fully through hands-on experiences and storytelling. Your donations ensure that these stories are never forgotten.