Norse Gods

Aegir: (or Hler) He is the god of the sea, and dwells on the island of Lessoe (or Hlesey). He is usually depicted as an old man with a long white beard. He is said to trigger storms and tempests and, on occasion, even calm the weather. Aegir is also suspected of greed, often sinking vessels and bringing them down with him to the depths of the ocean.

Aesir: This is the collective name given to the warrior gods who live in Asgard.

Alfheim: Of the nine worlds, this is the world of the Light Elves.

Asgard: Of the nine worlds, this is the world of the Aesir, or the warrior gods. In Asgard the gods built their halls, one of which is Valhalla.

Audhumla: The cow created in the hoar-frost of Ginnungagap. When Audhumla became hungry, she began licking the salt from the sheets of ice. After continuous licking, the cow uncovered from the ice the body of Buri, whose grandsons are the gods Odin, Vili, and Ve.

Balder: He is the god of innocence and light, and often considered to be the most cherished of the Aesir. He is a son of Odin and Frigga and the twin brother of Hodur. Balder is usually depicted as a handsome youth with blue eyes and golden-red hair, which radiates the beams of the sun and warms the hearts of men. In fact, everything in the cosmos so loved Balder, that all swore to protect his life. . .all except a single sprig of mistletoe growing on an oak tree near the gate of Valhalla. It was from this mistletoe that Loki fashioned an arrow, which he gave to Hodur. A popular game amongst the gods was to shoot arrows at Balder, and knowing full well that nothing could kill him, Balder considered it an exciting sport. However, when Hodur shot the mistletoe arrow, it instantly killed Balder and brought untold grief upon the gods. The Norse festival held on the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, is in honor of Balder. It is believed to be the anniversary of his death, as the sun's rays become less warm and the days grow shorter.

Beserker Rage: At certain times, Odin was said to give to his warriors the gift of beserker rage, which enabled the warrior, although weaponless and naked, to perform great feats of strength and valor.

Bifrost: This is the name given to the rainbow (or flaming) bridge, which spans the gap between Midgard and Asgard.

Bragi: He is the god of poetry and music, and is Odin's son. Idun is Bragi's wife.

Eastre: (or Ostara) This Saxon goddess is associated with Frigga and is linked to the resurrection of nature during spring after the long death of winter. Eggs were also associated with Eastre because of their symbolic relationship with the beginning of life. It is said that this goddess was so loved, that the early Christian Northmen refused to abandon the festival of Eastre. The festival in honor of this goddess was combined with the story of Christ's resurrection for an easy Christianizing process of the Northmen, and the name of Easter survives as a Christian holiday to this day.

Forseti: He is the god of justice, and the son of Balder and Nanna.

Frey: (or Freyr, Fro) He is the powerful god of the fairyland. He is the leader of the Vanir fertility gods.

Freya: (or Freyja) She is the personification of the earth. She is the sister of Frey and the leader of the Vanir fertility goddesses.

Frigga: (or Frigg) This goddess is Odin's wife, and Balder's mother. She is the leader of the Aesir goddesses.

Fulla: (or Volla, Abundia, Abundantia) This beautiful maiden was Frigga's attendant. She was often called upon by Frigga to help help mortals who called upon Frigga for help.

Ginnungagap: In the Norse creation myth, this is the name given to the massive chasm where fire from Muspellheim and ice from Niflheim fused to bring about life. This abyss was covered in eternal twilight, and as fire and ice met, great clouds of steam rose from the chasm. In time, the steam froze and created hoar-frost which filled Ginnungagap. The first two creatures to emerge in the sheets of hoar-frost in Ginnungagap are Ymir (a frost giant) and Audhumla (a cow).

Heimdall: This god guards Bifrost, the rainbow bridge, and is the possessor the great horn Gjall. At Ragnarok, when the giants mass to attack Asgard, Heimdall will sound the horn Gjall to announce the ensuing battle. He lives in the hall named Himinbjorg.

Hel: This is the land of the dead. See also: Niflheim.

Hermod: This god is one of Odin's sons who traveled to Hel, attempting to bring his brother Balder back from the underworld.

Hodur: (also Hod) He is the god of darkness, and believed to be blind and somber. He is a son of Odin and Frigga and twin brother to Balder. With an arrow given to him by Loki, Hodur killed the beloved Balder.

Hrungnir: He was a frost giant

Idun: She is the personification of spring and youth.

Jotunheim: Of the nine worlds, this is the world of the Giants.

Loki: This trickster god is the son of two giants, but usually dwells in Asgard. He is associated with mischief and misbehavior. Throughout history he gradually succumbs to the temptations of evil, and eventually instigates the death of Balder by supplying Hodur with the mistletoe arrow. Loki is punished for his malevolence and is eventually confined until Ragnarok.

Lorelei: She is a water nymph, and daughter to Father Rhine.

Midgard: Of the nine worlds, this is the Middle World, or land of men.

Mimir's Well: Odin obtained wisdom at this fountain located in Jotunheim.

Muspellheim: Of the nine worlds, this is the world of fire. It is said to be the first world to exist, and will be the last. The flame giant named Surt (or Surtr) guards its entrance with a flaming sword, and at Ragarok he and the sons of Muspell will come to kill the gods and burn the entire world.

Nidhogg: This dragon, who dwells in Niflheim, gnaws on the roots of Yggdrasill.

Nifleim: (or Niflhel, Hel) Of the nine worlds, this is the world of the dead.

Nidavellir: Of the nine worlds, this is the world of the Dwarfs.

Niord: He is the god of Summer and is always depicted as a handsome young man in the prime of youth.

Norns, the: (or the Fates) These three goddesses are the keepers of destiny. Urd (Fate), Skuld (Being), and Verandi (Necessity).

  Odin: (or Wuotan, Woden) He is the holiest of Norse gods, and sits on the throne of Asgard called Hlidskialf. All other gods are descended from him, thus he is surnamed Allfather. He is usually depicted as middle aged with dark hair (or bald with a hat or hood) and a gray beard. In his hand he carries the spear Gungnir, and on his finger he wears the ring Draupnir, a symbol of prosperity. Odin is always represented with one eye hidden, as he sacrificed an eye to gain wisdom at Mimir's Well.

Ragnarok: This is the name given to the battle between the gods and the giants, which will consequently bring about the death of the gods and the end of the world.

Ran: This goddess is Aegir's wife. She is reputed to be cruel and often lurks near dangerous rocks, luring ships to their doom.

Ratatosk: This squirrel scampers up and down the trunk of Yggdrasill with conveying enigmatic messages between the eagle perched in its branches and the dragon Nidhogg at the root in Nifleim.

Sif: She is Thor's wife. When her beautiful hair was cut off by Loki, the dwarfs made for her a wig to replace it.

Skadi: She is the goddess of winter, and is associated with hunting.

Sleipnir: Odin's eight-footed war horse.

Svartalfheim: Of the nine worlds, this is the world of the Dark Elves.

Thor: This powerful god is a son of Odin, and second in command under his father. He welds a hammer and is ruler of the sky and thunder.

Tyr: (or Tiu, Ziu) He is the god of war, and known to be the bravest of the gods.

Uller: He is the god of winter.

Utgard: This is the fortress of the giants located in Jotunheim.

Utgard-Loki: He is a giant, and the personification of evil.

Valhalla: This great hall situated in Asgard is where warriors are brought who die an honorable death in battle. Each night in Valhalla there is a feast in which Odin, himself, occasionally participates. During the day, the warriors fight each other, sharpening their skills in combat for the final battle at Ragnarok, where they will side with the gods against the forces of the frost giants.

Vali: This god is a son of Odin, and was born for the sole purpose of taking vengeance upon Loki for Balder's murder.

Valkyrs: These battle women ride through the clouds and carry the warriors who have died in battle to Valhalla. It is said that the Valkyrs decide who will die in combat.

Vanaheim: Of the nine worlds, this is the world of the Vanir.

Vidar: This god is a son of Odin and will be the only god to survive Ragnarok. He will live to avenge the death Odin.

Waves, the: These young goddess are the daughters of Aegir, the god of the ocean, and Ran.

Yggdrasill: (or Yggdrasil) This giant ash tree grows through the center of the nine worlds. It was neither born, nor will it ever die ... Yggdrasill is eternal and pervades the cosmos. The fruit of this tree guarantees a harmless childbirth, and the dew from its leaves is the sweet nectar from which bees make honey. High in its branches it is said lives an eagle, and at its lowest roots dwells the dragon Nidhogg. Upon its trunk, the squirrel Ratatosk scampers from roots to branches carrying cryptic messages between the dragon and the eagle. The tree gathers water from three wells, one of which is in Asgard and is called the Well of Urd, another is in Midgard and is called Mimir's Well, and the third is in Niflheim and is known as the Spring of Hvergelmir. In order to learn the wisdom of the dead, Odin willingly suspended himself on Yggdrasill for nine nights, during which time he was pierced in his abdomen by a spear. Legend also states that upon Ragnarok (the end of the world) there will be a man and a woman, Lif and Lifthrasir, who will hide inside the trunk to survive the devastation. This couple will bear children and begin a new phase in the cycle of man.

Ymir: (also Aurgelmir) He is the frost giant created in Ginnungagap at the fusion of fire and ice. From the sweat of his armpit a son and a daughter were born, and from his feet was born the six-headed giant Thrudgelmir. After Buri is uncovered in the ice of Ginnungagap, Buri's three grandsons kill Ymir. From Ymir's body the nine worlds of the Norse cosmos are made.