Introduction To Norse Mythology
By Molly Kalafut
Norse mythology are the pre-Christian stories of the Norwegian, Swedish, Icelandic and Danish peoples and has influences from Indo-European and Shamanistic beliefs. The "Poetic Edda" and "Prose Edda" are the first written collections of Norse myths dating to the 1200s. The Eddas were written a few hundred years after Christianity had been introduced to the region so it can be difficult to tell what elements were included by the Christian church.
The jotuns are frost giants that personify the forces of nature and winter, and are generally enemies of men and gods. They existed before the Aesir gods. They were described as having heads of stone, and feet of ice. Some could change their shape into wolves and eagles. The trolls were members of the jotun race.
Aesir & Asynjer
Of the two groups of gods (Aesir and Vanir), the Aesir are the younger Iron Age cult brought to the north from eastern Indo-European tribes. Their chief was Odin, and they extolled the virtues of masculinity, honor, vengeance and war. Their long hair was a symbol of their masculinity. The Asynjr wives also had long beautiful hair - cutting it was a terrible crime.
These may have been the earliest gods of the Bronze Age for fertility. It is thought they started in a milder climate, then later replaced in the Iron Age by the Aesir gods of storm and war. The battle of the Aesir and Vanir that brought Njord, Frey and Freya to Asgard represents the merging of the two cults.
The Norns are three spirits (Ur, Verdande and Skuld) of destiny who live by the well of fate and water the world tree Yggdrasil. They spin a thread of life to determine each person's fate.
Odin's warrior maidens who decided which warriors died in battle then carried the dead to Valhalla. They are depicted six, nine or thirteen at a time.
Copyright 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and beyond! By Molly Kalafut