The Gods that the Vikings Worshipped
The Vikings worshipped a host of gods and goddesses like most other god-fearing communities. Religion was an integral component of the Vikings’ lives as they set out in raids and conquest; they need the favour of their gods for success.
Important Viking Gods
Three of the most important gods which the Vikings revered and worshiped are Odin, Thor and Freyr.
Odin was known to be the leader of Viking gods. He was noted as the god of magic, war and poetry. His wife was Frigg. Odin was noted for his poetic inspiration and ecstasy. He was known as a sorcerer before rising to become a god. He was served by Huginn and Muninn, 2 ravens and Geri and Freki, 2 wolves. Odin also owned an eight-legged horse called Slepnir.
He was thought to be one-eyed after sacrificing his eye at Mímir’s well. He hung himself as a sacrifice on Yggdrasil, the world tree with his own spear Gungnir to acquire the magical runes wisdom.
Thor was one of Odin’s sons known as the god of thunder. It was assumed that Thor had iron gloves, his dynamic hammer and a magic belt. Thor was also known as the god of protection for the Vikings who called upon him for protection against cold, hunger, enemies and other dangers.
He was known as a revered hero god who protected Asgard and Midgard from dangers such as giants and monsters. Thor found a place in the hearts of farmers who looked to him for protection over their crops and produce. Thor’s wife was Sif, who was a golden-haired goddess, although his lover was Jötunn Járnsaxa.
His famous hammer was known as Mjöllnir which was one of his main treasures besides his iron gloves and a magical belt. Thor had a daughter Þrúðr by Sif and a son Magni by Járnsaxa. Thor lived in Thrudheim which was known as the ‘Home of Strength’. He was described by sources to be fierce with red hair and red beard.
The Vikings encountered giants called the Rimturs and the Bergresar whom they feared despite their fearless and violent nature as raiders. These giants were from the cold world and mountains which threatened the existence of the Vikings. They would call on their gods for protection and success when encounter troubles.
Freyr or Frej was the Viking’s god of fertility and agriculture who was worshiped regularly throughout the year for continued prosperity. His twin was Freyja the goddess of fertility and love who wept golden tears when unhappy.
Other Viking Mystical Gods
Vikings hold on to many types of gods which many could have been sagas or fables. These include stories about encounters with giants, dragons and trolls which were out to disrupt the lives of Vikings using their magic, mischief and trickery.
Hence, Vikings were thought to be living in Middle Earth called Midgard while their gods lived in the sky world called Asgard. The myth spoke of a beautiful rainbow bridge linking Asgard to Midgard.
Another revered god of the Vikings is Loki. Loki was known to be a bit more hostile than other Viking gods as he acted with cunning and guile for his own benefits. Loki was also a son of Odin and had two sons, Nari and Narfi by his wife Sigyn. But Loki also indulged in the underworld with giantess Angrboda where he fathered monsters Hel, Fenrir and Jörmungand.
However, Loki was Thor’s close companion when the former helped the latter in battles with the giants as well as retrieving back Thor’s stolen hammer. Loki was a known trickster that could change and shift shapes. He was finally punished by the other gods who could not excuse his treacherous actions against humans and gods.
Balder was a young god of the Æsir who was also a son of Odin. He was mentioned in one of the famous Merseburg Incantations. Legend had it that Balder had evil dreams and became invulnerable from the vow of his mother to protect him. However, Loki made a mistletoe weapon and instigated Höðr to kill Balder with it.
Heimdall was known as the whitest gods. He was a son of Odin, who dwelled in Himinbjörg or Heaven Mountain near Bifröst which was the bridge connecting heaven and earth. Heimdall was the guardian of Viking gods with a keen ear and acute eyesight.
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