1. Education

Norse Gods and Goddesses


The Norse gods are divided into two major groups, the Aesir and Vanir, in addition to the giants who came first. Some believe the Vanir gods represent an older pantheon of the indigenous people whom the invading Indo-Europeans encountered. In the end, the Aesir, the newcomers, overcame and assimilated the Vanir.


Alberich in Lego
CC Flickr User gwdexter
In Norse mythology, Andvari (Alberich) guards treasures, including Tarnkappe, a cape of invisibility, and gives Loki the magic ring of the Aesir, which is called Draupnir.


18th century Icelandic manuscript showing Balder being Killed by Hod and Loki.
18th century Icelandic manuscript SÁM 66 in the care of the Árni Magnússon Institute in Iceland.

Balder is an Aesir god and a son of Odin and Frigg. Balder was the husband of Nanna, father of Forseti. He was killed with mistletoe thrown by his blind brother Hod. According to Saxo Grammaticus, Hod (Hother) did it on his own; others blame Loki.


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


Freyja, Cats and Angels, by Nils Blommer (1816-1853)
CC Flickr User Thomas Roche
Freya is a Vanir goddess of sex, fertility, war, and wealth, daughter of Njord. She was taken in by the Aesir, perhaps as hostage.


Odin, Thor and Freyr or three Christian kings on the 12th century Skog Church tapestry
Public Domain. 12th-Century Tapestry of the Skog Church, Hälsingland, Sweden

Freyr is a Norse god of weather and fertility; brother of Freya. The dwarves build Freyr a ship, Skidbladnir, that can hold all the gods or fit in his pocket. Freyr goes as a hostage to the Aesir, along with Njord and Freya. He courts the giantess Gerd through his servant Skirnir.


Frigg is a Norse goddess of love and fertility. In some accounts she is Odin's wife, making her foremost among the Aesir goddesses. She is the mother of Balder. Friday is named for her.


Hod is a son of Odin. Hod is the blind god of winter who kills his brother Balder and is in turn killed by his brother Vali.


Loki with his fishing net
18th century Icelandic manuscript SÁM 66 in the care of the Árni Magnússon Institute in Iceland.

Loki is a giant in Norse mythology. He is also a trickster, the god of thieves, possibly responsible for Balder's death. Adopted brother of Odin, Loki is bound to a rock until Ragnarok.


Mimir is the wise one and Odin's uncle. He guards the well of wisdom under Yggdrasil. Once he is decapitated, Odin gets wisdom from the severed head.


In Norse mythology, Nanna is the daughter of Nef and Balder's wife. Nanna dies of grief at the death of Balder and is burnt with him on his funeral pyre. Nanna is the mother of Forseti.


Njord is a Vanir god of wind and sea. He is the father of Freya and Frey. Njord's wife is the giantess Skadi who selects him on the basis of his feet, which she thought belonged to Balder.


The Norns are the fates in Norse mythology. The Norns may once have guarded the fountain at the base of Yggdrasil.


Odin on Sleipnir the 8-legged Horse
CC Flickr User mararie
Odin is the head of the Aesir gods. Odin is the Norse god of war, poetry, wisdom, and death. He gathers his portion of the slain warriors in Valhalla. Odin has a spear, Grungir, that never misses. He makes sacrifices, including his eye, for the sake of knowledge.


Thor With His Hammer and Belt
18th century Icelandic manuscript SÁM 66 in the care of the Árni Magnússon Institute in Iceland.
Thor is the Norse thunder god, the main enemy of the giants, and the son of Odin. The common man calls upon Thor in preference to his father, Odin.


Tyr and Fenrir
18th century Icelandic manuscript "NKS 1867 4to", at the Danish Royal Library.
Tyr is the Norse god of war. He put his hand in the mouth of the Fenris wolf. Thereafter, Tyr is left-handed.

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