Norse 101, Part 1

I’m sure most of you have at least heard of the Norse pantheon.  If anything, you might know some of Their names by way of the Marvel films or comics.  Perhaps you’ve met a Heathen or an Asatru at a local pagan gathering.  Browse blog posts on WordPress long enough, and you’re sure to come across something written by a devotee.  I’m writing a series of posts to introduce you to some of the Norse traditions, ideals and beliefs, and our Gods and Goddesses.  I’ll be sure to recommend some websites and books for you to read if you want to delve further into things for yourself, which I highly encourage.  Always read, always learn, always ask questions, and always dig deeper!

Let’s begin with a general overview of the Norse ways.  There are many different manners in which people honor the Norse Gods and Goddesses.  Some people choose to recreate rituals with as much historical accuracy as possible, relying heavily on the remaining recorded lore.  Others take a more modernized approach and lean less on the lore.  There are some that have read the lore, but prefer to base their practice mostly on unverified personal gnosis (UPG).  Personally, I don’t see just one “right” way to honor the Gods, so long as what you do comes from your heart.  Nor do you have to be a devotee to request Their assistance in a ritual, spell, or situation, so long as you are respectful to Them and make an appropriate offering.   

Here’s a quick introduction of some of the more well-known deities of the pantheon.  This will be helpful when I explain the Norse cosmology.  We’ll start with Odin, the All-Father and king of Asgard.  His wife is Frigg (or Frigga) the All-Mother and queen.  Thor, the God of Thunder, is one of Odin’s sons as is Baldur.  Loki is Odin’s blood-brother, and Thor’s close friend and traveling companion.  Freyr (or Frey) and Freyja (or Freya) are brother and sister.  Freyr is a God of fertility and agriculture while Freyja is a Goddess of beauty, love, and battle.  The Norse sky has a sun Goddess, Sunna, and a moon God, Mani.  Hel, Loki’s daughter, is the Goddess of the Norse underworld, and Her hall is where all those who did not die gloriously in battle end up.

It is important to note that Norse mythology was mainly an oral tradition until a monk named Snorri Sturluson compiled and recorded the stories well after the region converted to Christianity.  Some scholars suspect that Sturluson’s Christian views altered the original stories in an effort to reflect his own religious ideals.  But that is a question that will never have a definitive answer.  If you’d like to read them, the book The Norse Myths by Heilan Yvette Grimes is a plain-English translation that is very easy to understand.  

Next week, we’ll look into the Norse creation story.  That post will be a bit longer than this first introduction.  It’s a lot of information to condense into one post, but I’ll do my best to keep it short and sweet.  And if you have any questions, or if there’s something in particular you’d like to see, please don’t hesitate to ask!  See you next Friday!

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