Heimdall | Norse Mythology “Heimdall on the Rainbow Bridge” by Emil Doepler (1905) Heimdall (pronounced “HAME-doll;” Old Norse Heimdallr, whose meaning/etymology is unknown) is one of the Aesir gods and the ever-vigilant guardian of the gods’ stronghold, Asgard. His dwelling is called Himinbjörg (“Sky Cliffs,” connoting a high place ideal for a fortress), which sits at the top of Bifrost, the rainbow bridge that leads to Asgard. During Ragnarok, the gods know that their doom is at hand when they hear the dire call of Gjallarhorn signaling the imminent arrival of the giants, who cross the rainbow bridge to storm Asgard and kill the gods. Taken together, certain verses in Old Norse poetry seem to indicate that Heimdall was once considered to be the father of humankind, and possibly to have established the hierarchical structure of Norse society as well. Heimdall himself is, like so many of the Norse deities, a son of Odin. References:  Turville-Petre, E.O.G. 1964.  Snorri Sturluson.
Giants “The Nøkk Screams” by Theodor Kittelsen (c. 1900) The giants of the pre-Christian mythology and religion of the Norse and other Germanic peoples are a tribe of spiritual beings whose power equals that of the two tribes of gods, the Aesir and the Vanir. Their character, however, is very different from that of the gods – and, in fact, the giants and the gods correspond to opposing, but intertwined, cosmological principles. The Devourers “Giants” is a misleading Anglicization of the name of these beings. Speakers of Old Norse called them jötnar (singular jötunn, pronounced roughly “YO-tun”) or þursar (singular þurs, pronounced “THURS” like the first element in “Thursday” but with a soft “s” at the end). How, then, did these “devourers” come to be called “giants?” Now that we’ve addressed these important linguistic considerations, we’re in a much better position for exploring who these “devourers,” as we’ll now call them, are, and what their role is in the pre-Christian Germanic worldview.
Valhalla In Norse mythology, Valhalla (from Old Norse Valhöll "hall of the slain") is a majestic, enormous hall located in Asgard, ruled over by the god Odin. Chosen by Odin, half of those who die in combat travel to Valhalla upon death, led by valkyries, while the other half go to the goddess Freyja's field Fólkvangr. In Valhalla, the dead join the masses of those who have died in combat known as Einherjar, as well as various legendary Germanic heroes and kings, as they prepare to aid Odin during the events of Ragnarök. Valhalla is attested in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources, the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson, Heimskringla, also written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson, and in stanzas of an anonymous 10th century poem commemorating the death of Eric Bloodaxe known as Eiríksmál as compiled in Fagrskinna. Attestations Poetic Edda Grímnismál Helgakviða Hundingsbana II Prose Edda
Norse mythology An undead völva, a Scandinavian seeress, tells the spear-wielding god Odin of what has been and what will be in Odin and the Völva by Lorenz Frølich (1895) For the practices and social institutions of the Norse pagans, see Norse paganism Norse mythology, or Scandinavian mythology, is the body of mythology of the North Germanic people stemming from Norse paganism and continuing after the Christianization of Scandinavia and into the Scandinavian folklore of the modern period. Most of the surviving mythology centers on the plights of the gods and their interaction with various other beings, such as humanity and the jötnar, beings who may be friends, lovers, foes and/or family members of the gods. Norse mythology has been a discussion of scholarly interpretation and debate since the 17th century, when key texts were brought to the attention of the intellectual circles of Europe. Sources Numerous further texts, such as the sagas, provide further information. Mythology
Nerthus | Norse Mythology The “Venus of Willendorf” (c. 23,000 BCE, found in modern-day Austria) Nerthus (Proto-Germanic *Nerþus) is a pre-Christian goddess venerated by some of the continental Germanic tribes described by the Roman historian Tacitus in his Germania (authored about 100 CE). Tacitus provides us with the following haunting description of her veneration: [The Reudigni, Aviones, Anglii, Varini, Eudoses, Saurines, and Nuitones] share a common worship of Nerthus, or Mother Earth. Tacitus’s account has been corroborated by archaeology, as a number of finds have demonstrated that practices such as the one he describes here did indeed take place during the period in question, and, in fact, even farther back in the history of the Germanic peoples. Nerthus’s name also suggests a connection with the Vanir deities. Given Tacitus’s identification of Nerthus with Terra Mater (“Mother Earth”), it’s also tempting to identify Nerthus with Jörð (Old Norse “Earth”), the obscure mother of Thor. References:
Gods of Asgard Dimension of Origin: Unrevealed, possibly AsgardHabitat: TemperateGravity: Earth-likeAtmosphere: Earth-likePopulation: 500-800 (estimated)Other Associated Dimensions: The Asgardian dimension is a cosmology of inter-connected worlds of which inhabit the other known races of the Asgardian gods. Among these are Asgard (home of the gods), Vanaheim (former home of the Vanir), Alfheim (home of elves), Nidavellir (home of dwarves), Jotunheim (home of the Jotuns or giants), Svartlheim (home of the dark elves), Hel (the land of the dead) and Niffleheim (the frozen land reserved for the dishonored dead). Among these realms is Midgard, the Norse name for Earth. The Gods of Asgard are a race of superhumanly powerful humanoid beings who were once worshipped by the ancient Norse and German tribes of Western and Northern Europe between 1100 BC to 1200 AD. The precise origin of the Asgardian gods, like that of all of Earth's pantheons of gods, is shrouded in legend. ==Characteristics== ==Powers==
Njord | Norse Mythology “Njord’s Desire of the Sea” by W.G. Collingwood (1908) Njord (pronounced “NYORD;” Old Norse Njörðr, whose meaning/etymology is unknown) is one of the principal gods of the Vanir tribe of deities. He’s also an honorary member of the Aesir gods, having been sent to them during the Aesir-Vanir War along with his son, Freyr, and his daughter, Freya. Freyr and Freya’s mother is Njord’s unnamed sister, who, based on linguistic evidence, is probably Nerthus. Njord was particularly associated with wealth, fertility, the sea, and seafaring in historical Germanic religion. A saying among the Norse peoples held especially wealthy people to be “as rich as Njord.” The tale in which Njord features most prominently is The Marriage of Njord and Skadi. Unfortunately, that’s about all that the surviving sources tell us about Njord. If you enjoyed this article, check out my book on the worldview at the heart of Norse mythology, The Love of Destiny: The Sacred and the Profane in Germanic Polytheism.
Odin | Norse Mythology Odin (pronounced “OH-din”; Old Norse Óðinn, Old English and Old Saxon Woden, Old High German Wuotan, Wotan, or Wodan, Proto-Germanic *Woðanaz, “Master of Ecstasy”) is one of the most complex and enigmatic characters in Norse mythology, and perhaps in all of world literature. He’s the chief of the Aesir tribe of deities, yet he often ventures far from their kingdom, Asgard, on long, solitary wanderings throughout the cosmos on purely self-interested quests. He’s a relentless seeker after and giver of wisdom, but he has little regard for communal values such as justice, fairness, or respect for law and convention. He’s the divine patron of rulers, and also of outcasts. He’s a war-god, but also a poetry-god, and he has prominent transgender qualities that would bring unspeakable shame to any traditional Norse/Germanic warrior. He’s worshiped by those in search of prestige, honor, and nobility, yet he’s often cursed for being a fickle trickster. What’s in a Name? War Sovereignty Poetry
Freya | Norse Mythology Freya (Old Norse Freyja, “Lady”) is one of the preeminent goddesses in Norse mythology. She’s a member of the Vanir tribe of deities, but became an honorary member of the Aesir gods after the Aesir-Vanir War. Her father is Njord. Her mother is unknown, but could be Nerthus. Freyr is her brother. Freya is famous for her fondness of love, fertility, beauty, and fine material possessions – and, because of these predilections, she’s considered to be something of the “party girl” of the Aesir. Freya presides over the afterlife realm Folkvang, whose inhabitants she selects from among the warriors slain in battle. Freya the Völva Seidr is a form of pre-Christian Norse magic and shamanism concerned with discerning destiny and altering its course by re-weaving part of its web. This power could potentially be put to any use imaginable, and examples that cover virtually the entire range of the human condition can be found in Old Norse literature. Freya and Frigg References:  The Poetic Edda.