Freyr | Norse Mythology “Freyr” by Johannes Gehrts (1901) Freyr (pronounced “FREY-ur;” Old Norse Freyr, “Lord”) is a god who belongs to the Vanir tribe of deities. He’s also an honorary member of the other tribe of Norse gods, the Aesir, having arrived in their fortress, Asgard, as a hostage at the closing of the Aesir-Vanir War. Freyr was one of the most widely and passionately venerated divinities amongst the heathen Norse and other Germanic peoples. It shouldn’t be surprising, then, that Freyr was a frequent recipient of sacrifices at various occasions, such as the blessing of a wedding or the celebration of a harvest. His father is Njord, and his mother is Njord’s unnamed sister (presumably Nerthus). Freyr’s residence is Alfheim, the homeland of the elves. This could mean that Freyr is the ruler of the elves, but since this is never stated explicitly in the surviving sources, it must remain a fascinating conjecture. During Ragnarok, Freyr and the giant Surt destroy each other. References:  Ibid.
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.
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
Óðr (concept) - Norse Mythology for Smart People Óðr (pronounced roughly “OH-thur,” with a hard “th” as in “the”) is an Old Norse word that has no direct equivalent in modern English. The word, and the wonderful concept to which it refers, is as little understood today as it was ubiquitous in pre-Christian Germanic mythology and religion. Óðr is generally translated as something along the lines of “divine inspiration” or “inspired mental activity.” While such translations will do where óðr is only mentioned in passing as part of a larger discussion, they gloss over the richness and dynamism of the word and its connotations, and are therefore inadequate for lengthier considerations of óðr such as the one in which we happen to find ourselves just now. The word had cognates – words that mean the same thing and have the same linguistic origin – in the other Germanic languages, which attest to its universality throughout the ancient Germanic world. For example, in Old English it was wod, and in Old High German it was wuot. Conclusion
Baldur | Norse Mythology “Each Arrow Overshot His Head” by Elmer Boyd Smith (1902) Baldur (pronounced “BALD-er;” Old Norse Baldr, Old English and Old High German Balder) is one of the Aesir gods. He’s the son of Odin and Frigg, the wife of the obscure goddess Nanna, and the father of the god Forseti. He’s loved by all the gods, goddesses, and beings of a more physical nature. The meaning and etymology of his name are uncertain and have been the topic of intense scholarly debate. This literary source is the Prose Edda of the medieval Icelandic scholar Snorri Sturluson. When Baldur began to have dreams of his death, Frigg went around to everything in the world and secured from each of them an oath to not harm her son. Loki, the guileful trickster of the gods, sensed an opportunity for mischief. The anguished gods then ordained that one of them should go to the underworld to see if there was any way Baldur could be retrieved from the clutches of the death goddess, Hel. References:  Snorri Sturluson.
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:
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
Old Greek Stories - The Story of Prometheus (by James Baldwin) I. How Fire Was Given to Men In those old, old times, there lived two brothers who were not like other men, nor yet like those Mighty Ones who lived upon the mountain top. They were the sons of one of those Titans who had fought against Jupiter and been sent in chains to the strong prison-house of the Lower World. The name of the elder of these brothers was Prometheus, or Forethought; for he was always thinking of the future and making things ready for what might happen to-morrow, or next week, or next year, or it may be in a hundred years to come. For some cause Jupiter had not sent these brothers to prison with the rest of the Titans. Prometheus did not care to live amid the clouds on the mountain top. He went out amongst men to live with them and help them; for his heart was filled with sadness when he found that they were no longer happy as they had been during the golden days when Saturn was king. “Not a spark will I give,” said Jupiter. II. “Who has done all this?” “What! III.
Tyr | Norse Mythology “Tyr and Fenrir” by John Bauer (1911) Tyr (pronounced like the English word “tear”; Old Norse Týr, Old English Tiw, Old High German *Ziu, Gothic Tyz, Proto-Germanic *Tiwaz, “god”) is a relatively minor Aesir god in Viking Age Norse mythology. However, his name and attributes along with evidence from the study of comparative religion divulge to us that his Viking Age form is a severely diminished version of a divine figure who, in earlier ages, was the highest god of the Norse and other Germanic peoples. Tyr in the Viking Age While mentions of Tyr in Old Norse literature are few, he certainly seems to have been regarded as one of the principal war gods of the Norse, along with Odin and Thor. The Lokasenna also mentions that Tyr lost one of his hands to the wolf Fenrir. Indeed, Tyr’s one-handed-ness seems to be one of his defining attributes. Tyr Before the Viking Age Such is certainly the case with Tyr. References:  de Vries, Jan. 2000.  Orel, Vladimir. 2003.  Ibid.
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.
Berserker Berserkers (or berserks) were Norse warriors who are primarily reported in the Old Norse literature to have fought in a nearly uncontrollable, trance-like fury, a characteristic which later gave rise to the English word berserk. Berserkers are attested to in numerous Old Norse sources. Most historians believe that berserkers worked themselves into a rage before battle, but some think that they might have consumed drugged foods. The Úlfhéðnar (singular Úlfheðinn), another term associated with berserkers, mentioned in the Vatnsdœla saga, Haraldskvæði and the Völsunga saga, were said to wear the pelt of a wolf when they entered battle. Úlfhéðnar are sometimes described as Odin's special warriors: "[Odin’s] men went without their mailcoats and were mad as hounds or wolves, bit their shields...they slew men, but neither fire nor iron had effect upon them. Etymology The name berserker derives from the Old Norse berserkr (plural berserkir). Terminology Attestations