The Vikings are remembered for being some of the most powerful warriors in history who sailed the open sea to conquer new lands. They believed in gods and goddesses, all of which deeply influenced their lifestyle. For the Vikings, they were never forced to pray to any particular god or goddess. Most people would gravitate toward their favorite god and pray to the ones whose personalities resonated with them the most.
Norse mythology is strange, to say the least, and it’s full of interesting characters. The Vikingsnever wrote their history down, so the stories were passed along by word of mouth. So we may never know the original stories told of the Norse gods, but that won’t stop us from learning about these fascinating tales of magic, power, and scandal…
Goddess of beauty, love, sex, and fertility. Conversely, Freya (or Freyja) is also often associated with war and death. She was known for being a free spirit who slept around with a lot of the gods, including Odin. Freya lives her best life as an independent woman riding around on a chariot pulled by cats.
Freya rules over the 9th realm called Folkvangr, which is considered to be a beautiful version of the afterlife set aside for civilians, whereas the brave Viking warriors got to spend their time with Odin in Valhalla.
Balder (or Baldr, or Baldur) is the son of Odin and Frigg, and is the god of light, joy, and innocence… So, basically, he was the Norse version of Mr. Rogers. As you might imagine, he isn’t actually very powerful, because you can’t weaponize love and happiness, unless you’re a Care Bear. Either way, humans loved Balder. But since people love to talk about death and destruction far more than rainbows and kittens, most stories about Balder are about the way he died.
Balder kept having nightmares about his death, so his mother, Frigg, made it so that no living creature could harm a hair on his head. The other gods didn’t mind that she was the helicopter parent of the century. They thought this was great, actually, because it meant they could stab Balder and throw things at him without fear of actually killing him.
Loki was very jealous of this immortality, so he transformed into Balder and appeared before Frigg, asking if there was any kind of loophole that would kill him. She told him that mistletoe would do him in. So Loki found some mistletoe, and tricked Balder’s disabled brother, Hod, into throwing mistletoe at him. Hod assumed it would just bounce off like everything else he lobbed at Balder’s head, but the mistletoe pierced his heart.
Wife of Odin, Frigg is the goddess of motherhood and marriage. However, you may remember that we mentioned that Freya and Odin had a fling. Well, don’t worry, Frigg got her revenge by sleeping with Odin’s brothers, Ve and Vili. Frigg resides in the hall called Fensalir, and is often depicted sitting by her husband’s side. She has the power to see anyone’s future, but unfortunately, this wasn’t enough to stop Loki from killing her son.
Many scholars believe that Freya and Frigg both originate from the same story of just one female goddess, and the stories were split apart at some point in history. This would actually make a lot of sense, considering that Freya is the ruler of another afterlife, just like Odin.
Loki is the son of a frost giant (yeah, the movies were accurate there), and the trickster god. Loki gets into a lot of trouble, and tangles webs of his misdeeds. Any time Loki sees something going well for other people, he can’t help by try to ruin their lives out of jealousy. He pops up in story after story, kind of like every supervillain in a ’90s cartoon (or, ya know… an entire cinematic universe… ). However, whenever he screws something up, he is forced by threats of violence until he fixes the problems he created in the first place. He becomes a catalyst for change in the otherwise peaceful lives of the gods.
Loki fathers several monstrous creatures, and even once gave birth to an 8-legged horse, and gave it to Odin as a present. He is also the father of the goddess named “Hel.” As her name suggests, she is the ruler of the underworld. You may remember her from Thor: Ragnarok being portrayed as his sister, Hela, however. So… they were a little less accurate on that one.
Before Odin came on the scene, the god Tyr was one of the earlier figures in Norse mythology as the god of war. In Roman mythology, there are similar stories told of Tyr’s conquests, only they change his name to the god “Mars.”
As you might imagine, Tyr is always incredibly brave, and he once saved the word from a giant wolf creature named Fenrir. This was an abomination fathered by Loki and a frost giant. Ugh, Loki. Are there any shenanigans to which he won’t get up?
Anyway, Tyr used magical cord to bind Fenrir’s legs, and he put his hand into the wolf’s mouth as a sign of trust and good faith. However, once Fenrir realized that Tyr had trapped him forever, he bit off his hand. On the day of Ragnarok, or the Apocalypse, Tyr was supposed to guard the gates of Hell, and he fulfilled his duties by holding a spear of justice in his one good hand.
Sif is like the Norse version of “Mother Earth,” and she is the beautiful blonde wife of Thor. If you’re a fan of the MCU, you may know her as part of “Lady Sif and the Warriors Three” but… well, that’s not exactly how things shake out for her in actual mythology. Again, no one likes to talk about stories of singing to birds and planting trees, so everyone always talks about the day Loki gave her a bad haircut.
Loki got jealous of how fabulous Sif looked, so decided to chop her hair off until she was completely bald. Tragically, not everyone can pull off a bald head as well as Simon Whistler, so Thor threatened to kill Loki if he didn’t fix it. Loki had to get the help of magical dwarves who crafted magical, glowing gold hair that now grew naturally out of Sif’s head.
God of poetry and wisdom, Bragi is yet another one of Odin’s sons. He is known for taking a cup and speaking some inspirational words. If you need a best man to give a great toast you at your wedding, Bragi’s your guy.
They say that Bragi’s tongue was covered in Norse runes that gave him the power to always say the most eloquent words. He supposedly gave the power of art and poetry to human beings. There was a tradition to drink out of “The Cup of Bragi” when a king died, and words were said in his honor.
Forseti is the son of Balder, the god of rainbows and cupcakes we mentioned earlier in this list. It would seem that Foresti didn’t take after his dad’s carefree spirit so much, and he decided to practice law, instead. As the Norse god of justice, Foresti acts as the judge in serious matters in Asgard. Kind of like Judge Judy, but with a much smaller paycheck and — we’re just guessing here — much worse television ratings.
He lives in a giant courthouse called Glitner that shines with golden pillars and silver ceilings. Forseti acts like the mediator and listens to the arguments between the gods, and makes the final decision of who is right and wrong.
Odin is the chief god in Norse mythology, and he is often called the “father of the gods.” From his throne in the world of Valhalla, Odin can witness what happens in all 9 worlds of the universe. He only needs wine to survive, so he drinks it all day, every day. Kind of like your Aunt Kathy.
Odin sends his pet ravens to spy on the world and bring him news and secrets, and he also has two loyal wolves who protect him. His weapon of choice is a spear called “Gungnir,” which is guaranteed to never miss its target.
Aside from being a powerful warrior, Odin is known for his wisdom. He hung himself on the World Tree with his own spear for 9 days, in order to gain an immense amount of knowledge through powerful songs and runes. We won’t judge but, like… he could have just used Wikipedia.
Last and certainly not least, we have the god of thunder, Thor. With red hair and glowing eyes, Thor is known for being one of the most powerful gods. He’s also said to be nearly as handsome as Chris Hemsworth. Thor was also one of the most popular for the Vikings, by far, because he would supposedly answer their prayers without requiring any kind of human sacrifice.
Thor carries his mighty hammer, “Mjolnir,” which comes to him when he calls, and he also has a belt that doubles his strength. His power allows him to channel thunder at will while he rides along in his goat-drawn chariot with his furry friends named Gap-Tooth and Tooth Grinder.