La Mythologie Nordique

Nordic Mythology


Nordic Mythology, at once fascinating and filled with mystery, we don't necessarily know how to approach it. How do you sort out the real from the fake? Popular legends to reality?

Today we're tackling a big one, an extremely comprehensive article to tell you about Nordic mythology as a whole. A big challenge for us, as we usually deal with the topics one by one. It's time for a synthesis! Are you ready?

We enter the world of the Vikings, those Scandinavian peoples who are still talked about today!


If you think that the gods and goddesses of Norse mythology were always as popular as they are today, you are wrong. Before the nineteenth century, few people heard of Nordic mythology outside Iceland and Scandinavia.

However, if it were not for Snorri Sturluson, the situation could have been much worse. Snorri was a historian and scholar who lived in Iceland in the 13th century. He created what is often considered the first, or at least the most complete written source of Norse mythology, called the Prose Edda (Icelandic: Snorra Edda).

Thankfully, we live in a time when the Vikings and the gods of Norse mythology are very popular. We have the internet, literature and, of course, Marvel movies and comics to thank for this.

The birth of the gods of Norse mythology

The Norse creation myth begins with Ginnungagap, Niflheim and Muspelheim. Ginnungagap was the primordial void, a place of darkness and silence, which lay between the fiery land of Muspleheim and the icy land of Niflheim.

The power of Nilfheim and Muslpelheim grew, and eventually the worlds clashed in the middle of Ginnungagap. The ice began to melt and turned into drops of water, and these drops created Ymir, the first living being.

Ymir, a destructive giant and hermaphrodite, was killed by Odin and his brothers, Ve and Vili. After killing Ymir, the three of them used his bones, flesh, blood, teeth, eyelashes, hair, and skull to create the Nordic mythological universe.

How about you take the time to listen to Nota Bene talk about Norse Mythology.

Who are the various gods of Norse mythology?

For centuries, the stories of Norse mythology have been passed down orally. As a result, it is almost impossible to say how many Norse gods exist.

However, what we do know is that there are two major tribes of gods in Norse mythology. These are called Æsir and Vanir.

the gods of Norse mythology

The most famous representatives of the Æsir tribe are Odin, the All-Father, Frigg, Thor, Balder, Loki, Hod, Tyr and Heimdall. They are also known as the main gods. On the other hand, the most notable members of the Vanir tribe are the fertility gods and include Freyr, Freyja, and Njord.

Now that we've covered the basics, without further ado, let's take a look at some of the most powerful and worshiped gods and goddesses in Norse mythology.


Although we should probably start with Ymir, the predecessor of all the Norse gods, we can't do that. The first place in this list is reserved for Odin (Óðinn in Old Norse), the God of Gods, the Father of Fathers.

In addition to being the king of the realm of the gods (Asgard), Odin is also the All-Father of the gods in Norse mythology. His mother was the Jötunn Bestla, and his father was the Borr. Odin is renowned for going into battle on Sleipnir, his eight-legged horse. His spear, Gungnir, was forged by the dwarves, and it is said that it can never miss its target.

Odin is associated with many different aspects, such as wisdom, healing, sorcery and even frenzy. Odin is portrayed as a poor, haggard wanderer who seeks knowledge, despite being the king of the gods Æsir. However, as the god of war, Odin, who has only one eye, craves battle.

The All-Father has five sons with four different wives. With Frigg, his wife, he had Höðr and Baldr, and Jötnar Rindr and Gríðr gave him Váli and Viðar. Jörð, the personification of the Earth, gave him his most famous son, Thor.

Nowadays, the word Odin refers to Wednesday. This is because the name Odin derives from wodnesdæg ("day of Woden"), while Odin is referred to as Wōden in Old English.


Even though Ymir does not belong to the group of gods in Norse mythology, we decided to include him as well.

Ymir was the primitive entity of the Nordic pantheon and the ancestor of all mythical creatures in the universe. These mythical entities are known as jötnar.

Often seen as the "first being", Ymir was "born" when the heat of Muspelheim and the ice of Niflheim clashed. As a hermaphrodite, he gave birth to the first male, female and other creatures of Norse mythology. This is how everything began.

After Ymir, Buri was created. He is believed to have been the first of the Nordic gods. Buri's son Bor married Bestla (also a descendant of Ymir), and she gave birth to three sons: Ve, Vili, and Odin. These three young Norse gods killed Ymir in the ensuing battle.

From Ymir's corpse, Odin, along with his brothers, created the whole earth. They created oceans and seas from his blood and mountains from his bones. Ymir's teeth became rocks while his hair created trees and vegetation. The young gods created the sky from Ymir's skull, and used his brain to make clouds. Finally, with his brothers, Odin used Ymir's eyebrows to create a great wall to surround and defend Midgard, the realm of humanity


Perhaps the most famous of all the gods of Norse mythology today (thanks to the Marvel films), Thor, the god of thunder, is the husband of the goddess Sif and the son of Odin. As the loyal protector of Asgard, Thor has been given a symbolic role as protector of the realms.

With his beard and red Viking eyes, Thor is considered the strongest being among gods and men. His immense strength is further enhanced by his iron gauntlets and belt of power, Megingjard. However, the object most associated with Thor is undoubtedly Mjöllnir (meaning "lightning"), his dwarf-made hammer. Norse mythology describes Mjöllnir as one of the most powerful artefacts that ever existed.

For example, the ancient Scandinavians believed that thunder was the result of Thor striking his mighty hammer as he slayed monsters and giants from his chariot. Thor's chariot was pulled by Tanngrisnir and Tanngniost, two giant goats.

Over the past century, archaeologists have discovered many ancient, hammer-shaped pendants throughout Scandinavia. These pendants are believed to be made in the image of Mjöllnir.

In modern culture, Thor also gives us a day of the week, as does Odin. The word "Thursday" comes from the Old English þurresdæg. It is a contraction of þunresdæg, which literally means "Thor's day".

Thor's hammer necklace


Nowadays, when we think of Loki, we think of him as Thor's archenemy and adopted brother (thanks to Marvel, again). However, in Norse mythology, Loki is a jötunn, the son of the giantess Laufey and the giant Farbauti, with the ability to transform.

Loki is the god of mischief and cunning and the father of monsters. He created Sleipnir, Odin's eight-legged steed, as well as the snake Jörmungandr and the monstrous wolf Fenrir.

Because of his cunning, Loki is often not considered one of the Æsir gods.

In addition to causing Baldr's death, it is predicted that Loki will bring death to many Norse gods during Ragnarok. For example, it is believed that Fenrir the wolf will kill Odin, and Jörmungandr the serpent will cause Thor's death.


Hel is considered the most powerful of all the Norse goddesses. Furthermore, she is believed to be even more powerful than Odin within the borders of her kingdom, the Helheim. She is so powerful that she can decide the fate of Baldr's soul. The soul of the purest and wisest Æsir gods.

Hel is the daughter of the giant Angrboda and Loki. She rules over Helheim, the realm of eternal damnation. Helheim is the home of Jörmungandr the Serpent, Fenrir the Wolf, and all those who have died of disease or old age. It is a place not so different from the actual associations of hell.


Another famous god in today's culture, thanks to the Thor films, is Heimdall (Heimdallr in Old Norse).

Heimdall is a vigilant protector of the Norse gods' home Æsir, Asgard. He is a descendant of the giant Fornjót. Heimdall uses his great horn Gjallarhorn to warn others when intruders approach Asgard. It is believed that Heimdall's sight can extend for hundreds of miles and that he can hear the sound of wool growing on sheep.

The role of Heimdall at the beginning of Ragnarok is also very important. He will use the Gjallarhorn to signal the arrival of the monsters and giants. Furthermore, it is predicted that Heimdall will eventually confront Loki and they will kill each other.

Nordic Mythology is so large that we could go on naming gods for hours, but we've just introduced the main ones. You can read our other articles to discover more specifically each god. It's time to tackle the Norse creatures.


Many famous characters from Norse mythology would not be as popular as they are if they did not have exciting enemies to fight. There are many creatures from Norse mythology that Odin, Thor and other gods have fought. All of these creatures have their own story.

creatures of Norse mythology

In Viking times, people believed that all these creatures existed because the gods had defeated them many times before, so they are all real. Every exceptional story needs a hero and a villain. It was a way to explain unknown diseases, deaths, etc. Someone had to be responsible for what was happening, and who better than terrifying, evil, nocturnal creatures.

The place of creatures in Norse mythology

Gods and goddesses were not the only entities known to man. There were many creatures in Norse mythology with whom the Vikings interacted in some way. It was believed that the Gods frequently helped the Vikings in various ways by travelling via the Bifröst Bridge from Asgard to Midgard (Earth). The Vikings claimed that the Gods were with them in every battle, helping them to prevail.

The Gods fought many of these creatures, and this is what made them incredibly famous among the people. Most of these creatures were less powerful than the Gods, but they played an essential role in the creation of the popular Norse universe that we know today.

Some of these creatures were chaotic, fearsome and destructive, while others were benevolent. Some creatures could be both, depending on the context of the story.

Discover 10 creatures from Norse mythology in this video.

The most popular creatures from Norse mythology

Many of these entities were the creatures of the night. These were frightening and evil spirit entities that sought to bring destruction and to bring end to the world of men. Most of the creatures of Norse mythology were far more powerful than the Vikings, but the Vikings had the Gods on their side in every battle and in every other situation.

The universe of Nordic mythology also showed us that there were many benevolent creatures, such as dwarves and elves, with whom the Vikings frequently interacted.

The most extraordinary creatures were the giants, also known as "devourers". These chaotic beings of darkness, death, night and winter were often the enemies of the great tribe of Aesir gods. The most famous giant is Hel, the ruler of the underworld. However, the most remarkable being in the Norse creation story is Fenrir. Fenrir is the wolf who devoured Odin during the infamous Ragnarok.

Now that we've scratched the surface, let's take a closer and more detailed look at all the most important creatures in Norse mythology.

1) THE Dwarves

These human-looking creatures were known from Norse and Germanic mythology. Dwarves were also considered the black elves. They are small, twisted creatures, and are thought to have originated as maggots from the corpse of one of the first giants - Ymir. The dwarves have been given reason by the powerful gods of Asgard.

Svartalfheim was considered a maze of forges and mines. It is an underground place in which the dwarves lived. Dwarves are known as the creatures of Norse mythology who made some of the most excellent weapons and jewellery. It is said that it was dwarves who made the Mjölnir, Thor's mighty hammer, and the Gungnir, Odin's spear.

Some myths say that if dwarves were exposed to sunlight, they would petrify and literally turn to stone. Once a dwarf called Alviss asked for the hand of Thor's daughter to marry him. The dwarf was tricked and talked until dawn when he was struck by sunlight and turned to stone.


There were two kinds of elves: dark elves and light elves. The Ljosalfar were known as the light elves, while the Dokkalfar were the dark elves. It is said that the dark elves were likened to the dwarves because they lived underground and were completely black.

The Ljosalfar, or light elves, were a sight to behold. It is said that they were more beautiful to look at than the sun. They were considered the gods of Aesir and Vanir and one of the most beautiful creatures in Norse mythology. The god Vanir Freyr was considered the lord of Alfheim, the home of the elves.

Elves are known to have an ambivalent relationship with humans. They were powerful enough to heal and provoke disease. It is thought that elves and humans interbred and gave birth to children who had human form but also possessed incredible magical powers.


The Kraken is one of the most recognisable creatures in Norse mythology. It is an aquatic monster that lives off the coast of Greenland and Norway. It is described as a gigantic creature resembling a calamari or an octopus. Some stories say that their bodies were so large that they could resemble an island.

If men went to the island, it would sink as soon as they set foot on it, which is how this monster was able to kill its potential prey in order to feed. When the Kraken rises to the surface, it causes huge whirlpools that would help it to attack any ship nearby.

The Kraken usually attacks fish. The tactic used by the Kraken is to release its intestines into the water, which would attract fish due to the extreme smell of its excrement. Many schools of fish would be attracted by this smell, and the Kraken would devour them all.


There were two different groups of trolls in Norse myths. The former are tall, ugly trolls who live in the mountains and forests, while the latter live deep in caves and caverns and are known as little gnome trolls. They are generally considered malevolent and not very intelligent, but are known to show kindness to people if they can ask a favour.

The Scandinavian countryside is covered with many rocks, and it is believed that trolls are responsible for this because they use these rocks as weapons. Another belief is that these rocks are actually trolls turned to stone by sunlight. Yes, as in The Hobbit, it is important to note that Gandalf is the result of an inspiration from Odin.


A common belief in Norse mythology was that fate was implacable and blind. There is no solid evidence that anyone was able to prevent the Norns from changing their fate. It is believed that the three Norns were the guardians of the Tree of Life. The Tree of Life was known to hold together the nine worlds of the universe in Norse mythology.

Their care of the tree actually only slows its death, since Nordic mythology teaches us that everything will eventually cease to exist. All life will end with Ragnarok.


The Valkyries are probably the most famous creatures in Norse mythology. They are the female spirits of Odin, noble and elegant maidens whose purpose is to bring to Valhalla all the brave Viking warriors who have lost their lives in battle. Valhalla is known as Odin's heavenly home for fallen warriors awaiting Ragnarok.

The word "Valkyries" roughly translates as "the choosers of the dead". The Valkyries not only worked for Odin, but were able to decide who would live and who would die in battle. It is believed that they used their evil magic to ensure that the outcome would be in their favour.


This celestial being was Odin's personal horse. Sleipnir is an eight-legged horse, and it is believed that Sleipnir had each of its legs in one of the eight worlds of Norse mythology. A passionate story says that Loki is the mother of Sleipnir. When Loki turned into a mare, he was impregnated by one of the giant's stallions, which gave birth to Sleipnir.


Our little favourite...

When it comes to creatures from Norse mythology, Fenrir is the most famous wolf in the entire Norse universe. It is known that the giantess Angroboda and the god Loki were Fenrir's parents. Fenrir desired to wreak disturbance on the nine worlds, so the gods of Asgard decided to raise him themselves in order to control his disturbing nature.

Fenrir grew up so fast and caused so much trouble that the Gods decided to chain him and keep him locked up. They managed to convince him to chain him up by playing a game.

The game the Gods played was to see how strong Fenrir was. Fenrir was able to break any bond with ease, so the Gods asked the dwarves to make bonds and chains much stronger than anything else, but Fenrir broke free again.

Fenrir suspected that this chain might be stronger than the previous ones, so he asked any God to put his hand in Fenrir's jaw as a sign of good faith. The God Tyr decided it was his to do. Even though Tyr was aware that he would lose his hand, he did it to protect the realm.


When Fenrir realized he had been trapped in the chains, he took Tyr's hand. This was a necessary sacrifice that allowed the other Gods to chain Fenrir to a rock and put a sword in his mouth to keep it open. Fenrir's slime is the source of a frothy river known as the Expectation.

The river's name refers to Ragnarok - the end of all worlds. When Fenrir finally breaks his chains, he will bring down his wrath upon the Gods.

We'll have to stop here on the Nordic creatures, there are a few missing anyway... Like for example Fenrir's brother, the giant snake Jörmungand, but unfortunately we have to move on! It's time to discover some of the stories that shaped Norse mythology.


If you have ever read the Norse sagas, you must know that they are among the greatest written works in the history of human civilization. Moreover, the Nordic sagas are the most authentic documents of ancient Norse culture and tradition.

These oral stories (mostly prose) were passed down from generation to generation for several hundred years before being written down during the Middle Ages. In some cases, sagas were told in the form of complex narrative poems, but prose was far more common.

Keep in mind that, although some scholars doubt the historical accuracy of the sagas, it is generally accepted that the sagas directly influenced many of the Norse myths and legends known today. Furthermore, it is clear that all of these epic tales had a profound impact on the people of the time and leave an equally great impression on us who read them today.

One of the most common themes in all the Norse tales concerns the concept of fate. However, before we tell you more about the most famous sagas of the Viking Age, let's look at how and where the first sagas came into being.

What are the Norse sagas and where did the first ones come from?

The word saga comes from the Old Norse language and means "story". Sagas mainly refer to epic prose narratives. The greatest number of them originated in Iceland between the 12th and 15th centuries AD.


These stories describe the culture, traditions and legendary history of the Scandinavian people. Although Latin was common for the writing of laws and fairy tales in the Middle Ages, the Norse sagas were written in the vernacular (the language of medieval Iceland).

In addition to Iceland, the Norse sagas were also written in Norway and other Scandinavian countries. Perhaps without even realizing it, the authors who wrote these stories created one of the most important literary genres of medieval Europe.

Viking bracelet

Although the sagas began to be written in the twelfth century, their origins take us back to a much more distant past, to the era of the Vikings and beyond. The sagas focused on the daily life of the old Norse people, describing the problems faced by rich farmers, kings, warriors, but also other strata of society.

Based on the subject matter they describe, the Nordic tales can be divided into several genres:

  • Legendary sagas (Fornaldarsögur),
  • The knight sagas (Riddarasögur),
  • The royal sagas (Konungasögur),
  • The Icelandic family sagas (Íslendingasögur),
  • The contemporary sagas (Samtíðarsögur).

Although the characters in these sagas are real, the elements of their lives often do not match archaeological evidence and historical facts. However, Norse tales remain the best source for learning about the mentality, social structure, daily habits and customs of the ancient Norse.

Here are some of the most famous Viking sagas:

The Saga of Ragnar Lothbrok

We begin the saga narrative with the story of one of the most famous Vikings, Ragnar Lothbrok. As little is known about the life of this brave Viking, this saga is the complete account of his life, his family, his adventures, his exciting travels and his dangerous battles.

saga ragnar lothbrok

The saga of Ragnar Lothbrook belongs to the subgenre of legendary sagas. As such, it interweaves battles with mythical creatures and, as in many Norse tales, this saga ends with Ragnar's cruel death.

The saga begins with the story of the childhood of Aslaug, who will become Ragnar's second wife. According to the saga, Aslaug was the daughter of Sigurd (the famous dragon slayer) and Brunhilde (a Valkyrie from Germanic mythology). When Aslaug was three years old, her parents died and a poor Norwegian family took care of her. Aslaug is also given a new name in her new home: Kraka, so that her origin is hidden.

Meanwhile, Ragnar becomes a handsome and brave warrior. According to the saga, Ragnar's first adventure was to help Herrauðr (Earl of Götaland) solve his problem with the dragons. After killing a dragon, Ragnar gets the hand of Herrauðr's daughter Thora as a reward.

Thora and Ragnar had two sons, Eirek and Agnar. After Thora fell ill and died, Ragnar met Aslaug and remarried, knowing nothing of her origins. With her, Ragnar had four sons.

After a while, Aslaug tells Ragnar the truth about who she really is. To prove that she is telling the truth, Aslaug predicts that their next son will be born with a snake in his eyes. The result of this prophecy is the birth of Sigurd-Snake-in-the-Eye.

The saga ends when Ragnar attacks England with only two ships and is captured by Ælla, King of Northumbria. Ælla throws Ragnar into a pit of snakes, and Ragnar dies in great torment, as is the case in legendary tales.

We'll leave you with a little video that talks about the Saga of Ragnar Lothbrok.

The saga of the Völsungs

The story of the Volsungs originated in the late 13th century, describing the fall of the Volsung clan. On this occasion, we will only describe the part of the saga that tells of Volsung's birth and life and includes events that describe the revenge of Volsung's eldest son, Sigmund, following the death of his father and brothers.


The saga begins by describing the life of a man named Sigi, who is said to have been the son of Odin.

One day, Sigi went hunting with a slave named Bradi. When Sigi saw that Bradi's prey was larger than his own, he became terribly angry, killed him and buried his body in the snow.

As a result of this brutal act, Sigi was condemned and declared an outlaw. However, according to the saga, Odin helped Sigi and took him to a place where warships and military troops were waiting for him. With the army obtained, Sigi became a successful conqueror and a powerful king who ruled Hunland.

Sigi had a son named Rerir, who in time became an even more powerful king than his father. Since Rerir could not have children for a long time, he and his wife prayed to the gods to give them children. Their prayers were heard by Frigg (Odin's wife) and passed on to Odin.

Odin then gave the apple to one of his maids and told her to give it to Rerir. The girl transformed into a raven, flew to Rerir and dropped an apple into his lap. Rerir immediately understood the purpose of the apple, took a bite and went to join the queen.


Soon afterwards, the queen learns that she is pregnant. However, King Rerir dies. Instead of the usual nine months, it is written in the saga that the queen's pregnancy lasted up to six years. Realising that she would not live long, the queen ordered the child to be removed from her.


When they brought out the boy, he was already an adult, he kissed his mother, and she died. The son was named Volsung and became the new king of Hunland.

With his wife Hljod, Volsung had ten sons, the eldest of whom, Sigmund, had a twin sister named Signy.

In addition, according to the saga, King Volsung built a magnificent palace whose main hall saw the growth of a large tree whose branches crossed the roof of the palace. The tree is called "Bernstock."


One day, King Siggeir (ruler of Gautland, Scotland) came to Volsung to ask for the hand of his daughter Signy. Despite Signy's opposition to the marriage, her father accepted the proposal.

One evening, a tall, unknown, one-eyed man, believed to be Odin, entered the main hall of the palace. The man approached the "Bernstock" tree and thrust the blade of the sword into the tree to the hilt. He said he would give the sword to anyone who could pull it out of the tree. After that he left.

Of all those present, only Sigmund managed to pull the sword from the tree. Siggeir offered gold three times as heavy as the sword in exchange for the sword, but Sigmund did not accept the exchange. He said that the sword should not have belonged to Siggeir since he could not draw it.

Sigeir decided to take revenge on Sigmund one day for these words.


The next day Siggeir and Signy left the palace, inviting King Volsung and his sons to visit him in Gatland.

The Death of King Volsung

At the appointed time, Volsung and his sons came to King Siggeir's palace. However, as soon as they arrive, Signy warns them that Siggeir is preparing a trap for them and begs them to go home and return with a large army.

Volsung would not heed his warning. The next morning, Siggeir attacks them, and Volsung and all his men are killed. Only Volsung's sons survived.

Signy suggests to her husband that he capture his brothers instead of killing them immediately, in the hope that he can find a way to save them later.

Siggeir accepts Signy's proposal and makes a prison in the woods where he imprisons the sons of Volsung. Each night the brothers were attacked by a she-wolf who killed them one by one. The murders went on for nine nights until only Volsung's eldest son, Sigmund, survived.

When Signy learned of her brother's fate, she ordered a servant to smear honey on Sigmund's face and put it in his mouth. When the wolf came to kill Sigmund, it began to lick the honey off his face.

As the wolf tried to lick the honey out of Sigmund's mouth too, according to the saga, Sigmund bit him so hard that the wolf flinched in pain and broke the trap in half. Sigmund then ran away.

Tests of Courage

After escaping with the help of his sister, Sigmund built himself an underground hideout where he lived freely. The two of them hatched a plan for revenge, and Signy decided to use the two sons she had given birth to for this purpose.

With her brother, Signy tested the courage of her sons. When the boys were not brave enough, Signy ordered them to commit suicide.


The saga then tells of Signy asking a powerful witch to change her form. Thus the sorceress spent three consecutive nights in bed with Siggeir in Signa's body while Signy slept with her brother Sigmund.

After three nights, Signy returned to her body and, after some time, gave birth to a son whom she named Sinfjotli. The boy's father was her brother Sigmund, but he didn't know it.

Signy wanted to avenge the death of his father and brothers with the help of his son, and she also gave him tests of courage. Unlike his brothers, Sinfjotli showed extraordinary courage, thanks to which he remained alive.

floki intelligence ring

Magical Wolf Skin

Sigmund wanted the boy to become cruel, so he took him with him to commit robberies in the forest, where they killed many people. One day they came upon two sleeping men with wolf skins hanging on them. Sigmund and Sinfjotli took the wolf skin and put it on. However, when they tried to take it off, they could not. The wolf skins were magical. They began to howl like wolves, wandered through the woods, and continued to kill people.

When they finally got rid of the magical skins, they threw them into the fire and burned them. When Sigmund was convinced that Sinfjotli was mature enough, he took him to the domain of the king Siggeir to take his revenge.

The first act of the story is the first one in which Sinfjotli was killed.

The first act of revenge was the murder of two small children that Sigmund and Siggeir had in the meantime. When Siggeir learned that Sinfjotli had killed his children, a fierce fight ensued. Sigmund and Sinfjotli were captured, and Siggeir ordered that they be buried alive in a stone tomb. Before the tomb closed, Signi threw in a bundle of straw in which Sigmund's sword was hidden.

Thanks to the sword, Sigmund found a way out of the mound. After their escape, Sigmund and Sinfjotli set fire to King Siggeir. While the king was burning, the two men told him that he should know that the Volsungs were not dead. Signi burst into flames and died along with Siggeir.

Sigmund returned to his homeland with Sinfjotli and recovered the kingdom of the Volsung.

To conclude on the ancient Norse sagas

As we said at the beginning, many experts reject the possibility that the sagas can be considered a reliable historical source, and these stories are therefore considered "historical fiction". However, the details described in these stories greatly help us to understand the past of the old Norse people. In fact, sagas can be said to be experiences that are remembered and that were passed on from generation to generation until they began to be written down.

Therefore, the Norse sagas are the best source that brings us closer to the life of people in Viking times. Come on, it's time to talk about death in Norse mythology...


Did you know that even death in Norse mythology was quite interesting? Dying is not the end, according to the beliefs of the Vikings. They believed that after they died, life after death began. Like many people in many other cultures, death is not the end of the road, but the beginning of a new one.

Life after death in Norse mythology is a fascinating subject that goes far beyond explaining the various beliefs, customs and traditional ways of honoring the dead. Every part of the Nordic mythology is explained in detail, and the afterlife segment is perhaps the most interesting of all, for it is here that humans will finally meet the Gods.

We will explain in detail the afterlife and death of the Vikings in Nordic Paganism. Strange as it may seem, the beginning of this journey begins with death. What comes after death is what the Vikings were looking forward to - meeting the Gods, and enjoying the endless celebration in Valhalla. However, it is a long journey, and not all Vikings will enter the halls of Valhalla.

Let's start with the end of life.

The Viking Funeral

Death in Norse mythology and Viking funerals were specific events that involved many customs. As the Vikings believed that each of them would leap into the afterlife, they used many traditions to arrange their funerals.

When a person dies, he or she is showered with personal belongings, but not with random objects. People were buried with objects that represented who they were and what their profession was during the time they were among the living.

funerals in Norse mythology

For example, if a deceased Viking was a shipbuilder, he was buried with the tools of his trade. If a noblewoman died, she was buried with jewellery and gold, while warriors were buried with their weapons. The objects placed next to the deceased person were mementos representing their life on that plain. They believed that the deceased person would need these objects in the afterlife.

What differentiates Viking funerals from other civilizations is the way they buried their dead. Bodies were generally incinerated, but here is a detail that illustrates the significant differences in burial tradition. The incredibly wealthy Vikings were buried in ships.

According to various Viking beliefs, taking the dead on a burning boat offered them a safe passage to the afterlife. In addition, if the deceased was to be buried underground, another tradition was to build stone mounds that resembled a boat by placing them in such a way as to create the silhouette of the boat.

However, certain burial rituals were obligatory, regardless of the type of burial. The custom was to put the body in new clothes, specifically designed for funerals. Thus, the deceased would enter the afterlife in beautiful new clothes. In addition, the burial ceremony included plenty of food and alcohol, as well as chanting and singing.

Funeral goods' were gifts intended to pay final tribute and respect to a deceased person. The value of these gifts was equal to the social status of the deceased. All gifts, as well as the body, were either buried or buried.

In Norse mythology, death was seen as an important journey for the deceased. Therefore, other cases show that very wealthy individuals were even buried with slaves, so that they would have servants when they entered the plain of the dead.

Beliefs about life after death in Norse mythology

Death in Norse mythology means that when Vikings die, they go straight to Valhalla, right? Not quite.

There are several levels of life after death. Valhalla is reserved for warriors killed on the battlefield, and not for everyone. Where do all the other Norse men and women go after they die? First, let's explain their beliefs from the beginning, and then we'll go further into explaining life after death in Norse mythology.

Nordic mythology tells us that people are made up of four different parts. The first part is the physical appearance known as Hamr. The second is Flygja, which is represented as the totem of a known spirit. The third part is the character or personality of the person, which is known as Hugr, while the fourth part, Hamingja, is presented as the quality of the person's life.

It is believed that people who have been evil or greedy during their lives cannot leave this world, but remain trapped in it in a Draugr (the undead warrior creature) body. It is also believed that a person's Hugr moves to another plane of existence. Meanwhile, their Hamingja remains here and is shared with the rest of the family in the years to come.

The reincarnation is another belief surrounding life after death in Nordic mythology. When people die, they may reincarnate into the family line to strengthen their family tree. Pagan reincarnation should not be confused with Christian beliefs in reincarnation, and here is why.

If you consider that the pagans saw the family as something all-powerful, it makes a lot of sense. Being reborn into the family line to make it more lasting and much more stable was a firm belief. Thus, reincarnation after death in Norse mythology shows us once again that the Vikings believed that death is not the end.

Valhalla, the palace of Odin

When it comes to the most famous afterlife lands in Norse mythology, Valhalla is the most talked about. What is Valhalla? Valhalla is known as the hall in Asgard reserved for fallen warriors. They are invited to dine and drink with Allfather Odin and all the other gods, as well as other fallen Vikings.


However, not everyone could enter Valhalla. It is believed that Odin, with the help of the Valkyries, chooses which of the fallen Vikings will join him in the halls of Valhalla. The reason for this is that all those who dine and drink with the gods are good enough warriors to stand with them when Ragnarök comes.

In the Nordic mythology, death is described as a new journey. People have had a journey while alive, but when they die, another adventure begins. There are several other lands of the afterlife in Norse mythology, and we will review them all.

There is also Helheim, which is similar to hell in Christianity, but it is not the same thing. Helheim is not a place for bad and wicked people. It is said that when Vikings who were not killed in battle die, they go to Helheim, and this was their punishment for surviving the battle.

The kingdom of Helheim is located beneath Midgard in the Nordic cosmos, and the ruler of this otherworldly land is the goddess Hel. The realms of Midgard and Hel are separated by an impassable river and massive gates. Once a soul passes into the realm of Helheim, it can never return.

Even the gods, including grandfather Odin, do not have the power to control death. When a death occurs, it is final, and they were powerless. A trickster god, Loki, tricked the indestructible god Baldr, Odin's son, into a game that proved fatal for Baldr. When Baldr died, no one was able to reverse the process except the ruler of Helheim.

It is also believed that Viking warriors who did not die on the battlefield tried to deceive the goddess Hel by cutting themselves with blades on their deathbed. By doing so, they created wounds that resembled those obtained on the battlefield.

In Norse mythology, death is perceived in different ways, as there are places where Viking warriors were eager to go, such as Valhalla. Nevertheless, Helheim, as an alternative, was also an acceptable option.

However, there is a place within Helheim that is reserved for evil and evil people, called Nastrond. Nastrond is a place that everyone is afraid of, but there have always been evil people who have ended up there.

Considering that the Vikings were known to sail to the far reaches of Midgard to explore the known and unknown territories of the realm, it is no wonder that the afterlife of Norse mythology also has a unique land for sailors. Ran is a land where Viking sailors went after their death.

Ran was a giantess who lived at the bottom of the ocean. The bottom of the ocean was the brightest land of all the lands beyond, due to the huge amounts of treasure that had sunk with many ships. It is also believed that Ran used to catch sailors with nets and drown them so that they would stay with him in the underwater afterlife.

Another great afterlife land is known as Helgafjell. According to other sources, Helgafjell is another place where the dead can be found. It is a sacred mountain that is believed to be an exceptional place.

Moreover, it is said that the dead can lead a very ordinary life there, as if they were still among the living. The deceased are said to find their loved ones there, such as their families and friends. Some people have been able to see this mountain in the afterlife, and have described it as a place of happiness, home and peace.

Let's stop there on the death of the Vikings! It's time to wrap this up.

The vast universe of Norse mythology

As you will have gathered, the universe of Norse mythology is rich in history, in information, legends and other legendary creatures. If you've made it this far it's because you're passionate, that goes without saying!

That's why I have several things to recommend:

You can turn to reading "The Edda: Tales of Norse Mythology" by Snorri Sturluson to take the time to discover with fascination the Viking stories.

You can also turn to the book by Nota Bene and his team, which offers a very comprehensive book on Norse mythology!

I definitely invite you to visit the online shop Odin's Hall to find Viking accessories that will testify to your love for this universe on a daily basis.

And with those lovely promotional words, I would otherwise suggest that you hop on your drakkar to continue browsing our website.

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