Sunday, February 1, 2009

Who Were The Viking Gods

Who Were The Viking Gods Cover If you want to remember the main Viking gods, just think of the days of the week. Tuesday was once Tyr's Day after the god Tyr. Wednesday was once Odin's Day, after the god Odin. And Thursday was Thor's Day, after Thor. Friday was Freya's Day, after Freyr, or Freyja. These names came down from early English, which was strongly influenced by Norse names and other words dating to the times of these gods. The Vikings believed in these and other lesser gods, as did other people in Northern Europe at the time. In Germany, for example, Odin was Wotan or Wodan, as known in the myths and gods of the Wagnerian Operas. Odin was the god of death or battle, ruling over Valhalla where warriors went after heroic death. Tyr was the god of the sky, bringing daylight and dark. Thor, or thunder god, was the god of war, the storm god, and a mighty warrior whose weapon was Thor's Hammer. Njord was god of the sea, bringing luck to sailors. He was the father of Freyr and Freyja. Freyr and his sister Freyja were the gods of harvest and fertility. Other lesser gods & heroes included Loki, god of mischief and trickery, Heimdal, guardian of the rainbow bridge into Asgard, dwelling place of the gods, Aegir, Ran, Hoenir, and others. There were also giants, dwarfs and monsters. Most of these gods were known to have evolved well before the Viking age which was mainly the ninth and tenth centuries. Some say they are roughly equivalent to and derived from the ancient Greek gods known in southern Europe. These gods all existed in a world known to the Vikings, mainly as great heroes of an earlier time. Vikings would often choose from these gods one of special appeal to them, to honor and to ask for good luck, victory in battle, bountiful harvests, and the like. Many wore a miniature Thor's hammer on their necks as a good luck charm. By the eleventh century, Christianity had spread into most of Scandinavia and was replacing these older beliefs. In some remote areas, however, older practices and superstitions continued among the people for several hundred years, often alongside Christianity.

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