Well, I just got back from watching the movie “Thor” and I really liked it. This made me once again to think about Norse mythology. I thinks it’s so versatile and full of interesting characters. The second reason I like the band Amon Amarth (the first is of course the music) so much is that the lyrics are about Norse mythology. And that’s why I decided to write about it.

One of the central ideas in Norse mythology is Yggdrasil – The Tree Of Life. In the midst of Asgard, where the gods dwelt, was Yggdrasil. Yggdrasil was the tree of life. It was an eternal green Ash tree, its branches stretched out over the worlds. It was under this tree the gods held their meetings and held court. Yggdrasil had three roots.

The first root of Yggdrasil went to Asgard, the home of the gods. By this root was a well named Urd’s Well. This was where the gods held daily assemblies. It was at Urd’s Well the three Norns lived. Their names were Urd (fate), Skuld (present) and Verdani (future). The three Norns were the goddesses of fate. They spent much of their time spinning the threads of life, deciding the fate of every human and every god. Whenever a child was born, the Norns spun the fate of the child in their threads. Every morning the three Norns would start the day by placing a rooster at the top of the tree. The crow of the rooster would work as a wake-up call for all humans and gods. Every day the Norns would also fetch water from Urd’s Well and pour it over Yggdrasil. The water from the well was of vital importance to keep the tree green and healthy. In Viking times it was quite common to serve a woman who had just given birth to a child some porridge. They called this porridge: Norn-porridge. The Vikings believed the Norns were nearby whenever a child was born. The porridge was considered an offering to the Norns. They hoped the porridge would please the Norns and secure good health for mother and child.

The Second Root of Yggdrasil: Mimir’s Well. The second root went to Jotunheim, land of the giants and trolls. By this root was Mimir’s Well. Mimir was the wisest of all living beings. Odin sacrificed an eye for the rare privilege to have a drink from this well, thus gaining its wisdom. That is how Odin became the one-eyed god. In Norse mythology there is also another older family of gods. They were called the Vanir. The Vanir had a reputation of being masters of sorcery. The Aesir and the Vanir had been at war with each other. To end the fighting, the two branches of gods decided to exchange hostages. The Aesir sent Honir and Mimir to the Vanir. In exchange the Vanir gave Njord and the twins, Frey and Freyja to the Aesir. The Vanir made Honir their chief. As time passed they grew quite upset with Honir. It seemed he could not make a decision on his own, but relied on Mimir to provide the answers. In a rage the Vanir beheaded Mimir and sent his head rolling into Asgard. Odin was devastated. He took the head of Mimir and anointed it with special herbs. He also recited spells. Miraculously the head of Mimir was restored back to life and became the talking head. Odin kept the head. He would consult the head of Mimir whenever a difficult problem arose.

The Third Root of Yggradsil. The third root went to Niflheim. This was the place where Hel ruled her gruesome Underworld. Hel was the daughter of the despiteful Loki. Anyone who died of old age or disease was sent to Hel. It was a dark and gloomy place. Nidhogg gnawed on this root. Nidhogg was also known to suck the blood out of the dead bodies. The well by this root was named Hvergelmir.

Norse mythology had 9 worlds. These were: Asgard, Vanaheim, Jotunheim, Niflheim, Alfheim, Svartalheim, Nidarvellir, Midgard, Muspelheim. As said before Asgard was the home of Gods. Vanheim was the home of the Vanir gods. The Vanir gods are an old branch of gods. The word “heim” means home. The Vanir were masters of sorcery and magic. They are also widely recognized for their talent to predict the future. Jotunheim was the home of the Jotuns, the giants. They were the sworn enemies of the Aesir. They lived in the mountains. Niflheim was the dark land of mist and cold. It was in the far north. This was the lowest of all the nine worlds. The home of the dead was in Niflheim. It was ruled by Hel. It was a gloomy and pitiful place. All humans who died of old age or illness were sent to live in Hel in their afterlife. Alfheim was the home of the light elves. Their home was right by Asgard in the heaven. They were beautiful and auspicious creatures. They were considered the “guardian angels” in Norse Mythology. Svartalheim was the home of the dark elves. They lived under the ground. They were hideous and could be a great nuisance to the humans. The dark elves were nothing but trouble. Many believed dark elves were also responsible for nightmares. These dark elves were called mare. A mare would sit on a sleeping person’s chest and whisper bad dreams to haunt the poor soul. A mare could also haunt animals, especially horses. Nidarvellir was the home of the dwarfs. They lived under rocks, in caves and underground. They were masters of craftsmanship. The gods of Aesir received many fabulous gifts from the dwarfs; the magical ring, Thor’s hammer, and the amazing ship are some examples of their outstanding talent of craftsmanship. Midgard was the home of the humans. It was mostly populated by the Sons of Heimdall. The humans were constantly exposed to the gods, goddesses and creatures from the other worlds in Norse Mythology. It was Odin and his two brothers who had created the humans. A rainbow bridge called Bifrost connected Midgard and Asgard. The gods frequently travelled across Bifrost. Muspelheim was the land of fire. It was ruled by the giant Surt. He was a sworn enemy of the Aesir. It was located in the far south. It was the first land of existence. Surt will ride out with his flaming sward at Ragnarok, the end of the world. Surt will kill Freyr and set fire to Asgard, turning the home of the gods into an inferno.

Odin was the chief god. He was the most powerful god in Asgard. Odin was the grandson of the very first Aesir, Buri. He was the son of Bor and Bestla. Bestla was a Jotun woman. Odin was married to Frigg. Together they had the sons Balder and Hod. He also had children with other women. Odin and Fjorgyn had a son named Thor. Odin and Grid had a son named Vidar. Thor was the strongest god in Asgard. Vidar was the second strongest god. Fjorgyn and Grid were both Jotun women.

Thor was the son of Odin (the chief god) and Fjorgyn (Earth). Thor was the strongest of all the gods. Thor had red hair and a beard. He was known to be ill tempered. Thor was the thunder god. He ruled the storms. Thor rode above the clouds in a chariot pulled by two goats. The names of the two goats were Tooth-grinder and Tooth-gnashed. Whenever Thor rode in his chariot people could hear the noise from the wheels and saw the strong sparks the wheels sent out as they speed across the sky. Others said the mighty sparks (the lightning) came from his hammer. The humans called this thunder and lightning. Thor has given his name to Thursday.

Loki was the son of the giants Farbauti (father) and Laufey (mother). He was not an Aesir but lived in Asgard with the Aesir. Odin had taken him in and made Loki his blood brother. Loki was described as being quite handsome.

There are many other characters in Norse mythology but the list would be too long to write it all down here. But Odin, Thor and Loki are three most well-known gods. I’ve always thought the Vikings were awesome and I think Norse mythology is even more awesome. It’s a pity that old Scandinavians were forced to accept Christianity as the new faith.

But definitely go see “Thor”. I liked it because it was different – the plot moved between modern day and Asgard and it gives a short glimpse into the Norse mythology. Sir Anthony Hopkins as Odin had a minor role but he played it so well. Thor was played by an Australian actor Chris Hemsworth – he played his role well also and looked good also 😉 But what I liked the most was the character Loki – he was a villain but yet there was still something good in him (kind of like Darth Vader), overall it was a very multifaceted character and I so loved how Tom Hiddleston played the part. And although Chris Hemsworth showed off his well trained body there was something about Tom Hiddelston that made me say – I like him, a lot 😉 I know that some people have criticized the film for being too far from the truth. I say – if you want only the true facts, see a documentary. I’ve watched documentaries about Vikings and Norse mythology and I’ve found them to be really good. “Thor” is a movie not a documentary, so naturally it has a storyline that is not only pure facts and figures. So, definitely go see the film 🙂

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