|Goddess of Love, Beauty, and War|
|Aesir||Vanir||Races||Nine Realms||Topics||Research Materials|
Norse mythology is the collected tales of the Goddess Freya, her family among the Vanir deities, and her adopted family among the Aesir deities in Asgard. The most famous of the Aesir are Allfather Odin, his son Thor, and his adopted son Loki. Lady Freya herself came to Asgard after the great war between the Aesir and her people, the Vanir.
Freya's original realm is Vanaheim and she came to live in Asgard, but those are only two of the Nine Realms that make up the world. Giants, elves of various sorts, dwarves, and humans populate the other realms, as well as a variety of gods, goddesses, demons, and monsters. Norse mythology gathers together tales of great heroism and deep sorrow, lust for gold and the risks taken for love. Many of the tales are bloody, some are scary, and a few are funny. The tales tell of how the Nine Realms came to be, and how they will end.
The Norse (people of the north) are known today as the Scandinavians — the people of Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, and the Faroe Islands.
Mistakenly, Norsemen are often thought of only as the fierce warriors of the Viking Age (a.d. 750–1070); however, Norse culture originated long before the dramatic explorations of the Vikings. It probably started to take root during the Bronze Age (1600–450 b.c.). No written sources describe early Norse culture, but surviving works in metal and stone depict gods and goddesses and provide glimpses of ancient myths and rituals. The Norse were superb shipbuilders and navigators, intrepid explorers, and people with a strong sense of family and clan loyalty. They also loved a good story, a quick wit, and fine craftsmanship, which we can see in the ancient carvings, weaponry, and utensils that have been discovered in a variety of archaeological sites across Scandinavia. The mythology of these strong, lively people was rich, vigorous, and clever.
Norse mythology originated in Asia, according to experts. It was modified in the European Mediterranean lands, and eventually was carried north and west by migrating Germanic tribes, in the third to sixth centuries a.d. during the breakup of the Roman Empire—a time known as the Migration Period. The roaming tribes included Angles and Saxons, Goths, Visigoths and Ostrogoths, Alemanni, Vandals, Franks, and others. As the migrating tribes settled, the stories they brought with them began to change with the local geography, climate, and temperament of the people. Later, during the Viking Age, the Norse began to explore and populate countries from the British Isles and the rest of Europe to Iceland, North America, the Near East, Byzantium, and Russia, settling in the lands they conquered and taking with them, too, their myths and their culture.
The Norse myths were not written down, however, until the 13th century, by which time Christianity was established in northern Europe and had displaced paganism, that is, the worship and the myths of the ancient gods. Thus much of the ancient lore is lost to modern audiences. What remains is fragmented, incomplete, and often distorted by the pious Christian monks who edited the pagan tales as they transcribed them onto vellum and parchment for the first time. Although the Norse myths as we know them today are often confusing and contradictory, they still present us with wonderful tales about these northern people. The more you learn of them, the less confusing they become.
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