Mythology • Mythology, like religion, gives us insight into the beliefs and attitudes of a people. • Viking Religion was known as Paganism, which is a broad term for any non-Abrahamic, Polytheistic religion. • Viking mythology was passed down in an “oral tradition” which means it was not written down until later on in history. (Like Greek mythology and First Nations storytelling.) • By the time they were written down, Christianity had come to Scandinavia. There may be some Christian influence when they were recorded. • Viking beliefs were polytheistic(They had many gods) • Viking beliefs were passed down as stories. Many revolved around characters such as Thor and Loki. • From the Viking Gods we get the days of the week for Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
“Yggdrasil” -The World Tree “Asgard” -Home of the Gods “Midgard” -Earth or “Middle Earth” “Jotunheim” -Land of the Giants “Hel” -Land of the Dead
Odin • “King” of the Gods, also known as the Allfather. • Also known as Woden from where we get Wednesday. • Traded his eye for a sip from the well of knowledge– learned of his own eventual defeat at the jaws of Fenrir the Wolf during Ragnarok. • Destined to lead the Gods to defeat against the giants at Ragnarok. • Powerful, but not all-powerful like a Monotheistic God.
Thor • Thor was the Thundergod. • He was the most popular of the Gods. A real “Viking’s Viking” he could be clever but preferred to solve his problems with his fists. • A miniature Hammer, Mjolnir, was a common good-luck necklace even after Christianity was adopted. • Destined to die fighting against Jormungand, the World Serpent during Ragnarok.
Tyr • Viking God of War. • Lost his hand to the giant wolf, Fenrir. • From Tyr we get Tuesday • Destined to die fighting Fenrir during Ragnarok.
Freyja / Frigg • Goddess of Fertility • Wife of Odin. • May be two goddesses, or one. • From Frejya we get Friday.
Loki • Son of Odin and a Frost Giant. • Half-Brother of Thor, Loki accompanies him on many adventures in Norse Mythology. • A Trickster, Loki sometimes helps Thor, sometimes causes trouble. He has the ability to change is shape. • Destined to fight against the Gods during Ragnarok.
Fenrir • One of the “Children of Loki” • Enormous Wolf. • Chained up by Tyr – but bit off his hand. • Destined to break free and kill Odin during Ragnarok.
Jormungand • Another one of Loki’s Children. • Also known as the Midgard Serpent or the World Serpent. • Was an enormous sea serpent that could stretch around the world. • Had a very powerful venom. • Destined to be destroyed by Thor during Ragnarok – but its venom kills Thor after he takes 9 steps.
Viking Afterlife – “Valhalla” • Viking “Heaven” was known as “Valhalla” • You got to Valhalla by dying a heroic death. • Valkyries took heroic warriors to Valhalla after death • Warriors feasted and battled in Valhalla, awaiting Ragnarokwhich was the final battle and the end of the world of the Viking Gods. “Valkyrie” – They took brave soldiers to Valhalla
Viking Afterlife – “Hel” • “Hel” is where everybody who did not go to Valhalla ended up. • It was looked after by Loki’s daughter, also named Hel, who was half woman and half corpse. • It is dark, dreary and extremely cold. • Vikings had a difficult time with Christian concept of Hell – They didn’t mind a little warmth!
Ragnarok • Viking story about how the world will end. • The Gods battle against the Giants and monsters. • All the warriors of Valhalla will participate. • Everyone dies on both sides. • Afterwards, the world will rise again with only one god remaining (Baldur) and with two people left to re-populate Midgard.
Closure / Extension • Viking beliefs were as brutal as their lifestyle. Being maimed, settling problems with violence and having it all end up in a massive brawl. • Critical Thinking: Did Viking beliefs effect their actions? Or did Viking actions effect their beliefs?