You’ll know of Odin, Thor, and Loki, the Norse Gods that we’ve all come to know and love. But what about the others? Do you know about their might, treachery and infinite love for mead? What about these deities’ fondness of poetry, infatuation with mischief, and ludicrous love for cats? We thought you might not know, so keep on reading to learn 50 facts about Norse mythology.
Fact 1: Norse mythology is attested in dialects of Old Norse, spoken by Scandinavians in the Middle Ages.
- The majority of these Old Norse texts were produced in Iceland.
Fact 2: Old Norse texts include the ‘Prose Edda’ and the ‘Poetic Edda’, both written in the 13th century.
- ‘Prose Edda’, also known as the ‘Younger Edda’ is written by the Icelandic scholar, Snorri Sturluson and is the most detailed source for modern knowledge of Germanic mythology. ‘Poetic Edda’ on the other hand is a collection of poems from earlier traditional material, anonymously compiled.
Fact 3: Norse mythology stemmed from Norse paganism which was developed around the 2nd century.
- But, records of Norse mythology only occurred primarily in the 13th century.
Fact 4: Thor first appeared in the Marvel comic universe in August of 1962, and has been featured in 116 different volumes since!
- Thor has been one of the longest-running superheroes for the company and has starred in several ongoing series’, as well as a large number of limited series’ and specials.
Fact 5: In Norse mythology, Odin is a Nordic counterpart of Zeus from Greek mythology, which means he is the Father of all the Gods.
- Odin has only one eye since he traded his other eye for a drink from the Well of Wisdom to gain immense knowledge.
Fact 6: The most popular God among the Scandinavians, and across the globe, is everyone’s favorite buff blonde God, Thor.
- Thor is a hammer-wielding God associated with thunder, lightning, storms, oak trees, and strength.
Fact 7: One of the most successful TV shows of our time, Game of Thrones, was heavily influenced by Norse mythology.
- Its producers have openly admitted that North European folklore has been a central source of their inspiration behind the show.
Fact 8: ‘The Vikings’ is a popular ongoing historical-drama television series, with a plot that is heavily based on Norse mythology and folklore, its currently on its 5th seasons.
- The characters often have visions of Odin and pray to several Norse Gods, such as Thor and Freyr.
Fact 9: The ‘Valkyries’ were female figures who got to choose who would die and who would live on, on the battlefield. They would go to retrieve the fallen warriors from the battlefields at the end of the battle, and they would take the bodies to Valhalla. The bodies would then become ‘einherjar’ (single fighters).
- Interestingly, during World War II, a team of Germans plotting to overthrow Hitler named their secret plan ‘Operation Valkyrie’.
Fact 10: Contrary to popular belief, Norse mythology has been a real religion to a lot of people in Scandinavian countries and Central Europe, and still is to this very day.
- In Iceland, they tend to call it Ásatrú, although it’s called Odinism in America.
Fact 11: The popular video game, ‘Too Human’ was released in 2008 and has a storyline heavily influenced by Norse mythology.
- The game interpreted the Norse Gods as cybernetically enhanced humans.
Fact 12: Odin’s wife, Frigg, is by far the most famous Norse Goddess.
- She represents marriage and motherhood. It’s also been speculated that she supposedly knows every person’s destiny, but refuses to reveal the details to anyone.
Fact 13: Odin’s grandfather, Buri, sprang from salt stones that were constantly licked by a cow.
- Buri is considered to be the first Asgardian, Father of Bor, Grandfather of Odin, Vili and Ve.
Fact 14: ‘Bifrost’ is the bridge separating Midgard (the realm of humans) from Asgard (the realm of the Gods).
- It is made from 3 colors (red, blue and green) and is the only way to enter Asgard.
Fact 15: Norse myth had a God of vengeance named Vidar.
- Vidar is famous in Norse myth for avenging his father Odin’s death at Ragnarok, by killing the wolf Fenrir.
Fact 16: In the afterlife according to Norse mythology, the dead could either go to the murky realm of Hel, be ferried away by Valkyries to Odin’s martial hall Valhalla, or be chosen by the Goddess Freyja to dwell in her field, Fólkvangr.
- The answer to, why there are different paths to the afterlife and who really chooses who goes where, still remains a mystery.
Fact 17: In some Norse texts, the Goddess Rán can claim those who die at sea.
- On the other hand, the Goddess Gefjon is said to be linked to ploughing, agriculture and fertility in Norse mythology.
Fact 18: In Norse mythology, there’s an apocalyptic battle at the end of time called ‘Ragnarok’.
- This is a battle between the Gods and giants. It almost destroys all life forms and leaves the 9 other worlds in a slaughtered state.
Fact 19: Richard Wagner’s ‘The Ring of the Nibelungs’ was influenced by Norse mythology.
- It was reflected in the literary themes in his composition of the 4 operas that make up the epic drama.
Fact 20: J. R. R. Tolkien has admitted that ‘The Hobbit’ and ‘The Lord of the Rings’ have clear references to Norse mythology.
- For example, Gandalf the wizard takes his name and appearance from Norse figures such as Odin.
Fact 21: Tuesday is named after the Norse God of war and justice, Tyr.
- However, in the French, Spanish, and Italian languages, Tuesday is named after Mars, the Greco-Roman God of war.
Fact 22: According to Norse mythology, the first human couple wasn’t Adam and Eve, but was Ask and Embla.
- The man, Ask, was made from an Ash tree, while his partner, Embla, was made from an Elm tree.
Fact 23: In Norse mythology, Ratatoskr was a squirrel, whose sole job was to carry insulting messages between a great eagle and a dragon.
- The eagle and the dragon were at opposite ends of Yggdrasil, the great World Tree.
Fact 24: Loki gave birth to an 8-legged horse named Sleipnir after mating with a stallion.
- He disguised himself as a mare on heat and mated with a stallion named Svaðilfari, and their offspring became the best horse among Gods and men.
Fact 25: The dwarves created a magical chain to shackle the wolf, Fenrir. Fenrir was a huge, unstoppable creature that was destined to kill Odin.
- The chain was made up of the sound of a cat’s footfall, the beard of a woman, the roots of a mountain, bear’s sinews, fish’s breath, and a bird’s spittle.
Fact 26: Odin rode Sleipnir, an 8-legged flying horse, and was considered a precursor to Santa Claus.
- In the winter, Odin gave out both gifts and punishments, and children would fill their boots or stockings with treats for Sleipnir.
Fact 27: According to Norse mythology, Thor’s hammer, Mjölnir was originally intended to be wielded with both hands.
- Loki harassed the dwarven brothers, Sindri and Brokkr, while they were forging the weapon resulting in the hammer’s short handle.
Fact 28: Thor once dressed as a bride and was presented to the giant Thrym (Þrymr) with Loki as his bridesmaid.
- Thrym got a bit suspicious when Thor ate an entire ox, 8 salmon, and drank many barrels of mead.
Fact 29: During the events of Ragnörak, a ship named Naglfar carried hordes to the battlefield, to battle the Gods.
- The ship was made entirely of the untrimmed nails of the dead.
Fact 30: Valhalla is just one of the halls that dead Viking warriors can go to if they have fallen on the battlefield.
- Half of the fallen are chosen by Odin for Valhalla, and the other half are chosen by Freyja for Folkvangr (a meadow like place).
Fact 31: Surprisingly, Vikings used to give kittens to new brides as an essential part of a new household.
- Kittens were associated with Freyja, the Goddess of love.
Fact 32: In Norse mythology, a ‘fylgja’ is a spirit that accompanies a person who’s in connection with their fate or fortune.
- In some instances, the fylgja will take on the form of an animal that shows itself after the birth of a child.
Fact 33: During Ragnarok, Odin’s son Vidar, avenges his Father by killing the wolf Fenrir using a giant boot.
- Vidar tears Fenrir’s jaws open with a giant boot, made from the spare parts of every shoe ever made.
Fact 34: Loki played an odd, and quite literally, an out of this world game of tug of war with a goat.
- He tied one end of the rope to a goat and the other end around his testicles… definitely not something you want to think about for too long!
Fact 35: The Norse Gods had unlimited bacon, this was courtesy of a pig named Sæhrímnir.
- Sæhrímnir provides food for the Aesir and Einherjar in the feasting hall of Valhalla.
Fact 36: Odin kept the head of Mimir and used herbs to prevent it from rotting.
- When war broke out between Aesir and Vanir, Mimir (the God that was most respected for wisdom and intellect in Aesir) was killed and beheaded.
Fact 37: There actually is a Norse God for skiers, he is named Ullr.
- His favorite sport is chasing game with a bow and arrow, through the mountains at speed, on skis.
Fact 38: Ægir is the God of the oceans and ruler of all sea creatures in Norse mythology.
- He also brewed ale for the Gods and held elaborate parties.
Fact 39: The Norse Gods had an endless supply of beer. (That Avengers: Endgame scene with Thor, in the new Asgard, is beginning to make more sense now!)
- The Vikings believed that a giant goat named Heiðrún, whose udders provided an endless supply of beer, awaited them in Valhalla upon their death.
Fact 40: Dragons known as Lindwurms existed in Norse mythology.
- The dragons had 2 front arms, as opposed to the full 4 arms found in Asian cultures.
Fact 41: Odin and his brothers created the new world out of Ymir’s body parts.
- Ymir was the very first being and he was responsible for all life that followed.
Fact 42: A Master of Disguise was Odin! Throughout Norse lore, Odin had nearly 200 aliases and was often in some new disguise.
- Examples of these disguises include Hàrbaðor meaning “grey beard”, and Fengr or “fetcher”. Sometimes he named himself according to how he looked other times he picked a random name based on the situation.
Fact 43: According to legend, Odin’s resting place was on Osmussaar, an Estonian island in the Gulf of Finland.
- The Swedish name for the island, ‘Odensholm’, reflects the name Odin.
Fact 44: Freyja was one of the chief Goddesses of the Norse pantheon, and ruled over Folkvangr.
- Folkvangr was 1 of 2 places slain Viking warriors went after their deaths.
Fact 45: As punishment for scheming to kill Baldur, Loki was imprisoned in a cave with a giant snake.
- The snake dripped its venom on Loki, causing him to convulse so badly the whole earth shook. This was the Norse explanation for earthquakes.
Fact 46: When Baldur started having premonitions of his death, Frigg demanded that all things animate and inanimate in Asgard, swore an oath to never hurt Baldur, leaving him impervious to harm. Only mistletoe was left out.
- The ever mischevious Loki tricked Frigg into telling him what might cause harm to Baldur. When mistltoe was revealed Loki indirectly killed Baldur by throwing a stick of mistletoe at him.
Fact 47: Loki was a Father to an odd brood of 3 children.
- With his partner, the giantess Angrboda, Loki had 3 offsprings: a wolf-like creature named Fenrir, a serpent named Jormungand, and Hel, Goddess of the underworld.
Fact 48: Construction on the first Norse Temple began almost 1,000 years ago.
- The temple, which was built in Reykjavik, Iceland, was built by members of Ásatrứarfélagið, a pagan advocacy group that currently has almost 2,400 members.
Fact 49: The Queen of England is apparently Thor’s descendant.
- Early Germanic chroniclers traced the ancestry of Cerdic of the Gewisse, back to Odin, the father of the Norse Gods. Which makes Elizabeth II a descendant of Cerdic, through the House of Wessex.
Fact 50: Hel, was a Goddess of the underworld, and was Loki’s daughter.
- Hel appeared to be a beautiful woman above the waist, but below the waist she was a rotting corpse.