Viking Gods and Heroes
What follows is an extensive listing of the Norse Gods, Goddesses, Giants, Dwarves, Spirits and other Mythical Creatures and Supernatural Beings, along with a short explanation of each.
- Aclis – Twin gods worshiped by the Teutons, said to be the sons of the Sky God.
- Aegir – God of the Sea (or Ocean Giant), who lived on Hlesey island. He was skilled in magic. He can be good or evil. He and Ran have nine wave daughters, or “undines”. He represents gold, prosperity, sailors, sunken treasure, brewing, control of wind and waves. Mistblindi is his father and Logi is his brother.
- Æsir, Asynur – A plural word meaning “pillars”; or “supports”; and is the collective name of the Old Norse Gods of the family of which Odin was the patriarch. The singular is Ase or Áss. Ása is used as a prefix to denote that the God or Goddess is of the Æsirî.
- Agnar – Older brother of King Geirrod, son of King Hraudung. He was lost when ten winters old on a fishing trip with his brother and, after being washed ashore, was looked after for the winter by Odin and Frigga.
- Ai – A Dwarf from the race of Lovar.
- Alaisiagae – War Goddesses. See Valkyries.
- Alf – Elf; sometimes male ancestral spirits.
- Alfar – Plural of Alf. The Elves, which are divided into three races Ljosalfar, Dokkalfar, and Svartalfar, or Light Elves, Dark Elves and Black Elves, the last also called Dwarves. All of the Alfar are wise magicians. They will frequently take an interest in individual humans, as shown by such names as Alfred (Elf-counsel), Aelfgifu (Elf-gift), and so forth The Alfar are also unpredictable, taking pleasure or offense at the slightest things; your manners and bearing are exceedingly important in dealing with these wights.
- Alfrik, Algfrig – An artistic Dwarf, a son of Mimir . With Berling, Dvalin, and Grer, he forged Freya’s incredible Brising necklace. To get the jewelry she spent one night with each of them.
- Allfather, Alföder, Alfödr – One of the titles of Odin, “The Oldest of the Gods”.
- Allsvinn – Allsvinn is one of Sun’s two horses that drags the sun (the other is Arvak). They are chased by two wolves. Allsvinn has protection-runes carved on his hoofs. Arvaker is the other horse.
- Alsvid – The horse that pulls the chariot of the moon, driven by the god Moon. Under the shoulder-blades of the horse the gods put two bellows to cool them, and in some poems that is called “iron-cold”.
- Althjof – A soil dwelling Dwarf.
- Alves, Elves – There are both Light Elves and Dark Elves. The Elves are good and have Freyr as their leader, but the Black Elves or Dwarves are evil-minded.
- Alvis – One of the wisest dwarves. He is known for demanding to marry Thrud, Thor’s daughter. Thor challenged him until the the sun rose and turned him to stone.
- Andhrimnir – Andhrimnir is the cook that slaughters the boar Saehrimnir every night. The meat is given to the hungry warriors in Valhalla. Eldhrimnir is the pot that Andhrimnir cooks in.
- Andvari – A Dwarf, a shape-shifter, who lived as a pike in a pool in Svartalfheim.
- Angrboda, Angr-boda – A Jotun-Giantess, the mother, by Loki, of horrible monster children Hel, Fenrir-wolf, and Jormungand, the Midgard serpent. She lives in Ironwood, may be related to Skadi.
- Annarr – A by-name of Odin. Also, the second husband of Night/Natt, with one daughter by her called Earth/Erda (Nerthus).
- Ari – Ari is an Eagle-Giant who frightens the dead outside Nifilhel. Nifelhel is the kingdom of the Death-Goddess Hel. Hel takes care of those who have died of age or misfortune.
- Aridva – A rock dwelling Dwarf.
- Arvak, Arvaker – One of Sun’s two horses that drags the sun’s chariot, chased by the wolves Hati and Skoll. Arvaker has protection-runes in his ear. Under the shoulder-blades of the horses the gods put bellows to cool them. Allsvinn is the other horse.
- Asa, Asa-Gods – A God of the Æsir; The Æsir; also used to refer to the Æsir and Vanir together. Ases (pl)
- Ása-Thór – Thor, the thunder god’s full name.
- Åsgardsreia – A band of superantural entities, with Odin at the helm, riding across the sky at Yuletide amidst much noise and rowdiness. See Wild Hunt.
- Askr and Embla – Origin of humanity, the first man and woman. The first man, Askr, was made from an Ash tree. His wife, Embla, was an Elm.
- Asvid, Asvido – A ruler of the Giants.The Gant who carved runes of wisdom on Yggdrasil.
- Asynjor, Asynjur – The Goddesses; feminine version of Æsir; also female attendants of Frigga in Vingolf. One of them, a healer, was called Eir. Others were named Fjorgyn, Frimia, Fimila, and Hnossa the beautiful.
- Atrid – Another name for Odin.
- Aud – Son of Nagifari and Night.
- Audhumla – The name of the mythological sacred cow–the primeval shaping force of the Cosmos, created from the moisture where the heat from Muspelheim collided with the frosty fog of Niflheim. The great cow produced Buri by licking on the salty rocks of Ginnungagap and nourished the Giant Ymir with her milk .
- Aurboda – The mountain Giantess Aurboda is Gymir’s wife. Together they have the son Beli and the daughter Gerd, a beautiful Goddess that Freyr married. Freyr had to give away his self-wielding sword to get his bride.
- Aurgelmir – The primal being. The Frost Giants’ name for Ymir.
- Aurochs -The extinct wild ox of Europe, last seen alive in 1627. Symbolized by the rune Uruz.
- Aurvandil – The friendly Giant Aurvandil is the sybil Groa’s husband. Aurvandil was the foster father of Thjalfi (Thor’s servant). On their way back from killing the Giant Hrungnir, Thor and his companions were met by a violent snowstorm and a freezing cold. Thor saved Aurvandil from a certain death and carried him over the Elivogar straits from Jotunheimur to the citadel of the Elves. During the trip Thor did not notice that one of Aurvandil’s toes was exposed. It froze, so Thor broke it off and cast it up into the heavens, where it still stands as the star called Aurvandil’s Toe.
- Austri – The Dwarf who was put in the sky’s east corner by Odin, Vili and Ve. The sky is made out of the Giant Ymir’s head. The other three dwarves were Nordri, Sudri and Vestri.
- Also known as: Hella, Hela
- Origin: Norse
- Colors: Black and white
- Rune: Hagalaz
- Mount: Hel rides a black mare
- Animals: She has a pack of dogs, the original Hell Hounds, as well as horses and wolves
- Spirit allies: Hel’s staff includes servants named “Delay” (male) and “Slowness” (female)
Hel is simultaneously half-dead and half-alive. Half of her body (cut vertically) is that of a fair, beautiful woman; the other half is necrotized flesh. She is half living woman, half corpse.
Rake and broom; the Black Plague was especially devastating in Scandinavia. Allegedly Hel roamed the land armed with her rake and broom. Villages totally wiped out by the Plague were said to have been swept away; where there were survivors, Hel had raked instead.
Once upon a time, being sent to Hel may have been inevitable, but it wasn’t perceived as punishment: Hel, daughter of Angerboda and Loki, rules the Norse realm of the dead. She is the keeper of the souls of the departed. Those who die at sea or in battle have other destinations; everyone else goes to Hel, who welcomes them into her home, Helhaim, regardless of whether they were good, bad, sinful, or saintly while alive.
Hel’s realm is not a sulphurous, fiery torture chamber. Rather it is a kind of inn or way station for the dead, although once checked in, one can never check out. Helhaim is a bleak gray, damp, misty realm; the concept of heat as punishment was imported from hotter, southern climes alongside Christianity. Lack of warmth with no hope of Spring was the Norse equivalent of desolation. That said, some regions of Helhaim are more comfortable than others; Hel judges and decides exactly where each individual soul is directed.
Hel’s name may derive from the Old German halja, meaning “covering.” She may or may not be the same spirit as Hulda (Holle). Hel and her brothers, a wolf and a snake, were raised by their mother, the witch Angerboda, in the Iron Wood. Prophecy suggested that the siblings would someday lead a Host of Destruction against the Aesir, and so Odin had them “brought” to Asgard, where each was ultimately entrapped. Odin personally seized Hel and flung her as far as he could; she landed in the Realm of Death and became its Queen. She lives in a great hall, Eliundnir, within Helhaim. She remains destined to lead an uprising of rebellious spirits and ghosts.
Hel manifests in dreams, most famously to Balder, Odin’s son. She appeared to him three days before his death, advising him (accurately) that in three days she would clasp him in her arms. Because her father was instrumental in killing Balder, it’s unclear how much inside information Hel possessed.
Mount Hekla, an active volcano in southern Iceland, was allegedly among the entrances to Hel’s realm. A nearby town is named Hella. Some have suggested that the mountain shares its name with the goddess, although others protest that Hekla means “slab” or covering,” which would still make it cognate with Hel as that is what her name means, too. It’s also theorized that the Belgian city of Hal may be named in her honor.
The Anglo-Saxon and Norse Goddess of the Underworld is honored annually on the Day of Hel (July 10th) with prayers, the lighting of black candles, and offerings of rose petals.
Found in: Encyclopedia of Spirits
Unn was a powerful figure from the Laxdaela Saga who emigrated to Scotland to avoid the hostility of King Harald Finehair. She was the second daughter of Ketill Flatnose, a Norwegian hersir, and Yngvid Ketilsdóttir, daughter of Ketill Wether, a hersir from Ringarike. Unn married Olaf the White, son of King Ingjald, who had named himself King of Dublin after going on voyages to Britain and then conquering the shire of Dublin. They had a son named Thorstein the Red.
She established dynasties in the Orkney and Faroe Islands by carefully marrying off her grand daughters. Unn then set off for Iceland.
On her ship were twenty men, all of whom were free, but she was still the leader of them, proving that she was respected, but also that she was strong-willed enough to command a ship alone without the help of a man. In addition to the crew, there many other men on her ship, prisoners from Viking raids near and around Britain. They all came from good families, and were called bondsmen. Unn gave these men their freedom once they were in Iceland, making them freed-men, a class between slave and free, where they were not owned, but did not have all the rights of a free man. She also gave them all a great deal of land to farm on and make a living.
Unlike most early Icelandic settlers, Aud was a baptized Christian and is commonly credited with bringing Christianity to Iceland. Aud erected crosses where she could pray on a prominent hill within her lands, now known as Krossholar (Krosshólaborg).
As a settler in Iceland she continued to exhibit all those traits which were her hallmark-strong will, a determination to control, dignity, and a noble character. In the last days of her life, she established a mighty line choosing one of her grandsons as her heir. She died during his wedding celebration, presumably accomplishing her goals and working out her destiny in this life. She received a typical Nordic ship burial, surrounded by her treasure and her reputation for great deeds.
Note: In some pagan calendars this is shown of “Day of Un the Wise Person” which is a misprint.
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