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About Me:I'm a graduate student studying International Criminal Law and first started writing for King's News almost 4 years ago! My hobbies include reading, travelling and charity work. I cover many categories but my favourite articles to write are about mysteries of the ancient world, interesting places to visit, the Italian language and animals!
You’ve no doubt heard of such famous Viking gods as Odin, Thor and Loki, and if you’ve read my brief histories of the Vikings then you’ll know they were pagan for some time after most of Europe converted to Christianity, but there’s so much more to discover in the wonderful world of Norse religion so sit back, strap in and read on!
The Vikings had a polytheistic faith which means they believed in and worshipped multiple Gods and Goddesses, unlike most modern day religions which have just one. The Vikings believed that there were two main branches of Gods; the Aesir and the Vanir. They also believed in other mythical beings such as giants, dwarfs, and elves to name just a few.
Most of the well known gods belonged to the Aesir including Odin, Thor, Frigg, Tyr, Loki and Heimdall. Their home was Asgard, one of the nine worlds according to Viking belief, and situated, like many religions high above us, but not in the clouds, instead in the highest and sunniest branch of the world tree Yggdrasil. It is general belief that Odin was the king of the gods in Asgard, though some sources believe it was originally Tyr, we cannot be certain. The Aesir were seen as the mighty beings that held the various worlds and cosmos together, rulers of the universe. This is particularly interesting and advanced thought when you note that we did not discover the existence of space and other galaxies for many centuries after the Viking age. At a time when other religions focused on our one world, the Vikings seemed to somehow have an understanding of the universe and its many galaxies far ahead of their time; lucky hunch? Seems unlikely.
The Vanir is a smaller group of gods including Freya, Freyr and Njord and they live in Vanaheim, another of the nine worlds within the nine branches of the world tree Yggdrasil. There is much less to say on the Vanir for we simply don’t know as much about them as the Aesir but they certainly seem to be more linked with fertility, both of people and the land and given that they are lower down the world tree than the mighty Asgard some interpret them as almost demi gods, more directly linked with humanity and helping them, and less to do with the business of the cosmos which is reserved for the Aesir. This is not to say however that the Vanir were less powerful as they warred with the Aesir after Freya frustrated them with her power. After some time they decided to call a truce because both sides were so evenly matched.
So you can see from this distinction that were indeed many gods each serving different purposes. It is a nice way of looking at things that is reflected in our mortal world. For example, some people are much better at maths and science, whilst others are naturally gifted writers and speakers. Anybody can improve with practise but it is unrealistic to expect one person to be excellent at everything. With monotheistic religions (the worship of one god) the God is all powerful, all seeing and can do virtually anything. The Viking gods seem, as far as gods go, a little more realistic in that they each have their set skills and so different gods would be of more or less importance for each individual person dependent on their skillset and what they do in life. Of course that’s only scraping the surface of Viking religion, make sure to keep an eye out for more of my articles following this to learn more about Viking rituals, sacrifices to the gods and their belief in an afterlife!
Hopefully then having read these two articles you’ll agree that the Vikings were far more than just warriors and raiders and that they are deserving of a better reputation. If this has sparked your interest why not do some of your own research, register on Kings’ News and write your own article on Viking culture? I look forward to reading them!
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