It's easy to think that there are a lot of Norse myths out there. But the sad fact is that we are missing so, so many of what we could have had. We have to glean our stories from what's left of writings from hundreds of years ago, from tombstones that long ago fell into ruin, from the designs on drinking horns and sword hilts.
So much of what we could have known is missing. And included in these missing tales are many gods and goddesses who didn't stand the test of time. Here are a handful of them.
The Norse had no problem celebrating women-- and very little problem admitting that there are many women out there who are stronger than men. Take Elli, also known as the Giant Crone. The only tale she appears in is where she wrestles Thor-- and beats him. How did she manage to do something so few could claim? Elli is the personification of old age. As soon as Thor touched her, he tottered and fell to the ground, as an old, feeble man might do. A trick worthy of Loki, to be sure.
As you may be able to tell from her name, Sol is the goddess of the sun. In many other world religions, the deity who represents the sun is usually male, where the one who represents the moon is female. Not for the Norse. But both Sol and her brother, Mani (the moon), are chased through the sky by two giant wolves: for Sol, it is Skoll; for Mani, it is Hati. Eventually, Skoll will meet up with Sol and her chariot. And that is the day Ragnarok will begin.
Vidar is the silent god, and one of the sons of Odin. He doesn't speak and he doesn't do great deeds. But he will, one day. On the day of Ragnarok, after his father Odin is killed by Fenrir, Vidar will kill the wolf. Vidar wears a single, giant leather boot, which has been made by collecting leather throughout the ages. The boot is the only thing in the world which Fenrir's teeth will not pierce.
Forseti is the god of justice and law-making. Similar to Tyr, who was once the god of justice, Forseti was the son of Baldr and the not well-known goddess, Nanna. In particular, his ability to mediate between people was what made him well-known.
Forseti was said to rule in particular over the coastal region of Frisia in the Netherlands. The Frisians were so well-known for being just people (thanks to Forseti), that it is said Charlemange asked for a delegation of them to approve the Magna Carta.
In the tales of Norse mythology, there are a LOT of fertility goddesses, but Gefion represents the fertility of the land. Odin himself sent her forth to conquer more land, and she found King Gylfi, of Sweden, who told her he would give her enough land as she could plow in a day. Knowing she couldn't do this alone, Gefion went to Jotunheimer and very quickly had four sons with a jotunn. She then transformed those giant boys into oxen and brought them back to Midgard. With these powerful, giant oxen, she managed to plow all of what is now called Zealand, in Sweden.
All who die virgins become her attendants in death, for Gefion, much like Artemis from Greek legend, was a virgin herself
You obviously know at this point that the Vikings loved to tell eloquent stories while deep in their drinking horns full of mead. But did you know they had a god for that, too? Enter Bragi. Bragi is the husband of Idunn, who cares for the magic apples that keep the gods of Asgard healthy and young. His name even comes from bragr, the Norse word for poetry. Bragi and Loki, in particular, don't like one another. Just like Loki and Thor, they often come to blows in their respective stories.
Snotra is a goddess of wisdom ad courtesy, but we really don't know a whole lot about her. She's honestly just mentioned in the Poetic Eddas as one of the sixteen Aesir. She's mentioned thirteenth though, if that gives you any idea of how important Snorri held her. Still, her name is often assigned as a suffix to those who are well-known to be wise.
Njörður is the father of the primary gods, Freya and Freyr. He's also the god of the sea and the wind, so you'd think he might be a little more primary to the sea-faring Vikings himself. He does have one famous story, however, where he marries the jotunn Skaldi, and the marriage sadly does not work out. He will also be one of the few survivors of Ragnarok.
Lofn's title is 'The Comforter' but she isn't the goddess of blankets. She is the goddess of all things gentle and loving. The Vikings have a lot of different love goddesses, but this kind of love is different. She is a goddess mean for small and helpless things. She is also one of Frigg's handmaidens.
(Lofn tending to Frigg's needs)
But while Frigg is the goddess of marriage, Lofn is the maker of marriages. She oversees all unions, whether they have been approved of by the families involved or not. Think of it like this: if Romeo and Juliet were Ragnar and Gala, they would have made offerings to Lofn. And they also probably wouldn't have killed themselves, but sailed away to be happy together.
And while you're thinking about Lofn, think about this: our drinking horns are becoming more popular than ever for weddings-- whether approved of by the families or not! Check out our wedding customizer and see how we can make your special day even more special.
Which Norse god is your favorite? Have we missed another minor one who should be on this list? Don't worry-- there's a lot of them and they will be added in time. Let us know who you want to hear about next!
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