Tales of splendidly colourful lands, fierce magical battles and of various fantastical creatures are some of the many splendid characteristics that separate the Norse myths from those of many others. Here I share 5 of my favourite Norse myths, although I have to admit it was flipping hard to do!
5. How Odin lost his eye
Odin, the King of the Gods, is said to be the wisest of them all and it is said that to achieve that wisdom Odin had to make a great sacrifice. Odin travelled to the roots of Yggdrasil (the World Tree) to try and access the Well of Higher Wisdom, when there he was met by the protector of the well, a giant called Mimir.
Mimir told Odin that to receive a drink from the well, which was meant to provide one with extraordinary wisdom, he would need to sacrifice something that meant a lot to him, Odin cut out his eye and handed it to the giant. Odin was granted his drink and received the gift of insight into the past, present and the future.
4. Thor and the Giants
Thor has become immortalised in our memories as the fiercely strong Thunder God who protects mankind. One especially brilliant tale of the Thunder God’s deeds is the one where he visits the land of the giants and undertakes various trials set by the King of the Giants to prove that he is as great as legends says.
After what seems like 3 failed trials on Thor’s behalf, the King later admits that it was a trick and that Thor had proven just how great and powerful he truly was by supping a large quantity out of the sea, lifting the Midgard serpent (a beast that stretched round the world) and battling with old age, he had terrified the king with his awesome power. So much so that the king was determined to protect his people from Thor through the use of tricks, should Thor ever come knocking again…
It is said that the tale of Beowulf is possibly the oldest example of Old English literature that has survived to modern times. It tells the infamous tale of a brave warrior, Beowulf, who battles with a hideous beast, Grendel, that terrorises King Hrothgar’s hall, in Herot.
Beowulf slays Grendel, but the story doesn’t end there as Grendel’s mother attempts to exact her revenge at the death of her son. Of course Beowulf slays her as well. This brilliant epic has been immortalised in our memories thanks to various adaptations of it both on-screen and off, one thing is certain, Beowulf will remain in our history for a long time to come.
2. Creation of the Universe
The Norse creation myth is truly spectacular, full of colour and imagery that makes the mind salivate. When listening to the tale, one easily visualise what the realm of the Norse Gods must look like.
The creation myth tells of how the 9 worlds, Asgard, Alfheim, Vanaheim, Midgard, Jotunheim, Svartalfaheim, Nithavellir, Muspelheim and Niflheim, were created when the fires of Muspelheim and the ice of Niflheim met in the great chasm of Ginnungagap and from this all life sprang in various forms. A genuinely brilliant tale that fires the imagination.
The final battle. The end of days. This is the ultimate fight between good and evil. It tells of a 3 year winter in which the world is plunged into darkness, wars reign throughout the realm of humans, the earth shakes and rumbles and the Midgard serpent sends tidal waves crashing to the shore.
On the fields of Asgard the Gods and their allies fight against the giants and their allies. By the end there is extreme loss on both sides, the earth is destroyed. However, Lif and Lifthrasir, who hid amongst the branches of Yggdrasil, survive and spawn the new human race.
I simply love the Norse myths. They are rich and vibrant and refuse to be shoved in a corner out of sight, they want to be heard! I’d love to hear about your favourite Norse myths, so why not pop a comment in the box below?
My own knowledge, but I do include a link to a Youtube video that has many of the fabulous Norse myths in audio form, in case anyone fancies listening to them :