The legends of Norse pagan supernatural beings, especially in Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Denmark, and the Faroe Islands during the Viking age, have become known today as Norse Mythology. The tradition of folklore flourished during the pre-Christian era of Scandinavia, and especially during the Viking or Early Middle Ages. Nowadays, however, the myths are remembered as a part of history that helped form the culture and traditions of today.
According to Norse Mythology, there are four worlds: Åsgard, world of the Æsir (the main group of Norse gods), Midgard, world of average humans, Utgard, world of the giants, and Helheimr, world of the inglorious dead. Humans believed they could travel from world to world through use of human sacrifice and other ceremonies.
The Æsir were sky gods, connected with power, wisdom and war. They were long lived, but not immortal. Odin was the major Æsir god, and ruler of Åsgard. He is associated with war, battle, victory, death and also wisdom, magic, poetry, prophecy and the hunt. However, his role is quite complex, and what parts of legend he is related to are many and very diverse. Odin’s wife, Frigg was known as the “foremost among goddesses,” and the queen of Åsgard. Frigg is described as having the power of prophecy and is the only other allowed to sit with Odin and look out over the universe. Odin’s best known son, Thor, is the often-depicted hammer-wielding god associated with thunder, lightning, storms, strength, destruction, fertility, healing, and the protection of mankind. Odin’s less famous son, Baldr or Balur, is best known for his death as bringing great tragedy to the Æsir. Týr the god of single combat (depicted as a one handed man), victory and heroic glory.
The Vanir were earth gods who symbolized riches, fertility and fecundity. The Vanir were not recognized by the Æsir as having godhood, causing unrest in the Norse kingdoms. Njörðr was the god of sea, seafaring, wind, fishing, wealth, and crop fertility. He is father to Freyr and Freyja. Freyr is the god associated with farming, weather and, as a phallic fertility god. Freyja, probably the best known of the Vanir gods, is the goddess of love, beauty, fertility, gold, seiðr, war, and death.
The primary context of Norse Mythology dates between the 11th to 18th centuries, but with the spread of Christianity across Europe and Scandinavia the religion was more of less abandoned in practice, and became part of legend and tradition. Today, Scandinavians take reference and memory of the influence that Norse mythology has had on the shaping of language and society. Thor, has become the root word for Thorsdag (Thursday) and Frigg for Fredag (Friday). These gods have also left other traces on modern vocabulary and in elements of Western life, including literature of Richard Wagnar, J.R.R. Tolkien, J.K. Rolling (author of Harry Potter) as well as popular music and film culture.
For a complete list of Norse gods http://www.akasha.demon.co.uk/norse.htm