In the Name of the Gods

A lot of what we do in life is also what the gods do. If you do it well with good intentions, it can please the gods, just as praying or sacrificing to the gods would. I would like this site to be more than just information. I want it to be educational, enlightening, and cultured. The best education is more than just telling what things are, but also showing. Bragi is the god of poetry, writing, music, and performance. Asha, his daughter, is the goddess of celebration. Here is a great Nordic song you can use during any special occasion, even just the occasion of listening to good music on any given day, in the name of the gods. Dedicate some time to yourself and to the gods simply by listening to this great work of art, by Wardruna called Helvegen.

You could use this song during a blot or other broad spiritual celebration. The lyrics speak of death, and can therefore make the song useful during a funeral or in the fall (the season of Morrigan) as a dedication to your dead ancestors. It could make a good addition to the celebrations of the Day of the Dead, if you recognize that holiday. Feel free to explore more music, it will only please gods like Bragi, and any others whose attributes and characteristics are sung of in the music.

I dedicate this post to Bragi, for great music, Asha, for celebration, and Morrigan, for the dead who walk with her, and the beauty of her season which now draws near (with all due respect to Njord, whose season of summer we’re still in, in September).

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There Are No Gender Roles, Only Roles

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Someone once asked me, what is the heathen view of women? This was my answer:

Well I can’t speak for all heathens. Many people, like in any religion, gravitate to the faith for stupid reasons and never actually educate themselves. My heathen view is that women are the most beautiful creatures alive in any realm. But I’m biased because I’m straight. My gay cousin disagrees with me. Socially and politically they’re not much different from men. They make great queens and matriarchs in general; just as good as any good king, chief, etc. Frigga is the queen of the gods, and despite having little written about her compared to Odin, she’s just as important as her husband. There are a lot of “heathens” who only read the newer myths, and no Nordic history, archaeology, nor culture, and think they’re real followers or even modern day vikings or something. Just as there are many “Christians” who haven’t finished reading the Bible and don’t read Roman, Greek, nor Middle-eastern history, and think they’re some authority on Christianity.

You have to keep in mind that there’s a difference between the ancient, pre-Christian true faith, that I prefer to follow and call Forn Sidr (or Nordic Spiritualism), and newer versions of the faith. 99% of all the writings, like Sturluson, are written by Christians, or non-Christians living in a Christian culture. They’re very modern and Western. And what’s more modern and Western than the prime minister or president is usually a man, god is a He, and the king takes priority? Sturluson and other common era writers simply could not write strictly about the goddesses. But before the common era, before the monotheists, the goddesses could be more important depending on what you’re celebrating or worshiping. Nature? The three goddesses of nature, Ran (of water), Nerthus (of vegetation/flora), and Fjorgyn (of earth/stone and minerals), each often referred to as “mother nature” now, take priority. Sex, both male and female, Freyr and Freya can take priority. And LGBT are not an issue. The sun or the moon? Both male and female because, like Loki and Odin in modern writings, they often switch up their genders just because they can.

Idun and Bragi are important gods, and married. Idun is a watchwoman goddess similar to Heimdall, often taking on a masculine role according to modern Western standards (watchwoman isn’t even really a word now, another example of our patriarchal modern Western Christian culture). But in ancient times, this wasn’t an issue at all. Idun is a much better warrior than her husband. Bragi is the god of music, poetry, and performance. To the true heathen, there are no gender roles, just roles.

There’s little to no ancient writing because most ancient polytheistic religions and cultures all over the world focused on an oral tradition. My family still maintains these traditions, for example, by telling the stories of the Wild Hunt on the winter solstice, and of Eostre in the spring. Which, by the way, Eostre is a goddess and takes center stage in the spring story, and Frigga and Odin both take center stage in the Wild Hunt. It’s a common mistake that Odin alone always leads the Hunt. Not to mention Skadi and Freya usually participate and both hunt during the year more often than Odin and Frigga.

The short answer to your question is that a true follower of Forn Sidr views women and men totally and completely as equals.

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The Triple Horn of Odin

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A popular symbol of Norse Paganism in general, it actually represents the 3 swigs of water Odin took from the Well of Wisdom. It is therefore also a symbol of wisdom and of Odin. Some people mistake it for a variation of the Valknut, however it is of course a completely different symbol, with a specific story behind it.

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List of the Gods and Their Spirit Animals

It is important to note that there are in fact countless gods, most of which, obviously, whose names are long forgotten. The gods have been worshiped since the Bronze Age, and most of what our ancient ancestors knew they didn’t write down. The gods are a complex and supreme people, and are therefore not limited to one attribute. They are multifaceted; no god is bound to one attribute or characteristic. In addition, they each have countless names and titles. Morrigan for example, is the primary goddess of autumn and a goddess of death, and is her Celtic or Gaelic name; her Nordic name being lost to us. Odin and Frigga’s family tree are the most well known and well remembered gods. As mentioned throughout this site, names and labels are not as important as respect of nature (Yggdrasil), the gods, and what the gods represent and hold domain over. The gods represent, and likewise are represented by many things in nature and reality. Like any people, they are of course highly complex.

It is also important to note that these animals are their spirit or totem animals, and not necessarily constant companions. And most of the Aesir also have war horses. The gods and animals may just be used to represent or symbolize each other; and like multiple attributes, the gods are not always restricted to one spirit or companion animal (as Odin is the god of war and wisdom, among other things, and has five animals commonly associated with him, as you’ll see below). Most of the gods and goddesses are highly skilled in magics like shapeshifting, and therefore are not restricted to any one form. In addition to taking the form of their totem animals, or any other living or nonliving thing, they are also not limited to any specific gender. Indeed gender likely means very little to many of them. Odin and Loki are well known to take on many forms of any gender. The goddesses of the sun and the moon are also known around the world sometimes as male or female gods, and it may be that they regularly take on a gender neither male nor female. Binaries are common among humanity, but the gods and goddesses are far above us and limiting binaries. The Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans saw the primary sun deity as male and the moon deity as female, while many other Pagans saw the opposite. I personally refer to them both as goddesses.

It is also important to note that the giants are a race very similar to the gods, but usually more elemental in form (ice and fire giants are more physically similar to their elements). Many gods and goddesses have giants in their family tree, and I will be naming the giants elsewhere.

I will list the gods and goddesses by their common names and mention alternate names that I myself often use. I will be listing many more names and titles of each god and goddess on their individual pages, once I get them written and up online.

The Aesir:

Odin, the primary god of wisdom, strategy, war, fatherhood, and kingship. “The All-Father”. Also known as Wotan. Married to Frigga. Spirit or totem animals are Geri and Freki, his two gray wolves; Munin and Hugin, his two ravens, and Sleipnir, his eight-legged gray horse.

Frigga, the primary goddess of wisdom, strategy, war, motherhood, and queens. “The All-Mother”. Married to Odin. Spirit animal is a great-horned owl.

Baldur, a god of war, nobility, beauty, schooling, and later, tragedy. Also known as Palter. “The Shining One”. Heir to, and son of Odin and Frigga, and married to Nan. Spirit animal is a golden eagle.

Nan, a goddess of joy and later, sorrow. Married to Baldur. Spirit animal is a mourning dove.

Forseti, a god of justice and law. Son of Baldur and Nan. Spirit animal is a gray wolf.

Hod, a god of nobility, schooling, war, and obstacles. “The Blind God”. Second son of Odin and Frigga. Spirit animal is an hoary bat.

Moona, the primary goddess of the night, the moon, stealth, and war. Also commonly known as Mani (in male form), Luna, and Selene. Daughter of Odin and Frigga, and second cousin to Sunna (possibly Odin’s cousin and Sunna’s sister). Spirit animals are a pack of seven eastern timber wolves.

Hermod, a god of messaging and communication, bravery and courage. Third son of Odin and Frigga. Spirit animal is a gyrfalcon.

Bragi, a god of writing, poetry, music, and performance. Fourth son of Odin and Frigga, and married to Idun. Spirit animals are nine song birds: a black-capped chickadee, a boreal chickadee, a purple finch, a snow bunting, a pine grosbeak, three different northern wood warblers, and a hermit thrush. Sometimes Bragi is seen with nine of the same, or only one of these birds.

Idun, a goddess of protection, guardianship, and watchwomen. Married to Bragi. Spirit animal is a barred owl.

Asha, a goddess of visual art, pottery, creative design, and celebration. Daughter of Bragi and Idun. Spirit animals are a painted turtle and a wood turtle.

Thor, a god of storms, strength, and war. “The Thunder God”. Also known as Donar and Perun. Oldest son of Odin and Fjorgyn. Married to Sif. Spirit animals are two Dall’s sheep.

Sif, a goddess of beauty and strength. Married to Thor. Spirit animals are two tundra swans.

Ull, a god of competition and sport. Son Sif and stepson of Thor. Father unknown. Spirit animal is a polar bear.

Thea, a goddess of beauty, strength, and storms. Also commonly known as Thrud. Daughter of Thor and Sif. Spirit animal is a black bear.

Magnur and Modin, gods of brotherhood, survival, and strength. Sometimes called Magni and Modi. Twin sons and youngest children of Thor and Sif. Spirit animals are a pine marten, each.

Vali, a god of vengeance, war, and later regret. Son of Odin and Rind, a giantess. Spirit animal is a northern shrike.

Vidar, a god of vengeance, war, and anger. Son of Odin and Grid, a giantess. Spirit animal is a wolverine.

Lothur, a god of loyalty, pacts, oaths, inspiration and spirit. Also commonly known as Vili (which may have been more of a title than a name). Odin’s younger brother. Spirit animal is a caribou.

Heimdall, a god of protection, guardianship, and watchmen. Son of Lothur and nine goddesses of the oceans. Spirit animals are a (German) Shepherd and his horse, Gulltoppr.

Hoenir, a god of honour, respect, holiness, and all things sacred. Also commonly known as Ve (which may have been more of a title than a name). Odin’s younger brother. Spirit animal is a walrus.

Loki, the primary god of trickery, deceit, and chaos. “The Trickster”. Stepbrother of Odin. Married to Sigyn. Spirit animal is a fire wyrm or serpent.

Sigyn, a goddess of loyalty and compassion. Married to Loki. Spirit animal is a red fox.

Hel, the primary goddess of the dead, lost and damned spirits, and demons. Daughter of Loki. Spirit animal is Garm, her black hound.

Sunna, the primary goddess of the day, the sun, clarity, and war. Also known as Sol (in either male or female form). Cousin of Odin and his brood. Spirit animals are two white horses.

Tyr, a god of law, battle, and war. Also known as Tiw. Married to Sunna. Spirit animal is a northern goshawk.

Two daughters of Tyr and Sunna, names lost, goddesses of sky. Spirit animals are sparrows or finches, perhaps a common redpoll and an hoary redpoll.

Eir, a goddess of mercy, health, and healing. A friend to Frigga and Odin. Spirit animal is a gray jay.

Saga, a goddess of information keeping, history, and stories. Older sister of Wayland. A friend to Frigga and Odin. Spirit animal is an eastern chipmunk.

Wayland, a god of labour, woodworking, and metalworking. Also known as Wyman. Younger brother of Saga. A friend of Frigga and Odin. Spirit animal is a beaver.

Mim, a god of friendship, council, and communication. A friend to Odin and Frigga. Spirit animal is a northern mockingbird.

Vulla, a goddess of secrets, council, and beauty. A friend to Odin and Frigga. Spirit animal is a raccoon.

Sjofn, a goddess of love, communication, and law. Sometimes called Lofn or Gefjon (or they may be three separate goddesses). A friend to Frigga and Odin. Spirit animals are two wood ducks.

Val, a goddess of travel, council, clarity, and deduction. Sometimes called Vor or Var (or they may be three separate goddesses). Married to Freyr. A friend to Frigga and Odin. Spirit animal is a moose.

Hlin, a goddess of war, guardianship, and law. Sometimes called Syn or Snotra (or they may be three separate goddesses). A friend of Frigga and Odin. Spirit animal is a red-tailed hawk.

The Vanir:

Aegir, a god of salt and the oceans. Married to Ran. His spirit animal is a kraken.

Ran, a primary goddess of nature and fresh water (specifically lakes, rivers, and springs). “Mother Nature”. Married to Aegir. Sister of Fjorgyn and Hertha. Spirit animals are a common loon, a great blue heron, and an arctic grayling.

Nine unknown-named daughters of Aegir and Ran, and the mothers of Heimdall. Goddesses of oceans, seas, and waves. Some of their names may be known in the languages of the First Nations of North America.  Common spirit animals are a leatherback sea turtle, a beluga whale, a narwhal, an Atlantic puffin, a harp seal, a harbour seal, a pink salmon, A whale shark, and an Atlantic white-sided dolphin.

Fjorgyn, a primary goddess of nature, stone, and soil. Also commonly known as Jord. “Mother Nature”. Sister of Ran and Hertha, and mother of Thor. Spirit animals are a snapping turtle, a Canadian toad, and a rock vole.

Hertha, a primary goddess of nature and vegetation (including plants, moss, lichen, and fungi). Also known as Nerthus. “Mother Nature”. Ex-wife of Njord, mother of Freya and Freyr, and sister of Ran and Fjorgyn. Spirit animals are a red fox, a white-tailed deer, and a wood frog.

Ostara, the primary goddess of the spring season, birth, and spring weather. Also commonly known as Eostre. Spirit animals are two snowshoe hares.

Morrigan, the primary goddess of the autumn season, death, and autumn weather. (Nordic name unknown). Spirit animals are a murder of crows.

Skadi, the primary goddess of winter, hunting, and winter weather. Ex-wife of Njord. Spirit animal is an arctic fox.

Njord, the primary god of the summer season, travel, and summer weather. Ex-husband of Hertha and Skadi, and father of Freya and Freyr. Spirit animals are a flock of Iceland gulls.

Freya, a goddess of love, fertility, fauna, battle, and hunting. Also known as Damara. Daughter of Njord and Hertha. Married to Od, and twin sister of Freyr. Spirit animals are two Canada lynxes.

Od, a god of love, desire, and wishes. Married to Freya. Spirit animal is a blue jay.

Hnoss and Semi, goddesses of sisterhood, love, treasure, and value. Twin daughters of Freya and Od. Spirit animals are a northern river otter, each.

Freyr, a god of love, fertility, flora, farming, and hunting. Also known as Yngvi and Cernunnos. “The Horned God”. Son of Njord and Hertha. Married to Val, and twin brother of Freya. His spirit animal is Gullinbursti, a feral pig or boar.

Rickon, a god of travel, trade, fertility and farming. Sometimes called Ricki or Rocki. Son of Freyr and Val. Spirit animal is an orca.

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Mjolnir

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Thor’s shortened magical warhammer

It is another common symbol of Norse Spiritualism, representing Thor, strength, and/or all the gods of strength, such as Thor, his daughter Thea, and his son Ull.

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Mjolnir, or sometimes Mjollnir, was, like many sacred or powerful items of the gods, crafted by a dwarf, named Brokk. It is clear, through many stories, that the dwarves are indeed masters of metalwork. Mjolnir is perhaps the only thing magical about Thor. He very rarely dabbles in magic, preferring to solve problems or achieve goals through brute strength. The powers Mjolnir gives to Thor varies, usually between things like additional physical strength, flight, and assisting in the manipulation of weather, especially thunderstorms.

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Dreamcatchers

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The dreamcatcher traditionally is an item, charm or symbol for protection against bad dreams and spirits. Some cultures believed bad dreams were a result of a visiting evil spirit. Over more recent years, many people and artists have shown great interest and creativity in using or depicting dreamcatchers. Some folks have even tattooed images of dreamcatchers onto their bodies, which might seem unwise since they’re literally meant to capture bad dreams or spirits. You’d think these peoples’ bodies are now attracting bad dreams and spirits. This is why it is vital to heed the teachings of Frigga and Odin: wisdom is the pursuit of knowledge and experience. Educate yourself on everything you can.

The dreamcatcher can have both spiritual and artistic values among many northern cultures. North American First Nations cultures, like the those of the Algonquian speaking nations, had actually designed the dream snare based on a spider’s web.

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The Valknut

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Along with a tree (Yggdrasil), the Valknut is a primary symbol of the faith.

For some it represents Odin, Frigga and wisdom. For others it even represents the three earth goddesses, Ran, Fjorgyn and Hertha, each of whom or often referred to as Mother Nature. But as the gods teach us, these are just labels. Whether you worship or show respect to a symbol, attribute, goddess or god, only worship and respect of nature is truly important in Norse Spiritualism. Worship can be performed in learning and/or protection of nature (wildlife and the environment). On a personal level, people should seek happiness and harmony within their environments.

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The Valknut commonly represents mind, body and spirit, similar to the Celtic Triquetra. Unfortunately many vikings in history have given Norse mythology a rather violent picture; so many people associate the Valknut with violence and death. Odin teaches that life is a struggle. The mind, body and spirit will inevitably experience hardship in life, and sometimes between the three. The life-is-a-struggle idea was used by vikings to justify their criminal actions. The vikings were pirates, and they felt they had to believe the gods were mostly on their side. But it is important to remember that vikings were often frowned upon by the majority of Scandinavian citizens. On the other hand, due to over population in places, and being outcasts to begin with, many Scandinavians had little choice but to go viking. Most people throughout history struggled to survive.

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A Valknut pendant.

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