Everyone knows Thor, God of Thunder, and the names Loki and Odin are also familiar to most people thanks in the main to the recent Marvel Comics Films.
What many people don’t know, however, is that before the Vikings converted to Christianity there were 12 Viking Gods, 13 Goddesses, and a whole host of supporting cast members. However our knowledge is very limited on the majority of characters in the pantheon.
Rather than list them all here, we recommend clicking on over to Godchecker: The Norse Pantheon for an informative and amusing look a the main players.
Once you have done that, however, you might want to pop back for some information on mythbusting the popular “mythconceptions” that your students will likely throw at you thanks to the aforementioned films:
|Odin||That he lost his eye in a battle with the Frost Giants||He sacrificed it to drink from the mead of wisdom.|
|Frigga or Frigg||That she’s Thor’s mother||Thor’s mother is Jord, an Earth Goddess. Frigga is Baldur’s mother.|
|Thor||That he looks like Chris Hemsworth||Thor has RED hair and a big red bushy beard. Although he certainly is strong, he’s not quite the blond Aussie surfer God of the films.|
|That he got his hammer from Odin||Thor’s hammer was given to him by Loki, after the events that followed Loki cutting off Sif’s hair. It was made by dwarves with whom Loki made a bet and almost lost his head.|
|That he spends his time tarting about with mortal women.||Thor is married to Sif, the golden haired fertility Goddess.|
|Loki||That he’s Thor’s adopted brother and Odin’s adopted son||He was Odin’s blood-brother, i.e. a brother-in-arms, not in the literal sense. In some myths he is referred to as Thor’s half-brother, but it is not clear how this is meant to work.|
|That he’s a blue giant||In the myths, Loki is the son of two Jotun (giants), Laufey and Farbauti. Jotun is the word for the giants of Jotunheim (the Norse had special giants for everything: fire, ice, storm, rock etc., and they came from different realms), which is not the icy dark place portrayed in the films (that’s Nifilheim, realm of ice). What is not made clear is whether giants look any different from normal gods or humans, as many of the Gods marry and have kids with giants of one shape or another, and in fact Odin’s mother was a giant.|
|That he’s evil||Loki is the God of Mischief, Mayhem, Disorder and Chaos, none of which are particularly evil in and of themselves. in the pantheon he is the force of change, rather than the stagnant order of the other Gods. His trickery and deceitfulness often save the day in the myths, even if half the time they have also caused the problem in the first place.|
|Sif||That she has dark hair||Sif is most famous for having the golden hair that Loki cut off.|
|Aesir||That they’re aliens.||They’re not.|