When we think of Norse mythology, we might think of armored breastplates and plaited beards in horned helmets, and we are naturally drawn to stories of fierce warriors and Viking raids. But Norse mythology is more than that. It’s about the gods and goddesses who controlled the lives of men and woman, their crops, their battles and their fates. It’s about the Nine Worlds of the Gods and Giants who began the world the Norsemen knew, and the poets and coders (writers) who documented that world for us.
While Norse mythology includes the tales and adventures of those who later became known as the Vikings, it begins with the religious and traditional ancestral stories that were handed down among generations, all of which revolved around the complex deities of the peoples of Iceland, Norway, Denmark, Finland, and Sweden.
The Norsemen were essentially heathens by today’s standards, a name coined because they lived in the “heaths”, people who later converted to Christianity during the Middle Ages, but who fought against it and the onslaught of the English realm for hundreds of years. And like any religious broad narrative, their deities allowed them to make sense of the world they lived in; it gave meaning to their lives and strength in battle, among other things.
Yet the history of the Norsemen, and the gods and goddesses they believed in and built their world around, never loses its capacity to captivate us. This newest publication by University Press represents a delightful look at an inventive, highly religious, superstitious, and formidable culture.