Most stories in Norse mythology are centered around Norse Gods, not Goddesses. Even today, the main protagonists in movies, TV Shows, and comic books related to the Norse universe are not both Norse Gods and Goddesses, but only Norse Gods like Thor, Odin, Loki, Heimdall, etc. However, the Nine realms were also inhabited with powerful Norse Goddesses who are unjustly put in the second plan when people think of Norse mythology. Even though they might not be the main characters in most of the Norse sagas, Nordic Gods and Goddesses were both undoubtedly an essential part of Norsemen mythology.
However, today we are going to try and make things right.
We are going to tell you about the roles, names, and meanings of five of the most powerful Norse Goddesses Vikings worshiped. Additionally, as we are here talking about powerful goddesses in the Norse universe, we will tell you something about Valkyries as well.
Let us begin.
The most powerful of all Norse Goddesses is Freya. It is quite a tough choice when you have to choose between her and other powerful Goddesses we are going to talk about in this article, Skadi, Elli, Idun, and Frigg.
However, once we tell you about each of these magnificent Goddesses, you will see why we choose Goddess Freya.
Norse Goddess Freya
As we have already mentioned, we put Freya in the first place as we firmly belive that she is the most powerful of all Norse Goddesses. Freya is a Nordic Goddess of fertility, war, beauty, love, sex, and seiðr. She was a member of the Vanir tribe, along with her father Njord (Njörðr), and her brother Freyr. The three of them moved to Asgard after the end of the Aesir-Vanir war. Goddess Freya is married to the God Odr, with whom she has two daughters, Gersemi and Hnoss.
She is also a ruler of Folkvangr (Fólkvangr), one of the Nine Realms of the Norse universe. It is a place where half of the warriors fallen in battle go, while the other half goes to the God Odin. Goddess Freya rules from her great hall called Sessrumnir.
Goddess Freya travels the Nine Worlds in her chariot pulled by two cats, Tovner and Hogne, and is accompanied by her boar Hildisvini. As almost all Norse Gods and Goddesses in Norse mythology owned some powerful artifact, so did Freya. She had a cloak of falcon feathers as well as the necklace Brisingamen.
Freya's name originates from the word Freyja, meaning "lady" or "mistress." Throughout the Norse sagas, she is also known as Mardöll, Hörn, Gefn, Sýr, Vanadís, and Valfreyja. Nowadays, her name has several variations, such as Freyia, Freja, and Freya.
Idun is the Goddess of youth, closely associated with apples. She grew magic apples in her garden, which allowed Norse Gods to remain young throughout the centuries. She kept the apples inside of her magic casket. Regardless of how many apples she would take from the casket, the number of apples within it would not change.
Goddess Idun was the daughter of Ivaldi, a dwarf blacksmith. She married the Norse God of poetry, Bragi.
The most interesting Norse saga about Idun is the one where Thiazzi (Skadi's father) kidnapped her, which made the Gods grow grey and old. Eventually, Loki saves Goddess Idun and brings her back to Asgard, and the Gods manage to slay Thiazzi and regain their youth.
The name Idun originates from the word Iðunn, meaning the "rejuvenating one," "rejuvenator" or "ever young." Nowadays, Idun is also referred to as Ithun, Idunn, Idunna, and Iduna.
Frigg is the Nordic Goddess of wisdom and foresight who lives in the great halls of Fensalir. Many people think of her as the Queen of Asgard, as she is married to the King of Asgard, the God Odin, with whom she has a son, the God Balder.
The exciting thing about Goddess Frig is that some scholars believe that she and Goddess Freya are, in fact, the same deity, but there is no concrete evidence to prove this theory. Furthermore, one day of the week is named after Frigg. Of course, it's Friday, or as it was known back in the day, Friggs's Day (Old English Frīġedæġ).
Frig is also known as Frīg in Old English, Frigg in Old Norse, and Frī in Old Saxon. All of these names originate from the same Proto-Germanic word Frijjō, meaning "free."
Norse Goddess Skadi
Skadi is a jotunn and a Nordic Goddess of winter, skiing, bowhunting, and mountains. She is a daughter of a frost giant from Jotunheim called Thiazzi (Þjazi), who was killed by the Norse Gods for stealing Idun's magic apples, which kept the Gods of Asgard young.
As compensation for her father's death, Goddess Skadi married the god Njord. According to Heimskringla, after some time, Goddess Skadi and God Njord separated, and she later married the God Odin with whom she had many children.
Skadi played a vital role in Loki's punishment, as she was the one who placed serpent to drip venom on Loki's head.
The origin of the name Skadi (Skaði, meaning "harm") is uncertain. Some scholars believe that it might have something to do with the original form of the word Scandinavia. On the other hand, others believe that it originates from Old Saxon "scado", Old English "sceadu", or Gothic "skadus."
Throughout the Nordic mythology, Goddess Skadi is also referred to as Öndurdís (meaning "ski dis" in Old Norse) or Öndurguð (meaning "ski God" in Old Norse). Today, her name is mentioned in several forms, like Skadi, Skathi, and Skade.
The Nordic Goddess Elli might not be as famous as the previous Norse Goddesses we've mentioned, but she surely deserves the spot on our list, as she managed to defeat the mighty God Thor.
Goddess Elli is the personification of old age. She is mentioned only in Gylfaginning when the God Thor went to visit Útgarða-Loki and had to face difficult challenges. One of these challenges was to wrestle with Goddess Elli, and she easily won that duel.
The name Elli originates from the word Elli, meaning "old age."
Now, let us tell you something about the most powerful women from the Viking era who were not Goddesses. The word Valkyrie means "chooser of the slain" in Old Norse.
Often referred to as Walachuria, Valkyries were Odin's servants whose main task was to pick half of the fallen warriors that belonged to the God Odin and take them to Valhalla, just as the meaning of their name suggests.
These brave Viking warriors who died in battle are known as Einherjar. After they arrive at the great hall of the God Odin in Asgard, they would train and feast, preparing to fight alongside Aesir Gods once Ragnarok starts.
The Valkyries are most often portrayed as female warriors who can fly on their horses. They are equipped with big, bright spears and wear iron chainmail armor and helmets. The Valkyries are known for their battle cry, which would strike both terror and awe into the hearts of Viking warriors while they flew over the battlefield.
However, the Valkyries also had traditional female roles. Some sagas mention them serving ale and mead to the fallen warriors and the God Odin during feasts in Valhalla.
An interesting fact is that these famous female warriors are sometimes portrayed as carrion-eating ravens because of their role of choosing the dead Viking warriors from battlefields.
We don't know how many Valkyries were there precisely, but it seems that there were not too many of them and that they were elite warriors. Most of the things we know about them comes from Prose Edda and Poetic Edda. Names of the Valkyries are related to weapons and war, and now we are going to tell you the names of the most powerful Valkyries and their meanings.
Let's start with Grimnismal, where the God Odin names thirteen Valkyries who will serve mead to him and the fallen warriors in the halls of Valhalla. Those names are:
Furthermore, the prophetess Volva mentions six more Valkyries in the Voluspa. Those are:
There are some more Valkyrie names mentioned in various Norse sagas, but we have covered most of the important ones.
As we have told you who was the most powerful Nordic Goddess, we feel it would be right to do the same for Valkyries, only now the choice is quite easy.
The most famous and most powerful Valkyrie is undoubtedly Brynhildr. She is mentioned in certain Eddic poems as well as in Volsunga, where she is described as a daughter of Swedish king Budli and a Valkyrie.
On one occasion, it was required that she decide the outcome of the fight between two kings, Agnar and Hjalmgunnar. Even though she knew that the All-Father favored Hjalmgunnar, she chose the younger king Agnar to win the fight. Her choice disappointed the God Odin, so he punished her to live the rest of her life as a mortal woman, imprisoned in a castle on mount Hindarfjall.
She spent a long time asleep within a fiery ring surrounded by a wall of shields, guarded by the dragon Fafnir. Eventually, a hero Sigurdr managed to kill Fafnir and went into the castle where he found Brynhildr. He woke her up, and the two of them fell in love and got married.
Sigurdr proposed to her with a magic ring called Andvaranaut. The ring was crafted by dwarf Andvari and could produce gold. Brynhildr and Sigurdr had a daughter, Aslaug, who became the wife of Ragnar Lodbrok, which makes Brynhildr the grandmother to Ivar the Boneless and Bjorn Ironside.
Even though Norwegian mythology sagas from Prose Edda and Poetic Edda are mainly centered around Nordic Gods, we must not forget about the famous and powerful goddesses and warriors. After all, both Nordic Gods and Goddesses played vital roles in the Norse Universe. Skadi, Frigg, Freya, Idun, and Elli are just some of the many incredible goddesses that exist within the Norse pantheon. For example, we haven't mentioned goddess Hel in today's article (as we only had five spots), and we all know how powerful she is.
Apart from the Nordic Goddesses, if it is not for Valkyries, the Norse universe would definitely not be as popular as it is today. These famous woman warriors are one of the main symbols of the Norse mythology.
And of course, we didn't forget about shieldmaidens. We will tell you about them in one of the upcoming articles.
In the end, we hope that we have managed to point out the importance of women and their roles in Norse mythology.
But enough of the talk my fellow Vikings, let us take a break, grab our drinking horns, and enjoy our mead.
Until our next meeting,
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