Many famous characters in Norse mythology wouldn’t be as popular as they are if they didn’t have exciting enemies to fight against. There are numerous Norse mythology creatures that Odin, Thor, and other Gods fought. All these creatures have their own background story.
Back in the Vikings’ era, people believed that all of these creatures existed because the Gods have defeated them many times already; thus, they’re all real. Every exceptional story needs a hero and a villain. It was a way to explain the unknown diseases, deaths, etc. Someone had to be responsible for what’s happening, and who better than terrifying, evil, night-lurking creatures.
The Gods Fought Them Off and Won
The Gods and Goddesses weren’t the only entities known to men. There were a lot of Norse mythology creatures that the Vikings interacted with one way or another. It was believed that the Gods frequently helped Vikings in many ways by traveling via Bifröst bridge from Asgard to Midgard (Earth). The Vikings claim that the Gods were with them in every battle, helping them to prevail.
The Gods fought against many of these creatures, and that’s what made them incredibly famous among the people. Most of these creatures were less powerful than the Gods, but they had an essential role in creating the popular Norse universe that we know of today.
Some of these creatures were chaotic, fearsome, and destructive, while others were benevolent. Some creatures could be both, depending on the context of the story.
Most Popular Norse Mythology Creatures
Many of these entities were the creatures of the night. They are evil-looking, fearsome spiritual entities that sought to bring destruction and to end the world of men. Most of the Norse mythology creatures were far more potent than the Vikings, but the Vikings had Gods on their side in every battle and any other situation.
The Norse mythology universe also showed us that there were plenty of benevolent creatures like dwarfs and elves with whom the Vikings interacted frequently.
Some of the most extraordinary creatures were the giants, also known as the “devourers.” The chaotic beings of darkness, death, night, and winter were often the enemies of the great Aesir tribe of the Gods. The most famous giant is Hel, the underworld female ruler. However, the most notable being in the Norse creation narrative is Fenrir. Fenrir is the wolf that consumed Odin during the infamous Ragnarok.
Now that we scratched the surface let’s take a closer and more detailed look on all most prominent Norse mythology creatures.
These human-like creatures were known to both Norse and Germanic mythology. Dwarfs were also thought of as the dark elves. They are small, twisted creatures, and it’s believed that they have originated as maggots from the corpse of one of the first giants - Ymir. The dwarfs were gifted with reason by the mighty Gods of Asgard.
Svartalfheim was thought to be a warren of forges and mines. It’s an underground place in which the dwarfs lived. Dwarfs are known as the Norse mythology creatures that crafted some of the most excellent weapons and jewelry. It’s said that dwarfs were the ones who crafted the Mjölnir – the mighty hammer of Thor, and Gungnir – the spear of Odin.
Some myths say that if the dwarfs were exposed to the sunlight, they would petrify and literally turn to stone. One time a dwarf called Alviss has claimed the hand of Thor’s daughter for marriage. The dwarf was tricked into talking until the dawn when he was struck by sunlight and turned to stone.
There were two different kinds of elves – dark elves and light elves. Ljosalfar was known as the light elves, while Dokkalfar were the dark elves. It’s said that dark elves were the same as dwarfs since they dwelled underground and because they were completely black.
Ljosalfar, or the light elves, were a sight to behold. It’s said that they were more beautiful to look at than the sun. They were considered as the Gods of Aesir and Vanir and one of the prettiest Norse mythology creatures. Vanir God Freyr was viewed as the lord of Alfheim – the elven homeland.Elves are known for having an ambivalent connection with humans. They were powerful enough to both heal and cause disease. It’s believed that elves and humans had interbred and produced children that had human-like form but also possessed incredible magical powers.
Draugar is another one of Norse mythology creatures that belong to the group of the undead of Norse mythology. Some stories describe them as the blood-thirsty creatures (modern vampires), although they were more like zombies. The Draugar creatures had tremendous strength, and they could increase their size as they deemed necessary. Their stench of rotten flesh was unimaginable, and their decaying bodies were a horrific thing to behold.
Draugar creatures lived within their graves so they could defend various treasures that they were buried with. Many people claimed that Draugars were known to go to populated areas to kill the living and eat their flesh, and torturing those that wronged them during the time they were alive.
These creatures were known for killing people with their sheer strength, eating their living flesh, or even killing people indirectly by driving them insane. They were able to enter the dreams of the living so they could torture them. They always leave a gift, so the tormented person would know that the encounter was real.
Killing the Draugar was possible by dismembering its body or by putting its body ablaze. If Draugar’s bodies decayed too much, they would suffer a second death and die as well. The common belief was that a person would most likely become a Draugar after death if they were evil, greedy, or unpopular during their lifetime.
4) Hulder (Huldra)
Hulder belongs to the group of Norse mythology creatures known as Ra, and she’s a protector of the forest, but she also protects various other locations. Hulder is a female entity of incredible beauty and seductive ambitions. Their hair resembled a cow tail, and their back was covered with bark.
Hulder was able to transform itself into a young woman so she could walk among the people. Their illusions could be broken only when someone sees their tail. The reason why they tend to visit communities is to lure young and single men into the forest where Hulder would make them their lovers or even slaves. Sometimes Hulder would suck their life essence out of them.
If it happens that Hulder’s victim manages to escape or is set free, they would forever lose the temptation of returning to their captor.
The Kraken is among the most recognizable Norse mythology creatures. It’s an aquatic monster that dwells off the shores of Greenland and Norway. They are described as gigantic squid or octopi-like creatures. Some stories say that their bodies were so large that they could resemble an island.
If men were to go to the island, the island would sink as soon as they set their feet on it, which is the way this monster was able to kill its potential prey so it could feed. When Kraken goes to the surface, it causes massive whirlpools that would help it attack any nearby ships.
The Kraken usually prey on fish. The tactics Kraken use is releasing their bowels into the water, which would lure the fish thanks to the extreme smell of their excrement. Many schools of fish would be drawn to this smell, and Kraken would devour them all.
Another creature from the wide specter of Norse mythology creatures is a squirrel-looking being that spends its days running up and down the Tree of Life. The sole purpose of this being is to deliver the messages from the Gods.
Ratatoskr likes to stir up trouble between the hungry dragon that sits in the roots of the tree and the wise eagle that’s resting on the top. Ratatoskr is considered an evil entity because it’s trying to convince the eagle and the dragon to fight. The fight between them would destroy the Tree of Life because of their powers.
There were two different groups of trolls in Norse myths. One group of them are big and ugly trolls that dwell in mountains and forests, and the other ones live deep down in the caverns and caves and are known as the small-gnome trolls. They are usually thought to be malevolent and not very bright, but they’re known for showing people kindness if they could claim a favor.
The Scandinavian countryside is covered with numerous boulders, and it’s believed that the trolls were responsible because they used these rocks as weapons. There’s another belief that these boulders are actually the trolls that have turned to stone by sunlight.
A common belief in Norse mythology was that fate was implacable and blind. There’s no solid proof that anyone accomplished to impeach the Norns in changing their fate. It’s believed that the three Norns were the caretakers of the Tree of Life. The Tree of Life was known for holding the nine worlds of Norse mythology universe together.
Their care of the tree actually only slows the tree from dying since Norse mythology teaches us that everything will eventually cease to exist. All life will end with Ragnarok.
Valkyries are probably the most famous Norse mythology creatures. They are Odin’s female spirits that were noble and elegant maidens whose purpose is to bring to Valhalla all the brave Viking warriors that lost their lives in battle. Valhalla is known as Odin’s heavenly home for fallen warriors as they wait for Ragnarok.
The word "Valkyries" roughly translates as “the choosers of the fallen.” Valkyries didn’t only work for Odin, but they were the ones able to decide who’ll live and who’ll die in battle. It’s believed that they used their evil magic to make sure the outcome would go in their favor.
This celestial being was Odin’s personal ride. Sleipnir is an eight-legged horse, and it’s believed that Sleipnir had every one of its legs in one of eight Norse mythology worlds. An exciting story says that Loki is Sleipnir’s mother. When Loki shapeshifted into a mare, he was impregnated by one of the giant’s stallions, and he bore Sleipnir to life.
One of the most fearful Norse mythology creatures were Mares. This monster was able to give people bad dreams, and it sat on them during their sleep. It was a common belief that the Mare was a soul of the living that left the body of a person as demons would, so it could torture the innocent at night.
Another belief is that these were witches and that their souls could take animal form. It was a common belief that the soul could wander off at night. Even the All-Father Odin’s soul wandered, and it wandered very frequently that Odin was afraid one time that his soul may not find its way back to his body.
People believed that if the Mare touches any living creature like trees, cattle, or even people, the touch will cause tree roots or even human hair to entangle.
When it comes to Norse mythology creatures, Fenrir is the most famous wolf in the entire Norse universe. It’s known that the female giant Angroboda and God Loki were Fenrir’s parents. Fenrir desired to wreak havoc on all nine worlds, so the Gods of Asgard decided to raise him themselves in order to control his troublesome nature.
Fenrir grew up so quickly and has caused so much trouble that the Gods have decided to chain him and keep him locked. The Gods were able to convince Fenrir to chain him by playing a game.
The game the Gods played was about seeing how much Fenrir is strong. Fenrir was able to break any bonds with ease, so the Gods asked the dwarfs to make bonds and chains much stronger than anything else, but Fenrir broke loose again.
Fenrir suspected that this chain might be stronger than the previous ones, so he asked that any one of the Gods put his hand into Fenrir’s jaws as a sign of good faith. God Tyr decided that he should be the one to do this. Even though Tyr was aware that he would lose his hand, he did it to protect the realm.
When Fenrir realized that he'd been tricked into chains, he took Tyr’s hand. It was a necessary sacrifice that allowed the other Gods to chain Fenrir to a boulder and put a sword in his mouth to keep it open. Fenrir’s drool is what created a foamy river known as Expectation.
The name of the river is referring to Ragnarok – the end of all worlds. When Fenrir finally breaks his chains, he will lay down his wrath on the Gods. Another extraordinary Norse mythology creatures are Skoll and Hati.
Fenrir was a father to these two giant wolves who were known for chasing both the moon and the sun. Another belief is that when Ragnarok finally comes, Skoll and Hati will eventually catch the sun and the moon and devour them.
Which One of These Creatures Is the Most Interesting One to You?
We talked about some of the most famous Norse mythology creatures, and there are plenty more of them in the Norse mythology universe. Which one of these creatures is the most terrifying one for you? Which one of them would you like never to come across?
If you were a Viking warrior, which one of these creatures would you prefer to avoid, and which one would you like to fight? Feel free to share your answer and your thoughts in our comment section below.