The most popular Norse gods
- 1st: Freya
- 2nd: Loki
- 3rd: Odin
- 4th: Thor
- 5th: Hel
- 6th: Magni
- 7th: Balder
- 8th: Heimdall
- 9th: Ód
- 10th: Kvasir
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The red-blooded, rip-roaring, gung-ho Gods beloved by the Vikings. We could have listed them as Nordic, but ‘Norse’ sounds like the snorting of a giant battle stallion so we went for that.
Their idea of Heaven was Valhalla. Warriors only. You had to die in battle first and be escorted by beautiful blonde Valkyries. Here you could clash in battle all day long, your cleft limbs and cleavagings miraculously restored at the close of play. Then you spent all night carousing, feasting, getting roaring drunk and discussing the day’s fun.
“Bjorn, when you took my head off with that double-headed axe — just fantastic! I didn’t see it coming at all. My blood hit the ceiling! Just wait till tomorrow though. I’ve got a great revenge planned.” “I’ll drink to that! Here, barmaid, five hundred drinking horns of Kvas please. And a bag of potato chips.”
So welcome to the Norse pantheon, which is not just Norway but the rest of Scandinavia — which includes Denmark and Sweden. The Vikings who were Swedes traveled mostly eastwards, and the Danes and Norwegians traveled mostly westwards. (The Swedes also ventured into Finland, which was not too impressed and mostly preferred its own gods.) And Iceland came into the equation and did its own Viking things from 800 AD.
Something which helped enormously was that all these people spoke the same Norse language, and would have known their own Kingdoms under the names of Danmark, Vastergotland, Ostergotland and Svealand.
Colonies and footholds were established all over the place, from Greenland to England - where their heritage includes Norfolk and Humberside with many Norse-named villages in between. So Norse mythology went everywhere within reach. (Possibly even North America, but only for a holiday and to pick some grapes.) Even today, several days of the week and also the sun are named for Norse Gods.
Thanks to the richness of its legends, as told in the Eddas and a host of poetic sagas, Norse Mythology is as popular as ever. Despite Wagner’s attempts to destroy it with opera. JRR Tolkien’s Middle-earth works are stuffed with Norse inspiration and take the whole thing to a whole new dimension. Which is more than you can say for Wagner.
Norse mythology also has a sister — see our Germanic mythology section for a parallel universe of doppelganger Germanic gods.
REGIONS COVERED: Scandinavia, which includes the Nordic countries Denmark and Sweden, plus Norway and Iceland. We also go anywhere the Vikings went and there’s a hint of Central European territory which may have slipped out of our Germanic section.
Many Gods are spread across different regions, cultures and tribes. We’ve tried to pin them down to a particular area if possible. But corrections are always welcome, especially from people with first-hand knowledge. So if you know the region and would like to comment, we’d love to hear from you. Contact us here.
TRIBES, CULTURES AND PEOPLES COVERED: The peoples of the Scandinavian countries, covering the Norwegian, Swedish, Danish and Icelandic peoples - and of course the Vikings.