Norse Mythology - Interesting Women Edition

The lives of Viking women were more civilized when compared with other European women back in the day. They were respected by the Viking society and had some fundamental rights. With that said, it’s not surprising that Norse mythology and Viking sagas had many interesting women. In this blog post, you’ll learn about some of them.                                             

 

Hel  

Hel was the Queen of the Death Realm called Helheim. She was not a goddess but a giantess. Her mother and father were giantess Angrboda and Loki, respectively. 

As the underworld queen, Hel filled people with terror and fear. It was also said that those who go to Helheim would feel no more happiness.

Hel was considered one of the mightiest women in Norse mythology and Baldur’s death (God of light, joy, purity and summer) was a strong proof of that. 

So when Baldur died due to Loki’s evil plan, he was destined to go to Helheim. Odin then tried to retrieve his son Baldur, but his efforts weren't successful no matter how hard he tried. It was not until Ragnarok had come to pass that his son (killed unintentionally by Hodr with a mistletoe) came back to life. 


Urdr, Verdandi, and Skuld 

Norse mythology had three Norns whose names mean the past, present and future. They were Urdr (Past), Verdandi (Present), and Skuld (Future).    

These wise beings were responsible to rule the destiny of creatures in the cosmos. Aside from controlling their fates, the trio were also responsible for taking care and looking after the Yggdrasil (Tree of Life). They usually watered the roots of this sacred ash tree with the water from Well of Urdr when dawn broke.

Norns were said to be more powerful than gods because even though they couldn’t join battles to fight the enemies, no creature in the cosmos could escape their fates and that’s for sure!        

 

Freya        

In our older blog posts, we talked about that Aesir and the Vanir were the two god tribes in Norse mythology. The Aesir were the main gods who lived in Asgard (Thor, Odin, Baldur, etc.) while the Vanir lived in Vanaheim and were the lesser known nature gods (Freya, Freyr, Njord, etc.)

Freya (Goddess of fertility, love and war) was the daughter of Njord (Vanir Chief God) and was the sister of God Freyr (God of peace, prosperity and fertility).              

In Norse mythology, Freya and Odin the allfather (Aesir Chief God) shared the einherjar or the fallen warriors who died honorably in battles. Half of these warriors who died in combat would be carried by fierce maidens called Valkyries to God Odin’s Valhalla realm and the other half would go to Goddess Freya’s Fólkvangr realm. But ultimately Freya was the one who got to decide which warriors would go to which realm or hall in Asgard. 

According to the poetic Eddas, Freya chose half of the dead while the remaining half went to Odin in Valhalla. It was said that Odin gave her this right just to end the war between the two tribes. Once the war was over, she eventually lived in Asgard along with her brother Freyr.                   

 

Elli    

Thor was considered one of the most famous and powerful gods in Norse mythology. But there was a time he was actually defeated by someone. 

Yes, you read that right and no, it wasn’t a strong man who did that.  

He was actually defeated by an old lady named Elli during the time he visited the land of the giants with his friends. When they went there, the giants set out challenges for them just like the rest of their guests. 

During the third challenge, Thor wrestled with Elli but he couldn’t lift her despite many attempts. Since Thor couldn’t fight during the challenge, the old woman was able to take him down to the point where she drove him back and made him kneel down.       

This story about Thor’s defeat was said to be the personification of the Old Age according to some scholars. The moral of the story here is that no one could ever win time and old age. 


References:           

https://www.lifeinnorway.net/valkyries/

https://mythology.stackexchange.com/questions/10/how-was-it-decided-which-warriors-would-go-to-f%C3%B3lkvangr-and-which-to-valhalla

https://norse-mythology.org/gods-and-creatures/others/the-norns/

https://blog.vkngjewelry.com/balder-god-of-light/

https://bavipower.com/blogs/bavipower-viking-blog/mighty-women-from-norse-mythology

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