Norse Sagas: The Nine Noble Virtues

Did you know that the Viking honor system was composed of 9 key principles? While these principles were something that Vikings back in the day were expected to abide by, these ethical and moral guidelines can also be learned from the most popular sources of Norse myths and Viking sagas like Icelandic Sagas or Poetic Edda.                                       

9 Life-Changing Noble Virtues      

  • Courage 
  • Truth 
  • Honor
  • Fidelity
  • Discipline
  • Hospitality
  • Self Reliance
  • Industriousness 
  • Perseverance          

It’s fascinating to know that the number 9 is a number that has a lot of relations to Norse mythology because it was believed to be a sacred number. If you’re familiar with The Yggdrasil or Great Tree of Life,  you’re aware that it is connected to the 9 Worlds in the Norse cosmos. Odin the allfather also hung himself on that tree for 9 days and nights to get the wisdom that he needed. Even the Valknut (symbol of Odin) had 9 points forming from 3 triangles.          

Now let’s talk about the 9 noble virtues..     


It was believed that Thor (God of Lightning & Thunder) was the symbol of courage as he was considered the bravest god in the Norse Pantheon. He not only defended the gods, but also powerless and innocent beings in the cosmos.      

Being courageous is not about being fearless but all about daring to face our fears no matter how hard it is to do that. By overcoming our fears and daring to face them, we can prove to ourselves that we are courageous.        


Norse god Forseti (the son of Baldur and Nanna) was the god of truth who usually held the court to judge in his hall.

They say that the truth will set us free. This is true because being truthful means we try to live our lives away from hypocrisy, lies and conceit.   


Tyr was the god associated with honor and justice. In Norse mythology, he knew that some of the gods broke their oaths when they tricked Fenrir the Wolf. What his clan did made him feel ashamed so he decided to sacrifice his hand.       

Tyr did what he believed was morally right and this is what honor is about. Honor is knowing what is morally right and doing it.  


Being committed and loyal is what fidelity is all about. In Norse mythology, Loki’s wife (Sigyn) was the giantess of fidelity. Loki was known to be a trickster god and no matter what kind of pranks he did, she still stayed in his life to protect him. She never abandoned him and was there for him through thick and thin.      


According to an Icelandic Proverb: “He who lives without discipline dies without honor.”  

There’s no denying that having discipline is a great quality. What separates good from great people is that the latter have more discipline. They get things done without letting distractions get in the way. They stick to the plan rather than giving up after a short amount of time. It is a power that helps us not lose track even when the going gets tough.           

Odin the allfather possessed great discipline. It’s definitely hard to hang yourself on a tree for 9 consectutive days and nights and he did that in order to attain the runes knowledge that he needed.                   


The most popular giant known for his big heart was Aegir (King of Parties) who was also known as the best mead brewer in Norse mythology.         

Having a kind heart means you are generous and hospitable. You treat other people with friendliness and respect. The Vikings believed that hospitality is more than just drinks, food, behavior and attitude during gatherings. It’s more than that and includes protection as well.              


Self Reliance

Receiving help from others is wonderful. But it’s also wonderful to learn to be self reliant. This quality is about having a strong belief in who you are and what you are capable of. It is knowing that you can count on yourself to help you get through hardships in life.       

Odin the allfather is once again our example of this virtue. During his sacrifice to attain knowledge about runes, he didn’t ask for any help. He was independent and he successfully did what he wanted to do without any external help.  


Being industrious is important in life. You’ll get nowhere in life if you’re lazy. In Norse mythology,

Snotra is the goddess of hard work and labor. She was a multitasker and while doing her responsibilities, she inspired people with her kindness.       

We should all strive to do something worthwhile in life while making a difference in other people’s lives.  


Perseverance is a great quality to have in life. When we are determined in attaining the desires of our heart, we won’t let disappointment, failure and discouragement get in the way. Even though life is full of obstacles, difficulties and challenges, those who are persevering wouldn’t give up easily and will try their hardest to get things done. 

Frigg (goddess of love) is a great example of this virtue. As a mother, she devoted her life to protecting her son Baldur from Helheim (land of the dead). So she travelled to different realms and told different creatures in the cosmos not to harm him. After his beloved son’s departure, she was devastated. But despite the pain and heartache, she was determined to get Baldur back with all her might.            



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