Norse Mythology in Denmark

Norse mythology is the combination of legend, myth, and belief systems of pre-Christian Scandinavia. The Norse culture is most prevalent in the countries of Sweden, Norway, Iceland, and Denmark. Like Greek and Eastern mythologies, Norse mythology is based around a belief in supernatural beings with a strong reliance on folklore and storytelling.

Origins

The extant writings of Norse mythology are from the time between the 11th and 18th centuries, though the stories had been told orally for over two centuries prior. During the early Middle Ages in Denmark, Saxo Grammaticus compiled all the remaining Norse myths into a single text called Gesta Danorum. Most of the recorded tales are epic poems about pagan culture and society; others were concerned with creation stories or the lineage of certain deities.

Norse mythology is made up of a smattering of animistic spirits, which were made popular centuries later by famed fantasy writer J.R.R. Tolkien in his Lord of the Rings series. Norse spirits are divided into different “clans” of Vaettir. The Aesir and the Vanir are god clans and rule over the remaining clans of Giants (Jotnar), Elves (Alfar) and Dwarfs (Dvergar). There are other animalistic creatures like Fenrir who is a giant wolf and Jormungandr who is a sea-worm.

The most popular member of Norse mythology is probably Thor, who, like Zeus, is the god of thunder. Thor carries a mighty hammer and is usually described as having long red hair and a beard. Also like Zeus, Thor has a long history of promiscuity; while being married to the goddess, Sif, Thor also had a mistress named Jarnsaza who he had a child with. Interestingly enough, the swastika was originally a symbol of the lightning or hammer of Thor.

Religion

The Germanic tribes who started and furthered Norse mythology never had temples or churches in the way we know them today. Their ceremonies were performed in the woods within “sacred groves” or on alters made from a pile of stones. The leaders of the ceremonies were shamans, mostly women, who came from a familial line of priestesses.

While there are records of human sacrifices surrounding Norse mythology, they are mostly linked to burial sacrifices. Like in Greek mythology, the wife was to sacrifice herself at her husband’s burial in order to follow him into the next world.