25 Fascinating Facts About Norse Mythology

Posted by , Updated on March 23, 2024

Chances are, if you’re a comic book enthusiast or a cinema enthusiast, you’re well-acquainted with Thor, the god of lightning, and his formidable hammer, Mjolnir. However, Norse mythology in actuality is so extensive that one could spend a considerable length of time purely exploring it and understanding all its intricate details. Prior to their conversion to Christianity, the people of Northern Europe had a highly advanced native folklore and culture of their own. What is currently known as Norse mythology entails a detailed collection of religious tales Norsemen narrated to one another which have lasted throughout generations through oral storytelling and subsequently publications over hundreds of years.

Most of these tales revolve around deities with intriguing and complicated personalities, such as Odin, Loki, and Thor, of course. The fascinating thing, however, about the religion of the Norse and many other Germanic peoples is that it didn’t have its own name like Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, and Islam, and those who practiced it just called it “tradition” in most of the records that have come down to us. Hopefully the 25 Fascinating Facts About Norse Mythology that follow will enlighten you and help you learn a thing or two about the vastly rich mythological and religious tradition of the Norse.


Norse mythology is primarily mentioned in dialects of Old Norse, a North Germanic language spoken by the Scandinavians in the Middle Ages, and the ancestor of modern Scandinavian languages. The majority of these Old Norse texts were produced in Iceland.

IcelandSource: norse-mythology.org, Image: Wikipedia

These texts include the Prose Edda, composed in the thirteenth century by Snorri Sturluson, and the Poetic Edda, a collection of poems from earlier traditional material anonymously compiled in the same century.

Norse textsSource: norse-mythology.org, Image: Wikipedia

Units of time and elements of the Norse cosmology are personified as gods or beings.

timeSource: norse-mythology.org, Image: Pixabay.com

The Vikings believed there are two types of gods, the Æsir and the Vanir, but they also believed in other beings such as giants, dwarfs, and other creatures.

VikingsSource: norse-mythology.org, Image: Wikipedia

In the Marvel Universe, as most comic fans already probably know, the gods of the Norse pantheon play a significant role, especially Thor, who has been one of the longest-running superheroes for the company.

ThorSource: norse-mythology.org, Image: Photo by xploitme, flickr.com

The Norse universe is described as having a tricentric structure. According to the mythology, the Norsemen spoke of a world that resembled three plates set atop one another with space between each. These plates were held together at the top by a giant tree (Yggdrasil) with three roots going into each realm.

the_ash_yggdrasil_by_friedrich_wilhelm_heineSource: norse-mythology.org, Image: commons.wikimedia.org

There are nine worlds within the three realms of the Norse universe that flank a central cosmological tree, Yggdrasil. They are Asgard (the land of the warriors/gods), Vanaheim (the land of the fertility gods), Alfheim (the land of the Light Elves), Midgard (the middle world), Jotunheim (land of the giants), Nidavellir (land of the Dwarfs), Svartalfheim (land of the Dark Elves), Hel (the realm of the dead), and Niflheim (another world of the dead).

nine_worlds_of_norse_religionSource: norse-mythology.org, Image: commons.wikimedia.org

In Norse myth, Odin is the equivalent of Zeus in Greek mythology; he is the father of all the gods. Odin has only one eye because he traded his other eye for a drink from the well of wisdom and gained immense knowledge.

odin_manual_of_mythologySource: norse-mythology.org, Image: commons.wikimedia.org

However, the most popular god among the Scandinavians and across the globe (thanks to Marvel) is everyone’s favorite blond god, Thor.

ThorSource: norse-mythology.org, Image: Wikipedia

Arguably one of the most successful TV shows of our time, Game of Thrones, has clear references to Norse mythology, and its producers have openly admitted that North European folklore has been a central source of their inspiration behind the show.

game-of-thrones-screen-shotSource: norse-mythology.org, Image: YouTube

The Vikings is another popular historical drama television series whose plot is heavily based on Norse myth and folklore. The characters often have visions of Odin and pray to several Norse gods, such as Thor and Freyr, among others.

vikings-showSource: norse-mythology.org, Image: YouTube

In Norse myth, a Valkyrie is a female figure who goes to battlefields and takes the bravest warriors who fall there and brings them to Valhalla. During World War II, a team of Germans plotting to overthrow Hitler named their secret plan Operation Valkyrie.

arbo-valkyrienSource: norse-mythology.org, Image: Wikipedia

Contrary to popular belief, most of Norse mythology has been a real religion to many people—especially in Scandinavian countries and Central Europe—even today. In Iceland they tend to call it Ásatrú, while you might hear it called Odinism in America.

OdinismSource: norse-mythology.org, Image: Wikipedia

Enjoy all things mythology? Check out 25 Craziest Mythical Creatures Ever Conceived.


A popular video game titled Too Human has a story line based on Norse myth that interprets the gods as cybernetically enhanced humans.

too-human-gameSource: norse-mythology.org, Image: YouTube

Frigg is by far the most famous Norse goddess and is also Odin’s wife. She represents marriage and motherhood. It is also believed that she supposedly knows every person’s destiny but has never revealed it to anyone.

FriggSource: norse-mythology.org, Image: Wikipedia

Odin’s grandfather sprang from salt stones constantly licked by a cow. Hmm, not exactly the way one would picture the birth of a god, right?

cowSource: norse-mythology.org, Image: Wikipedia

As some of you might have noticed in the Thor comics or films, there’s a bridge separating Midgard (the realm of humans) from Asgard (the realm of the gods). Its name is Bifrost; it is made of three colors and is the only way to enter Asgard.

BifrostSource: norse-mythology.org, Image: en.wikipedia.org

Have you ever heard of Vidar, the god of vengeance? Even though he is pretty unknown outside Scandinavia, Vidar is famous in Norse myth for avenging his father Odin’s death at Ragnarok by killing the wolf Fenrir.

VidarSource: norse-mythology.org, Image: Wikipedia

The afterlife is quite a complicated matter in Norse mythology. According to the religion, the dead could go to the murky realm of Hel—a realm ruled by a female being of the same name, may be ferried away by Valkyries to Odin’s martial hall Valhalla, or could be chosen by the goddess Freyja to dwell in her field Fólkvangr. The criterion of where the dead go where they do, however, remains a mystery.

Valhalla PaintingSource: norse-mythology.org, Image: en.wikipedia.org

Additionally, according to some Norse texts, the goddess Rán could also claim those who die at sea, while the goddess Gefjon is said to be attended by virgins at an individual’s death. References to reincarnation have also been made.

goddess RánSource: norse-mythology.org, Image: commons.wikimedia.org

In Norse myth, there’s a battle at the end of time called Ragnarok. In this apocalyptic battle between the gods and giants, all creation is involved. Almost all life is destroyed and the nine worlds are submerged.

RagnarokSource: norse-mythology.org, Image: Wikipedia

Norse mythology influenced Richard Wagner’s use of literary themes in his composition of the four operas that make up The Ring of the Nibelung.

Richard WagnerSource: norse-mythology.org, Image: Wikipedia

J. R. R. Tolkien has admitted that The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings were heavily influenced by Norse myth. To name just one example, Gandalf the wizard takes his name and appearance from Norse figures such as Odin.

gandalfSource: norse-mythology.org, Image: eu.wikipedia.org

Tuesday is named after the Norse god of war and justice, Tyr. In French, Spanish, and Italian, Tuesday is named after Mars, the Greco-Roman god of war.

TyrSource: norse-mythology.org, Image: Wikipedia

According to Norse mythology, the first human couple was Ask and Embla, not Adam and Eve.

ask-and-emblaSource: norse-mythology.org, Image: en.wikipedia.org

If you enjoyed this list, check out 25 Facts About Norse Gods Hollywood Won’t Teach You.

Photo: 7. By <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/en:Max_Br%C3%BCckner_(artist)" class="extiw" title="w:en:Max Brückner (artist)"><span title="German painter (1836-1919)">Max Brückner</span></a> - <a rel="nofollow" class="external free" href="https://web.archive.org/web/20150123030733/http://www.nordische-mythologie.de/html/gallery/pages/s213-4.htm">https://web.archive.org/web/20150123030733/http://www.nordische-mythologie.de/html/gallery/pages/s213-4.htm</a>, Public Domain, Link