5 Mythic Norse Beasts

Norse Mythology is full of incredible supernatural creatures– though there are creatures ranging from the giants (jotunn) of Jötunheimr to the conflict of the two types of Norse gods, the Vanir and Æsir, the inhuman monsters found in Norse Mythology reoccur throughout the heroic legends of the Poetic Edda and Prose Edda. Here are five creatures you might stumble across if you were to look up Norse Mythology :

5) Fenrir – a monstrous wolf, the Æsir decided to bind up Fenrir before he grew to full size. When he was chained, he bit off the right hand of the god Tyr. In the events of Ragnarok, it is said Fenrir will kill Odin, however, in turn will be slain by one of Odin’s sons, Víðarr. Fenrir is claimed to be one of the trickster god Loki’s descendents, as well as the father of wolves.

4) Sleipnir – an eight-legged horse. Before the building of Valhalla, a builder came and offered to build the Æsir a city in which to keep out tresspassers – if he completed the task before a set time, in payment, he would be given the goddess Freya, as well as the sun and moon. The gods agreed, but he had to do the work alone. The stranger asked for the help of his horse – which the gods allowed. The horse proved to be a great help to the builder, and the gods still decided they didn’t want to pay for the work. So Loki changed himself into a mare, and seduced the horse away, thus the builder lost the payment, and Thor ended up killing him anyway. Sometime later,Loki gave birth to the eight-legged foal Sleipnir. And Odin thought to himself, “Yeah, I could ride that.” Sleipnir is often depicted with Odin in art.

3) Draugr – I took many liberties in my own book with draugr, and the warriors that try to destroy the tower are far different then the beings I researched. Draugr are similar to ghosts, they are animated corpses that lie in their graves, able to change size at will and have super-human strength. They were said to be extremely hard to kill, typically, the average hero would have to cut off its head, burn the body, and throw the ashes into the sea to ensure that the draugr was gone.

2) Huginn (thought) and Muninn (memory) – two ravens, that flew the world and reported back to Odin all that they saw. Ravens have a special place in numerous types of mythology – in the Greek tradition, it was said that they were the god’s messengers to the mortal world, whereas in many aboriginal legends from North America, the raven typically takes on a trickster role. In the Norse tradition, it tends more towards shamanistic practice. Ravens still have a huge impact on modern fiction – just ask Edgar Allen Poe.

1) Jörmungandr  – The Midgard Serpant – The offspring of Loki and the giantess Angrboða. Loki is said to have three children by Angrboða; of which he threw his giant serpent son into the ocean. It grew so large, that it could consume it’s own tail. It was said that when it let go, the world would end – there are three legends, including Ragnarok ,where the god of thunder, Thor, would battle this snake. Effectively in the last tale, Thor would kill the great serpent, and then Thor would walk nine paces, and fall dead himself.

These are just five beasts you can find in Norse Mythology – we can find great beasts and monsters central to other mythologies the world over. What are some of your favorite mythological creatures – and, any favorite spins on the not-so-harmless?

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  1. Pingback: Interview with Þráinn Árni Baldvinsson and Jón Geir Jóhannsson [Skálmöld] | Valkyrian Music

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