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Pre-Christian Religions of the North: Sources

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Gylfaginning, which is part of Snorra Edda, was composed in Iceland in the 13th century, and holds the stories of many of the Pre-Christian myths of northern Europe. It is believe to have been composed by the Icelander Snorri Sturlusson. Snorra Edda consists of three separate parts, Gylfaginning, Skaldskápamáland Háttatal, all functioning together as a greater work and guide for the aspiring medieval poet and storyteller.


Þórr is the god of thunder, the killer of jötnar and the strongest amongst the Æsir. He is named Óðinns son and the brother of Baldr. He is described as immensly strong being the defender of the gods, red-bearded and said to be the short-tempered and rather gullible or simple-minded. His wife is the goddess Sif and he lives in Þrúðheimr or Þrúðvangr. He travels through the worlds in his chariot drawn by his male goats Tanngrísnir and Tanngnjóstr hunting for jötnar. His hammer Mjöllnir is his most famous attribute, a weapon of great power often used as he hunts to kill the jötnar. The symbol of the hammer also is a recurrent symbol found in archaeological contexts throughout northern Europe. Þórr’s greatest enemy is the Midgard serpent which he battles several times as seen in Hymiskviða. He finally succeeds in killing the serpent at Ragnarök only to die himself shortly after being poisoned by the serpent in the battle, as told in Völuspá 56 and Gylfaginning 50.

For more, see:

Ellis Davidson, H. R, (1990), Gods and Myths of Northern Europe. London: Penguin Books. pp. 73-91

Simek, Rudolf (2007), Transl: Angela Hall. Dictionary of Northern Mythology. Cambridge: D.S. Brewer. pp. 316-326

Steinsland, Gro (2005), Norrøn Religion. Myter, Riter, Samfunn. Oslo: Pax Forlag. pp. 195-207

(Contributed by Liv Marit Aurdal.)


Main text: Gylfaginning


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