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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.


Óðinn is described as the father of the gods, god of war, death, poetry, magic, wisdom, runes and ecstacy. He lives in Ásrgarðr and sits in his high seat Hlíðskjálft. His wife is Frigg and together they have the son Baldr. With Jörð he fathers Þórr and with Rindr he fathers Vali. He is known by the attributes of the spear Gungnir, by being blind in one eye, by his horse Sleipnir and by carrying a disguising hat and cloak. Óðinn is closely connected with those who die in battle as he awaits those who fall in the great hall Valhöll. His deep knowledge of magic is further strengthened by his shamanistic features in his abilities to change his form and gender as well as soul flight. Óðinn is a god for the elite and those who fight for power and victory and his origin is ancient stretching though the Germanic peoples.

For more, see:

Ellis Davidson, H. R, (1990), Gods and Myths of Northern Europe. London: Penguin Books. pp. 48-72

Simek, Rudolf (2007), Transl: Angela Hall. Dictionary of Northern Mythology. Cambridge: D.S. Brewer. pp. 240-247

Steinsland, Gro (2005), Norrøn Religion. Myter, Riter, Samfunn. Oslo: Pax Forlag. pp. 165-194

(Contributed by Liv Marit Aurdal.)


Main text: Gylfaginning


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