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Norse Deities

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The Norse culture honored a wide variety of gods, and many are still worshipped today by Asatruar and Heathens. For the Norse and Germanic societies, much like many other ancient cultures, the deities were a part of daily life, not merely something to be chatted with in times of need. Here are some of the best-known gods and goddesses of the Norse pantheon.

1. Baldur, God of Light

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Because of his association with resurrection, Baldur is often connected to the cycle of death and rebirth. Baldur was beautiful and radiant, and was beloved by all the gods. Read on to learn about Baldur, and why he's so important in Norse mythology.

2. Freyja, Goddess of Abundance and Fertility

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Freyja is a Scandinavian goddess of fertility and abundance. Freyja could be called upon for assistance in childbirth and conception, to aid with marital problems, or to bestow fruitfulness upon the land and sea. She was known to wear a magnificent necklace called Brisingamen, which represents the fire of the sun, and was said to weep tears of gold. In the Norse Eddas, Freyja is not only a goddess of fertility and wealth, but also of war and battle. She also has connections to magic and divination.

3. Frigga, Goddess of Marriage and Prophecy

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Frigga was the wife of Odin, and had a powerful gift of prophecy.In some stories she is portrayed as weaving the future of men and gods, although she did not have the power to change their destiny. She is credited in some of the Eddas with the development of runes, and she is known in some Norse tales as the Queen of Heaven.

4. Heimdall, Protector of Asgard

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Heimdall is a god of light, and is the keeper of the Bifrost Bridge, which serves as the path between Asgard and Midgard in Norse mythology. He is the guardian of the gods, and when the world ends at Ragnarok, Heimdall will sound a magical horn to alert everyone. Heimdall is ever-vigilant, and is destined to be the last to fall at Ragnarok.

5. Hel, Goddess of the Underworld

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Hel features in Norse legend as the goddess of the underworld. She was sent by Odin to Helheim/Niflheim to preside over the spirits of the dead, except for those who were killed in battle and went to Valhalla. It was her job to determine the fate of the souls who entered her realm.

6. Loki, the Trickster

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Loki is known as a trickster. He is described in the Prose Edda as a "contriver of fraud". Although he doesn’t appear often in the Eddas, he is generally described as a member of the family of Odin. Despite his divine or demi-god status, there's little evidence to show that Loki had a following of worshippers of his own; in other words, his job was mostly to make trouble for other gods, men, and the rest of the world. A shapeshifter who could appear as any animal, or as a person of either sex, Loki was constantly meddling in the affairs of others, mostly for his own amusement.

7. Njord, God of the Sea

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Njord was a mighty sea god, and was married to Skadi, the goddess of the mountains. He was sent to the Aesir as a hostage by the Vanir, and became a high priest of their mysteries.

8. Odin, Ruler of the Gods

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Odin was a shapeshifter, and frequently roamed the world in disguise. One of his favorite manifestations was that of a one-eyed old man; in the Norse Eddas, the one-eyed man appears regularly as a bringer of wisdom and knowledge to heroes. He pops up in everything from the saga of the Volsungs to Neil Gaiman's American Gods. He was typically accompanied by a pack of wolves and ravens, and rode on a magic horse named Sleipnir.

9. Thor, the God of Thunder

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Thor and his powerful lightning bolt have been around for a long time. Some Pagans still continue to honor him today. He is typically portrayed as red-headed and bearded, and carrying Mjolnir, a magical hammer. As keeper of thunder and lightning, he was also considered integral to the agricultural cycle. If there was a drought, it wouldn’t hurt to offer a libation to Thor in hopes that the rains would come.

10. Tyr, the Warrior God

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Tyr (also Tiw) is the god of one-on-one combat. He is a warrior, and a god of heroic victory and triumph. Interestingly, he is portrayed as having only one hand, because he was the only one of the Aesir brave enough to place his hand in the mouth of Fenrir, the wolf.

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