Asgardian Pantheon

Asgardian Pantheon

Name Portfolio Rank Alignment Favoured Weapon Domains
Odin Knowledge, magic, supreme, war G NG Shortspear Air, Knowledge, Magic, Travel, Trickery, War
Aegir Sea, storms I NE Greatclub Death, Destruction, Evil, Strength, Water
Balder Beauty, light, music, poetry, rebirth I NG Greatsword Good, Healing, Knowledge
Forseti Justice, law I N Longsword Knowledge, Protection, Strength
Frey Agriculture, fertility, harvest, sun G NG Greatsword Air, Good, Plant, Sun
Freya Fertility, love, magic, vanity I NG Longsword Air, Charm, Good, Magic
Frigga Birth, fertility, love G N Natural weapons Air, Animal, Community, Knowledge
Heimdall Watchfulness, sight, hearing, loyalty I LG Longsword Good, Law, War
Hel Death, underworld I NE Longsword Death, Destruction, Evil
Hermod Luck, communication, freedom D CN Rapier Chaos, Luck, Travel
Loki Thieves, trickery, murder G CE Dagger Chaos, Destruction, Evil, Trickery
Njord Commerce, sea, wind I NG Longspear Air, Good, Water
Odur Light, sun, travel D CG Bastard sword Chaos, Fire, Sun
Sif War, dueling L CG Longsword Chaos, Good, War
Skadi Earth, mountains L N Greataxe Destruction, Earth, Strength
Surtur Fire, war I LE Longsword Evil, Fire, Law, Strength, War
Thor Storms, thunder, war G CG Warhammer Chaos, Good, Protection, Strength, War, Weather
Thrym War, cold, giants I CE Greataxe Chaos, Earth, Evil, Strength, War
Tyr Courage, trust, strategy, tactics, writing I LN Longsword Law, Protection, War
Uller Archers, hunting, winter L CN Longbow Chaos, Protection, Travel

Asgardian Theology

Before the gods arose, the great gaping void of Ginnungagap lay between fiery hot Muspelheim in the south and frozen Niflheim in the north. In the midst of Niflheim ran Hvergelmir, a spring from which flowed eleven rivers collectively known as Elivagar. As these rivers flowed away from their source, the poisonous lees they deposited hardened to ice. Vapor rising from the lees froze into rime, layer after layer, until it spread across Ginnungagap. The rime met the hot gusts from Muspelheim and melted, and from the moisture sprang the frost giant Ymir. While he slept, the sweat from his body formed the first of his frost giant offspring. Further melting of the ice created a cow called Audhumla. Four rivers of milk flowed from her udder, sustaining Ymir and his offspring. For her own sustenance she licked the salty rime stones and over three days uncovered a strong, handsome man named Buri. From descendants of Buri and the giants came Odin, Vili, and Ve, the first of the Aesir gods. They killed Ymir, and his blood drowned all the frost giants except Bergelmir, from whom came a new race of frost giants.

Odin and his brothers carried Ymir’s body out of Ginnungagap and made the earth from his flesh and the rocks from his bones. Stones and gravel came from the dead giant’s teeth and shattered bones, and the blood filled Ginnungagap, becoming lakes and the sea. Odin and his brothers formed the sky from Ymir’s skull. Four dwarves named Nordri, Sudri, Austri, and Vestri held up the skull. Ymir’s hair became flora, and his brains became clouds. Sparks from Muspelheim became stars. The earth was a great circle surrounded by ocean. Giants lived on the coast while humans lived inland, in a fortification made from Ymir’s eyelashes. Odin gave humans breath and life, Vili gave them consciousness and movement, and Ve gave them form, speech, hearing, and sight. The first man was Ask (ash tree) and the first woman was Embla (elm or vine).

Aesir And Vanir

There are two races of Asgardian gods, the Aesir and the Vanir. While the Aesir are part of the creation myth described above, little is known about the Vanir. The Aesir are clearly gods of war and destiny, while the Vanir appear as gods of fertility and prosperity. The two races fought a lengthy war until both sides tired of it. Neither believed it could win. To ensure peace, the races traded hostages. The Vanir sent Njord and his children Frey and Freya. The Aesir sent Honir, a big man they said was best fit to rule, and Mimir, the wisest of the Aesir. The Vanir became suspicious of Honir, believing him to be less fit than the Aesir claimed and noticing his answers were less authoritative when Mimir wasn’t present to advise him. When they realized they had been cheated, the Vanir cut off Mimir’s head and sent it back to the Aesir. Apparently, the Aesir considered this fair repayment for cheating the Vanir, because the two sides stayed at peace. Odin placed Mimir’s head in the well beneath Yggdrasil’s root in Midgard, making it a source of great wisdom. Over time, all the Vanir deities integrated with the Aesir.

Asgardian Cosmology

Three primary planes make up the majority of Asgardian cosmology: Asgard and Niflheim are Outer Planes, and Midgard is the Material Plane. Bifrost acts as a conduit between Asgard and Midgard. The Plane of Shadow links Midgard and Niflheim. The Astral Plane and Ethereal Plane do not connect to the Outer Planes, but reach from Midgard to the Plane of Shadow.

Yggdrasil: A great ash tree also known as the World Tree, Yggdrasil’s branches wave above Asgard. Its three roots extend to each of the three planes of existence. The well of Urd (fate) is beneath the root in Asgard. The gods meet at Urd every day to hold their council. The Norns tend Yggdrasil at this well. The well of Mimir lies beneath the root that reaches Jotunheim on Midgard, which is also the site of Mannheim. The well of Mimir is a source of great wisdom. Odin sacrificed an eye to the well to gain secret knowledge. The third root reaches Niflheim. Beneath it still flows Hvergelmir, the source of the rivers that contributed to the world’s creation, where the great serpent Nidhoggr chews its roots. This constant chewing is why the Norns must tend the tree, and how the tree understands mortal suffering.

Asgard: Home of the gods, Asgard is the closest plane to the branches of Yggdrasil, the World Tree. Many of the gods’ homes featured prominently in Asgardian myths, and so had their own names. Odin has two halls in Asgard, Valhalla and Valaskjalf.

Valhalla: Valhalla is home to all those slain in battle, the einherjar. It has five hundred forty doors, each wide enough for eight hundred men to walk through shoulder to shoulder. The rafters are spears, the hall is roofed with shields, and breastplates litter the benches. A wolf guards the western door, and an eagle hovers over it. Every day the rooster Gullinkambi (“Golden Comb”) wakes the einherjar, and they venture out to fight each other in training for Ragnarok, the final battle. Every evening those killed in the battle rise, whole and healed. They feast in the hall from the meat of Saehrimnir, a boar whose flesh renews every day, and mead from Hedirun, a goat that stands atop Valhalla chewing the leaves of the tree Laerad.

Valaskjalf: Valaskjalf (“Shelf of the Slain”) contains Odin’s High Seat, Hlidskjalf, from which he can see anywhere in Asgard, Midgard, or Niflheim. He permits no other god but Frigga to sit there.

Other Halls: Thor’s hall, Bilskirnir, is in a region of Asgard called Thrudvangar. Balder’s hall is called Briedbalik (“Broad Splendor”). Forseti’s hall, Glitnir, has golden pillars and a silver roof. All those who enter Glitnir leave with their legal disputes resolved. Freya’s hall Sessrumnir is so tightly constructed that Loki had to become a needle in order to sneak in. Half of all men slain in battle, and all women so slain, come to Freya’s hall. Frigga spends her time in Valaskjalf or in her own hall, Fensalir. Heimdall’s hall, Himinbjorg, stands next to Bifrost. Uller’s hall is called Ydalir. Finally, the hall called Gimli in Asgard is considered the most beautiful building anywhere. Prophecy says all the gods would live there in peace after Ragnarok. The Aesir have two communal halls, Gladsheim and Vingolf, where they assemble to discuss events and decide important issues.

Other Locations in Asgard: Asgard is also home to Vanaheim, home of the Vanir; Alfheim, home of the light elves (Lios Alfar) and site of Frey’s hall; and Vigrid, the field where gods and giants are destined to fight when Ragnarok comes.

Bifrost: Asgardian storytellers say rainbows represent the appearance of Bifrost on Midgard. For this reason, Bifrost is known as the Rainbow Bridge. Bifrost links Asgard and Midgard.

Midgard: Midgard is the mortal realm of Asgardian cosmology. In addition to Mannheim, it holds Jotunheim, the land of the frost giants; Muspelheim, the land of the fire giants; the dwarf realm of Nidavellir; and Svartalfheim, the domain of the dark elves (Svart Alfar).

Niflheim: The lowest of the three worlds in Asgardian cosmology, Niflheim is home to Hel. Hel is both the land of the dead and the name of the deity who rules it. Those who die of sickness, old age, or accident come to Niflheim for judgment by Hel in her hall Eljudnir. They must pass through Gnipahellir, the cave at the entrance to the underworld, guarded by the monstrous hound Garm. Garm has four eyes and a chest drenched with blood. Anyone who gave bread to the poor in life could appease Garm with a piece of cake soaked in his or her own blood. The river Gjoll encircles the land of the dead, flowing from the spring Hvergelmir.

Ragnarok

The Asgardian gods lived with a prophecy about the end of their world. They knew that Ragnarok would come and they would fight their final battle against the giants during which Surtur would burn down the world. They spent their time preparing for the battle rather than worrying about it or trying to prevent it. They did so because they knew Ragnarok was never meant to be the end of everything. Rather, Ragnarok marked the turning of a cycle, a point where the world remade itself and began again. Several gods, including Balder, Hod, Thor’s sons Modi and Magni (who possesses Mjolnir), and Odin’s sons Vali and Vidar, were prophesied to survive Ragnarok and rule the resulting new world.

Wyrd

Asgardians believe the Norns mark out their fate, or wyrd, at their birth. The myth of Ragnarok reflects this. Odin and his brothers knew when they created the world that it was destined to end, taking them with it. Asgardians face their fate with courage and resolution. They seek to surpass legendary heroes so that bards and skalds sing of their deeds long after they die.

The Norns: Urd (“fate”), Verdandi (“being”), and Skuld (“necessity”) were the three primary Norns, but there were many others of lesser rank, some of whom were elves or dwarves, and some were good while others were malevolent. Some myths say that each person has an individual Norn. The Norns tend Yggdrasil at the well of Urd on Asgard, and they measure out the fates of other beings in the cosmos. The Norns teach nothing to mortals, dispassionately measuring out each person’s wyrd. Those who seek hidden knowledge may gather to pray to the Norns for assistance. Some monastic orders seek to emulate their devotion to maintaining the laws of the cosmos.

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