A - Z Viking Gods Guide - Ideal for KS2
Updated: Mar 5
Let's face it, Vikings have an incredibly compelling and exciting mythology. That's likely the reason why, centuries later, Thor is more famous than he's ever been before thanks to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In fact, more people know who Thor is now than they did during his heyday in the 8th Century.
We've looked at the Viking Gods before, in our guide to The Viking Gods You've (Probably) Never Heard Of. This time though, we'll be focusing on the rest of the Viking pantheon of gods. We'll be adding to this guide over the coming weeks and months, so be sure to check back here for the latest additions.
There were two tribes of Viking gods, the Vanir and the Aesir. In the distant past these two groups went to war against each other, in the appropriately named 'Aesir-Vanir' war. This was an epic smackdown to rock the ages but, at some point, the gods grew weary of fighting and decided to organise peace.
As part of this truce, the two tribes sent a few representatives to mingle and spend some time with each other. This was how Freya of the Vanir came to live with the Aesir.
Freya, like her fellow Vanir, is an expert in magic. It was she who brought this mystical art to the gods and to mortals as well. She can control the health, wellbeing and success of others - as such, she is a very powerful god indeed.
Freya is also in charge of the afterlife. It was she who chose the warriors who had died bravely enough in battle to reside in Viking heaven; Valhalla.
Today, Loki is probably as famous as the thundergod Thor, thanks to his runaway popularity in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Loki is a trickster god and perhaps the original anti-hero. Sometimes he could be very very good but, on other occasions, he was as bad as bad could be. He is part god and part giant. In the poems of the Norse he would help the gods or help the giants - though mostly he just helped himself. He loves to have mischievous fun, and is both cowardly and cunning in equal measures.
Loki had three children with the giantess Angrboda; the giant wolf known as Fenrir, the goddess of the Underworld called Hel, and the enormous Midgard serpent named Jormungand. Ultimately, Loki will lead these children in an apocalyptic battle against the other gods during 'Ragnarök'. At the end of this war, pretty much everyone ends up dead!
Odin is the all-father. Which is a fancy way of saying he's the leader, the boss and the head honcho; all rolled into one. Odin is quite a contradictory god, managing to be both a god of poetry and a god of war. He's a seeker of information and of wisdom. He's prepared to sacrifice everything, even honour and justice, in pursuit of this knowledge.
Here's some examples:
Odin stole the mead of poetry from the giants. Because of this, he speaks only in poetic verse. If a mortal is skilled at poetry, it was said that Odin had imbued them with that power.
Odin hung himself from a tree. That's right, hung himself. He did this for nine days and nights, with no food or drink. Oh, and if that wasn't unpleasant enough, he also stabbed himself with his own spear. At the end of this ordeal Odin discovered runes - the ancient art of Viking writing that can still be seen in caves today.
Odin also removed his own eye - ouch! - to pop in the Well of Urd to gain infinite wisdom.
Just imagine if Odin knew about the internet. This guy loves knowledge so much you'd never get him off your laptop!
Thor really needs no introduction; Chris Hemsworth has made this character super famous! We all know that Thor is the god of Thunder, is very handsome, has massive muscles, long blond hair, and throws the mighty hammer Mjölnir as a weapon. Right?
Well, the original mythological version of Thor is rather different. First off, he's described as having fiery eyes, red hair and a red beard. He still has massive muscles but his super strength comes from a magical belt called Megingjörð (if you'd rather not try and pronounce that - we don't blame you. It translates as the much more easily pronounced 'Power-Belt').
He still has the hammer Mjölnir, but 'being worthy' has nothing to do with him being able to lift it. Instead he has some magical gloves which let him hold the short handled hammer.
Oh, and Thor can't fly using his hammer as he does in the movies. Instead he speeds around on a chariot pulled by two flying goats named Tanngrisnir and Tanngnjóstr. If Thor gets a little peckish (and he usually does - boy oh boy this god loves his food) then he kills his pet goats, eats them, and then brings them back to life the following morning with his magical hammer. Those poor goats, they probably don't know whether they're coming or going.
Are you a teacher? Yes? Then you'll definitely want Imagining History to bring their 'How to be a Viking God' Interactive workshop to your school.
Our Award-Winning sessions combine role-play, storytelling, demonstrations and drama and performance to bring history to life for your students.
Our How to be a Viking God workshop will take your students on a fun and informative journey through the Nine Worlds in this unique introduction to the ancient myths and legends of the Vikings. Your students will:
Identify the key Norse Gods by becoming the Gods themselves.
Forge weapons with the dwarves to outsmart Loki.
Discover the different realms and afterlives and what they can teach us about the values and beliefs of the Vikings.
Defeat the Frost Giants with Thor (and find out why he wore a fetching wedding dress).
Transform your school hall into a battlefield to help Freyja take the worthy to Valhalla.