7 Major Events in Norse Mythology

Norse mythology is rich with tales of gods, giants, elves, dwarves, and other mystical beings, all interwoven into a complex tapestry of stories that describe the creation, existence, and eventual destruction of the cosmos.

Below, World History Edu takes a quick look at the seven major events in Norse mythology:

Creation of the Cosmos

Ymir in Norse Mythology. Image: Ymir is attacked by the brothers Odin, Vili, and Vé in an illustration by Danish painter Lorenz Frølich.

In the beginning, there was only the void (Ginnungagap). From the clash of the realms of fire (Muspelheim) and ice (Niflheim), the first giant Ymir was formed. The gods Odin, Vili, and Vé, born from the lineage of giants, later killed Ymir and used his body to create the cosmos.

READ MORE: The Nine Realms in Norse Mythology

Building of Asgard’s Wall

Asgard, also known as “enclosure of the Aesir”, is the home of the Aesir, principal gods in Norse mythology

After the Aesir-Vanir war, the gods made a truce with a giant builder who promised to build a wall around Asgard. He asked for the sun, moon, and the goddess Freyja as payment. The gods agreed but set a seemingly impossible deadline. With the help of his magical stallion, the giant almost succeeded, but Loki intervened, leading to the giant’s defeat.

READ MORE: Difference between the Aesir and Vanir Deities in Norse Mythology

The Theft of Thor’s Hammer

Thor

Thor’s hammer, Mjölnir, was stolen by the giant Thrym, who demanded the goddess Freyja as his bride in exchange. To retrieve the hammer, Thor, who is the Norse god of thunder, disguised himself as Freyja and, with Loki’s help, went to Thrym’s abode. After a series of deceptions, Thor got his hammer back and defeated the giants.

READ MORE: Most Powerful Weapons in Norse Mythology

The Binding of Fenrir

The Aesir gods contracted the dwarfs – masterful craftsmen – to forge an indestructible chain that was a light and subtle as silk. Image: Bound of Fenrir. Dorothy Hearthy (1909).

The gods, fearing the wolf Fenrir‘s growing strength, decided to bind him. They created a magical chain, Gleipnir, which looked delicate but was immensely strong. Fenrir agreed to be bound by it only if one of the gods placed their hand in his mouth as assurance. Tyr, the god of war, did so, and when Fenrir found himself unable to break free, he bit off Tyr’s hand.

READ MORE: Who are Loki’s Children? 

Death of Baldur

Baldr in an illustration to a Swedish translation of the Elder Edda.

Baldur (also spelt as Baldr) the beloved god of light and purity, had a dream of his death, which greatly concerned the gods. His mother, Frigg, made every object in the world vow never to harm Baldur, but she overlooked the mistletoe. Loki, the trickster, discovered this oversight and fashioned a dart from mistletoe, guiding the blind god Hodr to throw it, unintentionally killing Baldur.

Höðr, a blind god, is said to unwittingly kill his brother, Baldr, being manipulated by Loki, and is subsequently killed in retaliation.

READ MORE: Life and Major Works of Snorri Sturluson, the Icelandic politician and poet

Loki’s Punishment

Loki in bondage – Loki and Sigyn (1863) by Mårten Eskil Winge

After causing the death of Baldur, Loki was pursued by the gods. He was eventually captured and punished by being bound to a rock with the entrails of his son while a serpent dripped venom onto his face. His loyal wife, Sigyn, collected the venom in a bowl, but whenever she had to empty it, the venom dripped on Loki, causing him to writhe in pain, which was believed to cause earthquakes.

Loki was punished by the gods for his involvement in the death of Baldur | The Punishment of Loki by Louis Huard

READ MORE: Most Famous Trickster Deities From Around The World

Ragnarok

The god Odin battles the wolf Fenrir while other deities and their combatants fight in the background on the field Vígríðr in an illustration (1905) by Emil Doepler.

The final battle, a series of events that includes a great battle, natural disasters, and the submersion of the world in water, leading to the death of several key figures in Norse mythology, including Odin, Thor, and Loki. After the destruction, the world is foretold to resurface anew and fertile, and surviving gods will meet; and two human survivors, Líf and Lífþrasir, will repopulate the earth.

READ MORE: Who are the Norse gods foretold to die during Ragnarok?

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