The Norse had a belief system that made them rationalize everything that happened around them. From the growth of the flowers to the transition of the day to the night, it was believed that every action was executed by a god or goddess.
The realm of gods was not dominated by men alone, but also women, and the Vikings have told many legends of powerful goddesses. And from these legends, it can be made clear that these goddesses played an inherent role in Norse mythology.
That being said, let’s look at some of the most powerful and well-known Norse mythology goddesses.
List of Norse Goddesses
Here is a list containing the top 10 Norse goddesses:
Freya, which literally translates to lady, was the goddess of love, war, fertility, and death. However, she was not a part of the Aesir gods but belonged to the Vanir gods. She was the daughter of the god of the sea, Njord.
According to the legends, Freya rode a boar that had golden bristles, and pigs were considered sacred to her. She also rode a chariot, which was drawn by cats
At one point, when the Vanir and Aesir gods fought, Freya was taken hostage and sent to live in a world of the Aesir gods, Asgard.
Brisingamen was one of her infamous necklaces, which was later stolen by the god of mischief, Loki. To obtain the necklace, she spent one night with each of the dwarves who made it. She always used her beauty and power as the goddess of love to acquire whatever she wanted.
One of her privileges as the god of war, like Odin, was to take half of the fallen soldier to the great hall Folkvangr. Odin took the other half to Valhalla.
Freya also practiced a form of magic called Seidr, which allowed her to influence or change fate. She taught the same magic to the Aesir gods.
Freya held four nicknames, including:
It is believed that she traveled the world searching for a lost husband and cried tears of gold as she wept.
Idun is another one of the infamous Nose mythology goddesses. She was the goddess of youth and spring. It is believed that she was the keeper of the apples of youth that grew in the tribe of gods, Asgard. The gods ate these apples, produced from Idun’s magical harvest, to preserve their youth. She was the wife of the god of poetry, Bragi.
According to a legend, Idun was stolen by a giant, Thiassi. And without her guarding the apples of youth, all the gods started aging and withering.
Thiassi could only execute his plan because he received help from the trickster, Loki. As the gods started growing old, they forced Loki to rescue Idun, which he did by transforming himself into a falcon.
It is believed that Idun carried the apples of youth in an ash box, which is why ashwood is one of the major symbols that represent her.
She was known as the goddess of spring because spring represents rebirth and renewal, which was an inherent part of her powers.
Frigg was the goddess of foresight, marriage, and motherhood. She was the wife of Odin and was also considered a prophetess. Her two known children with Odin are Balder and Hodr. However, Odin had children with many other beings, and his son Thor was also from an extramarital affair.
Although Frigg could see the future, she never revealed whatever she saw. She was known for promoting fertility and marriage.
According to Norse mythology, she was seen as a weeping mother as she lost both her sons at the expense of Loki’s mischief.
To protect her son, Baldr, she individually went to every living being and asked them never to cause harm to her son. As a result, Baldr became nearly invisible, and many other gods threw weapons at him for amusement as they never touched him. However, Frigg forgot about the mistletoe plant. And when Loki found out about this secret, she formed a dart using the mistletoe plant and tricked her other son, Hodr, who was also blind, into throwing this dart at his brother.
When he did, the dart killed him, Hodr was executed for killing his brother, and Frigg eventually lost both her sons.
Skadi was a giantess goddess, the daughter of Thiassi. She is one of the most powerful Norse mythology goddesses, known as the goddess of winter and hunting.
She used to hunt using a bow and arrow in high mountains. When her father was killed, she was enraged and went to Asgard for revenge. She attacked mercilessly, but to make peace with the giantess, the Aesir offered her to take a husband from their tribe. She eventually decided to marry Njord, the god of the sea. However, she had mistaken Njord for Balder, and their marriage eventually failed.
Njord preferred to live by the sea, but that was too warm and noisy for her. Skadi preferred living in the snow by the mountains.
Despite being powerful, she was known for her loving nature among the giants. The Norse people worshipped her greatly, and she is often mentioned in stories of winter survival. After her marriage with Njord ended, Skadi had two children with Odin.
Next on the list of Norse goddesses is Sif, the goddess of fertility and grain. She was a giantess and the second wife of the god of thunder, Thor. She had golden hair, representing the wheat that grows in the fields through her power.
According to one particular tale, Loki, for his own amusement, cut Sif’s long golden hair, which angered Thor greatly, and he threatened to end Loki’s life. But Loki managed to save his life by offering to bring an even better replacement. Loki eventually brought a headpiece with the finest gold strands, handcrafted by dwarves.
Many believe Sif to be the same as the Anglo-Saxon goddess, Sib. Although there are not many stories of Sif’s life, it is well-known that she played an important role in Norse mythology. Some even say that her marriage with Thor makes her the goddess of earth and plants, as the rain and thunderstorm eventually help the crops grow.
Hel was the daughter of the infamous trickster Loki. She is known as the goddess of the underworld. Her name translates to ‘hidden,’ and she watched over the souls of the dead in the underworld. She lived in a place called Niflheim, which was considered the place for the wicked. Moreover, any Vikings that did not die also dwelled here.
According to the legends, Hel always looked fierce, with one half made of flesh and the other half blue. While some say she possessed a living body and face, her legs were that of a corpse. It is believed that she fought side-by-side with her father, Loki, against the Aesir gods, during the events of Ragnarok, as she led an army of the dead.
Since her name has a strong connection with death, in 2017, Iceland made it illegal to name any child Hel.
Gefion was the goddess of prosperity, fertility, and agriculture. Her name holds two meanings, including ‘the generous one’ and ‘the giver.’
According to legends, she disguised herself as a homeless woman and asked the king of Sweden, Gylfi, to give her a piece of land. Gylfi was known for being a generous king and agreed to give her as much land as she could plough within a span of a single day.
For that, she summoned her four sons, whom she had with a giant, and turned them into Ox. Her sons ploughed the land deeply and dragged the ploughed land so that it was no longer a part of Sweden. The land was taken into the middle of the ocean, where it became the island of Zealand.
Sigyn is one of the most influential figures in Norse mythology goddesses. She was the wife of Loki and belonged to the Asynjur goddesses. Her name translates to ‘victory giver.’
She was extremely loyal to Loki and bore a son with him named Nari, while some say it is Narfi. After Loki murdered Balder with his mischievous tricks, the Aesir gods captured him and chained him to a rock.
The goddess Skadi placed a poisonous snake over Loki’s head so that his venom would drip onto Loki’s face, causing it to burn. Loki remained in that cave till Ragnarok. But during this time, Sigyn remained with him and protected Loki from the venom, holding a basin above his head to collect all the venom. However, when the basin became full, and Sigyn went to empty it, Loki suffered in agony.
The Vikings highly regarded Sigyn and believed that she would lead to victory. However, due to the heavy focus on Odin, historical records that portray the role of Sigyn have been lost. But it is certain that she played an influential role in the outcome of battles, leading many to victory.
Although Eir is on the list of Norse goddesses, she is also believed to be a Valkyrie. These were females who chose to live and die in battle.
Eir is famously known for her medical skills, and many describe her as an excellent physician. Some say that she healed those injured during battle, which earned her the title of the goddess of mercy. However, it is also believed that she carried the dead to Valhalla.
There are many contradicting opinions regarding her existence. Some relate her to Frigg, the wife of Oden, while others think of her as another form of the Greek goddess Hygieia.
However, according to one particular source, she is listed as a powerful Norse goddess. She is also known as the goddess of healing; some say she could even heal the dead.
There is very little knowledge left about the goddess Ilmr. However, her name is referenced every now and then as the ‘pleasant-smelling one.’ It implied she possessed the power of scents.
Since the scents of Norse mythology goddesses are unknown, this makes her a unique entity. However, the extent of her powers or the kind of scent she possessed remains unknown.
How Many Goddesses Exist in Norse Mythology?
The Norse people were polytheistic. It meant that they worshipped more than one god. As for how many gods and goddesses they worshipped, it is nearly impossible to predict. The main reason for not being able to give a definitive number is that much of Norse history has been lost. It is quite possible that many of the gods and goddesses have been forgotten over the course of time. Even for some of the goddesses that we know the name of, such as Sigyn or Ilmr, very little knowledge is left of them.
The Uniqueness of Norse Mythology Goddesses
What sets Norse gods and goddesses apart from the rest of the gods mentioned throughout history is that, although they were considered powerful beings, they were also not perfect. The gods showcased different attributes of human beings, the best and the worst. You could say that they were flawed and human at the core. The Greek Gods like Zeus, were similarly flawed.
In Norse mythology, it was believed that there were nine different universes or realms. The main tribe of Aesir gods resided in Asgard, while the people lived in what was called Midgard. Asgard and Midgard were connected together by a mystical tree known as Yggdrasil.
Even today, Icelanders firmly believe in the Norse gods and goddesses as they are an inherent part of their history. The settlers of the land believed that the Norse entities helped them see the beauty in the smaller things.