Deity of the Day for September 14th – Njord, Norse God of the Sea

Deity of the Day

Njord

Norse God of the Sea

 

In Norse Paganism, Njörðr is a god among the Vanir. Njörðr, father of the deities Freyr and Freyja by his unnamed Vanir sister, was in an ill-fated marriage with the goddess Skaði, lives in Nóatún and is associated with sea, seafaring, wind, fishing, wealth, and crop fertility.

Njörðr is attested in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources, the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson, in euhemerized form as a beloved mythological early king of Sweden in Heimskringla, also written by Snorri Sturluson in the 13th century, as one of three gods invoked in the 14th century Hauksbók ring oath, and in numerous Scandinavian place names. Veneration of Njörðr survived into 18th or 19th century Norwegian folk practice, where the god is recorded as Njor and thanked for a bountiful catch of fish.

Njörðr has been the subject of an amount of scholarly discourse and theory, often connecting him with the figure of the much earlier attested Germanic goddess Nerthus, the hero Hadingus, and theorizing on his formerly more prominent place in Norse paganism due to the appearance of his name in numerous place names. Njörðr is sometimes modernly anglicized as Njord, Njoerd, or Njorth.

The name Njörðr corresponds to that of the older Germanic fertility goddess Nerthus, and both derive from the Proto-Germanic *Nerþuz. The original meaning of the name is contested, but it may be related to the Irish word nert which means “force” and “power”. It has been suggested that the change of sex from the female Nerthus to the male Njörðr is due to the fact that feminine nouns with u-stems disappeared early in Germanic language while the masculine nouns with u-stems prevailed. However, other scholars hold the change to be based not on grammatical gender but on the evolution of religious beliefs; that *Nerþuz and Njörðr appear as different genders because they are to be considered separate beings. The name Njörðr may be related to the name of the Norse goddess Njörun.

Njörðr’s name appears in various place names in Scandinavia, such as Nærdhæwi (now Nalavi), Njærdhavi (now Mjärdevi), Nærdhælunda (now Närlunda), Nierdhatunum (now Närtuna) in Sweden, Njarðvík in southwest Iceland, Njarðarlög and Njarðey (now Nærøy) in Norway. Njörðr’s name appears in a word for sponge; Njarðarvöttr (Old Norse “Njörðr’s glove”). Additionally, in Old Icelandic translations of Classical mythology the Roman god Saturn’s name is glossed as “Njörðr.

 

Theories about Njord

Nerthus

Njörðr is often identified with the goddess Nerthus, whose reverence by various Germanic tribes is described by Roman historian Tacitus in his 1st CE century work Germania. The connection between the two is due to the linguistic relationship between Njörðr and the reconstructed *Nerþuz“Nerthus” being the feminine, Latinized form of what Njörðr would have looked like around 1 CE. This has led to theories about the relation of the two, including that Njörðr may have once been a hermaphroditic god or, generally considered more likely, that the name may indicate an otherwise unattested divine brother and sister pair such as Freyr and Freyja. Consequently, Nerthus has been identified with Njörðr’s unnamed sister with whom he had Freyja and Freyr, which is mentioned in Lokasenna.

Bieka-Galles

In Saami mythology, Bieka-Galles (or Biega-, Biegga-Galles, depending on dialect; “The Old Man of the Winds”) is a deity who rules over rain and wind, and is the subject of boat and wooden shovel (or, rather, oar) offerings. Due to similarities in between descriptions of Njörðr in Gylfaginning and descriptions of Bieka-Galles in 18th century missionary reports, Axel Olrik identified this deity as the result of influence from the seafaring North Germanic peoples on the landbound Saami.

Hadingus

Parallels have been pointed out between Njörðr and the figure of Hadingus, attested in book I of Saxo Grammaticus’ 13th century work Gesta Danorum. Some of these similarities include that, in parallel to Skaði and Njörðr in Skáldskaparmál, Hadingus is chosen by his wife Regnhild after selecting him from other men at a banquet by his lower legs, and, in parallel to Skaði and Njörðr in Gylfaginning, Hadingus complains in verse of his displeasure at his life away from the sea and how he is disturbed by the howls of wolves, while his wife Regnhild complains of life at the shore and states her annoyance at the screeching sea birds. Georges Dumézil theorized that in the tale Hadingus passes through all three functions of his trifunctional hypothesis, before ending as an Odinic hero, paralleling Njörðr’s passing from the Vanir to the Æsir in the Æsir-Vanir War.

Svafrþorinn

In stanza 8 of the poem Fjölsvinnsmál, Svafrþorinn is stated as the father of Menglöð by an unnamed mother, who the hero Svipdagr seeks. Menglöð has often been theorized as the goddess Freyja, and according to this theory, Svafrþorinn would therefore be Njörðr. The theory is complicated by the etymology of the name Svafrþorinn (þorinn meaning “brave” and svafr means “gossip”) (or possibly connects to sofa “sleep”), which Rudolf Simek says makes little sense when attempting to connect it to Njörðr.

 

Source:
Wikipedia

Samhain God – Odin

Odin is a major god in Norse mythology and the ruler of Asgard. Homologous with the Anglo-Saxon “Wōden” and the Old High German “Wotan”, the name is descended from Proto-Germanic “Wodanaz” or “Wōđanaz”. “Odin” is generally accepted as the modern English form of the name, although, in some cases, older forms may be used or preferred. In the compound Wednesday, the first member is cognate to the genitive Odin’s. His name is related to ōðr, meaning “fury, excitation,” besides “mind,” or “poetry.” His role, like that of many of the Norse gods, is complex. Odin is a principal member of the Æsir (the major group of the Norse pantheon) and is associated with war, battle, victory and death, but also wisdom, magic, poetry, prophecy, and the hunt. Odin has many sons, the most famous of whom is Thor.

Odin had three residences in Asgard. First was Gladsheim, a vast hall where he presided over the twelve Diar or Judges, whom he had appointed to regulate the affairs of Asgard. Second, Valaskjálf, built of solid silver, in which there was an elevated place, Hlidskjalf, from his throne on which he could perceive all that passed throughout the whole earth. Third was Valhalla (the hall of the fallen), where Odin received the souls of the warriors killed in battle, called the Einherjar. The souls of women warriors, and those strong and beautiful women whom Odin favored, became Valkyries, who gather the souls of warriors fallen in battle (the Einherjar), as these would be needed to fight for him in the battle of Ragnarök. They took the souls of the warriors to Valhalla. Valhalla has five hundred and forty gates, and a vast hall of gold, hung around with golden shields, and spears and coats of mail.

Odin has a number of magical artifacts associated with him: the spear Gungnir, which never misses its target; a magical gold ring (Draupnir), from which every ninth night eight new rings appear; and two ravens Huginn and Muninn (Thought and Memory), who fly around Earth daily and report the happenings of the world to Odin in Valhalla at night. He also owned Sleipnir, an octopedal horse, who was given to Odin by Loki, and the severed head of Mímir, which foretold the future. He also commands a pair of wolves named Geri and Freki, to whom he gives his food in Valhalla since he consumes nothing but mead or wine. From his throne, Hlidskjalf (located in Valaskjalf), Odin could see everything that occurred in the universe. The Valknut (slain warrior’s knot) is a symbol associated with Odin. It consists of three interlaced triangles.

Odin is an ambivalent deity. Old Norse (Viking Age) connotations of Odin lie with “poetry, inspiration” as well as with “fury, madness and the wanderer.” Odin sacrificed his eye (which eye he sacrificed is unclear) at Mímir’s spring in order to gain the Wisdom of Ages. Odin gives to worthy poets the mead of inspiration, made by the dwarfs, from the vessel Óð-rœrir.

Odin is associated with the concept of the Wild Hunt, a noisy, bellowing movement across the sky, leading a host of slain warriors.

Consistent with this, Snorri Sturluson’s Prose Edda depicts Odin as welcoming the great, dead warriors who have died in battle into his hall, Valhalla, which, when literally interpreted, signifies the hall of the slain. The fallen, the einherjar, are assembled and entertained by Odin in order that they in return might fight for, and support, the gods in the final battle of the end of Earth, Ragnarök. Snorri also wrote that Freyja receives half of the fallen in her hall Folkvang.

He is also a god of war, appearing throughout Norse myth as the bringer of victory. In the Norse sagas, Odin sometimes acts as the instigator of wars, and is said to have been able to start wars by simply throwing down his spear Gungnir, and/or sending his valkyries, to influence the battle toward the end that he desires. The Valkyries are Odin’s beautiful battle maidens that went out to the fields of war to select and collect the worthy men who died in battle to come and sit at Odin’s table in Valhalla, feasting and battling until they had to fight in the final battle, Ragnarök. Odin would also appear on the battle-field, sitting upon his eight-legged horse Sleipnir, with his two ravens, one on each shoulder, Hugin (Thought) and Munin (Memory), and two wolves (Geri and Freki) on each side of him.

Odin is also associated with trickery, cunning, and deception. Most sagas have tales of Odin using his cunning to overcome adversaries and achieve his goals, such as swindling the blood of Kvasir from the dwarves.

On September 2, 2009 an amateur archaeologist found a small silver figurine at Lejre in Denmark. It has been dated to around AD 900. The figurine is only 2 centimeters tall and shows a person sitting on a throne adorned with two beast heads and flanked by two birds on the arm-rests. The excavator interpreted the piece as a representation of Odin, Hugin and Munin. Scholars specialising in Viking Period dress and gender representations, however, pointed out that the person is dressed entirely in female attire, making it more probably a goddess such as Freya or Frigga.