LEGENDS OF THE NORTHMEN*



Retold by K. M. MIDGLEY  Illustrations by R. BEAUMONT

ABOUT THESE STORIES
According to the Northmen, ordinary mortals lived in a land they called Midgard1 and above this was Asgard2, the home of the gods. In one of the many places of Asgard was Gladsheim where was Valhalla, the home of those who had died bravely in battle.
There was also a land named Hel3 which was the home of the giants who were enemies of the gods.
The making of Thor's hammer In underground caverns below Midgard, there lived a race of dwarfs who were very skilled craftsmen. At first these dwarfs (pixies or elfs) were friends of the gods, but you will read how Loke, the mischief- maker, arranged that the dwarf-craftsmen should be offended by the gods.
The father of all the gods was Odin or Woden, whose name we still use in Woden's Day or Wednesday as we call it. Odin lived in the highest palace of Asgard, seated on a golden throne with two ravens who brought him news of everything that was going on-everywhere. Sometimes Odin left Asgard in disguise, either on foot or on his famous eight-legged horse Sleipnir, one of whose adventures is told here.
Next in importance to Odin was Thor- the god of thunder. When it thundered, the Northmen said that Thor was using his mighty hammer, one so heavy that he was the only one of the gods who could use it.
You can read here how Thor obtained this wonderful hammer, which was called Miolnir.
Thursday is really "Thor's Day" and Thor was very much respected and loved by the Northmen.
He was the god who made sure that all good laws were kept, both in Asgard and Midgard.

Balder4, the god of the young, was one of the favourite gods of the Northmen. You can read here about his great popularity, about his brave and faithful wife, and how by a cruel trick, death came to Balder who was loved by everybody, except Loke and his wicked wife Hag.

Brage, the god of poetry, was another favorite of the Northmen. His wife Idun, was responsible for safe-guarding the magic apples which gave the dwellers in Asgard eternal youth.
Of how these apples were stolen, and returned to Asgard is a story you will enjoy as did the people of centuries ago.
Loki cuts Sif's hair. Loke, the god of fire, is a difficult person to understand. He was always eager to cause trouble but the gods of Asgard forgave him time and time again until, in the end having brought about the death of the much loved Balder, he was finally driven from the palaces of the gods.
There are many more stories told by the Northmen thousands of years ago, and handed down to us, but the ones here will help you to see how wonderful was the world as imagined by these ancestors of ours.
The first story here for example may surprise you for you will meet there two old friends of whom you read when you were very young!
The story of the god of the northwind will also be of particular interest if you imagine what the home of the Northmen was like during their long , cold winter! But read the stories for yourself, remembering how very old they are.

Chapter 1.  The Moon Chariot

   


                                                                                            

Notes:
1. Midgard, mid from O.E. middel, middle.
2. Asgard found in  the place-name Aysgarth, Yorkshire
3. Hel is the Anglian name for a grave.
4. Balder (Phol) found in Yorkshire place names such as Baldersby, Pule Hill.

Northmen * Legends of the Northmen- The Young Readers Library,
   A. Wheaton and Company Ltd Exeter (out of print)

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Copyright © K.& T. Midgley, March 1999, revised December 2012.