When Marvel released Thor, I was excited. Like many, I booked a ticket and enjoyed it at the cinema. However, the movie got me thinking, “Were the Norse good or evil?” Curious, I scoured the internet for answers.
Additionally, I picked up a few books on Norse mythology to compare sources and even jumped on some forums. This information came in handy when I taught a theology class on ancient religions.
A student asked if Norse gods were evil. I relied on my research and theological background to answer her question. Afterward, I decided to share what I learned with others.
So, are Norse gods evil?
The Bible doesn’t mention the Norse gods. It does, however, warn believers against idolatry. In contrast, history references Norse gods severally. They’re the stuff of legends. However, historians don’t categorize Norse gods as good or evil. They believe these gods were complex characters who acted in their own interest. As such, they were good when it favored them.
Join me in exploring this topic. I’ll discuss the origin of Norse mythology and whether the Norse gods were good or evil. Let’s get started.
Where did the myth of Norse gods come from?
The myth of the Norse gods began as an oral tradition passed down among the Vikings and other Scandinavian groups. Historians believe these stories date back to the 5th century AD.
The earliest written records of these myths are the Prose Edda and Poetic Edda, which date back to the 13th century.
These records contain the genealogies of the Norse gods and the creation myths. According to these stories, in the beginning, there was a land of ice and fog in the north and a land of fire in the south.
In the middle was a void. Embers from the south mixed with the mist from the north to form the first frost giant (Ymir) and a cow.
Ymir fathered other frost giants, who relied on the cow’s milk for food. The cow nourished herself by licking a salt block. Unknown to her, this block contained a giant called Buri, whom she freed. Buri fathered Bor, who fathered Odin, Vili, and Ve.
These brothers became the first Norse gods, and together, they created the world and the first people, Ask and Embla.
Were there any good gods in Norse mythology?
Historians have difficulty concluding if Norse gods were entirely good or evil. They acted in their interest, which could sometimes benefit their worshippers. However, most agree that the kindest Norse god was Baldr.
According to the myths, Baldr was the son of Odin and Frigg. He was described as a just and wise god. Naturally, he was loved by all the gods, which attracted Loki’s jealousy.
To protect him, Frigg got all entities to promise they wouldn’t harm Baldr. However, she overlooked the mistletoe, and Loki got wind of this.
Loki dipped an arrow in mistletoe and tricked the blind god Hod to shoot the arrow at Baldr during a contest. Baldr died instantly and was transported to the Underworld.
Odin approached the goddess of the Underworld, begging her to release Baldr. Hel (the goddess of the Underworld) agreed on one condition: the whole world must weep for Baldr.
Loki didn’t want Baldr resurrected, so he disguised himself as a giantess and refused to cry for Baldr, effectively stopping his resurrection.
Were there any evil gods in Norse mythology?
As mentioned, historians believe the Norse gods acted for their benefit. As such, they were evil when it served them.
For instance, Odin was believed to influence the outcome of a battle so he could fill Valhalla with strong warriors in preparation for Ragnarok. Some believe Odin’s appetite for war makes him evil.
Who is the most evil god in Norse mythology?
Most historians believe Loki was the most evil god in Norse mythology. According to the myths, Loki was the trickster god responsible for the death of Baldr.
Furthermore, in the stories, Loki and his children side with the giants during Ragnarok. In fact, in the myths, Loki captained Naglfar, a ship that brought giants to fight the gods.
The story ends with Heimdall killing Loki.
As a Christian, I have always been passionate about sharing God’s word with young people. This inspired me to pursue a Certificate in Christian Education, an Undergraduate degree in Religious Studies, and a Graduate degree in Theology. My knowledge in school and experience from dealing with the youth made me an expert at discussing Christian-related topics. I feel privileged working as the Coordinator of the Christian Youth Ministry at Christian Faith Guide. You can read more about me on the about us page.