The Thor and Avengers movies have made a lot of people fans of characters such as Thor, Loki, and Odin. But these comic-book characters weren't made up by Marvel: Actually, they're real figures from Norse mythology. The word "Norse" usually refers to the people of Norway or of Scandinavia as a whole. You might not know a lot about Norse history or culture, but you probably have heard of the Norse warriors who took to the sea in search of fortune many hundreds of years ago: the Vikings. The Vikings, along with most other Norse people of the time, believed in Odin, Thor, and many other gods, much like the ancient Greeks believed in Zeus and the rest of the Greek pantheon.
The Norse creation myth was based on the idea that Earth was created from the body of a slain frost giant. Find out more about how their creation story explains things like the stars, the sun, and rainbows on this page.
The "World Tree," called Yggdrasill, is the foundation of the universe in Norse myth, connecting the nine realms of existence. One of these realms is Asgard, home of the Norse gods; another is called Midgard, which is the human world, Earth.
The mythology of the Norse people not only tells of the creation of Earth and the other realms of existence but also of their destruction through a cataclysmic event known as Ragnarok.
This page from the BBC includes information about Viking beliefs as well as fun facts and animated videos.
The development of myths and legends is always closely tied to the cultural context. Here, read about the history of Norway and the Vikings and the characteristics of their religious beliefs.
This page has helpful diagrams that explain the nine realms of existence and how they all fit together.
How accurate are the comic book and movie portrayals of figures from Norse mythology compared to the original stories? This article takes a look.
The original Thor didn't look much like the one in the movies. Find a description of him and a little about the myths surrounding him on this page.
Learn about the "All-Father," the supreme deity of Norse mythology, from this site, which also discusses some of his other characteristics and the stories surrounding him.
Contrary to what the comic books say, the god of mischief was not Thor's half-brother, but he was a companion of both Thor and Odin, sometimes helping them but other times hindering them.
Like with any system of religious belief, some of the stories from Norse mythology contain elements that seem downright horrifying by today's standards.
The myths and legends of the Vikings were passed down by word of mouth for generations. Some stories were based on real people and events, while others told of the adventures of their deities.
This page gives information about Odin and Thor as well as Freya, goddess of love, and Frigg, Odin's wife.
The Vikings had never seen a volcano before they arrived in what would become Iceland, but shortly after they arrived there, there was a massive volcanic eruption. While no direct narratives were passed down about the event, there is plenty of evidence that they incorporated their experience with this strange and terrifying phenomenon into their myths.
This page gives extensive information about the characteristics of these mythic figures along with a lot of interesting stories that have been told about them.
Author Daniel McCoy, who has written books on Norse and Germanic mythology, created this site as a comprehensive resource on the religious beliefs of pre-Christian northern Europe.
Find a list of all of the gods and goddesses in Norse myths and legends on this page.
Thor was the strongest of the Norse gods, and many stories about him center around battles he fought. He carried a mighty hammer, and he traveled in a chariot drawn by two goats.
Grab a cup of coffee and read this story of how Loki helped the gods win a bet against a giant all the way to the end, and you'll learn a little more than you bargained for.
The Guardian profiles the major figures of Viking mythology on this page.