Norse Mythology is complex and absolutely intriguing. It goes beyond the Ancient Greek and Roman Mythology that both had their own set of Gods, although they have almost identical correspondence between them; for example Greece’s Aphrodite was the Roman Venus. Norse Mythology had assigned nine kingdoms or worlds in addition to their numerous Gods who represented human qualities as well as magical powers. The first world was Asgard where the Gods resided, and the ninth was the underworld, while all the in between were realms in which creatures of different classes belonged to. Among the kingdoms was Midgard, the fourth world which was the human dimension, as well as one assigned to ice and one to fire. The father of of the Norse Gods was Odin, revered for his omniscience. He is still celebrated today every Wednesday, referred to as Wodin (Odin’s Day). His son, Thor, is perhaps the most popular of the Norse Gods, the God of Thunder, also celebrated every Thursday while it is believed that during thunderstorms, he rides his celestial chariot across the skies. Loki, the intelligent trickster is the beloved anti-hero, adored for his duality between good and evil. Against popular opinion, Loki is not Odin’s son. His role was that of a troublemaker, looking for ways to demote and weaken the Gods, and prove that even they are not absolutely omnipotent, thus placing greater faith into the powers of human beings. For centuries, Icelanders and other Scandinavian peoples used this paganistic system of belief, resisting monotheism until 1000 A.D.
Between 800 and 1066 A.D, the North seas were terrorised by the crude, axe-wielding Vikings, who roamed the relentless swells with their longboats, plundering villages and raiding settlements, spreading their barbaric influence and way of life by force wherever they went. So visiting Iceland by cruise is perhaps the best way to share the same perspective as the notorious Viking warriors. This destructive period of time finally came to an end, as it was not sustainable and Christianity began to take over. The turning point for converting to the Christian faith was marked by the Pagan Lawspeaker, Thorgeir Thorkelsson, who threw his pagan idols into the Godafoss waterfall. Although paganism was officially abandoned, Icelandic folk culture glorified both the Mythological and Viking heritage, even enriching it with urban legends of sea and lake monsters as well as giants and elves. Iceland’s most famous historian, politician, poet, scholar and storyteller, Snorri Sturluson, has gone into great lengths to document as much of the fables as possible.