of Northern Europe includes both Germanic and Slav cultures.
Most surviving Norse myths are from Icelandic and Scandinavian
origins owing to suppression by the Christian church in
the other areas. Similar to the Celts, the Slavs did not
write down their mythology and the influence of both Christian
and Islamic rule brought an end to Slav mythology.
Germanic mythology is rich in heroic gods and goddesses.
Odin, the one-eyed was the chief deity and father of the
slain warriors and he shared those who fell on the battlefield
with Freyja, the Goddess of Fertility. Later, towards the
close of the Viking era, his son Thor became the chief god.
The Norse Gods and Goddesses were in constant battle with
the Frost Giants, with the final battle to be held at Ragnarok.
On Odin's side was the "glorious dead" from Valhalla,
and against them were the Fire God Loki with the Frost Giants,
the "unworthy dead" from Hel (the Germanic netherworld),
the fearsome wolf Fenrir, and the sea monster Jormungand.
Most of the Gods were killed in the battle including Odin
and Thor, but two humans who had taken shelter in Yggdrasil,
the sacred tree, emerged after the carnage and repopulated
Valkyries are probably Odin's most famous warriors. They
were Odin's virgin shield maidens who, in later Romanticized
myths, "with golden hair and snowy arms" served
the chosen heroes everlasting mead and meat in the great
hall of Valhalla. Earlier tales have them as sinister spirits
of slaughter, soaring over battlefields like birds of prey
meting out fate in the name of Odin.
Norse mythology is stark and bleak, yet filled with passion.
There are sorcery and spells, treasures and talismans, giants
and monsters, wise dwarfs, and tragic lovers. Sorcery was
practiced by Odin, dwarfs and privileged female mortals.
Again, as in most pre-Christian Pagan mythologies, male
and female gods are of equal standing, and females are considered
more than just mothers and lovers.