Number 3 in Norse Mythology

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The Norns

The three Norns were the goddesses of destiny.

Their names were

1. Urd (Fate),
2. Verdani (Present)
3. Skuld (Future).

They sat spinning the thread of life and had the power to decide the fate of every human being, god, giant and dwarf.

In Greek and Roman mythology there are parallel goddesses called the Moeraes and the Fates.

Picture by Ludwig Burger, 1882

The Roots of Yggdrasil Tree of Life

1. The first root went to Asgard, where the gods lived. Under this root was the well called Urd.

The Norns poured water from this well over Yggdrasil to keep the tree healthy.

2. The second root went to Jotunheim, where the Giants lived. Under this root was Mimes well. Mime was considered to have great wisdom.

Odin (the chief god) once traded an eye for the privilege of drinking from this well and thus gaining great wisdom.

3. The third root went to Niflheim, the horrible Underworld.

The well under this root was called Hvergelmir.


 

Creation Story

In the beginning of time, before the world was created there were three different areas:

Niflheim – Land of mist

Ginnungagap – the great void between Niflheim and Muspelheim

Muspelheim – Land of fire

In Ginnungagap the first Jotun (troll) was formed. His name was Ymir.

Also in Ginnungagap the primeval cow named Audhumla resided. Ymir enjoyed drinking milk from the teats of the cow. Audhumla loved salt. The cow found a salty rock and started to lick it.

1. On the first day hair came out from the rock.

2. On the second day a head grew from the rock.

3. On the third day the rest of the body emerged from the rock.

The very first god (Aesir) had been created. His name was Buri. Buri was to become the grandfather of Odin.

 

 

Creation Story of the world

Three brothers created the world. In Norse myth the three brothers, Odin, Vili and Ve, killed the first living monster called Ymir and created the world from his body parts.

The blood became the oceans.

The flesh became the land.

The bones turned into mountains.

The teeth turned into stones.

The hair turned into plants.

The brain they threw up into the air and that was how the clouds were created.

The brothers created the first two humans. The three brothers were walking on the beach.

They found two trees; some say two pieces of wood from two trees. From these two trees the three brothers created the first two humans.

They named the man, Ask. He was made from the Ash tree.

They named the woman, Embla. She was made from the Elm tree.

1. Odin blew the breath of life into Ask and Embla.

2. Vili gave them movement and intelligent minds.

3. Ve gave them shape, hearing, sight and speach.

Picture of Ask and Embla by Robert Engels (1866 -1920)

 

The Fimbulwinters 

The Fimbulwinters were three hard and extremely cold successive winters with no summer in between. The three Fimbulwinters were the last three winters before Ragnarok (the end of the world). Fimbul means “great”. It may be noted that there was a climate change in the Bronze Age around 650 B.C.

Heimdall

- Three Nights – Three Lovers – Three Social Classes -

Heimdall was the god who guarded the rainbow bridge (Bifrost). He was the son of nine mothers.

Once he disguised himself as a mortal, calling himself Rig.

1. He visited a poor couple and dined with them. He was invited to sleep in their bed. Three nights he slept in their bed. When the husband was sound asleep he made love to the wife. Nine months later the wife gave birth to a son. This boy became the ancestor of the serfs.

2. The second couple he visited was better off. The same thing happened in this house. The wife gave birth to a son, he became the ancestor of the peasants.

3. The third couple lived in a wealthy home. Again he spent three nights making love to the wife when the husand was sleeping. Her son became the ancestor of the nobility. This is how the Vikings explained that the three social classes were created by the Heimdall, the rainbow god.


The Children of Loki

Loki was a jotunn (giant) and a god.

He lived with the gods and caused them much trouble.

He had three well known children.    

1. Hel – She was the ruler of the Underworld called Niflheim. Those who died of sickness or old age were sent to Hel. It was not a pleasant place.

2. Fenrir – Fenrir was the gruesome wolf, who would eventually kill Odin (the chief god) at Ragnarok, the end of the world.

3. Jormungand (Midgard Serpent) – The huge and monstrous serpent. Odin threw the serpent into the sea that lies around all lands.

 Hel, the ruler of the Underworld had a three-legged horse. The three-legged horse was called Helhest.

Gullveig

Died Three Times and Rose from the Dead Three Times

Gullveig was a master of witchcraft and black magic. She showed up mysteriously in Asgard (the home of the gods). She was filled with greed for gold and power. Gullveig was described as an evil woman.

The gods decided to kill her. The gods stabbed her with a spear and threw her into the flames.

Three times they burned her. Three times Gullveig came back to life.

 

 

 

 

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Comments

  1. This article gave me a glimpse of Norse mythology and also of how number 3 is related to it. It was good to know about this mythology and how this mythology gave importance to this number. From the Norns, to the creation story, to the children of Loki, everything puts this number to a pedestal. Only because of this article, that I was able to get introduced to this mythology.

  2. Woah,

    odin the al-father .. traded his eye for a drink of wisdom .. wonderful .. I seriously wondered .. how odin the al-father lost his eye .. was it in war?? when I watched the THOR movie the other day ..

    Good to know ..

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