Often referred to as the "All-Father", Odin is the leader and creator of the Norse Pantheon. Odin's first concern is battle, but he is also the god of the sky, wisdom, and magic. Odin is usually portrayed as an imposing bearded man with one eye. He is viewed as heroic, proud, and stern. He wields his mighty spear, Gungnir, in battle riding astride his eight-legged horse Sleipnir and is accompanied by two wolves and two ravens (thought and memory). As leader of the gods, Odin favours chieftains and those in power. Despite Odin's partial blindness, he watches over all of Midgard as well as the gods' realm of Asgard. Only two things will make Odin angry with a worshipper: helping a giant or cowardice in battle. Odin requires a sacrifice before battle and his followers throw a spear over their army to bless it. Odin is also the discoverer of magic runes. His followers often carve these runes on large stones in tribute to him. His symbols are a blue eye, a spear, ravens, wolves, or a man hanging from a tree.
One of the most popular gods of the Norse pantheon, Thor is the god of thunder, weather, strength, agriculture, and peasants. He is also known as a warrior, and is famous for battling his ancient foes, the giants, on behalf of Midgard and his fellow Asgardians. Thor is depicted as a towering young man with red hair and a red beard. He has a special place in his heart for helping the common people, although his good deeds are often undone by his unpredictable temper. Thor travels across the nine worlds in a chariot pulled by two giant goats. He is never without his enchanted hammer, Mjolnir, which he wields with deadly accuracy. Worshippers often erect monoliths on sacred sites dedicated to Thor. His symbol is a hammer.
Frigga is the goddess of marriage, fertility, truth, and healing. Frigga is the second, but principal, wife of Odin. She is the mother of Baldur, Hoder, Hermod, and Tyr. Her main interest is ensuring the blissful marriage of pure-hearted couples and punishing wayward husbands. She is often portrayed as a beautiful mature woman dressed in white with long braids. Worshippers seek Frigga's help in having children and inquiring about their husband's fidelity. Frigga's symbols are braids and a loom.
Heimdall is the watchman of the gods. He is the god of dawn's light and is often referred to as the white god. He is also the god of the thralls, the strong slave workers whose hard labour support the farms of the Norse peasants. He is a holy and mysterious god, whose duty is to protect the rainbow bridge, Bifrost, connecting Asgard and Midgard. To this end, he never sleeps, and his senses are so attuned that he can see a hundred miles by day or night and hear the grass grow. Heimdall is depicted as a powerful warrior dressed all in white, and carrying a sword to defend his home. He is never without his famous horn, Gjallerhorn, whose sounding proclaims the final battle of Ragnarok. Heimdall's symbols are a shield, a bridge, the rising sun, and a pair of unblinking eyes.
Baldur is the god of light, beauty, and charisma. He is a warrior of considerable skill and is as wise as he is handsome. Despite the fact that he is loved by all the gods (save Loki), he is not vain but rather he is loyal to Odin and the other gods of the Norse pantheon. He is also the only god to have died and successfully return from Nifleheim (the Norse underworld). As a result, he is also the god of life, death, and immortality. He is always depicted as a beautiful man, surrounded by light, and often connected with nature. Worshippers of Baldur often have a large sacred cauldron on wheels which they use in various ceremonies as a symbol of immortality. Baldur's symbols are the sun and a cauldron.
Tyr is the god of the sword and courage. He watches over battles with as much interest as Odin himself. He is also the godly law enforcer, using his impressive swordsmanship to uphold order. Tyr has only one hand. The other he lost in the courageous service of his fellow gods. He is portrayed as a fearsome one-handed, bearded warrior with a massive sword in his one hand. Followers of Tyr have ceremonial dances before battle. These dances weave together demonstrations of the worshippers' dance moves, juggling ability, swordsmanship, and riding proficiency. These ceremonies are usually ended with the sacrifice of one of the horses. Animal masks are often worn for both the ceremonies and the battles themselves. Tyr's symbols are a double-bladed axe and a dancing warrior.
Frey is one of the Vanir sent to the Asgard to guarantee the peace between the Vanir and the Aesir. He is a god of fertility, providing men with sunshine, rain, peace, joy, and happiness. He is also a skilled warrior whose swordsmanship has earned the respect of the other gods. Frey is often portrayed as a carefree man with elfin features. Frey is the god responsible for all kinds of fertility including human, animal, and agricultural. Despite Frey's impressive ability with a sword, Frey is a peaceful god. As a consequence, and in direct opposition to Tyr, horses are sacred to Frey and are never sacrificed. His symbols are a golden boar, a flying ship, or a … ahem … giant phallus.
Freya is the goddess of love, unbridled passion, and human fertility. Like her twin brother Frey, she is one of the Vanir sent to guarantee peace with the Aesir. She is also the goddess of fire and beauty. She is a pacifist goddess but is also prone to fits of jealousy and envy. She is crafty and not above beguiling men to get her own way. Her symbols are a flame in the form of a beautiful woman and a necklace.
Uller is the god of winter and hunters. He is a solitary god, often spending his time in the harsh wilderness on long hunting trips. Worshippers seek him for protection against the cold and the long Norse winters and to aid them in finding game in the tough winter months. Uller is often depicted as a bearded man covered in pelts, and carrying a bow in one hand and skis in the other. His symbols are the bow and the snowflake.
Although more closely related to the giants than either the Aesir or the Vanir, Aegir is the god of the raging ocean and the personification of its strength and wildness for good or for ill. Aegir is even older than the other gods but his history is lost in a savage time before the reign of the Aesir. He is the embodiment of the forces of the universe which cannot be controlled. Worshippers of Aegir make sacrifices into the sea hoping that they can somehow gain the favour of the uncontrollable. Aegir's symbol is a giant wave.
Njord is the god of wind, sea, hunting, wealth, and travel. He lives in a sacred grove on a private island and is often seen sailing the oceans in his mighty ship. He is also one of the Vanir and the father or Frey and Freya. He is often depicted as an imposing bearded man who smells of the sea. His symbol is a footprint or a boat.
Loki is the god of fire, mischief, and strife. A sly, vengeful trickster who is always causing trouble among the gods. He is tolerated in Asgard only because of the great services he has performed in the past, such as helping to create Midgard and the wall surrounding Asgard. Loki is charismatic and cunning, and as a result the gods will often consult with him. However, Loki often weaves his own schemes into the plans he presents. Rarely is he not pondering a new and self-serving machination. Loki usually presents himself as a handsome young man dressed in black and red. His symbol is a flame.
Hel is the goddess of death, misery, and suffering. She receives the spirits of those who die by old age, disease, or any end other than glorious battle. Helheim is her domain and is the final destination for criminals, especially murderers, adulterers, and perjurers. The denizens of this dark land are locked behind the impregnable walls and gates of the land of mists located in Nifleheim beneath the roots of Yggdrasil. It is not necessarily a realm of eternal punishment but still is not a particularly pleasant place. Hel often takes the form of a woman whose one side is white and perfect, while the other side is black and decayed. Her symbol is a face with one black side, and one white side.
Bragi is the god of poetry and song. He is the source of power of the skalds (bards) who wander the face of Midgard. Bragi was presented with a golden harp at birth, on which he immediately began to play the song of life. His symbol is a golden harp.
Although not officially gods, the Valkyries bring fallen heroes to Valhalla; the aspiration of any Norseman. Despite their extreme beauty, the Valkyries' love of battle makes them rather grim. When a battle is about to occur, they rush out of Asgard singing their deafening, foreboding song. If a battle is to occur on land, they travel on flying white horses to the battlefield. If the battle is to occur at sea, they sail to battle in a ghastly boat under clouds of bloody rain. While waiting in Asgard for the next battle, the Valkyries pass the time by weaving battle garments and serving mead and ale to Odin's warriors in Valhalla. There are twenty-seven Valkyries in all, each one a beautiful, fair-skinned, golden-haired battle-maiden.
Despite often staying behind the scenes, the Norns are often considered to be the most powerful beings in the nine worlds. They are the ones who control time by dictating the fate of the newborn – for both men and gods alike. There are three Norns, all female, who embody the three stages of human life. Urd embodies the past, Verdandi the present, and Skuld the future. Once they have decreed a being's fate, there has never been an instance in which they altered their decision. The Norns can see all things in the past, present, and future, but they employ these powers only among themselves or to answer questions of slight import at a very large cost. Their symbols are a partially-made tapestry on a loom or a tightly bound scroll.