The Mythical Creatures In Norse Mythology

Arvak and Alsvid

they were the celestial horses in Norse mythology which pulled the chariot of sun goddess Sol. “Arvak” means “early awake” and “Alsvid” means “all swift”.

They pulled Sol’s chariot carrying a fireball from Muspelheim, which provided very high thermal force. As the fireball was too hot, a huge shield Svalinn was installed on the forepart of the chariot to protect the chariot from being burnt. The sun itself emitted no light but heat, and its dazzling light was actually from between the mane of Arvak and Alsvid. When the Ragnarök came, a wolf named Sköll would finish his persistent chasing after the sun, and swallowed the sun together with the two horses in the end.

Audhumbla

the first creature in the world in Norse mythology.

In the very beginning of the world, there was nothing but the Ginnungagap. To the south of Ginnungagap it was Muspelheim, an extremely hot realm full of fire, and to the north it was the Niflheim, a very freezing realm. The primordial life was born in such interactions of coldness and heat.

Audhumbla was a huge cow which was born at the same time as the primordial giant Ymir. Audhumbla survived by licking the salt on ice, and Ymir fed on the milk of Audhumbla.

Blodughofi

it was Freyr’s horse whose name meant “bloody hoof”. It was also called “the horse running through the flame”.

As is mentioned in the Poetic Edda, Freyr fell in love with female jötunn Gerd, his servant Skirnir went to Jotunheim and made a marriage request on behalf of his master. To enable Skirnir to smoothly pass through the flames outside Jotunheim, Freyr gave him a horse. The name of the horse was not mentioned in the Poetic Edda, but it is believed to be Blodughofi.  

Fenrir

a horrible monstrous wolf, the son of Loki and female jötunn Angerboda. He was imprisoned by deities before the Ragnarök, as his eventual fate was to swallow Odin, the All-father in Norse mythology. During the Ragnarök, Fenrir had become huge enough to swallow sky and earth. He was killed by Odin’s son Vidar after he swallowed Odin.

Fenrir had two sons, Hati and Sköll. They respectively chased after the chariots carrying the sun and the moon, and later swallowed both chariots and horses during the Ragnarök.          

Garmr

a hellhound guarding the Helheim. It lived in a cave named Gnipahellir at the border of Helheim. It was the largest canid besides Fenrir in Norse mythology, and it always appeared with its body covered in blood. During the Ragnarök, Garmr and the war god Tyr killed one another.

Episodes regarding Garmr: Geyr Garmr mjök / fyr Gnipahelli (Garmr growl in front of the cave Gnipahellir) appeared three time in total: the first time it appeared during the Ragnarök; the second time when the jötnar invaded Asgard; and the last time with the rise of new world.

Geri and Freki

they are a pair of wolves kept by Odin. “Geri” means “edacity” and “Freki” means “overeating”. Although they were believed to be wolves, but in the Poetic Edda they were described as hounds. When Odin was in the Valhalla, they lay under the table and waited for the food from Odin who was drinking mead.             

Grani

a celestial horse and the descendent of Sleipnir. In the Volsunga Saga, it was the mount of Sigurd.

Gullfaxi

a celestial horse whose name means “golden mane” or “golden horse”.

It originally belonged to a giant named Hrungnir. One day, Hrungnir saw Odin riding his eight-foot horse Sleipnir and then asked for a horse racing with Odin. Although he did not win the racing, the deities offered him a drink. During the banquet, Hrungnir was so drunk that he talked wildly and enraged Thor, who thereupon challenged him. On the day of the challenge, Thor easily killed Hrungnir, but he was pinned under the corpse of the giant. At this moment, Thor’s son Magni, who was just born three days ago, lifted the corpse of the giant and saved his father. Thereupon, Thor gave Gullfaxi to him.      

Gullinborsti

this name means “golden boar” or “golden mane”. He had another name “Slídrugtanni”, which means “the boar with horrible tusks”.

Gullinborsti belonged to the god of fertility Freyr, who used it to pull his chariot. The “Boar” and “horse” were both holy animals of Freyr. Boars, which were abounding in Vanaheim, were also the favorites of the Vanir. Gullinborsti’s golden mane represented the golden sunlight, or symbolized the maturation of crops. This boar was fashioned by the dwarves Brokkr and Eitri after Loki shaved off sif’s hair. And it could run on both the sea and the land faster than horse.

Gullinkambi

a big black cock with golden comb. Accordingly its name means “golden comb”. When it started to crow, another cock Fialar would crow too. They crowed to warn deities that their final battle, the Ragnarök, was coming.

Hati

the wolf that chased after the moon. Its name means “hate”, and it is also called “the hound of moon”. Its brother Sköll chased after the sun. Both of them wanted to swallow their preys, and they would succeed when the Ragnarök came. It is generally believed that Fenrir was the father of Hati and Sköll, while their mother was an unnamed evil female jötunn from the iron forest Járnvid.           

Heidrún

the einherjar (souls of the dead) assembled in the Valhalla. Everyday they drank and ate in the hall after the training, and it was the goat Heidrún who provided them endless mead. Heidrún fed on the leaves of Laerath, the tree of life, and there would be mead flowing out of its breasts so as to entertain the einherjar. It is mentioned in both the chapter Grimnismal of Poetic Edda and the chapter Gylfaginning of Prose Edda. Besides, there is a same-name goat in the Flateyjarbók, one of the manuscripts of the Poetic Edda, but it is a ram.

Hofvarpnir

the horse of Frigg’s maid Gna. Its name means “hoof thrower”. It could freely shuttle in the air and in the water. Its parents were a pair of Frigg’s stallions: Hamskerpir and Gardrofa. There was no other related description.

Hraesvelgr

an eagle turned from a giant. This giant wore a feather coat and sat at the north-most place in the world. When he waved his arms which had turned into eagle wings, there would be winds blowing over the earth. Its name means “corpse swallower”.

Hrimfaxi

the horse of the night goddess Nott. Its name means “rime mane” or “frost mane”. Hrimfaxi pulled a black chariot carrying Nott. When they appeared in the sky, the earth would be covered by the night curtain.    

Huginn and Muninn

two ravens kept by Odin. The name “Huggin” means “idea” while “Muninn” means “memory”. Every morning they flew to the human world at dawn, and reported back to Odin at dusk. They often rested at Odin’s shoulders and whispered to him. Therefore, Odin is also referred to as “the god of raven”.

Jörmungandr

a monstrous sea serpent, the second son of Loki and female jötunn Angrboda. Fenrir was his brother and Hel was his sister.

Svadilfari

a celestial horse in Norse mythology. It belonged to an unnamed jötunn and helped his master building the wall surrounding Asgard. The meaning of Svadilfari was seldom mentioned, some people think it means “slave” while some others believe it to be “unlucky traveler”. Sleipnir was his descendent.

When the world just took shape, the deities wanted to build a wall outside Asgard. A giant took up the job but demanded the marriage with goddess Freyja as rewards. The deities offered him the condition: finishing the wall within six months with only the help of his horse.

But Svadilfari was a celestial horse, and it transported rocks very rapidly. Six months later, the summer came and the wall was about to be finished. The panicking deities asked Loki to hinder the giant in his job. Loki shapeshifted into a white mare and seduced Svadilfari. Without the help of Svadilfari, the giant failed to finish the wall in time. He censured deities for doing tricks but was killed by Thor. Soon after, the mare incarnated into by Loki gave birth to Sleipnir, who was later turned over to Odin.

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