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Nerthus (1905) by Emil Doepler depicts Nerthus, a Proto-Germanic goddess whose name developed into Njörðr among the North Germanic peoples

Germanic mythology consists of the body of myths native to the Germanic peoples. Commonly featuring narratives focused on Germanic deities and a large variety of other entities, Germanic mythology dates from the Proto-Germanic period and reaches beyond the Christianization of the Germanic peoples and into modern Germanic folklore. Germanic mythology includes Norse mythology, Anglo-Saxon mythology, and Continental Germanic mythology.[1]

As the Germanic languages developed from Proto-Indo-European language, Germanic mythology is ultimately a development of Proto-Indo-European religion.[1] The study of Germanic mythology has remained an important element of Germanic philology since the development of the field and the topic is an integral component of Heathenry, the modern revival of Germanic paganism.


The Halls of the DeadEdit

The largest and most complete mythological narratives discussing the afterlife are contained in the Prose Edda and the Poetic Edda. The Prose Edda was written by Snorri Sturluson (1179–1241), a politically involved Icelandic nobleman who lived roughly two centuries after the conversion of Iceland to Christianity. Snorri presents a logical and clear description of many Norse beliefs, but this well-ordered narrative most likely reflects the influence of Christian systematic theology. His sources, mainly the group of poems called the Poetic Edda, present a much more fractured and inconsistent view of the afterlife. Germanic paganism apparently allowed multiple and contradictory understandings of death[2].

The virtuous deceased went to Gimlé, called simply the best house; to Brimir, which featured a copious supply of ale; or to Sindri, which was made of red gold. The wicked went to an unnamed hall on Nástrandir (Corpse Beach), which was reserved for oath breakers and murderers and whose walls were made of snakes that spat their poison into the center of the house; or to Hvergelmir, the worst house of all, in which the serpent Níðhǫggr tormented the bodies of the dead.[3]

Another realm for the dead found in the Eddas is Hel. Unlike its modern cognate hell, Hel, while placed underground, was not viewed as a place of damnation, but rather as simply the realm of the dead, similar to the Hebrew she˒ol. Knowledge of Hel was certainly more widespread than any of the above halls, since it appears in stock phrases meaning "to die," such as fara til heljar, literally "travel to Hel."[4]


  1. ^ a b Leeming (2005:147-148).
  2. ^ Hodge, Elizabeth J. (2006-06-01). "The mysteries of eleusis at howards end: German romanticism and the making of a mythology for England". International Journal of the Classical Tradition. 13 (1): 33–68. doi:10.1007/BF02901797. ISSN 1874-6292.
  3. ^ "Afterlife: Germanic Concepts |". Retrieved 2019-03-25.
  4. ^ "Germanic religion and mythology - Beliefs, practices, and institutions". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2019-03-25.


See alsoEdit