You’ll sometimes see Cisa or Zisa listed among the Germanic goddesses, usually with some statement to the effect that she is the partner of Tiw/Ziu, a god the Romans saw as similar to Mars. Nigel Pennick mentions her in his works, calling her an earth-goddess, and Jacob Grimm devoted several pages to her in his Teutonic Mythology.
Urglaawe, a branch of Heathenry that incorporates Pennsylvania Dutch folklore, considers Zisa one of their deities, with the 28th of September as her day, and the pinecone as her symbol. They draw their inspiration from the legend of a goddess Zisa or Cisa who gave her name to the city of Augsburg and protected it from an attack by the Romans.
Some Norse gods are famous – Odin, Loki and Thor, for example. Others, like Forseti or Magni, are only known to the cognoscenti. Tyr isn’t quite as obscure as those two, but he can’t compete with the big three. It seems strange that a god whose name means “god” should be so little-known. Did he fade away, or is there another explanation?
Tyr was supposed to be the bravest of the Norse gods, and the proof of this was he stuck his hand in the Fenris Wolf’s mouth. He lost the hand, meaning that he gave up his sword (and oath-taking) hand so the Aesir could bind the gigantic wolf. But what did he lose, and what did he gain?
Celebrity feuds are the meat and drink of modern gossip columns. But what do you do when it’s two gods duking it out? The Greeks had plenty of god feuds, as you might expect, including Poseidon vs. Zeus, and Hera vs. Hercules. And the Norse had a god feud of their own, involving their two most important gods: Odin and Thor.
We’re always taught that Odin was head of the Norse gods, and father of most of them. But when the Christians in Scandinavia began to press the pagans to give up their religion, the sign of resistance was Thor’s hammer, not Odin’s spear or valknut.
This may come as a surprise to us, who mostly think of Thor as big and strong and a bit dim, out of his depth when it comes to anything more complicated than smashing giants. But Thor was a very popular deity in the Viking Age, as place-names and personal names show, perhaps because of his closeness to the humans he defended.
It seems almost ridiculous to be writing a post proving that Norse had a sun-goddess. After all, it’s right there in the sources that the sun is a goddess, either a human plucked from the earth to drive the sun’s chariot, or else a being who goes back to the time of creation.
What do the Egyptian god Horus and the Norse god Odin have in common? Both of them are said to have the sun and moon as their eyes. The difference is that this belief about Horus dates back to very early Egyptian religion. As far as I can tell, the same statement about Odin comes from some 19th and 20th century writers.
Wolves occupied a very ambiguous place in Norse myth and thought. The best of dogs is said to be Garm, but everywhere else Garm is a wolf, and a dangerous one at that. Garm is the wolf that kills Tyr at Ragnarök, (Gylf. 51) and the similarly named Mánagarm devours the moon (and presumably Máni the moon-god):
Incidents like the tug-of-war in the Njord-Skadi myth, the various humiliations meted out to Thor (being peed at by giantesses, having to hide out in a giant’s glove, forced to disguise himself as Freya, and being seriously cheeked by Odin in Harbardzljod) and of course the insult-fest that is Lokasenna has made many people wonder how on earth anyone took these gods seriously.