The Gods in Mythology were not worshipped in a christian sense, where they are almighty, and omnipotent. Life was not seen as court-like, where you have to follow, where you have to bow down and kneel before one God, and certainly not like you have to follow certain rules in order to be granted entrance to the divine realm.
However, the divine has been found within this earth, within nature and within human life. The divine was everywhere. Norse spirituality was animistic and shamanic, when it comes to the Viking culture, many people seem to only want to study, what they have projected mentally into the topic “Vikings”. That is, strong, bearded warriors with a sword, worshipping Odin and striving to go to Valhalla. This is, of course, NOT how Viking-Culture really was. Many seem to totally forget, that most of them were indeed Farmers. People who lived with the seasons, the cycles of nature and its powers. This is why most pagan holidays revolve around a cyclic understanding of time, based on natural seasons, life, death and rebirth as well as observing how nature changes every year around a specific time.
The Gods of norse spirituality were far more than a monotheistic and/or abrahamic understanding of what a God is.
The Gods were Archetypes, that unveil a hidden and deeper understanding of life and the Universe as well as the otherworlds. The otherworlds played an important role in norse spirituality, and that is because it was believed that in nature and around us, within us, there were many different realms and worlds, that connect and interact with each other. However, all of them were necessary in order to keep balance in this world, - and to achieve creation. Ragnarök is often seen as “the end of the world”, a christian Armageddon. But ragnarök simply is the end of one cycle in time. It is about an Archetype, a symbolic power that can be also found within nature.
When Summer slowly dies, the days are getting colder and darker, and every crop has been harvested for the upcoming winter, autumn is on the rise. The Sun is slowly drifting, sinking, into the realms of the Underworld. Within this time-frame, death and the downfall of life was not seen as something that comes even close to an “end of the world” scenario. You will see mushrooms in the forest that recycle toxins out of dead matter, dead plants, animals, they will recycle, filter, deconstruct all dead matter and give back nutrients back to the soil… to make a new path for spring. This power can be also viewed as Ragnarök, simply because the downfall of all life, death and its power of transformation to create new life, was seen as necessary in the wheel of time. There is transformation that can be found in nature during Autumn, but you will have to listen closely. This power of transformation is the end of one cycle, but is also at the very same time making room for a different, new cycle of time. Ends hold new beginnings, and beginnings hold new ends. But every time something dies within nature, it will somehow give back nutrients that are necessary for plants and animals and thus also for us humans. I know, this is not what some people want to hear. Trust me, I do understand. Some people want to only perceive norse spirituality in a specific kind of way that is always connected to the strong warriors of the Vikings. But in order to understand their way of viewing the Gods and the Myths, we ourselves have to jump into the cold water and give our lives a new meaning.
He is an Archetype, a symbolic yet very powerful being, a force. He is the power that will make people explore their own faults, weaknesses, a force that will make people to dare to step into the unknown, and to face ones inner darkest emotions and thoughts - and once we have gone there, the secrets of life and death will be handed out to us. Very different view from the christian standpoint, isn’t it? That we have to look deep within ourselves, to find the divine spirit, that we are part of, and not separated from.
Hel would be another Goddess, that is directly linked to Death and the Underworld. However, within her realm we can also find new seeds of life, for it is her who is always somehow connected to all nine worlds in norse spirituality.
Thor is of course connected to Thunder, Thursday, Donnerstag, Torsdag are all connected with the same germanic etymological background. Loki is connected to Lightning, … Thunder and Lightning always chase each other when you’re out in nature - have a close listen next time there is a storm nearby you.
The Gods, to sum it up, were symbolic powers, archetypes and forces that are all equally part of the divine, that is nature and us.
Now that Summer is also coming to an end, and autumn is about to come… the cycle of time is coming to an end once again. Baldr is descending deep down into darkness, and one of the most interesting holidays with pagan roots is about to come as well. Halloween or Samhain. The norse Alfablot is a sacrifice to the dark Elves that reside within the Underworld. I will post an entire Article on this on Halloween.
But to give you some food for thought…
There is a hidden pagan meaning, why children dress up in costumes. They did so even back in pagan times. They dressed up as their dead Ancestors that reside now within the Underworld. This day was their initiation day, where they crossed over to the Otherside to reconnect with their Ancestors and to be reborn again with their traits, character and their wisdom. The 21h of December is the day everything is reborn again. The Sun comes back, the days are longer, the children have come back from the Otherworlds, initiated, and reborn as well. Everything exists within cycles. And everything is connected to the power of nature. "