(27) Rites and mythology
of the Germanic people.
Most of the Germanic mythology is of
Norwegian and Icelandic origin. Their books contain the stories of gods,
men and monsters. They are mostly in poetry form. Their creation story
thus describes that there was only Ginnungagap, the great void, from which
Odin, the chief god, along with his two brother gods raised the
earth from the ocean. The sun shone and the earth became green with
vegetation; god breathed on the two lifeless tree trunks and made them man
and woman who started human generation. It was also believed that there is
a “World Serpent” that lives under the oceans of the world. Their
mythology also tells that there is a land of demons, which is separate
from the land of gods.
Odin, apart from being the chief god, was also god of
the occult and wisdom, god of the dead, god of lawless men and the
Vikings, and much more. The most famous god in their mythology was Thor,
the mightiest, who kept all the giants of the giant land under his
control. He was god of rainfall and fertility so he was identified with
Jupiter. Freyr was god of cornfields, and Freyja was goddess
of love, fertility and wealth. She wept tears of gold nuggets and she was
also goddess of magic.
Sacrifices were conducted in the open or in certain
groves dedicated for this purpose. According to Tacitus (56-120 AD) human
sacrifices were also practiced. Tacitus was the greatest historian of his
time who wrote “The Germania” about the Germanic tribes in the Latin
There are interesting stories about Thor, how he
defeated the demons when he went to the land of the demons and also how he
was sometimes tricked by them. The worship of god Thor was popular
among Jutes and Saxons up till their conversion into Christianity. Between
the 6th and 8th century some of the English people were converted easily
and some under the pressure of the army.