Nordic Mythology: Our knowledge of Nordic Goddesses is incomplete. What information we have on Nordic mythology comes from a collection of beliefs and stories from the Northern Germanic people, principally from Scandinavia and Iceland.
Most of these stories were passed on orally from generation to generation and were edited and embellished to reflect the fashions and politics of the times.
Some of this material was preserved in the thirteenth century in the form of epic poems known as Edda's and Saga's. This was after two centuries of Christianisation when many of the old ways and practices were outlawed by the church. There are also a few surviving Runic inscriptions that contain references to Nordic Mythology.
The role of the Goddesses in Nordic mythology reflects the matriarchal society they come from. Although there was a male priesthood who served the Gods it was women who were considered to have natural psychic abilities, they performed the roles of seers and shamans for their tribes. Hence it is the Goddess Freya who instructs Odin on Seidr, a form of shamanism.
Nordic Cosmology is complex it consists of nine different worlds that are formed around Yggdrasil, the world tree. These worlds can be simplified into three different levels:
The Upper World which is the realm of the majority of Goddesses including idunn the Norse Goddess of youth.
It contains the realms of Ljossalfheim and Asgard where Frigg is Queen.
The Middle World is Midgard, the physical realm of the earth. This is surrounded by the four worlds of force Nifelheim, Muspelheim, Vanaheim and Jotunheim.
The Lower World includes Swartalfheim and Helheim the land of the dead which is ruled by the Goddess Hella.
The Aesir and Vanir: The Goddesses are usually divided into two groups or tribes, the Aesir and the Vanir. The home of the Aesir is Asgard, the Vanir originated from Vanaheim but after along war with the Aesir's most chose to dwell with the victors in Asgard.
The Vanir are the Gods and Goddesses of the wild forests, the plants and animals of the natural world. They are concerned with fertility, the power of the land, sea and the hidden realms. They represent passion and our instinctive and animal selves.
In contrast the Aesir are more concerned with the world of mankind and represent social order and human achievements in art, technology and human consciousness.
As is seen the much of world mythology the Norse Goddesses marry and have relationships with Gods and other magical beings outside there own tribes so that distinctions between the groups are not always clear cut.
Most of the Nordic Goddesses have distinctive personalities and realms of influence which makes it easier to assign their Archetypal Characteristics. This is not so clear cut with all of the Goddesses for instance there is a debate over whether Freya and Frigg are actually the same Goddess with a different name,reflecting the various languages of the Nordic tribes.
The Nordic Goddess List contains information on alternative spellings, the meaning of the name and main area of influence of each Goddess.