Children of Odin: Thor, Heimdallr and the Valkyries

The leader of the Norse pantheon, Odin, was known for his many sons. Some were famous, some less so! Very few sources mention any daughters for Odin, but his sons made up the majority of the pantheon, along with their wives. For this reason, Odin was known as the All Father.

Odin was also the one to give life to mankind, and in a way, this made him the father of all sapient life on earth. However, the following list focuses on his godly sons (and a few of his daughters), and their impact and importance on Norse mythology.

The Children of Odin

1. Baldr

Baldr was the son of Frigg. Baldr was a sailor who captained the greatest boat ever built. He was known as bright, glorious, and good, but his most famous story unfortunately involves his death. Loki, the trickster god, manipulated Baldr’s blind archer brother, Hodr, into piercing him with a mistletoe spear, killing him. Baldr was then taken to Helheim, where the gods attempted to resurrect him – but without success.

2. Meili

Meili was a favored brother of Thor, though his mother was unclear. He was very similar to Baldr, and some sources even attest that they were the same person. He was the second son born after Baldr, but little else is known about him.

3. Vithar

Vithar’s mother was a giant named Grithr. Perhaps because of this, he was a god associated heavily with vengeance. During Ragnarök, Odin was fated to die at the jaws of the monstrous wolf Fenrir. However, according to the prophecy, Vithar would survive the battle and kill Fenrir in return. After Ragnarok, he and Valdi lived together in the temple of the gods in the new world.

4. Nepr

Nepr was known as the brightest of all gods. He was the father of Nanna, who was the beloved wife of his brother, Baldr. Not much is known about Nepr. Nanna, though, threw herself onto Baldr’s funeral pyre so that they could be reunited at the end of the world. Nepr was not always Nanna’s father, however, as uncle and niece pairings were not common in Norse mythology.

5. Hodr

Hodr, Frigg’s son, was known as the blind archer, was the god manipulated into killing Baldr by the hand of Loki. Despite the manipulation, he was the one who was punished, slayed by a brother who was born specifically for this purpose. Hodr was defenseless against the attack due to his blindness.

6. Váli

Váli was Odin’s son by the giantess Rindr. He was conceived and grew to adulthood in the same day, born only to avenge Baldr. He killed Hodr, then went to punish Loki. He did this by killing Loki’s son Narfi, then binding Loki in place using Narfi’s entrails. Váli was prophesised to survive Ragnarok. Some transcription errors make him Loki’s son.

7. Áli

Áli was the Norse version of the Swedish king Onela who is attested in Beowulf. According to Norse tradition, he was Odin’s son who went to war with Ailis of Sweden. At the battle, he was struck by a spear and fell from his horse, where he died. As Onela, Áli was also the son-in-law of a King of Denmark known as Halfdan.

8. Bragi

Bragi was a skald and a god of poetry and song. Much gentler than his warlike brothers, he was often invoked by those who favored the creative arts. His mother was either Frigg or the giantess Gunnloth. Frigg was very dismissive of him in either case, claiming him as no son of hers when compared to Baldr. Bragi married Idunn, a goddess of youth and apples. The two were often attested as happiest amongst the gods.

9. Thor

Perhaps the most famous of Odin’s sons, Thor was a warlike god of thunder who nursed a special hatred for the giants. This was despite the fact that his mother was likely a giantess. However, while Thor often got caught up in duels, he was also a protector of his family and of mankind. His wife was the beautiful goddess Sif, who had hair of gold. He had a petty rivalry with Loki and with several other gods.

10. Hidolfr

Not much is known about Hidolfr. He was listed as the next son after Thor, and his name meant war-wolf. Like most of his brothers, he was presumably war like and likely a soldier at Ragnarok. Hidolfr is also an epithet name that is sometimes given to Odin himself.

11. Hermothr

Hermothr or Hermodr was a messenger of the gods. After Baldr’s death, Hermothr won the favor of his mother, Frigg, by riding to Hel to ask for the life of his brother back. He took Odin’s own mount and rode for nine days and nine nights. Though he did locate Baldr, the attempt to bring him back was ultimately unsuccessful. Baldr, however, did give him a gift – a great ring – as thanks for his arrival.

12. Sigi

Sigi, father of Rerir, was Odin’s third son. He was violent and temperamental, and once found himself exiled for murder. He killed a slave who was under his command because the slave won a hunting competition against him. However, Odin helped him escape to another land, where he became king. Eventually, Sigi was killed by his usurping brothers-in-law. Eventually, Sigi’s son killed his uncles in turn.

13. Skjöldr

This son of Odin was the first of the legendary Kings of the Danes. Odin gifted unto him Denmark, over which he ruled for many years. In Beowulf, he appears as Scyld Scefing, where he is given a funeral at sea. Skjoldr is the ancestor of Scylding kings of Denmark. He also appeared in various other sources under a number of different names.

14. Yngvi (or Yngvi-Freyr)

Yngvi was given Sweden as his Skjoldr was given Denmark. He was the father of the Yngling legendary dynasty. His powers and heritage are sometimes conflated with Freyr, the Vanir god of sacred kingship. The Norse kings also claimed to descend from his heritage. Sometimes, Yngvi was actually considered an aspect of Odin rather than a son.

15. Itreksjoth

This is another little-known son of Odin who was listed amongst his brothers. He presumably was fated to fight at Ragnarok with the rest, though no word is given on his prophecied survival or death. He is listed amongst the Aesir, the primary pantheon over which Odin rules.

16. Heimdallr

Heimdallr was known as the Watcher, and it is he who watched for the signs that mark the onset of Ragnarok. He lived at the edge of the rainbow bridge known as the Bifrost, and he could see for miles in any direction. He had nine mothers, all sisters, who gave birth to him simultaneously. He once did battle with Loki, who was wearing the form of a seal. During Ragnarok, Heimdallr and Loki were fated to kill each other once and for all.

17. Saemingr

Saemingr was Odin’s son by Skaldi, the goddess of hunting, skiing, and other such activities, who was Odin’s second wife. Saemingr was a king of Norway and a descendant of jarls. He was mighty in battle and his shield was dyed red by the blood of his enemies. Saemingr’s wife was Nauma and his son Thrandr. In some versions, his father is not Odin, but instead Yngvi-Freyr.

18. Tyr

The bravest of the gods, Tyr sacrificed his hand to restrain the monstrous Fenrir, therefore postponing Odin’s death until Ragnarok. As Odin (or Woden) gave his name to Wednesday, so too did Tyr give his name to Tuesday. He is either a son of Odin or of a giant, Hymir. The arrow shaped T rune used to spell Tyr’s name was a magical symbol in Norse mythology which was often invoked in spells.

19. Other sons

Some lists contain several other sons of Odin, though nothing else is written about them other than their name. They are listed as: Ennelang, Eindride, Bior, Hlodide, Hardveor, Sönnöng, Vinthior, Rymur, and Olner.

20. Odin’s daughters

The Valkyries, servants of Odin, were also often listed as his daughters. They were goddesses or other figures who scoured the fields of battles and decided those who would live and die. From the dead, they would select those to escort to Valhalla or another afterlife.
Several Valkyries are named in mythology. Some of these include:

Name Meaning Name Meaning Name Meaning
Eir Peace Geirahoth Fights with Spear Geirskogul Spearwoman
Goll Tumult Gondul Wielder of wands Gunnr War
Herfjotr Fetter of hosts Hildr Battle Hlokk Noise
Hrist Shaker Hrund Pricker Mist Cloud
Olrun Rune of ale Randgrith Truth with shield Rathgrith Truce with council
Reginleif Truce with power Rota Disorder Sigrun Rune of victory
Skegjold Axe-aged Skogl Shaker Svava Glory

There are many more named Valkyries, and still more without names. Sources vary as to whether each of them are actually the daughters of Odin or whether this is a more symbolic role, and some of the named Valkyries have differently-named fathers.

Tags

Leave a Comment