The religion of the ancient Scandanavians varied greatly between different areas. Many beliefs were totally different from one town to the next, but they do share several main deities. Though worship of these may have varied as well, the main idea behind these major gods remained somewhat constant through time and distance.
Odinn, or Woden, as he is more commonly known is the chief god in Norse mythology. His two ravens, Huginn and Muninn report to him all they see. He is also the god of poetry, of the dead, specifically the hanged, and the patron and protector of heroes. His weapon of choice is the spear and he spoke only in poetry. Odinn is also the creator god. He created the sky and earth, gave man his spirit as well as had a hand in man's creation. According to legend, Odinn, and his two brothers, Villi and Ve, were walking along the seashore and found two tree trunks. They carved one into a man and the other into a woman. From these two the human race descended (Turville-Petre 55).
Odinn has many names, some are just translations of Odinn into different languages, such as Woden. But others refer to his travels and deeds. Some of these names are Bolverk, which means evil doer, Hangaguo, god of the hanged, and Hangi, the hanged. The last two are derived from a legend about Odinn being hung and hanging for nine days. The number nine seems to have special significance in norse mythology, and especially to Odinn. One example of this is a story in which Odinn, traveling under the name Bolverk, and in disguise, came upon a field where nine thralls were working. He sharpens their scythes with his whetstone and when the thralls see how sharp their tools are they try to buy the whetstone. Odinn then tosses the whetstone among them and they all kill each other struggling for it. This story also shows Odinn's interest in promoting strife and inciting discord; hence Odinn is also a god of war and the recipient of human sacrifice. Though he is the chief god, he is regarded as somewhat evil and sinister as opposed to more traditionally noble gods (Turville-Petre 53).
Thor was to many Norsemen the most powerful and valiant god. He was the god of thunder and the defender of the world of men and the world of the gods. Thor's weapon was the hammer, and just the threat of it is enough to thwart just about whatever situation he faced. His hammer was called Mjollnir and was also used to hallow or consecrate, as well as in battle. Miniature hammers have been found in many graves, which were for protection, as Thor was also protector and hallower of the dead. His main enemies are Jormungand, a serpent coiled around the earth, and the giants and giantesses. Thor rode in a chariot drawn by goats, as...