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Gylfaginning - a part of the Younger Edda, is one of the most important scriptural sources in defining the Norse worldview.


Gylfe, a mythical king of Sweden, wondered how the gods were so knowledgeable, that everything went according to their will. To explore how things were with this, he undertook a journey to Asgard. He assumed the guise of an old man and called herself Gangleri and believed he in this way able to remain unknown. They therefore made the following illusion. When Gylfe arrived in Asgard, he thought he saw a high palace, and when he entered the hall, he saw three seats of honor, one above the other, and a man sitting in each. The one who sat in the bottom of honor, called the High, the closest to him uniformly high, and the colonel of the Third. They asked Gangleri on his errand, and he said he would like to know if he was a remarkably clever man. Thereafter a conversation takes place; Gangleri asks and the others respond. The topics is about the Norse mythology, from the world's creation to its destruction. When the call was over, Gangleri heard a huge uproar on all sides. He looked around and found himself all alone on a flat and vast plain, but he was now no palace and no castle. He made his way home and reported what he had heard and seen[1].


Lets hypothesise a bit for a moment and ask if this story contains a grain of truth. Lets say that this story is about a man traveling east of Black Sea and discovers different religions on his way. He tries to make sense of it and tries to explain it to his fellow norse-men.

Do we have anything supporting this idea? Yes, Jacob Grimm, is mentioning the one of the gods Austri might actually be the goddess Ēostre.

In that case, how do we know for sure that these gods mentioned in Gylfaginning where actively worshiped or even commonly known by the norse vikings?

[1] Nordisk familjebok

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Could someone reformat this question so that it is more clearly about history and less about mythology and religion? –  Mark C. Wallace Oct 11 '13 at 10:29
@MarkC.Wallace It's about the history of mythology, not the mythology itself. –  American Luke Oct 13 '13 at 21:07
It's unclear to me what the question is. Are many of the Norse gods imported and/or inspired by other gods? Yes, absolutely. Were the Gods mentioned in the sagas well known? Undoubtedly so, this is after all a collection of the sagas that were popular enough to have survived orally for 200 years of Christianity. Were they actively worshipped? Well, many of them was of course. Some of them may not have been. You'll have to be specific as a minimum and ask about specific gods for this to be answerable. –  Lennart Regebro Nov 6 '13 at 9:41
And was Austri the same godess as Eostre? No. Austri is a male dwarf, and a personification of east (actually he supports the eastern corner of the sky). Eostre is female and seems to have been some sort of spring fertility godess. It's not the same god at all. The similarity of name is probably a coincidence (or the names both derive from the word "east"). Both of them have only brief mentions in any text. Grimms further ideas on the topic is just pure speculation and conjecture from his side, and pretty weak as well. –  Lennart Regebro Nov 6 '13 at 9:54

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