Norse Gods and their Marvellous Pieces of Equipment
First you get into conditions of dire need unless you take lots of action. Even if you survive for a long time, you dream of a better life, and place gods and heroes into some common, idealised roles and places. Then you get inspired to start a process of devising tools that helps a better life. See how far Norwegians have succeeded.
1. Thor of great strength and fertility rode through the air. He owned remarkable tools, such as a belt that increased his strength, great working gloves for protecting the hands, and a decent hammer. He could ride through the air. Ola and Per learns to do likewise after the inventions of the brothers Wright and others. Thor's mastery of electrical discharges greater than those of stun guns may be noted in passing, for they may be set to work in much cleaner ways than the rifles and dynamite of the Norwegian-American cartoon characters "Han Ola og han Per".
2. Odin (Germanic: Woden etc), the late-comer in the Norse pantheon, was equipped with a magic, eight-legged horse for riding everywhere, the gift of poetry, along with spear and cover, and a sword. Possible comparisons: Helicopters etc.
3. Njord who lived close by the sea, ruled over sea, fire, and wind, and was a wealth-giver. Comparisons: None. Great means for ruling over the sea and wind are absent, althought they work on balloon rides, plane flights etc.
4. Frey of fertility was the son of Njord, and ruled over the weather and the harvest, happiness, peace, and prosperity. He rode a wonder-boar (or hog) through the air and on water. The collapsible boat Skibladne that could sail on land and sea, and always has fair wind - could be carried in his pocket. He also owned a sword that struck even by itself. Comparisons: Inflatable rubber boats. Hoovercraft and other nautic vessels that are independent of a fair wind. We may assent that many farmer activities relate to the things Frey was associated with, including riding one's own animals.
There were other and lesser gods and goddesses equipped with special items. It may be suggested that the features, capabilities, and wonder-gadgets of Norse gods reflect (a) cumbersome sides of being a Norseman or Viking; (b) yearnings for getting a less toilsome life; and that (c) many late inventions have come fairly close to Viking imagery already.
What must have been really cumbersome sides of being Norsemen can be suggested: They had few and very bad roads for most part. They depended on travel by sea, and if there was not fair wind, they had to row, which would be toilsome and hard on the skeleton too. They also had to pull their ships on timber logs while trudging on moors and in marshes between European rivers. In a Jungian's perspective hard and poor conditions in time evoke yearnings for things and conditions that help a better life. In the course of time such wishes may be portrayed in the garb of imagery related to gods, even. Greatly coveted things may easily become god-equipments in such a process. Along this line the wonder-beasts that may be slaughtered and fed on only to be brought to life and served the next day again, and the next, reflect a basic shortness of food in a country where travelling is still difficult here and there, and where better means of transportation are dreamed of still.
Norse gods excel to a large extent by means of transportation and weaponry, which reflects overriding aspects of how Norsemen lived, deep needs they had of weaponry and means of transportation, issues that needed to be solved for living all right in those times, etc. It could also be that some myths contain valuable clues as to how to deal with newly developed equipment. We may explore just one myth segment to this end here:
The boar Saerimne serves as food for the increasing gang of einherjer (fallen warriors) in Valhalla. The cook Andrimne cooks the boar in a kettle every day, but at night the boar is as unharmed and alive as before. The fallen warriors drink mead that flows from the udder of a goat, Heidrun.
This indicates that the Norsemen were in need of food and drink unless they killed, or even when they killed and slaughtered a lot too. Winters were very long, roads hardly existed, and the weather could be icy cold - fit for freezing to death for a month on end, also . . .
Means to form animals into "things" for food and drink are developing. Technical means exist, including those of genetics, but moral handling of other living beings and their essential worth - and compassion enough - is more needed still.
Gods Were Made - and Changed
I should perhaps stress that the above is one interpretation of Norse myths as they now exist. It reflects mankind's groping ability to adapt to different conditions on the planet - by fantasies, ideas, and growing ability to cope aligned to such matter. And the above seeks to inform how culture heroes - they are often gods or called gods after some centuries - are made by lying, or exaggerations, or whatever.
In addition to that gods are found to be products of imagination and such things - made - it also stands out from Norse mythology and other mythologies that old gods get replaced by newer gods, who then may incorporate several of the features of the old gods. For example, Tyr, the highest god at a time, was replaced by Odin and the Viking popular Thor as the main god.
The next page of this section is a main work on Norse mythology by Peter A. Munch. It furnishes ample material for pondering along this vein and in other veins too. Much understanding rests on interpretation, and people differ, also as interpreters.
Further, Norse myths served in part for entertainment - both dramatic enactments, story-telling, and baric recitations.