Amun-Ra

Amun also known as Amen, was a god in Egyptian mythology who became the form of Amun-Ra and became the focus of the most complex system of theology in Ancient Egypt. Amun is represented as essential and hidden and Ra he represented revealed divinity. Amun-Ra had the position as King of the Egyptian Gods.

Along with Amun-Ra, Osiris is one of the most widely recorded of all of the Egyptian gods. Amun was known for created himself. He later married Wosret, he also later marries Amunet and Mut. Amun and Mut gave birth to the moon god Khonsu. He was worshipped as the sun god Ra in some areas. The pharaoh Akhenaten disliked the power that Amun had in the temple and tried to advance the worship of Aten, who was very similar to Amun-Ra.

Balder

The god of light, joy, purity, beauty, innocence, and reconciliation. Son of Odin and Frigg, he was loved by both gods and men and was considered to be the best of the gods. He had a good character, was friendly, wise and eloquent, although he had little power. His wife was Nanna daughter of Nep, and their son was Forseti, the god of justice. Balder’s hall was Breidablik (“broad splendor”).

Most of the stories about Balder concern his death. He had been dreaming about his death, so Frigg extracted an oath from every creature, object and force in nature (snakes, metals, diseases, poisons, fire, etc.) that they would never harm Balder. All agreed that none of their kind would ever hurt or assist in hurting Balder. Thinking him invincible, the gods enjoyed themselves thereafter by using Balder as a target for knife-throwing and archery.

The malicious trickster, Loki, was jealous of Balder. He changed his appearance and asked Frigg if there was absolutely nothing that could harm the god of light. Frigg, suspecting nothing, answered that there was just one thing: a small tree in the west that was called mistletoe. She had thought it was too small to ask for an oath. Loki immediately left for the west and returned with the mistletoe. He tricked Balder’s blind twin brother Hod into throwing a mistletoe fig (dart) at Balder. Not knowing what he did, Hod threw the fig, guided by Loki’s aim. Pierced through the heart, Balder fell dead.

While the gods were lamenting Balder’s death, Odin sent his other son Hermod to Hel, the goddess of death, to plead for Balder’s return. Hel agreed to send Balder back to the land of the living on one condition: everything in the world, dead or alive, must weep for him. And everything wept, except for Loki, who had disguised himself as the witch Thokk. And so Balder had to remain in the underworld.

The others took the dead god, dressed him in crimson cloth, and placed him on a funeral pyre aboard his ship Ringhorn, which passed for the largest in the world. Beside him they lay the body of his wife Nanna, who had died of a broken heart. Balder’s horse and his treasures were also placed on the ship. The pyre was set on fire and the ship was sent to sea by the giantess Hyrrokin.

Loki did not escape punishment for his crime and Hod was put to death by Vali, son of Odin and Rind. Vali had been born for just that purpose. After the final conflict (Ragnarok), when a new world arises from its ashes, both Balder and Hod will be reborn.

Heimdall

Heimdall is the god of light, the son of nine mothers (variously given as the daughters of Geirrendour the Giant or of Aegir). He was born at the end of the world and raised by the force of the earth, seawater and the blood of a boar. Because of his shining, golden teeth he is also called Gullintani (“gold tooth”). His hall is Himinbjorg, The Cliffs of Heaven, and his horse is Gulltop. Heimdall carries the horn Gjallar.

He is the watchman of the gods and guards Bifrost, the only entrance to Asgard, the realm of the gods. It is Heimdall’s duty to prevent the giants from forcing their way into Asgard. He requires less sleep than a bird and can see a hundred miles around him, by night as well as by day. His hearing is so accurate that no sound escapes him: he can even hear the grass grow or the wool on a sheep’s back.

At the final conflict of Ragnarok he will kill his age-old enemy, the evil god Loki, but will die himself from his wounds. As the god Rig (“ruler”), Heimdall created the three races of mankind: the serfs, the peasants, and the warriors. It is interesting to note why Heimdall fathered them, and not Odin as might be expected. Furthermore, Heimdall is in many attributes identical with Tyr.

Athena

Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom, war, the arts, industry, justice and skill. She was the favorite child of Zeus. She had sprung fully grown out of her father’s head. Her mother was Metis, goddess of wisdom and Zeus’ first wife. In fear that Metis would bear a son mightier than himself. Zeus swallowed her and she began to make a robe and helmet for her daughter. The hammering of the helmet caused Zeus great pain in the form of headaches and he cried out in agony. Skilled Hephaestus ran to his father and split his skull open and from it emerged Athena, fully grown and wearing her mother’s robe and helmet.

She is the virgin mother of Erichthnonius. Athena and her uncle Poseidon were both very fond of a certain city in Greece. Both of them claimed the city and it was decided that the one that could give the finest gift should have it. Leading a procession of citizens, the two gods mounted the Acropolis. Poseidon struck the side of the cliff with his trident and a spring welled up. The people marveled, but the water was as salty as Poseidon’s sea and it was not very useful. Athena’s gift was an olive tree, which was better because it gave the people food, oil and wood. Athena named her city Athens. Athena’s companion was the goddess of victory, Nike, and her usual attribute is the owl. Athena possessed the Aegis.

Freyr

Freyr is the god of sun and rain, and the patron of bountiful harvests. He is both a god of peace and a brave warrior. He is also the ruler of the elves. Freyr is the most prominent and most beautiful of the male members of the Vanir, and is called ‘God of the World’. After the merging of the Aesir and the Vanir, Freyr was called ‘Lord of the Aesir’. Freyr was also called upon to grant a fertile marriage. He is married to the beautiful giantess Gerd, and is the son of Njord. His sister is Freya.

He rides a chariot pulled by the golden boar Gullinbursti which was made for him by the dwarves Brokk and Eitri. He owns the ship Skidbladnir (“wooden-bladed”), which always sails directly towards its target, and which can become so small that it can fit in Freyr’s pocket. He also possesses a sword that would by itself emerge from its sheath and spread a field with carnage whenever the owner desired it. Freyr’s shield bearer and servant is Skirnir, to whom he gave his sword, which Skirnir demanded as a reward for making Gerd his wife. On the day of Ragnarok he will battle without weapons (for he gave his sword away to Skirnir), and will be the first to be killed by the fire giant Surt.

The center of his cult was the city Uppsala in Sweden. In southern Sweden he was called Fricco.

Atlas

Atlas was a second-generation Titan god, from a patrilineal perspective. He was the child of the first-generation Titan Iapetus and Clymene, a daughter of Iapetus’s brother Oceanus (an Oceanid). With his Oceanid aunt Pleione he sired the Pleiades, the Hyades (whose mother is also named as Aethra, another Oceanid), and Calypso. With Hesperis, daughter of the Evening Star Hesper, he produced the Hesperides. Atlas’s brothers were Prometheus, Epimetheus, and Menoetius.

The mythographer Hyginus reports that as a consequence of his leadership role in the power struggle between the Olympian gods and the Titans, Zeus punished him by placing the heavens on his shoulders. Atlas was said to live by the garden of the Hesperides, on the westernmost shores of the river Oceanus, in Libya, or in the distant North (or East), where the Hyperboreans resided.

Hercules enlisted Atlas’s assistance when he went to fetch the apples of the Hesperides: Hercules asked Atlas to retrieve the apples in exchange for giving Atlas a break from holding up the heavens by shouldering the burden himself. But Atlas, apples in hand, attempted to protract the reprieve from his onerous task by offering then to deliver the apples to Eurystheus, at whose behest Hercules was performing the task. Hercules tricked him into taking the heavens back by asking him to hold up the burden momentarily while he looked for a pillow to cushion his shoulders. Needless to say, Hercules did not resume the burden. Atlas also played a role in the saga of the hero Perseus. As retribution for not having offered him hospitality, Perseus, holding up Medusa’s severed head, transformed Atlas into the mountains that still bear his name.

Sources: Classical Mythology A to Z