The gods of the Anglo-Saxons are still with us today. We still worship Frige the mother of the gods and goddess of love, because her day means it is the start of the weekend. Three of the other days of the week are also named for some of the most important of the Anglo-Saxon Gods.
Their gods were similar in name and deed to the more recognisable Norse gods, made popular by fiction, in novels and on screen.
The chief of the Anglo-Saxon gods was the All-Father, Woden, his counterpart in Norse mythology is Odin. As with many of the male Anglo-Saxon gods Woden was often associated with war. Anglo-Saxon warriors would offer tribute to him before battle to gain his protection or particular favour to strengthen their arms or guide their spears. The spear was Woden’s sacred weapon and he is often depicted wielding it.
Not only was he a god of war, but also of wisdom. The Anglo-Saxons believed that the ancient runes, that their system of writing was based upon ,were invented and passed to man by Woden. The day named after him is, of course, Wednesday, or as it once was known Woden’s day.
Woden’s wife was the goddess of love, Frige (or Frigg in Norse). She was the god of all things the Anglo-Saxons attributed to love, marriage, home and children. She was also offered tribute to aid in the harvest, so is often attributed with being the goddess and mother of the earth. Her day is Fiday, Frige’s day.
Frige was not only the mother of the earth, but also of gods. Her most famous and widely worshipped child was Thunor, the Norse god Thor. Thunor was the god of the weather, particularly thunder and lightning and of the forge, and so was of particular importance to blacksmiths.
The Anglo-Saxons believed that the sound of thunder was Thunor’s hammer striking his mighty anvil and that lightning was the spark created by the strike. Archaeologists know that Thunor was one of the most popular of the gods as pendants showing his symbol, the hammer, have been found in many Anglo-Saxon graves. This may have been as Thunor was perceived as one of the most powerful of all of the gods due to his association with the elements, the most powerful force of nature with which many would have been aware of. Thunor’s day was the fourth of the week, Thursday.
Tuesday was Tiw’s day. The god Tiw (the Norse Tyr) was another deity of chief importance to the Anglo-Saxons as he was the god of war, swordplay and the sky. Even though both Thunor and Woden were appealed to in matters of warfare, Tiw was the official god of war and was reputedly the most skilled in combat of all of the gods, despite having only one hand.
He was revered for this fact as he sacrificed his sword hand to the monstrous wolf, Fenris, who prophecy said would one day slay Woden. He did so to protect the All-Father. The dwarves had made a special invisible chain to hold the beast so that they may stop the prophecy, but the wolf wouldn’t let anyone near unless one of the gods put their hand in his mouth. Tiw selflessly volunteered and Fenris was successfully chained, but in his fury he bit off the god’s sword hand. Because of this heroic act, and the fact that Tiw is just as skilled with his left hand as he was with his right, he was much revered by Anglo-Saxon warriors.