1. WHAT IS NORSE MYTHOLOGY: Before the Norse (a.k.a. the Vikings) were converted to Christianity during the Middle Ages, they had their own vibrant native religion that was as harshly beautiful as the Nordic landscape to which it was so importantly connected. The centerpiece of that religion was what we today call “Norse mythology:” the set of religious stories that gave meaning to the Vikings’ lives. These myths revolved around gods and goddesses with fascinating and highly complex characters, such as Thor, Odin, Freya, Balder, and Loki. The Norse religion that contained these myths never had a true name – those who practiced it just called it “tradition.” However, people who continued to follow the old ways after the arrival of Christianity were sometimes called “heathens,” which originally meant simply “people who live on the heaths” or elsewhere in the countryside, and the name has stuck.