Ullr is one of the gods in the Norse mythology. He is shown in paintings wielding a bow and has snow skates on his legs. Very little is known about him as his story was rarely documented. Ullr was a powerful god and once ruled Aesir in place of Odin but generally his work in the Norse mythology is unknown
What is Ullr god of?
Ullr was shown to be in skates or skis as he was fond of skating in the snowy Scandinavian region. He was also shown carrying a bow. Not much of him was known as he was a very old deity and not much literature has been found about the Norse mythology, especially on Ullr.
We can say that Ullr was the god of snow or winter and people used to pray to him for safety and very white winters. He is also shown as the god of hunting and archery. It is said nobody could have a better aim than him.
What is the Ullr god in Norse mythology?
Ullr is a god of winter and skis in Norse mythology. Due to lack of written material he is almost forgotten as he didn’t have any prominent role. Though important, his lack of any important role makes him miss out on many myths and tales. As we have seen Ullr was a snow god who loved to skate. His name was derived from the German word ‘wuldor’ which means glory. This is a name associated with greatness so we can see that Ullr was important and respected
In their customs, Scandinavians, and Germans often named places in memory of, and to show respect to gods. Ullr has not been left out as many places in Norway and Sweden still has the name Ullr in their names.
One of the surviving myths about Ullr is a book called Gesta Danorum written by Saxo Grammaticus in the 12th century. Referring to Ullr by his Latin name Ollerus, the writer claimed that he once ruled Aesir. In Saxo’s stories, god Odin started to neglect his duties and take out his anger on others after god Baldur was killed. Odus was exiled temporarily by gods and Ollerus was appointed to take his place while he was away. Ollerus took the name Odus for himself and ruled for 10years. This may be another indicator of why there is less reference material about Ullr.
Some texts suggested that Ullr might have gone by other names in the past thus the little records of him as Ullr. some have said that Ullr was another name for god Heimdall who sounded his horn to announce Ragnarok. They believe that the two gods are just but the same person hence minimal mentions of god Heimdall as well.
As we saw that he was chosen to replace Odin during his exile, it can be said that Ullr is not just a winter god but also a god of law and justice. This makes some people believe that Ullr was one of the Vanir gods that exited alongside Aesir. Ullr seems to complement Njord the one-time ruler of Vanir. Njord was also a god of law and justice and god of the sea. This was seen as the opposite of god Ullr since his skis connected him to the mountains. It would be easy to take them as divine twins as they were similar gods who together represented the two regions of the Norse world, the seas shoreline, and the mountains.
Another reason Ullr’s story seems to be lost in time is that it seems to be overshadowed by the marriage of the god Njord to Skadi. Skadi was a giant who was associated with the mountains, hunting, and skiing just like Ullr. The story of their marriage depicts how Skadi and Njord were complete opposites just as he was with Ullr. Their story was given more emphasis as compared to Njord and Ullr’s story.
Family of Ullr
In Norse mythology, Ullr is said to be the son of goddess Saif, goddess of fertility, and stepson to the god of thunder Thor. His real father is never mentioned in any sources though some historians believe he was the son of god Egill the great archer. This makes him a half-brother to Svipdarg and nephew to Volundr. Some sources claim that his father was one of the Vanir gods due to his hunting and archery prowess.
It is also not clear if Ullr had a wife as some sources say that he was married to the goddess of winter and wilderness Skadi after she divorced her husband god Njord. Other sources with German links say that he was married to goddess Holda, a matriarch goddess who has a close resemblance to god Odin’s wife goddess Frigg.
Other sources cite that he may have been an eternal bachelor because he was a god of winter and marveled in archery and hunting. These facts could have led him to get used to the rough terrains of the mountains and the hard cold life that a woman wouldn’t endure thus him remaining to be an eternal bachelor.
The story of Ullr is supported by archeological records like the Thorsburg chape and Lilla Ullevi. The Thorsman chape is a piece of metal that dates back to 200 CE with the inscriptions “well-honored servant of Ullr”. This is the earliest and first mention of Ullr historically.
Lilla Ullevi is a well-preserved shrine that was unearthed in Stockholm. The shrine was in a very good state and harbored wooden and stone structures, and 65 oath rings of different sizes. These rings are connected to the story mentioned on poetic Edda that Vikings could make oaths using Ullr rings and being a god of law and justice, the oaths had to be kept.
Conclusion and views about Ullr
Ullr is one of the oldest gods in Norse mythology. Though so little was documented about him, we can attest that he had great power and influence. He was versatile and also seen as the god of sports and athletics. His influence has touched today’s world where we can see Ullr’s pictures being used in archery medals and an actual Ullr festival that happens in Breckenridge every year. Ullr can also be seen in modern-day paganism and also modern Wiccans.