In Norse cosmology, the nine realms were created when the fire and lava from the land of fire Muspelheimr merged with the cold and glaciers from the land of ice Nifilheimr in the void of nothingness known as Ginnunggagap. At the centre of the Norse cosmos stands the great tree Yggdrasil. Its roots firmly planted in the three home worlds. It is watered by the three sacred wells. The nine realms circle around Yggdrasil and are connected by runic pathways. The first of the three home worlds is Asgardr, Home to the Aesir a tribe of gods, including Thor, Loki, Odin and Heimdall. It is circled by an incomplete wall built by Hrimthurs. Within Asgardr sits Valhalla, Odin,s hall of the dead where half of the honoured dead go upon death. The other half go to Freyja’s Folkvangr, a field of the dead, where sits Sessrumnir or Freyja’s Hall. In front of Valhalla is Glasislundr, the ‘Glasir grove’ of trees with reddish gold leaves. Here the horses of the Aesir reside. Thor’s hall Bilskirnir meaning ‘Lightning crack,’ the largest of the halls with 540 rooms sits in the area of Asgardr called Thrudheimr, or ‘Place of Might.’ Baldr’s hall in Asgardr is Breidablik 'Broad gleaming' where nothing unclean may enter. Forseti’s hall is called Glitnir or “ The Glittering Hall,” the seat of justice amongst the gods. It bore a silver roof and pillars of gold, which caught the light and made the hall shine. Heimdallr resides at the edge of Asgardr where the Bilrost bridge enters the realm, in a Hall called Hjiminbjorg or ‘Heavens castle,’ all who enter Asgardr pass through here and are watched by Heimdallr, who sits drinking mead. Saga lives in the hall Sokkvabekkr ‘Sunken Beach,’described as a place where cool waters rush and where it is said she spends her days by the stream of memory drinking out of gold chalices with Odin. Frigg’s Hall is Fensalir or “Fen Halls, which stands in an unknown marshland.The second home world is called Midgardr, which we know as Earth. It is the home to the humans and is the only world visible to mortals. The mainland is circled by a great ocean which in turn is circled by the Midgardr serpent, Jormungandr. At Ragnarok he will poison the sky and will finally be defeated by Thor, however Thor will only go nine paces before succumbing to the poison himself. Asgardr is connected to Midgardr by the burning rainbow bridge known as Bilrost. It is guarded by Heimdall, protecting it from the Jotnar. The third home world is Helheimr, where the dis honourable dead go, the most evil of them going to the lowest part called Niflhelr. This is where the goddess Hel resides, Helheimr itself is surrounded by a great fence called Nagrindr or “Corpse Fence”, this is guarded by Garmr, the great watchdog of Hel who lives in the cave Gnipahellir from there you must travel down Helvergr, “The Road to Hell,” where you will come to a river and bridge. The River is called Gjoll or “Loud Noise,” and the bridge is called Gjallarbru, “The Bridge over Gjoll”. Guarding this bridge is the Jotun Modgudr or “Furious Battle,” and after stands the great Hall of Eljudnir, or “Sprayed with Snow” which is the Hall of Hel. It has a threshold called Follandaforad or “Falling to Peril,” an actual Pitfall. Within these halls Hel feasts with the honoured souls who in life gave more than they took. The others are left in the freezing wastes of Helheimr. Beyond the hall is the wastes of Niflhel where the very worst souls linger and the area known as Nastrond or “The Corpse Shores,” where resides the Dragon Nidhoggr who eats the corpses of the honour less dead such as Oath breakers and Murderers. The rest will float in an acid lake for eternity..
The remaining worlds are Vanaheimr, home to the Vanir, another tribe of gods, of which Freyja is one. These gods are dedicated to sex, nature and the arts, and are known to war with the Aesir, claiming them to be too brash. Vanaheimr is the most beautiful of the nine realms. Jotunheimr, is home to the race of Jotuns or giants. It is a very unforgiving and harsh land ruled by the Jotun Scrymr. His home is in the capital, Utgardr. Loki’s parents were from Jotunheimr, Farbauti, and his consort Laufey. Ljosalfheimr, home of the light elves or Ljosalf. They are a from of minor gods and goddesses similar to Guardian Angels. Svartalfheimr although meaning home to the dark elves is actually home to the Dokkalfer, the Dwarves. They are the masters of crafts and smithing and even created Mjolnir Thor’s hammer, Gungnir Odin’s Spear and even hair for Sif.
The final two worlds are the creation worlds, meaning from these two realms the cosmos was created. Nifilheimr is the darkest and coldest of the realms, it is also desolate, but later an abode of Hel. The ice rivers, Elivagar, with the names of Svol, Gunthra, Fjorm, Fimbulthul, Slid, Hrid, Sylg, Ylg , Vid and Leipter ,flow from Hrvergelmir into Ginnunggagap. Muspelheimr, the land of fire and lava which flow into the Ginnunggagap and merge with the Elivagar, creating a steam of creation. Its denizens are the Eldjotnar, the fire giants. Sutyr the Jotun lives here with his consort Sinmara, an enemy of the Aesir. Predicted to turn Asgardr into an inferno with his flaming sword at Ragnarok. The flames of which will engulf Midgardr. All the worlds are connected via runic pathways, 24 in total for the 24 runes of the Futhark.
On these nine realms are the three sacred wells that water the roots of Yggdrasil thereby keeping the cosmos alive. Hvergelmir, meaning roaring current, resides on Nifilheimr. It is the origin of all life as it feeds the Elivagar, It is guarded by the dragon Nidhoggr, who gnaws at the roots of Yggdrasil. The second well is called Mimisbrunnr, or Mimir’s well. It is located in Jotunheimr, guarded by the Jotun Mimir. Urdarbrunnr, the well of fate lies at the very base of Yggdrasil, guarded by the three norns who water the root as well as using sand from around the well to prevent the root from rotting. They are very similar to the Greek fates as they preside over the destinies of gods and men. Urda is the norn of the past, Verdandi is the norn of the present and Skuld is the norn of the future.
#norse #viking #cosmos
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