Part 2: Home of the gods
Home of the gods Asgard
The old Norse believed that the universe existed of 9 worlds, which was grouped into three layers. In the lower regions you find Niflheim, Muspelheim and land of the dead (Hel), sourounded by the river Gjall. In the middle layer we find Midgard home to the humans, Swartalfheim with the dwarfs and dark pixies and we also find Udgard land of the giants. In the top layer you have Alfheim with the pixies, Vanaheim with the Aesir gods and Asgard with the Aesir.
From Asgard the gods can see all the sea’s of the world. In the middle of Asgard you find the plain Idavang, where the Aesir gods build their golden homes. Most of the items of the gods is made from gold and silver, even the houses.
Odins hall Valaskajf is the most splendid with a roof of shining silver. Trudheim is Thors home, Ydal is Ulls place, Bredglans is the home of Balder, Himmelbjerget the home to Heimdal, Folkvang is freyas quarters.
Near the center of Asgard you also find another of Odins residence Valhal also called valhalla. The walls is made of spearsshafts, the roof is made of golden shields. Valhal has 540 gates each one wide enough to let 800 soldiers (Einherjer) walk out of it shoulder by shoulder. The warriors from Midgard (humans) who died in war would go to valhal in their afterlife, but only the best and most courageous of the warriors was choocen, picked on the battlefield by valkyries, the messengers of Odin. Those who doesn’t die in battle like the people who die in their bed and who is not dishonest end up in Freyas home Folkvang.
Every morning the fallen warriors tune their battle skills on the field as preparation for ragnerok, those who die is resurrected. When it’s time for lunch the warriors return to valhal to party, feast and drink for the rest of the day. The mead is served from a goat that lives on the roof of valhal and eats from the leaves of the life tree. The meat comes from the pork Særimner, who got a magical attribute, it instantly regenerate every lump of meat cut from its body.
Odins throne is the tallest of 13 thrones in valhal. When he sit on the throne he can watch the entire world with he’s one eye. On hes shoulder you often see the two ravens Hugin and Munin, every day at dawn these ravens fly out into the worlds, returning later to whisper what they saw in Odins ears. Because of this ravens was often seen as messengers. Odin was some time called the raven god. Odin also got two magical wolves, a 8legged flying horse and various magical trinkets, but I’ll talk more about Odin in part 3.
The walls around valhal
The gods want to secure valhal with a tall wall. One day an artisan pass Valhal and offer to build a wall around valhal but it’ll take three winters to finish. He promised that the wall would be strong enough to withstand the giants even if they entered Midgard or Asgard. He demanded the sun, the moon and Freja the goddess of love as payment. After a little persuasion the deal is that the artisan need to finish the wall in one winter and won’t receive any payment if it isn’t finished on the first day of the summer. (gods can be very pursuasive).
The carpenter ask if he can use he’s horse “Svadilfare” as assistance, the trickster Loki persuade the gods to agrees to this (more about Loki another time). On the first winterday the carpenter begins, the Aesir was surprised about the huge stone blocks the horse could pull. Thor is in Osterlid to chace trolls, while the building of the wall is ongoing.
Theres fast progress with the wall which looks more and more impenetrable. It is almost finished three days before the first summer day. The Aesir sits down to discuss who came up with the idea about the horrendous price for this project. They are quick to blame Loki and declare that he should suffer a grim death, if he doesn’t make sure the work is delayed enough to pass the schedule.
In the evening when the artisan is on he’s way for more stones, a mare emerges from the woods walks towards Svadilfare saying whatever horses say (it was Loki who had transformed himself into a beautiful mare). When Svadilfare sense that the mare is ready to mate, it brakes the ropes to the wagon and chase after the mare into the woods, this chase continues the entire night. Svadilfare isn’t as energetic as useual the following day and when the artisan has to admit he wont finish before the time limit he’s caught with giants-fury. This gives off the artisans identity and the gods discover he’s a giant. Against the agreement they summon Thor who smashed the giants forehead with a mighty blow from he’s hammer.
The result of Loki’s and Svadilfares sex escapade is that soon after Loki give birth to a weird foal. It is gray and got 8 legs. It can run on the ground and in the air faster than any man or god and it never grows tired. Loki name the foal Sleipner and later submits it as a present to the alfather.
Yggdrasil – the life tree:
From the center of Idavang the Lifetree Yggdrasil grows it spread its leaves above all the 9 worlds and its roots penetrate these 9 worlds. The deepest root reach down to Hvergelmer, where the dragon Nidhug is biting in the root. When Nidhug succeeds in cutting the root, Ragnerok (judgement day) will arrive and end the world. The center root reach the giant Mimir’s well in Jotunheim, while the upper root only reach Asgard at Urd’s Well, where the 3 norn’s Urd, Verdande and Skull weave the thread of life. The norns decide if humans got a happy, rich or lucky life and if you will die young or old. Nobody not even the norns know when a humans life-thread will end. When the norns isn’t weaving they are watering the root of Yggdrasil, so it can keep the leaves green. The norns know that when the tree dies Ragnerok is at the doorstep.
Every morning the giant rooster “Gyldenkam” (Golden comb) flies into yggdrasils tree top and awakens the world with its call. At the top you also find a giant eagle that unleash the winds upon the world. Between the eyes of the eagle is the white hog “Vejrfølner” (someone with a 6th sense about the weather). The eagle always argues with Nidhug the dragon, who lie at the lowest root. The squirrel Ratatask runs back and forth between the dragon and eagle to exchange the conversations. Four deer’s, jumps around the tree and eat of its leaves and the gods have a counseling assembly every day under the tree. More about Yggdrasil in “The hanging of the sorcerer” in part 3.
This ends this short introduction, in the following part I will introduce you to the alfather Odin and some of the stories concerning him.
Norse mythology part 1 - The creation of the world and universe
edit on 23-9-2011 by Mimir because: (no reason given)