NORSE
MYTHOLOGY

Enter the Realms of the Gods!

Norse mythology is the body of myths of the North Germanic people stemming from Norse paganism and continuing after the Christianization of Scandinavia and into the Scandinavian folklore of the modern period. The northernmost extension of Germanic mythology, Norse mythology consists of tales of various deities, beings, and heroes derived from numerous sources from both before and after the pagan period, including medieval manuscripts, archaeological representations, and folk tradition. Numerous gods are mentioned in the source texts such as the hammer-wielding, humanity-protecting thunder-god Thor, who relentlessly fights his foes; the one-eyed, raven-flanked god Odin, who craftily pursues knowledge throughout the worlds and bestowed among humanity the runic alphabet; the beautiful, seiðr-working, feathered cloak-clad goddess Freyja who rides to battle to choose among the slain

Vikings (Old English: wicing—"pirate", Danish and Bokmål: vikinger; Swedish and Nynorsk: vikingar; Icelandic: víkingar, from Old Norse) were Norse seafarers, mainly speaking the Old Norse language, who raided and traded from their Northern European homelands across wide areas of northern, central, eastern and western Europe, during the late 8th to late 11th centuries.The term is also commonly extended in modern English and other vernaculars to the inhabitants of Viking home communities during what has become known as the Viking Age. This period of Nordic military, mercantile and demographic expansion constitutes an important element in the early medieval history of Scandinavia, Estonia, the British Isles, France, Kievan Rus' and Sicily.

Yggdrasil (/ˈɪɡdrəsɪl/ or /ˈɪɡdrəzɪl/; from Old Norse Yggdrasill, pronounced [ˈyɡːˌdrasilː]) is an immense mythical tree that connects the nine worlds in Norse cosmology. Yggdrasil is attested in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources, and the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson. In both sources, Yggdrasil is an immense ash tree that is center to the cosmos and considered very holy. The gods go to Yggdrasil daily to assemble at their things. The branches of Yggdrasil extend far into the heavens, and the tree is supported by three roots that extend far away into other locations; one to the well Urðarbrunnr in the heavens, one to the spring Hvergelmir, and another to the well Mímisbrunnr. Creatures live within Yggdrasil, including the dragon Níðhöggr, an unnamed eagle, and the stags Dáinn, Dvalinn, Duneyrr and Duraþrór.

THE NINE REALMS

ASGARD

In Norse religion, Asgard (/ˈɑːsɡɑːrd, ˈæs-/; Old Norse: Ásgarðr; "Enclosure of the Æsir") is one of the Nine Worlds and home to the Æsir tribe of gods. It is surrounded by an incomplete wall attributed to a Hrimthurs riding the stallion Svaðilfari, according to Gylfaginning. Odin and his wife, Frigg, are the rulers of Asgard. One of Asgard's well known realms is Valhalla, in which Odin rules.The -gard element in Asgard’s name is a reference to the ancient Germanic concept of the distinction between the innangard and utangard. That which is innangard (“inside the fence”) is orderly, law-abiding, and civilized, while that which is utangard (“beyond the fence”) is chaotic, anarchic, and wild. This applies both to the geographical plane and the human psyche.

VANAHEIM

In Norse mythology, Vanaheimr (Old Norse for "home of the Vanir"[1]) is one of the Nine Worlds and home of the Vanir, a group of gods associated with fertility, wisdom, and the ability to see the future. Vanaheimr is attested in the Poetic Edda; compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources, and the Prose Edda and (in euhemerized form) Heimskringla; both written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson. In the Poetic Edda and the Prose Edda, Vanaheimr is described as the location where the Van god Njörðr was raised. In Norse cosmology, Vanaheimr is considered one of the Nine Worlds.The surviving sources for our information on Norse mythology and religion, as fragmentary as they are, don’t contain any explicit mention of where exactly Vanaheim is located.

ALFHEIM

Alfheim (pronounced “ALF-hame;” Old Norse Álfheimr, “The Homeland of the Elves”) is, as the name suggests, the world inhabited by the elves, a class of demigod-like beings in the pre-Christian mythology and religion of the Norse and other Germanic peoples. Alfheim is never described in the sources that form the basis of our current knowledge of heathen Germanic religion, but is rather merely mentioned in passing in a few places. However, the elves are described as being luminous and “more beautiful than the sun,”[1] so we may suppose that their homeland was a gracious realm of light and beauty. Although the realms that comprise the Nine Worlds of the Norse cosmology are never listed, it seems highly probable that, given the prominence of the elves in Germanic religion, Alfheim was one of them.

MIDGARD

Midgard (Old Norse Miðgarðr, Gothic midjungards, Old English middangeard, Old Saxon middilgard, Old High German mittilgart or mittangard, Proto-Germanic *meðjanagarðaz, “Middle Enclosure”) is one of the Nine Worlds of Norse mythology and an important concept in the pre-Christian worldview of all of the Germanic peoples. It’s the inhabited world, and roughly corresponds to the modern English word and concept of “civilization.” It’s the only one of the Nine Worlds that’s primarily located in the visible world; the others, while they may intersect with the visible world at various points, are first and foremost invisible locations.

NIDAVELLIR

In Old Norse literature, the home of the dwarves is called either Nidavellir (pronounced “NID-uh-vell-eer;” Old Norse Niðavellir, “Low Fields” or “Dark Fields”) or Svartalfheim (pronounced “SVART-alf-hame;” Old Norse Svartálfaheimr, “Homeland of the Black Elves”). The dwarves are master smiths and craftsmen who live beneath the ground. Accordingly, Nidavellir or Svartalfheim was probably thought of as a labyrinthine, subterranean complex of mines and forges. If either of these names is the “original” one – the name that the Vikings used to refer to the dwarves’ homeland – it’s probably Nidavellir. While both names occur only in relatively late and problematic sources, the first source to use the term “Nidavellir” (the poem Völuspá, “The Prophecy of the Seeress”) is older than the first (and only) source to use the term “Svartalfheim” (Snorri Sturluson’s Prose Edda).

JOTUNHEIM

Jotunheim (pronounced “YO-tun-hame;” Old Norse Jötunheimr, “World of the Giants”) is one of the Nine Worlds, and, as the name implies, the homeland of the giants (Old Norse jötnar). Jotunheim is also known as Utgard (pronounced “OOT-guard;” Old Norse Útgarðr, “Beyond the Fence”), a name which establishes the realm as occupying one extreme end of the traditional Germanic conceptual spectrum between the innangard and the utangard. That which is innangard (“inside the fence”) is orderly, law-abiding, and civilized, while that which is utangard (“beyond the fence”) is chaotic, anarchic, and wild. This psychogeography found its natural expression in agrarian land-use patterns, where the fence (the “gard” or garðr of the above terms) separated pastures and fields of crops from the wilderness beyond them.

SVARTALFHEIM

In Old Norse literature, the home of the dwarves is called either Nidavellir (pronounced “NID-uh-vell-eer;” Old Norse Niðavellir, “Low Fields” or “Dark Fields”) or Svartalfheim (pronounced “SVART-alf-hame;” Old Norse Svartálfaheimr, “Homeland of the Black Elves”). The dwarves are master smiths and craftsmen who live beneath the ground. Accordingly, Nidavellir or Svartalfheim was probably thought of as a labyrinthine, subterranean complex of mines and forges. If either of these names is the “original” one – the name that the Vikings used to refer to the dwarves’ homeland – it’s probably Nidavellir.

HEL

Hel (Old Norse Hel, “Hidden;” pronounced like the English word “Hell”) is the most general name for the underworld where many of the dead dwell. It’s presided over by a fearsome goddess whose name is also Hel. Occasionally, it’s also referred to as “Helheim,” “The Realm of Hel,” although this is much more common in the secondary literature than in the Old Norse primary sources. Like physical graves, Hel was thought to be located underground. Some sources also place it in the north, the direction which is cold and dark like the grave. A dog is sometimes said to guard its entrance, much like Cerberus in Greek mythology.

NIFLHEIM

Niflheim (pronounced “NIF-el-hame;” from Old Norse Niflheimr, “World of Fog”) is one of the Nine Worlds of Norse mythology and the homeland of primordial darkness, cold, mist, and ice. As such, it’s the opposite cosmological principle of Muspelheim, the world of fire and heat. In the Norse creation narrative as related by the medieval Christian Icelandic historian Snorri Sturluson, the first being, the giant Ymir, was born when ice from Niflheim and fire from Muspelheim met in the middle of Ginnungagap, the abyss that had formerly separated them..