In the cosmology of Norse mythology, Ginnungagap, which can be interpreted to mean "seeming emptiness", is the primordial void separating Niflheim, the land of eternal ice and snow and Muspellheim, the land of eternal heat and flame.
In the beginning, before the world of men and gods existed, the spring Hvergelmir, deep in the frozen wastes of Niflheim, gave rise to eleven rivers known as the Elivagar. Over a long forgotten period of time, the waters of these frigid rivers ran across Niflheim and poured into the northern part of Ginnungagap. The waters then froze, forming vast sheets of ice in the void. Hot air and sparks of fire from Muspell melted some of the ice, thus creating a zone of meltwater wthin this voidless gap. It is here that life began…
In Norse mythology, Yggdrasil ("The Terrible One's Steed"), also called the World Tree, is the giant ash tree that links and shelters all of creation. Other names for this Mighty Tree include; Great Ash, Yggdrasil, Hoddmimir's Wood, the World Pillar, Laerad and Odin's Horse to name but a few.
It sprang from the mighty giant Ymir's body, (whom Odin/Vili/Ve slew, read the Edda's for more on this), to support the entire universe of nine distinct realms from its life-giving energies. These realms, or Worlds-All-Wide, that are held together and reached by the Mighty Tree are believed not only to be real but to exist both in the cosmos of the universe, as well as within each individual's personal essence, or spirit, on a tri-centric level.
These are realms not only of beings, but also of emotions, feelings, and mentalities. These worlds are connected by the world tree of one's spinal column, and can be reached via travelling the branches, roots, limbs and trunks either astrally or meditatively. Some are also connected via special bridges such as Bifrost, the Rainbow Bridge, that connects Midgard to Asgard; and Gjoll, the bridge connecting the dark under-realms of Hel to those realms of light above.
The first level, that of the two higher realms: Asgard, Realm of the Ćsir; and Alfheim, Land of the Light Elves;
The second level, that of the base realms: Niflheim, World of Mist; Vanaheim, Realm of the Vanir; Midgard, Land of humans; Jotunheim, Land of the Giants; and Muspellheim, World of Fire.
The third level, that of the lower realms: Svartalfheim, Land of the Dwarven Elves; and Helheim, Realm of the Dead.
On the day of Ragnarok, the fire giant Surt will set this world tree of life on fire, thus bringing forth destruction on a massive scale. Yet, in the end, from out of chaos, order will once again be restored.
ÁsgardR - The abode of the Aesir Gods and Goddesses; the highest plane of mind/spirit ~ the realm of Higher Influences, those of Spiritual Consciousness and of Örlog.
ÁsgardR, in Norse mythology, is one of the nine worlds and the homeland of the Ćsir, the race of warrior gods. Located on the highest level of the Norse universe, it is surrounded by a high wall of closely fitted stone blocks. I is most often reached by the Rainbow Bridge, Bifrost, although there are other, less known, ways into this realm.
Thorr must cross the rivers Kormt and Ormt and two Kerlaugs, (referred to as baths), to enter into Asgard for fear of destroying the bridge with his chariot.
In the middle of Asgard lies the central plain of Idavoll. Here are located many halls of the gods.
Among them are: Gladsheim, the shining home where the gods assemble; and Vingolf, wherein dwell the goddesses; and also Bilskirnir, Thorr's Hall of Thunder. The watch-seat, or throne of the All-Father, Liđskjálf, is located within Valaskjálf, the silver halls of Váli.
Here also is located the Hall of Heroes, known as Valhalla, where half of those mortals who have heroically fallen in battle are received by Odin, for Freyja receives the first half within her mansion FólkvangR, all to await the final conflict of Ragnorok.
The gods also meet daily at the Well of Urd, beneath the Asgardian root of the ash tree Yggdrasil, to decide important issues.
LjossalfheimR - Realm of the Light Alfs, or the Light Elves, also known as The Fae Folk ~ the realm of Mental Influences, those of Feelings and of Intellect and of Huginn.
AlfheimR, as it is oft called, is located on the highest level of the Norse universe, along with the realm of AsgardR. It is depicted as a wide expanse of white light, not unlike the Astral World.
Alfheim is the abode of the light elfs and was gifted to their ruler, FreyR, as his tooth fee. There are many different kinds of Ljósálfar, most who are friendly, while there are others who are hostile.
Neither the elves of light nor the elves of darkness, who live in SvartalfheimR, appear to participate in any of the events described in the Norse myths.
Elfin Kin do, however, have active roles in the literature of quite a few of the other branches of Indo-European mythology.
There are some Folk who readily believe that the Disir, the Fylgia, and the Valkyriur are of the Ljósálfar.
NiflheimR - The Fog World. A region of cold and darkness, unshaped and difficult to travel through ~ the realm of Risistant Influences, those of Icy Energies and of Conflicts and of Dormancy.
Niflheim, ("house of mists"), the realm of primordial creation, lies underneath the third root of Yggdrasil, close to the spring Hvergelmir, ("roaring cauldron"), and is the far northern region of icy fogs and mists, darkness and cold.
It is the negative pole in the Law of Polarity, and is located opposite Muspellhiem on the same plane as MidgardR.
Many unknown creatures, including a race of giants, dwell within its murky dampness.
VanaheimR - The abode of the Vanir Gods and Goddesses; primarily Elementals and of Fae Kin ~ the realm of Balancing Influences, those of Intellect and of Feelings and of Well-Being.
In Norse myth, the Vanir are originally a group of wild nature, water, and fertility gods and goddesses, the sworn enemies of the warrior gods of the Aesir. They were considered to be the bringers of health, youth, fertility, luck and wealth, and masters of magic.
All the gods of the Vanir were subsequently integrated with the Asgardians during the troth of peace after the War of Gullveig, whereupon all the gods were then referred to as Ćsir, and most of the Vanir went to AsgardR to reside.
With them they took their knowledge of herbs, magick and witchcraft. Unfortunately, there is not much known about the Vanir of the time before the assimilation.
MidgardR - You Are Here! The Physical Universe which was shaped from out of chaos ~ the realm of Life Influences, those of The Body and of The Self and of The Ego.
In Norse myth MidgardR means middle earth or middle garden, and it is the defensive fortress which the gods built about the middle portion of the earth allotted to human beings in order to protect them from the giants.
It is the realm in which the soul and the body are maintained as one for the single purpose of attaining evolutionary consciouness, and is the central axis point of the tri-centric model.
Positioned in betwixt Muspellheim and Niflheim, with verticle access to the realms of Vanaheim, the land of symbolic fruitfulness; and also to Jotunheim, the land of entropic chaos; this middle realm is the field of action where all interactions may take place, so that we may grow and become vigilant at every turn of our personal spiritual path.
JotunheimR - Abode of the Jotuns; the source of disturbances and doubt/fear ~ the realm of Confusional Influences, those of Disruptive Motion and of Crisis.
Jotunheim, the homeland of the Frost Giants and Rock Giants alike, is situated in Midgard, on the middle level of the Norse universe, and is separated from Asgard by the river Iving, which never freezes over.
It lies in the snowy regions on the outermost shores of the ocean. Mimir's well of wisdom lies in Jotunheim, beneath the Midgard root of the ash tree Yggdrasil, next to his own tree Mimameid, the Tree of Knowledge.
Jotunheim is ruled by Thrym ("uproar"), the feared king of the frost giants. The stronghold of Utgard, the chief city of Jotunheim and the abode of the giants, is ruled by the giant Utgard-Loki.
Other strongholds known to exist within this realm include Gastropnir, ("strangling the intruder"), home of the giantess Menglad, and Thrymheim ("house of uproar"), the mountain stronghold of the giant Skadi, Thiazi's daughter, who is Asynjur by marriage.
MuspellheimR - Abode of the sons of Muspel, the Fire Giants. The plane of dynamic action, chaos, & energy ~ the realm of Vital Energies, those of Fiery Emotions and of Intuition and of Activity.
Muspellheim, ("home of desolation"), often referred to as Muspell, is a flaming, torrid region of fire, the land far to the south, whose animated coals melted the frozen hoar-frost of Niflheim and together created the first living beings. Most of the celestial bodies were also made from its sparks, which flew out into space.
It is the positive pole in the Law of Polarity, and is located opposite Nifllhiem on the same tri-centric plane as MidgardR.
Muspell is ruled by the fire giant Surt, whose wife is Sinmore. It is he who, at the final battle of Ragnarok, will set the World Tree on fire and kill the unarmed god Freyr with his own sword, given up for the hand of Gerd.
SvartalfheimR - Realm of the Dark Elves, also referred to as Dwarves ~ the realm of Emotional Influences, those of Sensations and of Emotions and of Muninn.
Svartalfheim, also referred to as Nidavellir, is the counterpart to the Elves of Light and is the abode of the Dwarves. For when Midgard was formed of the flesh of the giant Ymir, the maggots in his decaying flesh were turned into Dwarves by Bor's sons. They burrow away at the earth and are the ones who create great crafts in all kinds of metals.
Mótsognir is the fist dwarven ruler, followed by Durin. Nýi and Nithi are known to be the Waxing and Waning Moon. Four notable Dwarves are named after the positions they stand in holding aloft Ymir's brain-pan, now known as the sky; - Nordhri, Sudhri, Austri, and Vestri; North, South, East, and West, respectively. There are some 67 dwarves listed in the roster given in the Poetic Edda.
Little is known of this hidden realm, except that it is symbolically underground in MidgardR, and contains a vast storehouse of etheric rune energies awaiting the seeker to tap into their collective treasures, which are comprised of creative formations of the original patterns.
HelheimR - Hella's realm, Land of the Dead; the deepest part of the mind/sprit ~ the realm of Hidden, Supressed Desires, those of Unconscious Destruction and of Örlog.
The connection between this realm and Niflheim can be confusing to some, for this cold, dark and misty abode of the dead is said to be located in the world of Niflheim, yet on the lowest level of the Norse universe.
The way to this realm is through the land of the mountain giants. The entrance of which is over the impassable river Gjoll that ever flows from the spring Hvergelmir and encircles Helheim. Only by crossing the bridge Gjoll, guarded over by Modgud the Watchful, and then entering Gnipahellir, the jutting-cave, guarded by Garm, a monstrous hound, may one gain entrance.
Once they enter Helheim, no one can ever leave this place, not even the gods can leave. Those who die of old age or disease, and those not killed in battle, go to Helheim while those who die bravely on the battlefield go to Valhalla in AsgardR.
The giant Hraesvelg, ("corpse eater"), sits at the edge of this realm, overlooking Helheim from the top of Yggdrasil. In the form of an eagle with flapping wings he makes the wind blow so the putrid smell does not grow stagnent for those here, for this is not the place of torment.
There is, however, said to be a location within this realm - Nástrandir, the corpse strands - where no sunlight reaches a large and horrible hall whose doors face north far from the sun. It is made of the backs of serpents woven together like wattle-work, with all their heads turning in to the house, and serpent skins cover the walls, all spewing poison so that rivers of it run through this hall, while through its smoke vent venom steadily drips.
Perjurers and oath-breakers, vile murderers and men forsworn, philanderers and artful seducers of other men's wives ever wade these horrendous rivers, while Nidhögg sucks blood from the bodies of the dead and gnaws on the roots of Yggdrasil, also the Wolf continually rends them.
This then concludes a brief introduction to the realms which abound in Norsk mythology. Any questions- don't hesitate t' ask 'em.
copyright © 2000 Reverend Godhi Yens Jensen all rights reserved