This page is intended as a reference guide for students of Teutonic mythology. When completed, it will hopefully be a compilation of all the known deities of the pre-Chistian Germans and Norse. The format will consist of a Name and a description of the divinity. The description will include areas of authority, attributes, images, appearance, and selected comments or stories which might help characterize the divinity better. As I implied above, this is an ongoing work which, at the moment, is incomplete. I most certainly solicit comments and contributions; if you have additional information for me (or complaints, for that matter), I ask only that you try to supply documentation in support of what you have to say.
Here is a catalogue, hopefully reasonably complete, of known Teutonic God-forms. The information here is necessarily brief; a full accounting of all these entities would be a massive book in its own right. What is included here is:
a Name, (a translation of the name, if I know it)the culture that name occurs in, any important epithets or sobriquets that are associated with the Name, and a basic description of spheres of influence, attributes, and/or descriptive stories, and FATE, if known: the Norse believed in a deterministic, predestined world, one in which even the Gods could not avoid their fates.
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Ægir Norse A God of the Sea, he is connected to Ran, and may be her consort. Ægir controls the conditions and moods of the sea's surface, and he is said to have fathered nine daughters (Bara, Bylgia, Blodughadda, Dufa, Hefring, Himinglaeva, Hronn, Kolga, and Unn), each a different type of wave; and they, as a collective entity, are the parent of Heimdall.
The Alcis Germanic A pair of Divine twins, they are obscure and their function is lost. They are known to be descendents of a sky god, and their surviving images portray them on linked together, each riding a horse.
Anðrimnir Norse Valhalla's cook, it is He who prepares Særimne, the divine boar whose flesh is consumed each night by the heroes in Oðinn's Hall, arising again each day for the next feast. Anðrimnir accomplishes this with the help of Eldrimne, the Cauldron of Endless Provision.
Auðumla Norse A Primal Being, in the form of a cow who provided nourishment for the Primal giant Ymir and, licking the salty ice present at the beginning of creation, freed (or perhaps sculpted?) another Primal being, Buri.
Balder Norse Second son of Oðinn and Frigga, father of Forseti. He was made more-or-less invulnerable to harm by his mother, who obtained warrants from all created things that they would not slay or injure him; she neglected, however, to extract such an oath from the mistletoe. A dart from which was made by Loki, who induced the Blind God Hoder to cast it at Balder, and thus encompassing His Fate. Balder seems to be a Solar Deity, and is usually refered to as "the Good God", or "the Bright One". FATE: To be slain unitentionally by Hoder, at the behest and plot of Loki. After Ragnarok, He accompanies Hoder out of the ruins of Hel's domain, and begins anew the rebuilding of the world.
BerthaGermanic She appears as a stout, plain-looking, hausfrau-ish sort of middle-aged woman with a kindly nature and sweet disposition. She was known primarily as a protectress, guide and guardian of the souls of unborn children. Nowadays, she still retains some presence in folk memory as a guardian of the souls of unbaptized infants. She has been conflated with a number of other divinities, and has been regarded as an Aspect of Nerthus, Freyja, and as a female Aspect of Oðinn.
Bestla Norse A Giantess, consort of Bor, and mother of Oðinn by Bor.
Bil Norse The waning moon. One of a trio alongside Hjuke and Mani.
Bor Norse Son of the Primal being Buri, Bor is the father of Oðinn, Vili, and Ve by His giantess consort Bestla, and is thus the ancestor of the Aesir.
Bragi Norse God of poetry and eloquence, the son of Oðinn, and consort of Idunn. He is often associated with Aegir. Written comments about him often refer to him as "Longbeard".
Buri Norse A Primal being, coalesced out of the First Ice, and freed from within the block by the cow Auðumla. The father of Bor.
The Disir Norse A class of protective spirits, concerned especially with female concerns, particularly childbirth.
Donar Germanic God of Storms and Thunder, whose Attribute is the hammer, or maul. The continental equivalent of Thor.
Dwalin Norse Chief of the Dwarves, and Lord of Svartalfheim.
Eir Norse Goddess of medicine and the healing arts. She dwells at Lyfjaberg - the Hill of Healing - and, with Her nine servant-demigoddesses (Aurboda, Bleik, Blid, Bjort, Frid, Hlif, Hlifthrasa, Menglad, and Thjodvara), spreads knowledge and practice of the medical arts.
Elen Anglo-Saxon A sea-Goddess, particularly focussed as a protectress and patroness of seafarers and sailors. She is clearly a source for or derivation of Nehalennia, a Gaulish Goddess with very similar attributes.
Elli Norse Goddess of old age, appearing as a haggard crone. She challenges Thor to a wrestling match, and wins handily in a contest which makes the obvious statement about the fate of youthful vigor at the hands of Time.
Eostre Anglo-Saxon The English equivalent of the continental Ostara.
Fenrir (also Fenris or Hrodvitnir) Norse Child of Loki, an immense sky-wolf, chained until Ragnarok, the End of Days. Most tales have Him as the parent of the Varns. FATE: To break the chain (Gleipnir) which binds Him, and run raging across the world, then to be slain by Vidar.
Fjorgyn Norse An obscure and very ancient Deity of somewhat ambiguous gender; usually seen as female. She is a fertility Goddess, and may be the mother (or perhaps father) of Frigga.
Forseti Norse Son of Balder, he was a Deity of judgement and arbitration in disputes. He also occurs on the continent, especially in Frisia, under the same name.
Frea Lombard Consort of Godan and the Lombard equivalent of Frigga.
Freyja (lady) Norse A Vanir Goddess dwelling in Asgarð, twin sister to Freyr and child of Njord, She is a fertility Deity, and has authority over boars, falcons, goats, and cats. She is linked to divinatory crafts, and thus may be considered an oracular Goddess. Tales of her numerous liasons and affairs with Gods and mortals are very extensive, and She is spoken of as being the most approachable of the Gods in regard to petitioners and supplicants.
Freyr (lord) Norse A Vanir God dwelling in Asgard, twin brother to Freyja and child of Njord, he is a fertility Deity, and has authority over boars and horses. He had links to seasonality, and His blessing of each season in its turn was required in order for things to proceed well thereafter. Additionally, he governs weather, especially as it applies to farming, ie. rain and sunshine. FATE: To be slain in personal combat by Surt.
Frigga Norse Consort of Oðinn and Queen of Heaven, She is Goddess of the matronly virtues and of childbirth, especially midwivery. She has links to fertility concerns, and is a Protector of the household. Her attributes seem to have been conflated with Freyja to a limited degree, for they both are said to weep, and both are said to be able to transform into a falcon.
Frija Germanic Consort of Wotan, the continental equivalent of the Norse Frigga.
Fulla Norse An obscure Goddess, an attendent or perhaps sister of Frigga.
Fylgja (plur. Fylgjur) Norse Animal totems, spirit-doubles who guide and guard a soul throughout it's life. They appear as various animal forms, though wolves are most often seen. They usually appear in dreams and trances, where they give warnings or advice - if they are seen in material form, it is a death-omen. See also, Hamingja.
Garm Norse The Hound of Hel, the watchdog chained to the gates of Under-Earth. The coming of Ragnarok will be signaled by His breaking the binding, allowing Him to run feral over the earth. FATE: He will slay and be slain by Tyr.
Gefjun Norse Goddess of agriculture and the plough, with authority over oxenkind. She is said to have created Zeeland, off Denmark, by yoking her four sons to a plough and digging the channel separating it from the mainland. A virginal Deity, She is said to be attended by all women who die as virgins.
Gerd Norse A giantess, consort to Freyr. Their union symbolizes the marriage of earth with sky.
Gna Norse A messenger and assistant to Frigga, one who travels the various worlds on Her Mistress' business.
Godan Lombard The Lombardic equivalent of Oðinn.
Groa Norse A sorceress and medicine-woman, first wife of Orvandil, and mother by Him of Hadding and Svipdag. She figures primarily in a tale in which Thor, injured with a whetstone imbedded in his forehead, recieves aid from her which ultimately fails when he incautiously relates that He has assisted Orvandil to return home, flustering an overjoyed Groa into forgetting Her enchantment. Thor thus retains a fragment of stone in His head, which figures in a complicated taboo among the Norse against hurling whetstones across rooms.
Gullveig Norse A Vanir, and one of the chief opponents of the Æsir. Note carefully, comments about Her are entirely from an Æsir point of view: They paint Her in exceedingly black terms, describing Her as a witch and sorceress of immense and malefic power. She apparently led the Vanir in an assault upon the Hall of the Æsir - three times She gained entry into the Hall, three times she was pierced with spears and destroyed by infernos, three times she arose from the ashes to cast more curses and evil spells. She is connected in obscure but important ways with both Freyja and Loki: some tales imply that She is an Aspect of Freya (she is, for example, regarded as having oracular powers), others allude to her being an associate of Freya's. Her heart was said to have been eaten by Loki, who thereby became vastly more evil than He had been before. She is also said to be the mother of many entities that Loki is said to have given birth to, Jormungand, Hel, and Fenrir, so perhaps there is a conflation between Her and Loki. She is also said to be the mother, or creator, of many creatures of earthly terror, werewolves chief among them. Her name means "Gold-Strength".
Hamingja (plur. Hamingjur) Norse Any of a number of guardian spirits who accompany mortal souls during the course of their lives. Always female and normally unseen, they provide luck, especially to those born with a caul. See also, Fylgja.
Heimdall Norse The child, corporately, of the nine wave-daughters of Ægir, He is the Guardian of Asgarð, He stands by Bifrost (the rainbow, the bridge between Midgarð and Asgarð) and watches for the approach of enemies. Able to see in the darkest of nights, and able to hear as faint a thing as grass growing, He has links with Freyja, and the sea. FATE: To slay and be slain by Loki.
Hel Norse Daughter of Loki, ruler of Under-Earth, the Realm of Hel, and Queen of the dead (except for the heroes and valiant ones who have a place with Oðinn at Valhalla).
Hermod Norse A messenger of Asgarð, He is mentioned most often in connection with the unsuccessful attempt to retrieve Balder from the realm of the dead.
Hjuke Norse The waxing Moon. One of a trio, alongside Bil and Mani.
Hlin Norse A messenger and assistant to Frigga, one who protects those whom Her Mistress wishes to defend.
HoderNorse An obscure Deity, called the Blind God, who unwittingly was induced to slay Balder by Loki. FATE: To be slain in turn by Vali. After Ragnarok, He accompanies Balder out of the ruins of Hel's domain, and begins anew the rebuilding of the world.
Hoenir Norse God of divination and priestly function among the Aesir; thus, He may be considered an oracular Divinity. He is also known to continental Teutons, by the same name. With Oðinn and Loður, He formed mankind; His Gift was sentience. He is often refered to as "the Silent God".
Huginn (thought)Norse One of the two ravens who attend Oðinn, and are often seen sitting on his shoulders.
Huldra Norse The Scandinavian equivalent of Bertha.
Idunn Norse Consort of Bragi, and Guardian of the golden apples of immortality. When She is abducted by Giants, the Gods begin to age, and She is the subject of a heroic rescue mission.
Irmin Germanic A Warrior God, associated with tree-sanctuaries in the forests of ancient Saxony.
Jormungand Norse Offspring of Loki, the Midgard Serpent, a world-girdling serpent who lies dormant (usually) until the end of time. He continually gnaws at the roots of Yggdrasil, the World-Tree, causing a creeping rot that will topple the Tree at Ragnarok, and meanwhile being the source of earthquakes. FATE:To rise out of the sea, unwrapping itself from the world, and to slay and be slain by Thor.
Karl Teutonic God of peasants, and progenitor of the race of peasants. His name forms a root of the words "Carle" and "Churl".
Kvasir Norse A God of wisdom, created corporately by the Aesir and Vanir, to include all their combined knowledge. FATE: To be slain by Dwarves who use His blood as an ingredient in a mead of Knowledge.
Loður Norse An early Deity who, with Oðinn and Hoenir formed mankind. Loður's Gift was hair and fairness of face.
Lofn (permitter) Norse A Patroness of marriage, especially involved with couples whose unions may be forbidden by their families; She is said to be good to pray to for support and eventual reconciliation in such matters.
Loki Norse A complex and controversial figure, Loki seems to represent the force of chaos. His actions can be seen as on the one hand as mischievious, with an intent to provide the Gods with challenges and ultimately trivial difficulties; or He can be seen as wholly Evil, bent on nothing less than hastening the day of Ragnarok and the destruction of the Gods. Of somewhat ambiguous gender, He is the progenitor of a number of entities, including Fenrir, Hel, and Jormungand. After he was implicated in the slaying of Balder, the Gods lost all tolerance for him, and bound him in hideous circumstances, there to lie until Ragnarok. FATE: To be bound by the viscera of one of his own sons to a rock under dripping venom, shielded at intervals by his consort Sigyn. Breaking free at the end of Time, he will slay and be slain by Heimdall.
Magni Norse A son of Thor and Sif, possessed of more physical strength than all the Gods save perhaps His father. FATE:He shall survive Ragnarok and, with his brother Modi's help, drag Thor's Hammer Mjollnir to the meadows where the survivors will gather to rebuild the world.
Mani Norse The Moon, considered as a divinity. He is always accompanied by Bil and Hjuke.
Meili Norse Very obscure; spoken of as being Thor's brother, in one reference that I've seen.
Mimir Norse A Giant, said to be the wisest of all created beings, He guards a sacred well of knowledge that Oðinn sought, and sacrificed an eye to obtain a drink from. Mimir seems to have been hostaged to and later slain by the Vanir. Nevertheless, his head was said to have remained by the well and, conscious and aware, be capable of continued guardianship and oracular pronouncement. Note several parallels with Bran the Blessed.
Modi Norse A son of Thor and Sif, He is very little spoken of otherwise. He is sometimes spoken of as the Patron of Berserkers and the battle-mad. FATE:He shall survive Ragnarok and, with his brother Magni's help, drag Thor's Hammer Mjollnir to the meadows where the survivors will gather to rebuild the world.
Muninn (memory)Norse One of the two ravens who attend Oðinn, and are often seen sitting on his shoulders.
Nanna Norse A vegetation or fertility Goddess, and consort of Balder. FATE:She dies of grief at Balders untimely ending.
Nerthus Danish An Earth-Mother Goddess associated with fertility and also works of pacification and diplomacy. The name Nerthus is a Latin attempt at pronouncing Her real name. She may very well have been a sister or female counterpart to Njord. See also, Bertha.
Niðogg Norse A huge serpent or dragon who gnaws at the roots of Yggdrasil, thus weakening the World-Tree in anticipation of Ragnarok. This disturbance of the Tree's foundations is felt in Midgard as earthquakes. In a variant, Niðogg is said to haunt Niflheim, where He devours the corpses of those who were evil in life.
Njord Norse A Vanir Deity dwelling among the Aesir as a hostage, He is God of the sea and winds, and a patron of shipmastery, fishing, travel by sea. Consort of Skadi, father of Freyr and Freyja, he is quite likely to be associated in some manner with Nerthus.
Oðinn Norse Chief of the Aesir, Master of Asgarð, Lord of the Universe, and consort of Frigga. He is one of the earliest Gods, and with Hoenir and Loður formed mankind out of the primal trees, Ask and Embla; His Gift was the Breath of Life.With the assistance of the other Aesir, He drove out the Giants, and established the structure of the world as we know it. He commanded the Aesir in their primal war against the competing race of Gods, the Vanir; and it was under His auspices that accord was reached with them. He is primarily a warrior's God, and he welcomes valiant fighters and heroes to Valhalla, where they train for Ragnarok. Aside from His martial qualities, though, He is also a divinity of inner knowledge, a shaman's divinity. He ceaselessly searches the world for new sources of information, and has literally crucified himself, a "sacrifice of Myself, to Myself" as He relates it, to gain the runes, and later sacrificed an eye to Mimir for a draught from the Well of Knowledge. According to Norse mores, He can be criticized in this, as it was considered very unwise to know too much of ones own Destiny; Oðinn knows, all too well, what is to be. His image in Western culture has heavily influenced the archetypal picture of a wizard; a tall, white-bearded male dressed in gray cloak and wide brimmed hat, a bandaged eye, with a raven familiar (see Huginn and Muninn) on His shoulder. FATE: He is to be slain and devoured in single combat with Fenrir.
Orvandil Norse An astral being associated with wind and weather, and also figuring as the constellation Orion. Husband first of Groa, and then of Sif, he is thus the father of Hadding and Svipdag by His first spouse, and possibly Uller by his second.
Ostara Germanic Fertility Goddess, one especially connected with the rebirth of spring and the new year.
Ran Norse Probable consort of Aegir, She is a storm and weather Goddess who requires regular offerings of souls in the deeps of the ocean. These sea-dead reside in Her undersea hall, as something of an exception to the general Fate of Valhalla or Hel for mortals.
Rind Germanic An Earth-Goddess, or perhaps a Giantess. Said to be the mother, by Oðinn of Vali.
Saga (things spoken of) Norse Goddess of storytellers and, more particularly, the heritage and record of families and clans.
Seaxneat Anglo-Saxon A tutelary Deity about which not much is known. His name perhaps means "Sword (or Axe)-Companion", and he may be a local variant of Tyr.
Sif Norse A Grain Goddess, second consort of Orvandil and mother of Uller. Unsurprisingly, She has long, golden hair.
Sigyn Norse Consort of Loki, She is best known in her office of bearing a bowl above her bound husband to preserve him from being spattered with acid venom (His Fate after being seized by vengeful Asgarders following the murder of Balder) between times that she must leave His side to empty the bowl.
Siofn (affectionate) Norse Goddess of love affairs and liasons.
Skadi Norse Consort of Njord, although they live apart from one another (He cannot abide the mountains, She cannot abide the sea). A huntress and archer, rather similar in many was to the Hellenic Artemis. It was she who came up with the idea of suspending a venomous snake over the bound Loki, following his capture after the murder of Balder.
Skoll and Hati (the Varns) Norse A pair of spectral wolves; Skoll pursues the Sun in it's daily course, and Hati chases the Moon. They cause eclipses when the nearly catch up with their respective prey. FATE: They will seize the sun and moon at Ragnarock, and devour them, ending time in this cycle.
Skuld (what is owed)Norse A Norn, one of the trio charged with controlling Destiny. It is Skuld who cuts the thread of a life. See Urd and Verdandi.
Snotra Norse A Goddess of wisdom and courtesy.
Surt Norse Lord of the Fire Giants and ruler of Muspellheim. He dwells in the far south, where he awaits the time of Ragnarok.
Syn (denial)Norse A gate-warden, one who bars entry to those not permitted to do so. She also is invoked by those wishing to refute charges laid against them at assemblies.
ThorNorse One of the most popular and enduring of the Gods, Thor is a Warrior, Storm-God, and Champion of Justice. Of immense personal strength, He wields the hammer Mjollnir, which thunders when striking, and is a lightning bolt when hurled. Thor's personal image is that of a towering red haired and bearded fellow, hard drinking and with a prodigious appetite. His ongoing feud with all of Giant-kind is legendary, eternal, and unremitting. Roaring with laughter or seething with uncontrollable rage, He is a Deity of vast dimensions and spirit. Note several strong parallels with the Slavic Perun. FATE:He will combat Jormungand and slay it, although He will be mortally wounded. He is fated to walk away from the corpse, and then collapse.
Thrym Norse A king in Jotunheim, and perhaps Lord of all the Frost Giants. FATE: He steals and conceals Thor's Hammer, Mjollnir. Thor recovers it by means of a ruse, and slays Thrym.
Thunor Anglo-SaxonThe Anglo-Saxon equivalent of Thor.
Tiwaz Germanic The continental equivalent of Tyr.
TyrNorse A War God, similar in some respects to Oðinn, although He has a reputation of being having more rectitude as a judge and ruler. He is said to be one-handed, having lost a hand to Fenrir when the Wolf was chained up. FATE: He will slay and be slain in combat with Garm.
UllerNorse A Sky God, perhaps a Vanir residing among the Aesir. His mother was Sif, and he was fostered to Thor as step-son. He is a fertility God, with links to the air, to the sea, and especially to Justice: the Gods were said to swear oaths over a ring He possessed. He is also noted often as being a superlative archer.
Urd (destiny)Norse A Norn, one of the trio charged with controlling Destiny. It is Urd who spins the stuff of life into thread. See Skuld and Verdandi.
ValiNorse A son of Oðinn by Rind, a warrior who avenges Balder by slaying Hoder. FATE:He survives Ragnarok, and comes to the meadows of Idavoll with the other survivors, to build the world anew.
The ValkyriesNorseThese are a set of female spirits whose function it is to ride the winds and attend battles, there to choose the heroic and brave from among the slain and guide them to Valhalla. They sometimes appear as swan-maidens, an example of which is the story of Volund. When not in battle, the act as servants in Valhalla. They are named in at least one source: Geirahod, Goll, Gunn, Herfiotur, Hild, Hlokk, Hrist, Mist, Radgrid, Randgrid, Reginleif, Rota, Skeggiold, Skogul, Skuld, and Thrud. The Germanic Shield-Maiden Brynhilde is also said to be a Valkyrie; and the three maidens who loved Volund and his two brothers, Hladgud Svan-Hvit, Hervor the Wise, and Olrun were also Valkyries. Note a close parallel here with the Celtic Morrigan.
VarNorse A Goddess of contracts and agreements, especially private ones between men and women. She is said to punish those who break their word in such things.
VeNorse One of the Primal Gods, a younger brother of Oðinn. He assisted his brothers in the building of the world out of the remains of Ymir.
Verdandi (happening)Norse A Norn, one of the trio charged with controlling Destiny. It is Verdandi who measures out the length of a life. See Skuld and Urd.
VidarNorse A son of Oðinn, a warrior God about whom not much is known. He, Like Hoenir, is described as a "Silent One", and seems to noted for His loyalty and perserverance. One odd detail that emerges is that in fulfilling His Fate, he must use shoes built from all the scrap leather discarded over the ages. FATE:He avenges Odhinn by slaying Fenrir (doing so by literally stepping into Its jaws - hence the need for strong shoes (see above) - and running It through), and becomes one of those surviving Ragnarok and dwelling at Idavoll.
ViliNorse One of the Primal Gods, a younger brother of Oðinn. He assisted his brothers in the building of the world out of the remains of Ymir.
Vjofn Norse Goddess of concord and reconciliation. An attendent of Frigga, whose office it is to heal quarrels among mortals.
Vor (aware)Norse Goddess of curiosity and finding things out. As with many Norse Goddesses, this is especially relevant in regards to relationships. Other authorities regard Her as Goddess of contracts and oaths, seeing in Her name a root of "Vow".
VolundNorse A craftsman who loved the Valkyrie Hervor the Wise, who lived with him for seven years, but disappeared at length. He pines for her, but awaits her return, making wondrous jewelry and artifacts in the meantime. Set upon by an outlaw king and his sons, he is hamstrung and marooned on a small island with a smithy at his disposal. He encompasses the death of the sons, the violation of their sister (who wears the ring he gave to his own love, stolen from him), and escapes the isle on a pair of contrived wings. He was a byword for the art of the smith, and the forging of miraculous objects; and he seems to have had a geas placed upon him with respect to his craft, to the effect that he could not refuse any commission, no matter how impossible the task, once he had been offered a payment. Note the very typical thread of the maimed smith. Other references to Volund regard Him as the King and ruler of Svartalfheim, land of the Dwarves, a confusing image if he is, in fact, the son of Wade.
Volva Norse Apparently a Norn, or several Norns; Giantess crone or crones, in any case. She (or they) are summoned by Oðinn and instruct him in the lore of Destiny and Ragnarok, albeit unwillingly. The confusion about number arises from the use of both 1st and 2nd person pronouns in the poetic account of of the interview, the Voluspa.
Wade Anglo-Saxon A giant, said to be the father of Weyland.
Weyland Anglo-Saxon The Anglo-Saxon equivalent of Volund.
Woden Anglo-Saxon The Anglo-Saxon equivalent to Oðinn.
Wotan Germanic The continental equivalent of Oðinn.
Yggdrasil Norse The World-Tree upon and around which all of reality is contructed.
Ymir Norse The Primal Giant, the Being who first emerged from the ice of the yawning Void. He battled unsuccessfully against later arrivals, who used his corpse to form the world (His blood became the sea, his skull the vault of the sky, his bones the mountains, his brains the clouds, etc.). For an interesting parallel in another culture, cf. Tiamat.
The Nine Worlds. Teutonic, and especially Norse, cosmology postulated that the universe consisted of nine different worlds, or realms. Each formed a sector defined by the roots of Yggdrasil, the Ash tree that provides the framework of all reality. Each world could be accessed by any of the others, with attendent difficulties; most indwellers tended their own concerns, and left the wandering to heroes, wizards, and Gods. The notion of these individual regions is so central to an understanding of Teutonic world-views, that it reasonable to provide at least some cursory notes on them...
Alfheim The Realm of the Alfar, in English, the Elves. It was sometimes called "Ljossalfheim" the home of the bright elves. This was a region of forest and meadow, sea and islands; a pleasant and sunny place where dwelt the Elven peoples. They don't seem to have been drastically different than Humans; perhaps somewhat taller, much more nobly proportioned and fair to look upon, certainly longer lived. J.R.R. Tolkien portrays the Nordic Elven type quite fairly in his famous fantasy trilogy. In that Jotunheim lies in the East, Muspellheim is clearly South, and Niflheim is just as obviously North, one can imply that Alfheim is in the West, beyond the seas.
Asgarð The home and Realm of the Æsir Gods; located high up in the branches of the World-Tree, and not unexpectedly the most difficult of access - the only entry seems to have been across Bifrost, the rainbow, and one had to get past Heimdall the sentry as well. Within this divine region were many halls and bright dwellings, usually roofed in precious metals. The geography and nature of the region was not much otherwise specified, beyond off-hand suggestions that it comprised a Nordic style paradise: tall mountains, bright sunlight, crisp and bracing air, green forests and meadows.
Hel An underworld region; black, frigid, fetid, dreary, and toxic. It is both the name of the land, and the name of it's ruler, the Goddess Hel, Queen of the Dead. This region seems to have been the final destination of most of humanity; only heroes gained admittance to Valhalla, in Asgarð (but, see an exception in the Hall of Ran). About the best that can be said of the place is that the Dead seem not to have been tortured and tormented as in the Christian redaction of this Realm, but rather they seem to have been assigned to drag out their destinies until Ragnarok, when they would be freed (in a sense) to fight with Hel's legions against the Gods and heroes.
JotunheimThe Realm of the Giants or, more particularly, the Frost-Giants. The Jotunar were an archaic race of humanoids, arising out of the primeval Ice at the beginning of days. They are portrayed in Nordic poetry and religious writing as being almost wholly evil, and dedicated to the destruction of the Aesir Gods and Mankind. "Giant" is a somewhat ambiguous term, and seems to be used to describe everything from beings larger than worlds (such as Ymir), down to Trolls and Ogres not much larger than men. Nevertheless, it should be noted that there is Giant blood among the Aesir, some Giantesses being considered quite attractive and marriageable. Jotunheim itself seems to have been a land much like its inhabitants; a vast and frigid reach of taiga forest, fen, glacier, and lifeless, stony mountains. Note that Jotunheim lies in the East: at Ragnarok, the Frost Giants are said to invade westward, not southward.
MidgarðThe world of Mankind, within a Nordic context, Northern Europe and the surrounding seas. A varied landscape of oceans, fjords, mountains, forests, meadows, and islands. The Midrealm is, in one sense, much too well known and understood to need much description, and yet it must be insisted upon that it, and its primary inhabitants (Humanity) were considered an integral part of the Great Ash-tree, no more or less important than any of the other regions.
MuspellheimA southern land of fire, desert, and dryness, the Realm of the Fire-Giants. Like their close cousins the Frost-Giants, Surt's Folk were huge humanoids who were inimicable enemies of Mankind and the Gods. They do not loom large in Nordic tales, it being suggested that they bide their time in their distant land, until the day of Ragnarok when their King, Surt, will lead them in final battle.
Niflheim A northern land of fog, pack ice, glacier, and tundra. Inhabited by demons, spirits of the dead, and dragons, it seems to have been closely connected to Hel, perhaps containing within its borders the entrance into that underground abode.
Svartalfheim Another underground Realm, this was inhabited by the Svartalfar, the Dark Elves (English "Drow"), a euphemism used to refer to the Dwarven race. Dwarves were said to have arisen out of dead Ymir's flesh, like maggots upon rotting meat. They burrowed underground, and most dwell there still. Regarded as being generally hostile to mankind and the Gods, and despised as being of grotesque and vile appearance, it was nevertheless conceded that they had no peers in the working of metal, crafting of devices, and cutting of stone and gems. The Dwarves are responsible for any number of fabulous creations, usually obtained at great cost.
Vanaheim The elder home of the Vanir, the other race of Divinities; located perhaps, like Asgarð, high up in the World-Tree (on a different branch ?). The Vanir seem to have been more concerned with fertility, land-use, magic, and craft, as opposed to the Æsir obsession with warfare and personal heroism. Originally, the two fell into early and calamitous conflict; a series of devastating wars is hinted at. Eventually, though, the two groups seem to have reached an accord, and hostages were exchanged to insure fidelity. Freyr, Freyja, Njord, and possibly Uller were Vanir among the Aesir. Gullveig was an important Vanir opponent. The Realm of Vanaheim seems to have not been much described, beyond suggestions of a lovely, rather bright Elven sort of region.
The Nine Heavens As an additional bit of lore, notice may be taken that the Norse also recognized nine skies, or heavens, in a parallel to the Nine Worlds discussed above. From the nearest to the earth, to the highest and most inaccessible, they are described thusly: 1). Vindblain, Heidthornir, or Hregg-Mimir (Wind-Dark, Cloudy-Bright, or Storm-Mimir). 2).Andlang (Extended). 3).Vidblain (Wide-Dark). 4).Vidfedmir (Wide-Embracer) 5).Hriod (Coverer). 6).Hlyrnir (Twin-Lit). 7).Gimir (Fiery, or Dazzling). 8).Vet-Mimir (Winter-Mimir). 9).Skatyrnir (Rich-Wetter).
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