Norse cosmology is the study of the cosmos as perceived by the North Germanic peoples. The topic encompasses concepts from Norse mythology, such as notions of time and space, personifications and eschatology. Like other aspects of Norse mythology, these concepts are recorded in the Poetic Edda, a collection of poems compiled in the 13th century, the Prose Edda, authored by Icelander Snorri Sturluson in the 13th century, who drew from earlier traditional sources. Together these sources depict an image of Nine Worlds around Yggdrasil. Concepts of time and space play a major role in the Old Norse corpus's presentation of Norse cosmology. While events in Norse mythology describe a somewhat linear progression, various scholars in ancient Germanic studies note that Old Norse texts may imply or directly describe a fundamental belief in cyclic time. According to scholar John Lindow, "the cosmos might be formed and reformed on multiple occasions by the rising sea." Drawing in part from various eddic poems, the Gylfaginning section of the Prose Edda contains an account of the development and creation of the cosmos: Long before the earth came to be, there existed the bright and flaming place called Muspell—a location so hot that foreigners may not enter it—and the foggy land of Niflheim.
In Niflheim was a spring and from it flows numerous rivers. Together these rivers, known as Élivágar, flowed further from their source; the poisonous substance within the flow came to harden and turn to ice. When the flow became solid, a poisonous vapor rose from the ice and solidified into rime atop the solid river; these thick ice layers grew, in time spreading across the void of Ginnungagap. The northern region of Ginnungagap continued to fill with weight from the growing substance and its accompanying blowing vapor, yet the southern portion of Ginunngagap remained clear due to its proximity to the sparks and flames of Muspell. Between Niflheim and Muspell and fire, was a placid location, "as mild as a windless sky"; when the rime and the blowing heat met, the liquid melted and dropped, this mixture formed the primordial being Ymir, the ancestor of all jötnar. Ymir sweated while sleeping. From his left arm grew a male and female jötunn, "and one of his legs begot a son with another", these limbs too produced children.
Ymir fed from rivers of milk that flowed from the teats of Auðumbla. Auðumbla fed from salt she licked from rime stones. Over the course of three days, she licked Búri. Búri's son Borr married a jötunn named Bestla, the two had three sons: the gods Odin, Vili and Vé; the sons killed Ymir, Ymir's blood poured across the land, producing great floods that killed all of the jötnar but two. Odin, Vé took Ymir's corpse to the center of Ginunngagap and carved it, they made the earth from Ymir's flesh. They surrounded the earth's lands with sea. From Ymir's skull they made the sky, which they placed above the earth in four points, each held by a dwarf. After forming the dome of the earth, the brothers Odin, Vé took sparks of light from Muspell and placed them around the earth, both above and below; some remained others moved through the sky in predetermined courses. The trio provided land for the jötnar to leave by the sea. Using Ymir's eyelashes, the trio built a fortification around the center of the landmass to contain the hostility of the jötnar.
They called this fortification Miðgarðr. From Ymir's brains, they formed the clouds. Personifications, such as those of astronomical objects and water bodies occur in Norse mythology; the Sun is personified as Sól. Night appears personified as the female jötunn Nótt. Bodies of water receive personification, such as the goddess Rán, her jötunn husband Ægir, their wave-maiden children, the Nine Daughters of Ægir and Rán. Yggdrasil is a tree central to the Norse concept of the cosmos; the tree's branches extend into various realms, various creatures dwell on and around it. The gods go to Yggdrasil daily to assemble at traditional governing assemblies; the branches of Yggdrasil extend far into the heavens, the tree is supported by three roots that extend far away into other locations. Creatures live within Yggdrasil, including the dragon Níðhöggr, an unnamed eagle, the stags Dáinn, Dvalinn and Duraþrór. Old Norse texts mention the existence of Níu Heimar, translated by scholars as "Nine Worlds". According to the second stanza of the Poetic Edda poem Völuspá, the Nine Worlds surround the tree Yggdrasil.
As recalled by a dead völva in the poem: The Nine Worlds receive a second and final mention in the Poetic Edda in stanza 43 of the Prose Edda poem Vafþrúðnismál, where the wise jötunn Vafþrúðnir engages in a deadly battle of wits with the disguised god Odin: The Nine Worlds receive a single mention in the Prose Edda, occurring section 34 of the Gylfaginning portion of the book. The section describes how Odin threw Loki's daugh
Midgard is the name for Earth inhabited by and known to humans in early Germanic cosmology, one of the Nine Worlds in Norse mythology. This name occurs in Old Norse literature as Miðgarðr. In Old Saxon Heliand it appears as Middilgard and in Old High German poem Muspilli it appears as Mittilagart; the Gothic form Midjungards is attested in the Gospel of Luke as a translation of the Greek word οἰκουμένη. The word is present in Old English poetry as Middangeard. All these forms are from a Common Germanic *midja-gardaz, a compound of *midja- "middle" and *gardaz "yard, enclosure". In early Germanic cosmology, the term stands alongside world, from a Common Germanic compound *wira-alđiz, the "age of men". Midgard is a realm in Norse mythology, it is one of the Nine Worlds and the only, visible to mankind. Pictured as placed somewhere in the middle of Yggdrasil, Midgard is between the land of Niflheim—the land of ice—to the north and Muspelheim—the land of fire—to the south. Midgard is surrounded by a world of water, or ocean, impassable.
The ocean is inhabited by the great sea serpent Jörmungandr, so huge that he encircles the world grasping his own tail. The concept is similar to that of the Ouroboros. Midgard was connected to Asgard, the home of the gods, by the Bifröst, the rainbow bridge, guarded by Heimdallr. In Norse mythology, Miðgarðr became applied to the wall around the world that the gods constructed from the eyebrows of the giant Ymir as a defense against the Jotuns who lived in Jotunheim, east of Manheimr, the "home of men", a word used to refer to the entire world; the gods slew the giant Ymir, the first created being, put his body into the central void of the universe, creating the world out of his body: his flesh constituting the land, his blood the oceans, his bones the mountains, his teeth the cliffs, his hairs the trees, his brains the clouds. Aurgelmir's skull was held by four dwarfs, Sudri and Vestri, who represent the four points on the compass and became the dome of heaven; the sun and stars were said to be scattered sparks in the skull.
According to the Eddas, Midgard will be destroyed at the battle at the end of the world. Jörmungandr will arise from the ocean, poisoning the land and sea with his venom and causing the sea to rear up and lash against the land; the final battle will take place on the plane of Vígríðr, following which Midgard and all life on it will be destroyed, with the earth sinking into the sea only to rise again and green when the cycle repeats and the creation begins again. Although most surviving instances of the word Midgard refer to spiritual matters, it was used in more mundane situations, as in the Viking Age runestone poem from the inscription Sö 56 from Fyrby: The Danish and Swedish form Midgård or Midgaard, the Norwegian Midgard or Midgård, as well as the Icelandic and Faroese form Miðgarður, all derive from the Old Norse term; the name middangeard occurs six times in the Old English epic poem Beowulf, is the same word as Midgard in Old Norse. The term is equivalent in meaning to the Greek term Oikoumene, as referring to the known and inhabited world.
The concept of Midgard occurs many times in Middle English. The association with earth in Middle English middellærd, middelerde is by popular etymology. An early example of this transformation is from the Ormulum: þatt ure Drihhtin wollde / ben borenn i þiss middellærdthat our Lord wanted / be born in this Middle-earth; the usage of "Middle-earth" as a name for a setting was popularized by Old English scholar J. R. R. Tolkien in his The Lord of the Rings and other fantasy works. Mittilagart is mentioned in the 9th-century Old High German Muspilli meaning "the world" as opposed to the sea and the heavens: muor varsuuilhit sih, suilizot lougiu der himil, mano uallit, prinnit mittilagartSea is swallowed, flaming burn the heavens, Moon falls, Midgard burns
A heathen hof or Germanic pagan temple was a temple building of Germanic religion. The term hof is taken from Old Norse. Etymologically, the Old Norse word hof is the same as the Afrikaans and German word hof, which meant a hall and came to refer to a court and also to a farm. In medieval Scandinavian sources, it occurs once as a hall, in the Eddic poem Hymiskviða, beginning in the fourteenth century, in the "court" meaning. Otherwise, it occurs only as a word for a temple. Hof occasionally occurs with the meaning "temple" in Old High German. In Scandinavia during the Viking Age, it appears to have displaced older terms for a sacred place, vé, hörgr, lundr and vin in the West Norse linguistic area, namely Norway and Iceland, it is rare in skaldic poetry. Many places in Scandinavia, but in West Norse regions, are named hof or hov, either alone or in combination; these include: Hov on Suðuroy, Faroe Islands Hof in Vestfold, Norway Hof, a village in Iceland Hov, part of Båstad Municipality in Scania, SwedenSome placenames names of farms, combine the word, such as: Several places in Iceland named Hofstaðir, one the site of a hof excavation.
Hofsós, village in Iceland. Norderhov, a former municipality in Norway - dedicated to Njörðr. Torshov, a neighborhood in Oslo and Thorsø, a farm in Torsnes, Norway - dedicated to Thor. There is one in England: the village of Hoff in Cumbria, with an associated Hoff Lund, "temple grove." The nature of Germanic places of worship has long been a subject of scholarly debate. Tacitus famously wrote in Germania:The Germans do not think it in keeping with the divine majesty to confine gods within walls or to portray them in the likeness of any human countenance, their holy places are woods and groves, they apply the names of deities to that hidden presence, seen only by the eye of reverence. There are in fact several sites in the historical period at which heathen rites took place in the open, including Hove in Trøndelag, where offerings were brought to images of the gods on a row of ten posts, but no trace of buildings was found, yet Tacitus himself wrote of an image of Nerthus. And in his Annals he refers to a temple of Tanfana.
Most older scholars considered that a hof would be a dedicated temple: an independent sacred place, built for ritual proceedings, comparable to a Christian church. By extension, it was commonly believed that the hofs had been located on the same sites as the churches that had superseded them; this was the dominant theory until in 1966 the Danish archeologist Olaf Olsen published the results of a comprehensive study of archeological investigations in Iceland and Sweden and of a large number of the oldest Danish churches. He was not able to confirm a single case of a heathen hof underlying a Christian church, concluded in light of this that a hof could not have been an independent building. In reference to the Hofstaðir building in Iceland, he suggested the model of the temple-farm: that rather than being dedicated to religious use, the hofs were dwellings, that the word hof referred to the great farm in a rural settlement, at which the most powerful man held sacrifices and feasts. However, new archeological discoveries in the late 20th century revealed several buildings in various parts of Scandinavia that do appear to have functioned purely as cult sites.
Some of them, for example the hall at Tissø, were associated with the aristocracy, but others, for example Uppåkra in Scania functioned as places of assembly for the local population. The temple found in England, at Yeavering, now appears to be an early example of a hall-associated hof, rather than an anomaly. Gro Steinsland, a historian of Norse paganism, is of the opinion that in effect it was economic resources as much as local tradition that led to the development of dedicated hofs: in the richest areas, actual temples developed, while in poor areas, the spaces that people had were what they used for blót. Chapter 2 of Kjalnesinga saga contains an extended description of Thorgrim Helgason's temple at Hof: He had a large temple built in his hayfield, a hundred feet long and sixty wide. Everybody had to pay a temple fee. Thor was the god most honoured there, it was rounded on the inside, like a vault, there were windows and wall-hangings everywhere. The image of Thor stood with other gods on both sides.
In front of them was an altar made with great skill and covered with iron on the top. On this there was to be a fire which would never go out—they called it sacred fire. On the altar was to lie a great armband, made of silver; the temple godi was to wear it on his arm at all gatherings, everyone was to swear oaths on it whenever a suit was brought. A great copper bowl was to stand on the altar, into it was to go all the blood which came from animals or men given to Thor, they called the sacrificial blood bowl. This blood was to be sprinkled over men and animals, the animals that were given in sacrifice were to be used for feasting when sacrificial banquets were held. Men whom they sacrificed were to be cast into a pool, outside by the door. There is a similar passage in Eyrbyggja saga about Thorolf Mostrarskegg's temple at Hofstaðir, which gives more information about the layout of the hof: There he had a temple built, it was a sizeable building, with a door on the side-wall near the gable; the high-seat pillars were placed insi
In Norse mythology, Vafþrúðnismál is the third poem in the Poetic Edda. It is a conversation in verse form conducted between the Æsir Odin and Frigg, subsequently between Odin and the giant Vafþrúðnir; the poem goes into detail about the Norse cosmogony and was evidently used extensively as a source document by Snorri Sturluson in the construction of the Prose Edda who quotes it. The poem is preserved in Codex Regius and in AM 748 I 4to. There are preservation problems relating to stanzas 40-41; the lay commences with Odin asking advice and directions of Frigg as to whether it would be wise to seek out the hall of Vafþrúðnir. Frigg counsels against this course of action, saying that Vafþrúðnir is an powerful giant, the most powerful one she knows. Odin continues with his quest. On arriving at Vafþrúðnir's hall, Odin seeks to obtain Vafþrúðnir's wisdom through the classic mechanism of a wisdom contest. Vafþrúðnir's response is to accept the wanderer in his hall and only allow him to leave alive if Odin proves to be wiser.
Odin, a master of dissimulation, attempts to pass himself off as Gagnráðr, beseeches the traditional hospitality which should be afforded to wayfarers. Vafþrúðnir, wrong-footed, invites him to seat himself. A game of riddling ensues between the pair. During the course of stanza 19, Vafþrúðnir was unwise enough to wager his head in the case of defeat: victory for Odin will result in his death. In stanza 55, at the conclusion of the contest, Vafþrúðnir is obliged to capitulate to Odin's cunning when Odin asks him what Odin whispered in Baldr's ear prior to Baldr's body being placed on the funerary ship, a question to which only Odin knows the answer. I doomed myself when I dared to tell What fate will befall the gods, And staked my wit against the wit of Odin, Ever the wisest of all. Vafþrúðnismál 55, translated by Auden and Taylor Jakobsson, Ármann. "A contest of cosmic fathers: God and giant in Vafþrúðnismál". Neophilologus. 92: 263–277. Doi:10.1007/s11061-007-9056-x. Vafþrúðnismál, T. W. Machen, Turnhout, 2008, Brepola Publishers, ISBN 978-0-88844-561-2 Vafþrúðnismál Sophus Bugge's edition of the manuscript text Vafþrúðnismál Guðni Jónsson's edition of the text with normalized spelling
Ynglinga saga is a legendary saga written in Old Norse by the Icelandic poet and historian Snorri Sturluson about 1225. It is the first section of his Heimskringla, it was first published in 1844 by Samuel Laing. Snorri Sturluson based his work on an earlier Ynglingatal, attributed to the Norwegian 9th century skald Þjóðólfr of Hvinir, which appears in Historia Norwegiae, it tells the most ancient part of the story of the House of Ynglings. Snorri described the descent of the kings of Norway from this royal house of Sweden. Ynglinga saga is the first part of Snorri's history of the Heimskringla. Snorri's work covers the history of the Norwegian kings from the mythical prehistoric age until 1177, with the death of the pretender Eystein Meyla. Interwoven in this narrative are references to important historical events; the saga deals with the arrival of the Norse gods to Scandinavia and how Freyr founded the Swedish Yngling dynasty at Uppsala. The saga follows the line of Swedish kings until Ingjald, after which the descendants settled in Norway and became the ancestors of the Norwegian King Harald Fairhair.
In the initial stanzas of the poem, Asagarth is the capital of Asaland, a section of Asia to the east of the Tana-kvísl or Vana-Kvísl river, which Snorri explains is the Tanais, or Don River, flowing into the Black Sea. The river divides "Sweden the Great", a concession to the Viking point of view, it is never called that prior to the Vikings. Odin is the chief of Asgard. From there he dispatches military expeditions to all parts of the world, he has the virtue of never losing a battle. When he is away, his two brothers, Vili and Vé, rule Ásaland from Ásgarðr. On the border of Sweden is a mountain range running from northeast to southwest. South of it are the lands of the Turks. On the north are the uninhabitable fells, which must be the tundra/taiga country; the Vikings did not encounter the Urals or the Uralics of the region. Snorri evidences no knowledge of them. There is no mention of Troy, not far from Constantinople, capital of the Byzantine empire and militarily beyond the reach of the Vikings.
Troy cannot have been Asagarth, Snorri realizes, the reason being that the Æsir in Ásaland were unsettled by the military activities of the Romans. As a result, Odin led a section of the Æsir to the north looking for new lands in, they used the Viking route up the Don and the Volga through Garðaríki, Viking for Kievan Rus'. From there they went to the lands of Gylfi in Scandinavia; the historical view, of course, is fantastical. The Germanics were in Germany and Scandinavia during earliest mention of them in Roman literature, long before the Romans had conquered Italy. To what extent Snorri's presentation is poetic creation only remains unclear. Demoted from his position as all-father, or king of the gods, Odin becomes a great sorcerer in the Ynglinga Saga, he can shape-shift, speaks only in verse, lies so well that everything he says seems true. He strikes enemies deaf and when his own men fight they go berserk and can not be harmed, he has a ship that can be rolled up like a tablecloth when not used, he relies on two talking ravens to gather intelligence, he consults the talking head of Mimir for advice.
As a man, Odin is faced with the necessity to die. He is cremated and his possessions are burned with him so that he can ascend to - where? If Asgard is an earthly place, not there. Snorri says at first it is Valhalla and adds: "The Swedes now believed that he had gone to the old Asagarth and would live there forever". Krag, Claus Ynglingatal og Ynglingesaga- en studie i historiske kilder Nerman, Birger Det svenska rikets uppkomst Åkerlund, W. Studier över Ynglingatal Ynglinga saga and Heimskringla from «Kulturformidlingen norrøne tekster og kvad» Old Icelandic Heimskringla: The Ynglinga Saga from The Medieval and Classical Literature Library English
Vanlandi or Vanlande was a Swedish king at Uppsala of the House of Yngling in Norse mythology. He was the son of Sveigðir, he forgot about her. In revenge, the girl arranged, he was succeeded by his son Visbur. Snorri Sturluson wrote of Vanlandi in his Ynglinga saga: Snorri quoted some lines from Ynglingatal composed in the 9th century: The Historia Norwegiæ presents a Latin summary of Ynglingatal, older than Snorri's quotation: The earlier source Íslendingabók cites the line of descent in Ynglingatal and gives Vanlandi as the successor of Svegðir and the predecessor of Visbur: v Svegðir. Vi Vanlandi. Vii Visburr. Viii Dómaldr. Geographical note: According to the article Skuttunge in Nationalencyklopedin, the creek skutá passed its name onto the village of Skuttunge and the parish of Skuttunge; the area does not only contain raised stones, but 45 grave fields, including a dolmen. The creek is today named after the village; the area has undergone considerable Post-glacial rebound. Rising about 0.5 m each 100 years.
This has changed the position of the seashore, lakes and human settlements over time. McKinnell, John. Meeting the Other in Norse Myth and Legend. DS Brewer. ISBN 1-84384-042-1 Ynglingatal Ynglinga saga Historia Norwegiae
In Germanic mythology, Odin is a revered Germanic god. In Norse mythology, from which stems most surviving information about the god, Odin is associated with wisdom, death, the gallows, war, victory, poetry and the runic alphabet, is the husband of the goddess Frigg. In wider Germanic mythology and paganism, the god was known in Old English as Wōden, in Old Saxon as Wōdan, in Old High German as Wuotan or Wōtan, all stemming from the reconstructed Proto-Germanic theonym *wōđanaz. Odin is a prominently mentioned god throughout the recorded history of the Germanic peoples, from the Roman occupation of regions of Germania through the tribal expansions of the Migration Period and the Viking Age. In the modern period, Odin continued to be acknowledged in the rural folklore of Germanic Europe. References to Odin appear in place names throughout regions inhabited by the ancient Germanic peoples, the day of the week Wednesday bears his name in many Germanic languages, including English. In Old English texts, Odin holds a particular place as a euhemerized ancestral figure among royalty, he is referred to as a founding figure among various other Germanic peoples, such as the Langobards.
Forms of his name appear throughout the Germanic record, though narratives regarding Odin are found in Old Norse works recorded in Iceland around the 13th century. These texts make up the bulk of modern understanding of Norse mythology. In Old Norse texts, Odin is depicted as one-eyed and long-bearded wielding a spear named Gungnir, wearing a cloak and a broad hat, he is accompanied by his animal companions and familiars—the wolves Geri and Freki and the ravens Huginn and Muninn, who bring him information from all over Midgard—and rides the flying, eight-legged steed Sleipnir across the sky and into the underworld. Odin is the son of Bestla and Borr and has two brothers, Vili and Vé. Odin is attested as having many sons, most famously the gods Thor and Baldr, is known by hundreds of names. In these texts, he seeks greater knowledge, at times in disguise, makes wagers with his wife Frigg over the outcome of exploits, takes part in both the creation of the world by way of slaying the primordial being Ymir and giving the gift of life to the first two humans Ask and Embla.
Odin has a particular association with Yule, mankind's knowledge of both the runes and poetry is attributed to him, giving Odin aspects of the culture hero. In Old Norse texts, female beings associated with the battlefield—the valkyries—are associated with the god and Odin oversees Valhalla, where he receives half of those who die in battle, the einherjar; the other half are chosen by the goddess Freyja for Fólkvangr. Odin consults the disembodied, herb-embalmed head of the wise being Mímir for advice, during the foretold events of Ragnarök, Odin is told to lead the einherjar into battle before being consumed by the monstrous wolf Fenrir. In folklore, Odin appears as a leader of the Wild Hunt, a ghostly procession of the dead through the winter sky, he is associated with charms and other forms of magic in Old English and Old Norse texts. Odin is a frequent subject of study in Germanic studies, numerous theories have been put forward regarding his development; some of these focus on Odin's particular relation to other figures.
Other approaches focus on Odin's place in the historical record, a frequent question being whether the figure of Odin derives from Proto-Indo-European religion, or whether he developed in Germanic society. In the modern period, Odin has inspired numerous works of poetry and other forms of media, he is venerated in most forms of the new religious movement Heathenry, together with other gods venerated by the ancient Germanic peoples. The Old Norse theonym Óðinn and its cognates, including Old English Wōden, Old Saxon Wōden, Old High German Wuotan, derive from the reconstructed Proto-Germanic theonym *wōđanaz; the masculine noun *wōđanaz developed from the Proto-Germanic adjective *wōđaz, related to Latin vātēs and Old Irish fáith, both meaning'seer, prophet'. Adjectives stemming from *wōđaz include Gothic woþs'possessed', Old Norse óðr,'mad, furious', Old English wōd'mad'; the adjective *wōđaz was further substantivised, leading to Old Norse óðr'mind, soul, sense', Old English ellen-wōd'zeal', Middle Dutch woet'madness', Old High German wuot'thrill, violent agitation'.
Additionally the Old Norse noun æði'rage, fury' and Old High German wuotī'madness' derive from the feminine noun *wōđīn, from *wōđaz. The weak verb *wōđjanan derived from *wōđaz, gave rise to Old Norse æða'to rage', Old English wēdan'to be mad, furious', Old Saxon wōdian'to rage', Old High German wuoten'to be insane, to rage'. Over 170 names are recorded for Odin; these names are variously descriptive of attributes of the god, refer to myths involving him, or refer to religious practices associated with the god. This multitude of names makes Odin the god with the most names known among the Germanic peoples; the modern English weekday name Wednesday derives from Old English wōdnesdæg. Cognate terms are found in other Germanic languages, such as Middle Low German wōdensdach, Old Norse Óðinsdagr (Danish, Nor