Nine Worlds of Norse Mythology
While researching Norse mythology for the third book in the parallel world traveller series, I stumbled on the fact that there are also nine worlds in Norse mythology. This blew me away. I’d already sketched out nine worlds for the series without knowing about this.
My first thought was this: everything is connected. There’s a pattern of ideas buried deep in our human collective unconscious which recurs generation after generation.
A couple of days ago, I decided that book three – Thorn, [The man who went to Hell] is based loosely on one of the Icelandic sagas. As soon as I found out about the nine worlds in Norse folklore I was – as you can imagine – ecstatic. And one of them is called Hel. Awesome synchronicity.
The Nordic peoples believed that each world or realm was a kind of homestead. A place for the eternal soul to rest in the afterlife. The concept of a homestead reflects the overall psychological geography if you like. Each world was recognisable to humans since each contained a great hall, houses, hearth fires to sit by, fields to plough, mountains, trees, wildlife and nature.
Anyway, here’s a brief outline of these realms according to legend:
- Asgard – the land of the gods, ruled over by the god Odin and his wife Frigg. This is where you’ll find the famous hall of Valhalla – where all mighty warriors go to rest. A sunny and fertile land, full of gold and precious jewels. Theory is that as a place – it was based on the ancient city of Troy. Odin was born there and migrated north, suggesting a folk memory of the human migration up through Africa and into the northern lands. This world feels close to Dream world
- Alfheim – the land of the light elves. Not much about this world in the Norse texts, but it has a similar feel to the old Celtic tales of the Otherworld [aka the land of the fae]. This is similar to Avalon world in the parallel world traveller series.
- Niovavellir – the land of darkness, ruled over by dwarves or dark elves who appear to live in halls made of gold. Once again, not much is known about this world, although there is a sense that the inhabitants live mainly underground and are rich in minerals and jewels. I can imagine a lot of fighting over resources – so this would equate to War earth in the series.
- Midgard – the land of humans. This is said to be the only earth visible to human eyes. It’s made out of the corpse of the giant Ymir, who was the original living being created by the gods. Of course, to everyone who knows Lord of the Rings, this world is the inspiration for J R R Tolkien’s ‘Middle Earth’. This is where the real battles between good and evil are fought, until everything is destroyed by the darkness. After that, the whole cycle begins again as Midgard is recreated as a fertile and beautiful land. In the parallel world traveller series, this would be Bad earth – the world where everyone has a doppelganger. This world appears in book 1 – Ash.
- Jotunheimir – the land of the giants or Jotnar. Full of castles, it is well guarded. There’s a reason for this. It’s packed with loads of magic stuff [or advanced technology] – such as sacred wells of wisdom and magic apples bestowing eternal youth on anyone who eats them. For the series I’m writing, this realm is Floating earth.
- Vanaheimir – this is ruled over by powerful beings – the Vanir, gods of fertility, wisdom and the ability to predict the future. Because it is a fertile land, and the newly made superhuman inhabitants are now breeding – this would be similar to Pure earth in the series – see book 2 – Ishi.
- Niflheim – the misty world – or the land of ice and snow. It is where the goddess Hel rules. This seems to point to the fact that Hel and Niflheim might be the same world – but I’m not so sure. She could easily rule over two worlds – why not? In the parallel world traveller series, it’s a toxic world where nature is absent or dead. Overthrown by the poisonous effluence of uncontrolled technology. This is Real earth – featured in every book of the series.
- Muspelheim – a realm of fire, exploding volcanos and fire. Ruled by the fire giants and their devil King Surtr and his wife Queen Sinmara [the goddess of gold]. The bloodthirsty Surtr battles the war goddess Freya. His wife is the keeper of the mighty magical weapon, Laevateinn. This weapon might not be a sword. It’s often described a powerful ‘magic staff’ capable of great destruction. Basically, this is a land of constant war and relates to War earth in the series.
- Hel – filled with the dishonourable dead and the abode of the goddess Hel. It is a place of nightmares and illusion. This is where those whose hearts are evil go after death. That would be Hell earth, featuring in the book I’m working on now, Thorn [the third book in the series].