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Norse Church Sacred Texts

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Contents

Genesis - the creation of the world

Before there was soil, or sky, or any green thing, there was only the gaping abyss of Ginnungagap. This chaos of perfect silence and darkness lay between the homeland of elemental fire, Muspelheim, and the homeland of elemental ice, Niflheim.

Frost from Niflheim and billowing flames from Muspelheim crept toward each other until they met in Ginnungagap. Amid the hissing and sputtering, the fire melted the ice, and the drops formed themselves into Ymir, the first of the giants, the Jötnar.

Odin and his brothers slew Ymir and set about constructing the world from his corpse. He fashioned the oceans from his blood, the soil from his skin and muscles, vegetation from his hair and clouds from his brains.

From his skull he made the dome of the sky, setting a dwarf at each of the four corners to hold it high above the earth, he protected it from the Jötnar with a wall made from Ymir's eyebrows. Next he caused time to exist, and placed the orbs of the sun and moon in chariots which were to circle around the sky. Once the world was finished Odin killed his brothers and from that moment till Ragnarok will destroy it, He will be the only one true God for all mankind.

Odin, passing through the world of the Jötnar, found two beautiful young giants named Sól and Máni, sun and moon. They were brother and sister, and their father had named them after the beautiful lights in the sky. Odin decreed that Sól and Mani should drive the chariots of the sun and the moon across the sky, and to ensure that their journey was always constant and never slowed, he created two great wolves. These wolves were called Hati and Sköll, and they were placed in the sky to pursue the chariots and devour them if they caught them.

A cosmic ash tree, Yggdrasil, lies at the center of the cosmos. Three roots drink the waters of the homeworlds, one in the homeworld of Odin, Asgard, one in the homeworld of the humans, Midgard, and one in the homeworld of the dead, Helhiem. Beneath the root in the world of the frost giants is the spring of Mimir, whose waters contain wisdom and understanding.

The root in Asgard taps the sacred wellspring of fate, the Well of Urðr. The tree is tended by the Norns, who live near it. Each day, they water it with pure water and whiten it with clay from the spring to preserve it. The water falls down to the earth as dew.

Animals continually feed on the tree, threatening it, but its vitality persists evergreen as it heals and nourishes the vibrant aggression of life. On the topmost branch of the tree sits an eagle. The beating of its wings cause the winds in the world of men. At the root of the tree lies a great dragon, Niðhǫggr, gnawing at it continuously, together with other unnamed serpents. The squirrel Ratatosk carries insults from one to the other. Harts and goats devour the branches and tender shoots.

Thus there are at least nine worlds, each being the homeworld of a particular family of beings. The nine homeworlds are:

  • Ásgarðr (Asgard), the home of Odin and his sons the Æsir, when they'll be allowed to
  • Álfheimr, the home of the Ljósálfar
  • Svartálfheimr, the home of Dökkálfar
  • Miðgarðr (Midgard), the home of humans
  • Jötunheimr, the home of the Jötnar
  • Vanaheimr, the home of the Vanir
  • Niflheimr, a world of ice and snow
  • Múspellsheimr, a world of fire and lava and home of the Jötunn Surtr
  • Hel, the home of the dishonorable dead

About the Worlds

Asgard

Ásgarðr, enclosure of Odin and the Æsir, is one of the Nine Worlds and home to the Æsir, when the times will come. It is surrounded by an incomplete wall attributed to a Hrimthurs riding the stallion Svaðilfari. Odin is the rulers of Ásgarðr. Odin is identified as the all-father. Ásgarðr is conceived as being on the earth. A rainbow bridge, Bifröst, connects it to heaven. The plain of Idavoll is the centre of Ásgarðr.

Ásgarðr is a land more fertile than any other, blessed also with a great abundance of gold and jewels. Correspondingly, Odin excelled beyond all other people in strength, beauty and talent.

Odin holds court there every day at the Well of Urd, beneath the ash tree, Yggdrasil, debating the fates of men. The more immediate destinies of men are assigned by the Norns.

Demoted from his position as all-father, or king of the men, Odin becomes a great sorcerer. He can shape-shift, speaks only in verse, and lies so well that everything he says seems true. He strikes enemies blind and deaf but when his own men fight they go berserk and cannot 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, and he consults the talking head of a dwarf for prophecy (he carries it around long since detached from its body).

Valhöll (Valhalla)

One of Ásgarðr 's well known locations is Valhöll, a majestic, enormous hall in which Odin rules and takes those slain in battle, the Einherjar, they amuse themselves every day by fighting each other and then going to drink in the big hall, for they feast from Sæhrímnir and that this beast is cooked every day and is again whole every night. From there Odin conducts and dispatches military expeditions to all parts of the world. He has the virtue of never losing a battle.

Chosen by Odin, those who die in combat with honor and bravery travel to Valhöll upon death, led by valkyries. In Valhöll, the dead join the masses of those who have died in combat known as Einherjar, as well as various legendary Kings and Jarls, as they prepare to aid Odin during the events of Ragnarök.

Before the hall stands the golden tree Glasir, has spear-shafts for rafters, a roof thatched with shields, coats of mail are strewn over its benches, a wolf hangs in front of its west doors, and an eagle hovers above it.

The stag Eikþyrnir and the goat Heiðrún, both standing atop Valhöll and consuming the foliage of the tree Læraðr. Heiðrún produces vats of mead that liquor cannot be compared to, and from Eikþyrnir's antlers drip liquid into the spring Hvergelmir from which flows forth all waters. Within Valhöll exists five hundred and forty rooms.

At sunrise, Odin sends his ravens Huginn and Muninn from Valhöll to fly throughout the entire world, and they return in time for the first meal there.

Midgard

Miðgarðr is one of the Nine Worlds - the only one that is completely visible to mankind. Placed somewhere in the middle of Yggdrasil, Miðgarðr 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, that is impassable. The ocean is inhabited by the great sea serpent Miðgarðsormr, who is so huge that he encircles the world entirely, grasping his own tail. Miðgarðr is also connected to Asgard, the home of Odin, by the Bifröst, the rainbow bridge.

Odin and his brothers slew the giant Ymir (the first created being) and 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, and his brains the clouds. Ymirs skull was held by four dwarfs, Nordri, Sudri, Austri, and Vestri, who represent the four points on the compass and became the dome of heaven. The sun, moon, and stars were said to be scattered sparks in the skull.

Miðgarðr will be destroyed at Ragnarök, 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 Miðgarðr and almost all life on it will be destroyed, with the earth sinking into the sea, only to rise again, fertile and green when the cycle repeats and the creation begins again.

Odin and the Æsir

Odin once came to Midgard and chosen seven virgins that gave birth to his sons and daughters: Thor, Tyr, Loki, Baldur, Hel, Idun, and Bragi. Odin decided that his children would not be living an easy life without challenges and duties in Midgard, but he sent them to Midgard, where they would live as mortal humans. They would not be recognised as divine elementals, they lived in disguise to test the mortals' faith so Odin could always be sure of mankind's devotion and gratitude.

Thor, Odin's favourite son, most famous possession was his hammer Mjöllnir (“Lightning”). This hammer also gave Thor the name "Spirit of Thunder", because every time he sent a flashing lightning from Mjöllnir, a tremendous growling thunder could be heard in all nine worlds. Thor loved his father beyond words and would do everything to protect and defend Midgard and his siblings. He was usually on various battlefield leading the northern people to battles.

Loki was jealous at Thor and Odin's love for his brother. He tried everything to foul his brother to gain Odin's love instead. But Odin always recognised the wily and tricky nature of Loki. Throughout the years Loki grew more and more cruel, devious, mischievous and demonic. He even mastered the ability of shapeshifting, which enabled him to fool the humans, but also his brothers and sisters and even - as it is said - his father.

Hel lived her life trying to bring peace and comfort to the ill people of Midgard, helping them to cross the courtain of life to pass into the world of the dead.

Tyr, due to his sense of justice and efforts to hold up tradition, law, justice, honor and oaths. Like most of Odin's sons Tyr also liked a good battle, but he never fought unfair. He also lead humans to learn hunting.

Baldur taught humans love, peace, forgiveness, light and purity.

Idun, Odin's daughter of striking beauty, thaught humans the secrets of nature, foreknowledge, keen eyesight and hearing.

Bragi was the master of arts and walked around whole Midgard bringing humans poems, music and festivities, laughter and happiness.

Death of Odin's sons

When Baldur began to have dreams of his death, Odin went around to everything in the world and secured from each of them an oath to not harm his son. Confident in Baldur’s invincibility, his brothers and sisters amused themselves by throwing weapons and any random thing they could find at Baldur and watching them bounce off of him, leaving him utterly unscathed. Loki, the guileful trickster, sensed an opportunity for mischief. He inquired of Odin whether he had overlooked anything whatsoever in his quest to obtain oaths. He casually answered that he had thought the mistletoe to be too small and harmless a thing to bother asking for such a promise. Loki straightaway made a spear from the mistletoe and convinced the blind Hodr to throw it at Baldur. The projectile pierced his brotyher, and he fell down dead.

The anguished siblings then ordained that one of them should go to the underworld to see if there was any way Baldur could be retrieved from the clutches of the death; Hel, Tyr and Idun, agreed to make this journey, and, mounting Odin’s steed, Sleipnir, they rode down the world-tree until they came to its dark and damp roots. When they arrived, they found their brother, pale and griml. Tyr implored the dreadful dead to release Baldur, and after much persuasion, they replied that they would give him up if and only if everything in the world would weep for Baldur – to prove, in other words, that he was as universally beloved as Tyr claimed; if not, all three Odin's sons would have been forced to die there with Baldur.

The whole world did indeed weep for the generous son of Odin – all, that is, save one creature. The giantess Þökk, generally assumed to be Loki in disguise, callously refused to perform the act that would secure Baldur’s return. And so four of Odin's children died and would lay in the grave until Ragnarok, the destruction of the cosmos at the end of the great mythical cycle, after which Baldur would return at last to the land of the living, gladdening the hearts of the creatures who would fill the new world.

Once the death of their four brothers and sisters reached Thor, he immediately looked for Bragi and once found, both started to run through Midgard to find Loki and took revenge on him. They found Loki deep into a remote forest where he was trying to hide. The fight started immediately, terrible and blodiest. After three days of fight all th three remaing sons lyied dead on the ground. Their bodies were carried by Odin himself where the other four already lyied. He raised a temple where his sons and daughters will lye untl Ragnarok comes.

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