The Creation and Structure of the Nine Worlds

After the defeat of the giants the gods began to construct a new world using the body parts of the dead frost giant, Ymir. The blood and sweat that had killed all of the giants, except Bergelmir, become the ocean. It was on this ocean that Bergelmir sailed away with his wife to a new land to settle and form a new race of giants. Over time they were successful and this region was called Jtunheim.

Meanwhile the Gods were busy creating the world. In the middle of space they used the flesh of Ymir to make Midgard, which was the earth. Midgard was where man, animals, and plants lived and reigned. Midgard was located above Niflheim and Muspellheim and was surrounded by the sea which was surrounded by the mountainous Jtunheim. To protect Midgard from the giants of Jtunheim they used Ymir's eyebrows to make a protective hedge at the edges. They used the bones of Ymir to make the hills and mountains and used his flat teeth to make the cliffs. The gods made the plants and trees from his soft hair and his brains made the clouds. The gods lifted the dome of his skull up above Midgard to make the heavens. This dome was held in place by four dwarves: Nordi, Sudri, Austri, and Westri. These dwarves represented the cardinal directions. The origins of the words North, South, East, and West come from these four dwarves. The gods had taken something evil and turned it to good.

"Of Ymir's flesh
Was earth created,
Of blood the sea,
Of his bones the hills,
Of his hair trees and plants,
Of his skull the heavens,
And of his brows
The gentle powers
Formed Midgard for the sons of men;
But of his brain
The heavenly clouds are
All created." (Guerber 13)

When the gods finished making Midgard they noticed several small creatures crawling about the earth. The gods went to these formless creatures and gave them humanoid forms and superhuman powers. They divided them into two groups. Those who were dark and treacherous were the Dwarves, Trolls, Gnomes, and Kobolds. Since they were treacherous they were sent to live in an underground world called Svartalfaheim. They were not allowed to come out of their world in the day light or they would be turned to stone. These humanoids spent their time mining precious metals. All of the humanoids who were good and useful were called Elves and Fairies. They were given the home of Alfheim which was located between heaven and Midgard. The Elves and Fairies were free to travel down to Midgard and play with the animals or tend to the plants and flowers.

There was also another race of humanoids called the Vanas. They lived in Vanaheim and were the divinities of air and water. A few gods originate from this region but little else is known about this world.

Finally the gods had an opportunity to create a world for themselves. This home of the gods was placed directly above the center of Midgard and was called Asgard. The gods and goddesses resolved that no bloodshed will occur within the walls of Asgard and harmony will reign forever. They built a forge to make weapons and tools which were used to build palaces and buildings of gold, silver, and other precious metals and gems. Asgard was also the location of Valhalla.

Valhalla was a huge palace decorated with shiny, polished weapons of war. Above the gate to Valhalla there was a boar's head and an eagle who looked al over the world. The roof was made of golden shields and tables and benches were made of polished armor. This was the residence of warriors who had fallen in battle. It was honorable to fight courageously and die in battle. After a battle Odin sent out the battle maidens, the Valkyrs, who collected the fallen brave warriors and brought them back to Asgard. These chosen ones were called the Einheriar. In Asgard they were led to Odin's throne where Odin praised them for their courage and valor. After which they were led to Valhalla where the warriors feasted and lived. After each meal the warriors would gather their arms and fight each other in the courtyard and by the time the diner horn sounded all wounds were healed and no hard feelings were felt. They lived like this, fighting and feasting, day after day until they would be called upon to fight against the forces of evil at the time of Ragnarok.

Brave warriors went to Valhalla but everyone else went to the underworld after they died. The underworld was one of the regions that was there since the beginning of time: Niflheim. Here in this dark, misty, and foggy land the dead suffered until the end of time. Although the fiery region of Muspellheim was also a part of the underworld, the dead did not reside there. Muspellheim was the residence of Surtur, the fire giant, and all his evil spirits who awaited the day of Ragnarok when they would destroy the world.

Each of the worlds were held together by one large tree called Yggdrasil, the tree of the universe, time, and life. It had roots as well as branched from Niflheim to Asgard. The topmost branch was called Lerad and was so high in the heavens that an eagle looking down could see everything in all of the worlds. This eagle would report happenings of the world to Odin. The leaves of this tree never withered and provided food for Odin's goat and the stags: Dain, Dvalin, Duneyr, and Durathor. It was the honeydew from the horns of these stags that gave the rivers of Midgard their water. At the base of the tree a dragon and worms maliciously gnawed on the roots of Yggdrasil. The dragon and the worms knew that if the tree were destroyed it signaled the downfall of the gods, the time of Ragnarok. The health of the Yggdrasil was maintained by the Norns or the Fates. They sprinkled it with water from the Urdar fountain which trickled down the tree. This water supplied the bees with their honey.

To travel from world to world the gods used a bridge that went from Asgard to Niflheim. This bridge was called Bifrost, the Rainbow bridge. It was made of fire, water, and air. Only the gods were allowed to use this bridge between worlds. It was guarded by Heimdall who had a powerful sword. He would announce the coming and going of the gods with a soft blow on his horn. On the day of Ragnarok, however, he would announce the arrival of the creatures of evil with a hard blast on his horn.

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