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The 9 Worlds – Cosmology



The “nine homeworlds” which composed the Norse cosmology and where various types of living creatures inhabit. Their common connection being a supposedly huge world tree called Yggdrasil, the cosmic ash tree in the middle of the cosmos. Under its root is the spring of Mimir, the waters of which are said to contain understanding and wisdom. Both Eddas did not specify exact details so little can be gleaned from the stories presented in them.
Asgard
Asgard (“enclosure of the Aesir”) is the country of the Norse gods ruled by Odin and Frigg. This realm, where the Valhalla is located, is said to be surrounded by an incomplete wall.
Muspell
Muspell is a usual reference of end times in Germany but when it first appeared in the Prose Edda, its meaning is ambiguous. In Norse tales, Muspell is just an element of the apocalypse (because the end of the world itself pertains to Ragnarok). This is in contrast with the Saxons and Germans who held the belief that Muspell is the end of times itself.
Alfheimr
Alfheimr (“elf home”) is home to the Light Elves and also mentioned in the Anglo-Scottish ballads in various forms (i.e. Elfhame, Elfland, Elfinland, Elvenland or more recently, Fairyland).
Vanaheimr
“Home of the Vanir”, Vanaheimr is the abode to the group of gods who were once at war with the Aesir, the Vanir which is associated with wisdom and vision. In both the Poetic and Prose Edda, Vanaheimr is referred to as the early home of Vanir god Njordr.

Midgard
Literally, “middle enclosure” or Middle Earth, Midgard is the world inhabited by human mortals.
Jotunheimr
The home of the Jotunns, frost and rock giants, who are generally seen as a menace to humans (Midgard) and Aesir (Asgard) alike. Ilfing comes between the world of the gods and Jotunheimr while Utgard is the fortress around this realm. Gastropnir and Prymheimr are in this realm, ruled by Thrym.
Nidavellir/Svartalfaheimr
Nidavellir (“dark fields”) is the home of the dwarves, led by Hreidmar, and is believed to be the same with Svertalfheim described in the Younger Edda

Niflhel/Niflheimr
According to the Gylfaginning, Niflheim (“mist world”) is a realm overlapping with Hel and Niflhel (“misty hell”). A world mainly of ice, with 9 frozen rivers, it is believed that Niflheimr and Muspelheim (world of fire) are the first two realms where creation of others began.

Hel
Hel, meaning “conceal”, can also be noted as a cognate of the Engish word “hell” — the world where the unworthy dead (those who did not die a heroic dead) go to. Loki’s daughter who has the same name was the ruler of this realm.

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norse pantheon

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