Thraes World Information
Asgardian Mythos Overview
The Asgardian pantheon is a large one with gods both good and evil. Celestial beings come from several different groups – the Aesir are the “human” deities and include gods such as Odin and Thor. The Vaenir are the deities of the elves, they work closely with the Aesir and several humans worship Frey and Freya who are Vaenier deities that have joined the Aesir in Asgard. The other elven deities reside in Aelfheim. The dwarven deities have also long cooperated with the Asgardian deities, having forged many of their mightiest weapons including Gungnir, Odin’s spear and Mjolner, Thor’s hammer. While the gnomish deities have less interaction with the Vaenir than the elves or dwarves, Garl Glittergold himself wove new hair from spun gold for Sif (Thor’s wife) after Loki removed all of her hair – even a gnome realizes sometimes that a practical joke can go too far.
At one time the gods were at peace with one another. After the treaty between the Aesir and the Vaenir, the only conflict was the occasional skirmish with giantkind. While Odin was the leader of the gods, Baldur his son and greatest of all bards. All of the gods were mesmerized and awed by Baldur’s grace and beauty – all but Loki the trickster godess. Loki was jealous of all the attention paid to Baldur. Before Loki could act on his jealousy Frigga, Baldur’s mother and Odin’s wife, had a vision of disaster befalling her son. She went to all animals and plants and made them promise to not harm Baldur. They all agreed but Frigga overlooked a plant she thought was harmless, the mistletoe.
Knowing that nothing could harm Baldur, the gods made great sport of hurling all sorts of weapons at Baldur which all bounced off harmlessly. However, Loki furnished a spear made of mistletoe and gave it to Hod, Baldur’s blind brother. Hod threw the spear with Loki’s help and killed Baldur.
In punishment, Hod was killed and Loki was strapped to a rock with a serpent dripping acid onto his forehead. Loki’s wife Sigyn caught as much of the acid as she could in a bowl, but every now and then would have to empty the bowl, allowing acid to drip down once more causing great earthquakes and volcanoes in the mortal realm.
Odin was overwhelmed with grief and rage at the death of his son. It was at that point he hung himself on Yggdrasil and sacrificed an eye in exchange for knowledge. A father mourning a favored son, he hoped to gain the wisdom and foresight to see further dangers. It is whispered that he felt responsible for Baldur’s death, that if he had only had the wisdom he now sought that he could have prevented tragedy.
Obsessed with the visions he received and the ultimate fight against Loki, Odin hardened his heart and became ever more focused on aspects of war and bent his will towards building an invincible army. Half of all warriors who died in battle went to Odin’s hall and many followers felt that there were times when he fomented war to swell his own legions.
In the coming battles of Ragnorok, the Aesir, Vaenir, dwarves and gnomes will join together to fight their mutual enemies including giants, orcs and demons.
The collective name for the principal race of Asgardian gods; they who lived in Asgard, and with the All-Father Odin, ruled the lives of mortal men, the other was the Vanir. The Aesir gods under the leadership of Odin, included Balder (god of beauty), Bragi (god of eloquence), Forseti (god of mediation), Frey (god of fertility, who originally was from the Vanir), Heimdall (guardian of the bridge), Hod (the blind god), Loki (god of fire and ally of the frost giants), Njord (the sea god, and another ex-Vanir), Thor (god of thunder), Tyr (god of war), Vili (brother to Odin), Ve (brother to Odin), and Vidar (Odin’s son). The goddesses included Freya (the fertility goddess), Frigga (Odin’s wife), Sif (Thor’s wife), and Idun (keeper of the apples of youth).
Ragnarok (“Doom of the Gods”), also called Gotterdammerung, means the end of the cosmos in Asgardian mythology. It will be preceded by Fimbulvetr, the winter of winters. Three such winters will follow each other with no summers in between. Conflicts and feuds will break out, even between families, and all morality will disappear. This is the beginning of the end.
The wolf Skoll will finally devour the sun, and his brother Hati will eat the moon, plunging the earth darkness. The stars will vanish from the sky. The cock Fjalar will crow to the giants and the golden cock Gullinkambi will crow to the gods. A third cock will raise the dead.
The earth will shudder with earthquakes, and every bond and fetter will burst, freeing the terrible wolf Fenris. The sea will rear up because Jormungand, the Midgard Serpent, is twisting and writhing in fury as he makes his way toward the land. With every breath, Jormungand will stain the soil and the sky with his poison. The waves caused by the serpent’s emerging will set free the ship Naglfar, and with the giant Hymir as their commander, the giants will sail towards the battlefield. From the realm of the dead a second ship will set sail, and this ship carries the inhabitants of hell, with Loki as their helmsman. The fire giants, led by the giant Surt, will leave Muspell in the south to join against the gods. Surt, carrying a sword that blazes like the sun itself, will scorch the earth.
Meanwhile, Heimdall will sound his horn, calling the sons of Odin and the heroes to the battlefield. From all the corners of the world, gods, giants, dwarves, fiends and elves will ride towards the huge plain of Vigrid (“battle shaker”) where the last battle will be fought. Odin will engage Fenris in battle, and Thor will attack Jormungand. Thor will victorious, but the serpent’s poison will gradually kill the god of thunder. Surt will seek out the swordless Frey, who will quickly succumb to the giant. The one-handed Tyr will fight the monstrous hound Garm and they will kill each other. Loki and Heimdall, age-old enemies, will meet for a final time, and neither will survive their encounter. The fight between Odin and Fenris will rage for a long time, but finally Fenris will seize Odin and swallow him. Odin’s son Vidar will at once leap towards the wolf and kill him with his bare hands, ripping the wolf’s jaws apart.
Then Surt will fling fire in every direction. The nine worlds will burn, and friends and foes alike will perish. The earth will sink into the sea.
After the destruction, a new and idyllic world will arise from the sea and will be filled with abundant supplies. Some of the gods will survive, others will be reborn. Wickedness and misery will no longer exist and gods and men will live happily together. The descendants of Lif and Lifthrasir will inhabit this earth.
The wall that enclosed Asgard was destroyed during a war between the Vanir and the Aesir, leaving the gods vulnerable to an attack by the giants.
One day, an itinerant stonemason named Blast came to Asgard and offered to rebuild the wall if the goddess Freya would consent to be his wife. He asked for the sun and the moon as well. The gods wanted the wall rebuilt but the terms stated by the mason were outrageous. However, the god Loki proposed a way of outwitting the mason and getting at least part of the wall rebuilt for nothing. The gods agreed to the payment asked by the mason, but only if the work was completed within six months. The mason insisted that he be allowed to use his stallion, Svadilfari, in rebuilding the wall.
The work proceeded much more rapidly than the gods had anticipated and they began to worry that the mason might have to be paid after all. The god Odin threatened to kill Loki if the wall was completed within the allotted time. Loki saw that the mason’s horse was doing the heavy hauling and he devised a plan to deprive the mason of the help of his horse. Taking the form of a young mare, Loki lured the stallion into a thicket and made sure that he remained there until the next day. When Svadilfari returned to his master it was too late to complete the work. The mason became so angry that he revealed his true form, that of a stone giant. The god Thor dispatched the giant with a mighty blow of his hammer, Mjollnir.
Months later, Loki returned to Asgard. He brought with him a gray colt with eight legs, the foal of Loki the mare and Svadilfari the stallion. He gave it to Odin, saying that its name was Sleipnir. The colt could travel over land and sea and through the air.
The black elves (Drow) grew from the maggots of Ymir’s flesh. They live in the earth and in stones. Their home is Svartalfheim, which lies under the earth.
Valhalla, Hall of the Slain, in Asgardian mythology is the hall presided over by Odin. This vast hall has five hundred and forty doors. The rafters are spears, the hall is roofed with shields and breast-plates litter the benches. A wolf guards the western door and an eagle hovers over it. It is here that the Valkyries, Odin’s messengers and spirits of war, bring half of the heroes that died on the battle fields (the rest go to Freya’s hall Folkvang). These heroes, the Einherjar, are prepared in Valhalla for the oncoming battle of Ragnarok. When the battle commences, eight hundred warriors will march shoulder to shoulder out of each door.
Vanaheim (“home of the Vanir”) is the land of the Elven deities. It is located in Asgard, on the highest level of the universe
Yggdrasil (“The Terrible One’s Horse”), also called the World Tree, is the giant ash tree that links and shelters all the worlds. Beneath the three roots the realms of Asgard, Jotunheim, and Niflheim are located. Three wells lie at its base: the Well of Wisdom (Mímisbrunnr), guarded by Mimir; the Well of Fate (Urdarbrunnr), guarded by the Norns; and the Hvergelmir (Roaring Kettle), the source of many rivers.
Four deer run across the branches of the tree and eat the buds; they represent the four winds. There are other inhabitants of the tree, such as the squirrel Ratatosk (“swift teeth”), a notorious gossip, and Vidofnir (“tree snake”), the golden cock that perches on the topmost bough. The roots are gnawed upon by Nidhogg and other serpents. On the day of Ragnarok, the fire giant Surt will set the tree on fire.
The first level:
- Asgard, world of the Aesir
- Vanaheim, land of the Vanir (Elven Deities)
- Alfheim, land of the Sidhe (feywild)
The second level:
- Midgard, Land of humans (middle world/garden)
- Muspelheim, Land of the dwarven deities (also referred to as Dwarfheim)
- Jotunheim, Land of the giants (Jotuns) and fiends (devils/demons)
- Svartalfheim, Land of the drow
The third level:
- Helheim, Realm of the dead;
- Niflheim (shadowfell), World of the dead, shadow and dreams.
A classical view, how most people view the world tree
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Alfheim (“elf home”), one of the nine worlds. It is located on the highest level of the Asgardian universe. Also found on this level are the worlds of Asgard and Vanaheim. Alfheim is the palace of the god Frey and the homeland of the deities of the elves of light. The drow deities live in Svartalfheim.
One of the nine worlds and the homeland of the Aesir, the race of warrior gods. Located on the highest level of the Asgardian universe, it is surrounded by a high wall of closely fitted stone blocks. The walls surrounding Asgard were built by Blast (or Hrimthurs), who asked in payment the hand of Freya plus the sun and the moon. Odin agreed providing the walls be complete in six months. Hrimthurs had a magic horse, named Svadilfari, who helped him in his work. To Odin’s (and the other gods, especially Freya’s) horror, with but a few days left, Blast was almost finished. Loki, the trickster, turned himself into a mare and beguiled the stallion Svadilfari away. The job was not completed in time and no payment was given.
Also found on this level are the worlds of Alfheim and Vanaheim as well as Valhalla, an immense hall where warriors slain in battle await the final conflict.
In the middle of Asgard lies the plain of Idavoll (or Ida) where the Aesir meet to decide important issues. There the gods assemble in the hall of Gladsheim and the goddesses in the hall of Vingolf. The gods also meet daily at the Well of Urd, beneath the Asgard root of the ash tree Yggdrasil.
Bifrost is the bridge between Midgard, the realm of man, and Asgard, the realm of the gods. Since it is the only way for the giants to enter Asgard it is closely guarded by Heimdall, the watchman of the gods.
Bifrost was made of three colors with magic and great skill by the Aesir and is incredibly strong. At the end of the cosmos, this rainbow-bridge will collapse.
Gladsheim (“place of joy”) is the hall of the gods in Asgard, situated on the plain of Ida. Odin presides there but also each of the twelve main gods has a high seat there. Gladsheim is where the gods meet to make important decisions. It is also the inner citadel or sanctuary of Asgard.
Helheim (“house of Hel”) is one of the nine worlds of Asgardian mythology. It is ruled by Hel, the monstrous daughter of the trickster god Loki and his wife Angrboda.
This cold, dark and misty abode of the dead is located in the world of Niflheim, on the lowest level of the Asgardian universe. No one can ever leave this place, because of the impassable river Gjoll that flows from the spring Hvergelmir and encircles Helheim. Once they enter Helheim, not even the gods can leave. Those who die of old age or disease, and those not killed in battle, go to Helheim while those who die bravely on the battlefield go to Valhalla.
The entrance to Helheim is guarded by Garm, a monstrous hound, and Modgud. The giant Hraesvelg (“corpse eater”) sits at the edge of the world, overlooking Helheim. In the form of an eagle with flapping wings he makes the wind blow.
Jotunheim is one of the nine worlds, the homeland of the frost giants and rock giants. Situated on the middle level of the universe, Jotunheim is separated from Asgard by the river Iving, which never freezes over. It lies in the snowy regions on the outermost shores of the ocean. Mimir’s well of wisdom is in Jotunheim, beneath the Midgard root of the ash tree Yggdrasil.
Jotunheim is ruled by Thrym (“uproar”), the feared king of the frost giants. The stronghold of Utgard, the chief city of Jotunheim and the abode of the giants, is ruled by the giant Utgard-Loki. Other strongholds include Gastropnir, home of the giantess Menglad, and Thrymheim (“house of uproar”), mountain stronghold of the giant Thiazi.