Norse Realms of the Dead and Ragnarök too

12192008_178098239198933_6025361722778755850_nIn Norse Mythology it was believed when you died, whether in battle, old age, or sickness, you would go to one of three realms Valhalla, Fólkvangr, or Helheim. Awaiting your time to fight in Ragnarök (The Doom of the Gods).

Valhalla, Hall of the Slain, is the hall presided over by the Norse god 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 (Einherjar) who die on the battle fields. The Einherjar, are continuously in battle in preparation for the oncoming battle of Ragnarök. When the battle commences, eight hundred warriors will march shoulder to shoulder out of each door.

The other half of the warriors killed in battle will go to Fólkvangr (“field of the host” or “people-field” or “army-field”) a meadow or field ruled over by the Vanir (gods associated with cultivation and fertility) goddess Freyja. Within Fólkvangr is her hall, Sessrúmnir (seat room). These warriors also will be waiting for Ragnarök.

For those who did not die in battle, whether by old age or sickness, will end up in Helheim (“house of Hel”) ruled by the goddess Hel, the daughter of the god Loki and his wife Angrboda. Helheim is a cold, dark and misty place and is located in the world of Niflheim. 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. The entrance to Helheim is guarded by Garm, a monstrous hound, and Modgud. The giant Hraesvelg in the form of an eagle (“corpse eater”) sits at the edge of the world, overlooking Helheim, making the wind blow with his wings.

The first signs of Ragnarök (the end of the world) coming are the murder of the god Balder, the son of Odin and Frigg (Loki tricked Baldr’s brother, the blind god Höðr into killing him). The winter will be long and cold and last for three years with no summer in between. The name of this winter is called “Fimbulwinter” During these three years, the world will be plagued by wars, and brothers will kill brothers. Also, three red roosters will warn all the giants, the dead, and the gods that Ragnarök has come.

Heimdall will blow his horn as loud as he can and that will be the warning for all the Einherjar in Valhalla that the war has started. This will be the battle to end all battles, and this will be the day that all the Vikings “Einherjar” from Valhalla and Fólkvangr who have died honourably in battle, will pick up their swords and armor to fight once more. The Jotuns (giants) will together with Hel, and all her dishonorable dead, sail in the ship Naglfar, which is made from the fingernails of all the dead, sail to the plains of Vigrid to fight.

The walls of Asgard, the homes of the Aesir, and the huge bridge Bifrost, will be set on fire by Surt the fire giant. The mighty Midgard serpent will emerge from the sea and engulf the Vigrid plains, while it splashes its tail and sprays poison in all directions, causing huge waves crashing towards the land. The Fenrir wolf will break free of his chains and spread death and destruction. The sun and the moon will be swallowed by the wolves Sköll and Hati. Even the world tree Yggdrasil, will shake the ground.

Odin will be killed by the Fenrir wolf and Thor and the Midgard Serpent will kill each other. Loki will turn on the Aesir (gods who are associated with power and war like Thor and Odin), and fight Heimdall, and they will kill each other. Tyr and the watchdog “Garm” from Hel, will also kill each other. Freyr will be killed by the fire giant named Surt. Finally, Surt will set all the nine worlds, in a flaming inferno and they will sink into the boiling sea.

When most of the gods and giants have perished, the new world will rise up from the water better than the old one. Before the battle at Ragnarök, two people, Lif “a woman” and Liftraser “a man”, will find sheltering in the sacred tree Yggdrasil. And when the battle is over, they will come out and populate the earth again. Several of the gods will survive, among them Odin’s sons Vidar and Vali and his brother Honir. Thor’s sons Modi and Magni will inherit their father’s hammer Mjölnir. Once this happens the world will begin anew.

Adela