Asgard was the house of the mighty Norse gods, from the place they watched over the opposite eight realms and administered justice. It was additionally the ultimate resting place of the useless and the place Odin, King of the Gods, held courtroom. Asgard performed a necessary half within the Norse tales and continues to be prevalent in some standard tradition immediately. Many people know of Asgard from the Marvel Universe, however how did the Norse folks actually take into consideration the realm of the Gods?
What Was Asgard? Who Lived There and How?
Asgard was a part of a fancy system of beliefs held by Scandinavian and Germanic folks. The final mythological custom during which the concepts of Asgard might be positioned is believed to have developed in about 1000 BC the place it took the type of non secular and materials tradition. It’s thought this perception system lasted till the Christianization of those areas between round 900 and 1200 AD.
In accordance with this ideology, there have been three tribes of deities, the Aesir, the Vanir, and the Jotun. Asgard was the house of the Aesir gods. The excellence between the Aesir and Vanir will depend on at what level of their lengthy historical past you take a look at them. There are tales of their wars but in addition of their concord when they’re mentioned to have made peace and inter-married.
Maybe the best method to differentiate between them are their spheres of affect. While the Aesir and Vanir had been each tribes of gods, the Jotun had been giants. The Aesir represented struggle and conquest, whereas the Vanir embodied fertility and wealth. The Jotun, then again, had been seen because the villains, a malefic race who, regardless of being acknowledged as sensible, offered the first menace to the Aesir and the Vanir.
These gods didn’t all reside collectively and every had its personal separate realm. The Aesir had Asgard, the Vanir had Vanaheim, and the Jotun had Jotunhiem. Asgard was the place the Aesir dwelled, the place their properties or palaces had been.
Asgard additionally served a lot of capabilities. Not solely was it the place Odin held courtroom, but it surely was additionally the place the nice halls of Valhalla had been positioned. It was right here that half the souls of all those that died in battle would find yourself within the afterlife, whereas the opposite half went to the goddess Freya in Folkvangr, not far-off.
Asgard was related to the human world (Midgard) through the Bifrost (or “shimmering path”). This was a rainbow bridge which had been constructed by the gods and was guarded by the god Heimdall.
Illustration of Yggdrasil, the sacred world tree of Norse mythology mentioned to assist the universe, from the English translation of Prose Edda, an Previous Norse textbook. ( Public domain )
The Many Realms of Norse Mythology
Asgard was not alone. There have been eight different realms, all of which had been positioned on the world tree or Yggdrasil. These realms had been made up of Asgard and Vanaheim (properties of the Aesir and Vanir gods), Jotunheim (the realm of the giants), Midgard (the realm of mortals), Niflheim (the realm of ice, fog and mist), Alfhiem (the realm of the sunshine elves), Nidavellir (the realm of dwarves), Muspelhiem (the realm of the fireplace giants and demons) and eventually Helheim (the realm of the dishonorable useless).
All these realms had been supported by Yggdrasil with Asgard on the high of the branches, Midgard about midway up and surrounded by an impassable sea and the underworld (Niflheim and Helheim) on the backside, amongst its roots.
While Asgard was the realm of the gods and the place from which they managed the universe, it shouldn’t be conflated with the concept of a Christian heaven. It’s maybe extra useful to think about Asgard as just like the Greek Mount Olympus . That’s, because the residence of the gods with feasting halls the place warriors had been despatched, quite than a Heaven.
Asgard was the house of the mighty Norse gods, in addition to the situation of Valhalla, seen right here, the place Odin held courtroom. Supply: Public domain
Asgard in Norse Mythology
Asgard featured closely in Norse mythology , and it usually featured when the exploits of the Aesir gods had been talked about. Their properties in Asgard are sometimes likened to the castles or feasting halls of mortal royalty. The realm is talked about by the Icelandic scholar Snorri Sturluson who wrote his Prose Edda within the thirteenth century.
In his poem Gylfaginning Sturluson tells the story of a Swedish king named Gylfi who travelled in pursuit of data. He ultimately discovered himself in what he believed to be Asgard. What had occurred, nonetheless, was that the gods had tricked him into believing that was the place he was. He was then questioned by the gods about their historical past.
It’s Gylfi’s solutions to those questions which make up the e book. In accordance with what follows, Asgard merely existed, unquestioned in Norse thought, as was the case with the opposite realms on the world tree. It was mentioned that the realm started when Odin introduced legislation and order. He then ordered the development of buildings. This gave method to a city and two stout halls. The halls of Valhalla had been then constructed within the area of Gladsheim. Sturluson data Odin’s work in lots of element and recounts step-by-step what the God did.
Asgard can be described inside a poem named Grimnismol, within the Poetic Edda . That is summarized and expanded upon by Sturluson in his Prose Edda . Sturluson writes:
“There’s additionally in that place [Asgard] the abode known as Breidablik, and there may be not in heaven a fairer dwelling. There, too, is the one known as Glitnir, whose partitions, and all its posts and pillars, are of purple gold, however its roof of silver. There’s additionally the abode known as Himinbjörg; it stands at heaven’s finish by the bridge-head, within the place the place Bifröst joins heaven. One other nice abode is there, which is called Valaskjálf; Odin possesses that dwelling; the gods made it and thatched it with sheer silver, and on this corridor is the Hlidskjálf, the high-seat so known as. Each time Allfather sits in that seat, he surveys all lands.” (Sturluson, Gylfaginning)
Sturluson additionally mentions the Bifrost in his poem Gylfaginning:
“Has it not been advised thee, that the gods made a bridge from earth, to heaven, known as Bifröst? Thou will need to have seen it; it might be that ye name it rainbow. It’s of three colours, and really robust, and made with crafty and with extra magic artwork than different works of expertise.” (Sturluson, Gylfaginning)
While this passage illustrates the significance of the gods’ involvement within the building of the bridge, one other necessary issue within the building of the bridge was concern – concern of invasion.
For instance, within the Prose Edda , when speaking in regards to the purple band of the rainbow on the bridge, Sturluson states “that which thou seest to be purple within the bow is burning hearth; the Hill-Giants may go as much as heaven, if passage on Bifröst had been open to all those that would cross.” For the Aesir gods, the specter of an invasion by the Jotun giants was a continuing and really actual menace. It was a concern of this menace that compelled the Aesir to construct an enormous wall round their metropolis. This fable is likely one of the most well-known that includes Asgard and is detailed under.
Valhalla, positioned within the realm of Asgard, as depicted by Max Brückner. ( Public domain )
The Destruction of Asgard
In some data, it states that Asgard was destroyed in a struggle between the Aesir and Vanir. The previous was in the end victorious, however their realm was left in ruins as a result of preventing. In an effort to rebuild and shield their stunning residence from future invasions, the gods enlisted the assistance of an enormous.
This big agreed to assist rebuild the mighty realm and encircle town with a wall by the primary day of summer time if he may declare the attractive goddess Freya as his spouse. The gods had been reluctant however may see no different method to rebuild their residence and so agreed the the deal.
Nevertheless, they devised a scheme with a purpose to save Freya from this destiny. The mischievous god Loki was enlisted. He remodeled himself right into a mare and distracted the enormous’s horse. Due to the back-breaking nature of his work, the horse had been important to the enormous’s work, and with out it, he was misplaced.
Utterly unable to finish his work, the enormous was livid and sought out the gods. He got here to them with violence, however he was rapidly struck down by Thor. The gods had been ultimately capable of end rebuilding with out the enormous as a result of he had already accomplished a lot, and Freya was saved.
The true and last destruction of Asgard got here with Ragnarök. Ragnarök was the prophesied finish of the world in Norse mythology and never even the gods had been secure. It was mentioned that the enormous Surt would lead the fireplace giants in a march in opposition to the world tree.
The gods would battle the fireplace giants on the fields of Vigrid, however would all be destroyed. Asgard would then sink into oblivion and a void would take all that was as soon as there. Some prophesied that the world would then start anew from that void, however they don’t point out if that world would come with a renewed Asgard.
Asgard burning in a scene from the final section of Ragnarök. ( Public domain )
What Does Asgard Imply?
Plainly the identify Asgard comes from two Old Norse phrases. The primary is āss which meant God, and the second is garðr which meant enclosure or backyard. A superb translation could be “enclosure of the (Aesir) gods” as a result of Asgard was successfully shut off from the skin world.
It can be mentioned that the “-gard” a part of Asgard’s identify might be linked to the traditional Germanic distinction between innangard and utangard. Innangard roughly interprets as “contained in the fence” and characterised the orderly and law-abiding. Utangard, then again, interprets as “past the fence” and characterised the chaotic and wild.
These ideas may very well be utilized to each the actual world and the human psyche. Ideas may very well be innangard or utangard in addition to locations and issues. It, subsequently, appears to use to Asgard which might be seen because the mannequin of innangard, whereas a spot like Jotunheim (the realm of the giants) is the picture of utangard.
Equally, Midgard (the realm of people) might be translated to “center enclosure.” The identify suggests it exists someplace within the center, not fairly innangard like Asgard however not as utangard as Jotunheim.
To conclude, it’s evident that Asgard occupied an necessary place in Norse mythology . It options in most of the myths in regards to the Aesir gods and holds an important place on the world tree. Moreover, by analyzing the bodily make-up of town itself we will be taught a lot in regards to the gods themselves. For instance, the fortification of town partitions and of the Bifrost demonstrates their concern of the giants.
The town has retained a spot in standard tradition because it has been a visible spectacle in most of the Marvel Thor comics and movies. It’s from these fashionable re-interpretations of those mythological areas that many people acquire our preliminary understandings of those historic ideas.
Prime picture: Depiction of Valhalla, the place Odin held courtroom at Asgard, from the 1878 staging by Hermann Burghart of Das Rheingold by Richard Wagner. ( Public domain )
By Molly Dowdeswell