Cosmogony, or the idea of the cosmos, how it came into existence, its beings and interatctions, constitutes a fundamental step to try and apprehend ancient worldviews. Basically, the Teutonic cosmos is arranged into Nine Worlds contained in the Tree Yggdrasil. The World Tree Yggdrasil defines the organic structure maintaining the shape of this nine-faceted cosmos and holds the worlds in the proper relationship to each other. The worlds are connected by the multiple roots and branches of the tree; there are roads which may be travelled between them and the channels through which the forces of each world pass to interact with the others. At the foot of the Tree there is a well of the purest waters. Below are the Nine Worlds of Yggdrasil.
The highest of the Nine Worlds is called Asgardhr, "enclosure of the gods".
In the Prose Edda, Snorri Sturluson describes this inner gardh (enclosure) as
being built in the centre of Midgardhr, the hallowed space within the enclosure
of human society. Asgardhr´s place above the horizontal plane shows shos
its speration from the elemental worlds: it requires either the aid of a valkyrija
in crossing the bridge Bifrost or exceptional strengrh of purpose and will to
reach Asgardhr by any other means. Bifrost is composed of air, water and fire,
burning with purifying flame. It is warded by the god Heimdallr, the personification
of the hallowed air/water/fire triad and father fo the kin-bindings between
gods and humans. The crossing of this bridge is only for the initiated: its
fire guards Asgardhr against the thurses (unintelligent personifications of
brute force), and neither the warriors who come to Valhalla nor Thor, least
spiritually refined of Aesir, can cross it, but must instead force their way
through the rivers surrounding Asgardhr. "Thund roars and fish live/ in
the flood of Thiothvitnir. / That river´s current seem too strong / for
the throng of the slaughtered to wade... Kormt and Ormt, and the two Kerlaugs,
/ these Thor shall wade each day / when he fares to doom at
the ash Yggdrasil. / The bridge of the Gods / is all ablaze with fire / and the holy waters seethe" (Grimnismal 21.29). The river Thund (the noisy) represents the passage through the waters of death. Only the strongest of soul can force their way upward to Valhalla. While strength and determination are enough for the warrior, it is the goal of the magician/sorceress to gain the valkyrija´s aid and be abl to cross over Bifrost.
Within Asgardhr are the halls belonging to the various gods, described in detail in the Grimnismal. A knowledge of these dwellings is good both for the clues they provide to the nature of the gods and for invocational precision. These halls are Thrudheimr, the dwelling of Thor, Ydal (Yew-dale) plains for Ullr, Valaskjalf for Odhinn, Sokvabekk for Saga (possibly a hypostasis of Frigg) and Odhinn, Gladhome where Valhalla is built, Thrymheimr for Skadhi, Beidhablik for Baldr, Himinbjorg for Heimdallr, Folkvangr where Freya keeps her half of the battle-slain, Glitnir for Forseti, Noatun for Njord and Vithi, where Vidar dwells. It has also been suggested that each of the twelve halls represents a different sign of the Zodiac/month of the year, beginning with Thrudheim as Capricorn, since the Teutonic year starts on Mother-night (Dec 20-21). Colours associated with Asgardhr are gold, silver and
Alfheimr is the dwelling of the Light Alfar. It is close to Asgardhr, being listed among the halls of the gods (though not numbered maong the twelve). A frequent refrain in Eddic poetry is "How fare the Aesir? How fare the alfs?" (Voluspa 47). Alfheimr is ruled by Freyr and characterized by the higher aspect of light and air. It is the realm through which the flows of energy from Asgardhr are often transmitted to Midgardhr. In this world, the highest energies of the realm of humans mingle with the lower energies of the realms of the gods. It is the highest realms which can be reached from Midgardhr without the necessity of making a crossing. The colours associated with Alfheimr are yellow, light blue, light green and white.
The central world of all is the Earth as we know it, our Physical Plane. This
world brings together and melds the might of all the other worlds and is connected
to them by the roots, branches and trunk of the tree Yggdrasil. This world represents
the element Earth, which in Teutonic thought, encompasses all the other elements.
The Earth of Teutonic Tradition also incorporates the workings of spirit as
received directly from Asgardhr by way of Bifrost (the Rainbow Bridge) through
It is essential that the magician be bale to maintain his/her feet grounded in Midgardhr and preserve the middle world´s balance of power within him/herself. Magickal living is about being functional in all worlds and it is in Midgardhr that all workings of High Magick should have a part in completion.
As Alfheimr, the dwelling of the Light Alfar, overlaps the highest reaches of Midgardhr, so Svartalfheim, the dwelling of Black Alfar, interpenetrates the subterranean regions of the earth. In this realm are found the mysteries of earthly manifestations, represented by the matchless smithcraft of the dwarves. Svartalfheim contains the lowest frequencies of Midgardhr and the highest of Hel, the Underworld, standing in the same relationship to Hel that Alfheimr does to Asgardhr. This realm can be reached with ease from Midgardhr often inadvertently, as described in a number of tales. The colours of Svartalfheim are dark brown, gray and red gold.
The most characteristic world of utangardhs (wild/unordered space, outside
of human society) is Jotunheimr. This land is the dwelling of the thursar, rises
and etins (various types of giants), the children of Ymir. It is frosty and
rocky, lashed by violent winds and storms. Jotunheimr is located in the East,
the direction (rougly) from which the Teutonic peoples have migrated; the Anglo-Saxon
Rune Poem describes the ancestor-hero Ing faring forth from the East. Jotunheimr
is the land of primeval ancestry. Thorsson mentions that "to go into the
East" is a term used to describe the act of faring into the realm of preconscious
forces (Erdred Thorsson, Runelore). It is inhabited by beings of great wisdom,
such as the etin Vafthrudhnir, from whom even Odhinn can learn, by the giants
and by the semi-sapient brimthursargar or ice-giants who continually seek to
break and destroy the walls of the ordered world. It is these beings specifically
against whom Midgardhr has been walled off and against whom Thor wards us; they
characterize one aspect of the foes dwelling outside the gardh.
Jotunheimr is the turbulent world of the elemental Air which, through its endless seething and struggling, both breaks down and fertilizes. Its nature is seen in the shattering, icy might of the wind from the east. The colours of Jotunheimr are red and grey.
Jotunheimr is blanced by Vanaheimr, which is characterized by peace and plenty. The Vanir are gods of fertility, riches and joy. Vanaheimr represents the world of water, its nature being shown by the life-bringing and gentle winds from the West. As well as ruling over fertility, the Vanir are also described as the Wise Vanir, and are noted for their powers of foresight. Seidh magick is the power used and taught by the Vanic Freya. It is characterized by the journeying of the spirit and the power of prophecy. While the Vanir are not without their warlike aspects, they are not generally considered gods of war, but of peace, prosperity and harvest. The Vanir are also gods of death and Vanaheimr, the watery world of the West, may be associated with the final far-faring, the ship voyage of death. The colours of Vanaheimr are dark green, dark blue, brown and red gold.
Niflheimr and Muspellheimr, the worlds of primal ice and primal fire, are set
respectively in the Northern and Southern parts of the utangardhs (limits outside
human reality) through which their mights are filtered and mixed to bring about
the forces working through Midgardhr. Both worlds and their inhabitants, beings
of pure forces of fire and ice, would be endlessly destructive if released onto
the worlds of the innangardhs. As the High One (an Odhinnic hypostasis) syas
in Gylfagynning, "there is nothing in the world that can be relied upon
when the sons of Muspell are on the warpth" (Prose Edda, page 40). Muspellheimr
is ruled by Surtr, who will meet Freyr in battle at Ragnarok. The colour of
Niflheimr is black,
and the one of Muspellheimr is red.
The lowest of the Nine Worlds is Hel, ruled by the goddess Hel, mistress of
the chthonic mysteries. As Asgardhr is at the crown of Yggdrasil, Hel is at
its base. Like Asgardhr, Hel cannot be reached directly from Midgardhr - one
must "ride over a bridge", or travel between worlds with the aid of
one´s fylgia (usually a totem or sacred animal or Soul Companion and Guide).
The bridge to Hel crosses the river Gjoll and its guarded by the giant Maiden
Modgudh. As Bifrost is fiery and narrow, the bridge to Hel is icy and wide.
Hel is also called Niflhel, meaning Misty Hel or Dark Hel, which refers to the Goddess´ primary aspect of concealment. Hel borders very closely on the world Nifheimr; it is located down and to the North, and it is the implied location of the venom-filled halls, on Na Strand, and home of the dragon Niddhogg, embodiment of the concealed powers of destruction/transformation. Hel is the hidden root to which all things sink, as allthe waters wend their way to Hvergelmir, and from which all things rise again.
Although the realm of Hel is described as horrible in parts - the lifeless, lightless, joyless dwelling of the dead - it is written elsewhere that Hel is brightly bedecked to welcome Balder after his death. This dual nature can be seen in the figure of the goddess Hel hersefl: She is half a beautiful woman and half a corpse, her concealment both that of the womb and that of the tomb. Hel receives those souls who cannot struggle through to Valhalla, but in time, as her name Mother Holle suggests, she bears them forth again. The colours of Hel are black, dark green and dark brown.
Stand up with arms outstretched and legs apart. Take deep breaths to still
your mind and close your eyes. In your mind´s eye, follow in your body
the paths that represent the Nine Worlds of Yggdrasil:
"Below you, Hel, the Inner Reality that receives all there Was and is the foundation to all There Is Within you, Svartalfheim comes right above Hel, representing the Dark Alfar and powers of the Hidden Earth, smithcraft, the matchless skill of dwarves Upon your heart you feel the beat of Midgardhr, the Living Earth and Physical plane we are born to serve and protect, the Physical Reality that gives form to All there Was, Is and
Will be Your Third Eye shines in the Light of Alfheimr, and you feel Freyir pour energy from the Heights to Midgardhr below Your right hand and arm stretches out upward to reach out for Jotunheimr, the Astral Realms where beings of Great Wisdom reside, while your left hand and arm point out downward for Vanaheimr, the realm of peace and plenty, the fertilising power of the sweet waters and the gentle breezes from the West.
Your left hand and arm stretches out upward to reach out for Niflheimr, the Realm of Primal Ice, whereas your right arm and hand point downward to the World of Primal Fire, Muspellheimr And Above you, lies Asgardhr, the Enclosure of the Gods we worship and hope one day to be one with in the Halls of Magick and Everlastingness. Feel the power of the nine worlds energise your whole being and then return to Everyday Reality, to Midgardhr of your dreams, insights and deeds."
All Nine Worlds are in harmony within and without, for a moment you were Yggdrasil, the World Tree along your body recreated anew.
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