Asgard

The word Asgard comes from the Old Norse word Ásgarðr, meaning Enclosure of the Aesir. Asgard is one of the nine worlds in Norse Mythology, along with Niflheim, Muspelheim, Midgard, Jotunheim, Vanaheim, Alfheim, Svartalfheim, and Helheim. Asgard is the home of the Aesir, deities of one of two tribes of Norse gods. The other tribe, the Vanir, used to share Asgard but the two tribes fought a long, epic war over their differences and the Vanir were forced to leave Asgard. The two tribes did reach an eventual truce as they joined forces against their common enemy, the Giants.

Snorri Sturluson, author of the Prose Edda, wrote that Asgard was created by the gods after they created Jotunheim (Giantland), Midgard (Middle Earth or home of humanity), the seas, sky, clouds and the Earth. The home of the gods is said to be a giant fortress with walls reaching up into the clouds to protect them from their enemies, particularly the frost-giants.

Asgard is situated in the sky upon the plains of Idavoll, where the gods met to discuss important matters. It was connected to Midgard by a rainbow bridge called Bifrost. The mythical place was invisible and inaccessible to mortal men.

The ruler of the gods, Odin, had his throne in Asgard, in a hall called Valaskjalf. His throne was called Hlidskjalf and it is believed that when Odin sat on Hlidskjalf, he could see the whole of heaven and Earth and everything that happened anywhere! A hall made of pure gold was also situated in the home of the gods. It was called Gladsheim and housed the thrones of Odin and the 12 highest gods. The goddesses’ hall was called the Vingolf or hall of friendship. The gods and goddesses would meet every day and discuss the fate of world at the Well of Urd (destiny), from which the Yggdrasil (the tree connecting the nine worlds) grew.

Asgard also housed Valhalla (the hall of the fallen). Odin granted access to the worthy dead, the majority of whom were esteemed warriors. Here, he feasted and celebrated with the battle heroes. Valhalla was easily recognizable by its rafters formed of spears, and use of shields as roof tiles. According to certain sources, the doors of Valhalla were so wide that 800 warriors could walk through at the same time! A vast river, the Thund, and a barred gate, Valgrind, protected the entrances of Valhalla.

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