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More Than Just Vikings

Vikings were those who sailed the northern Atlantic seas to run raids or settle in new lands. The word Viking is technically the verb for “making a sea voyage” in the Old Norse language, so the Norsemen would “go Viking.” 

The period is now 800 C.E. and the Norsemen have mastered shipbuilding in a way that allowed them to navigate rough seas as well as narrow rivers with dexterity. The people are eager and strong, ready to venture to new lands. Many warriors were sailing across the Atlantic or traveling the Mediterranean, some strategizing river access to major cities across Europe, and others accessing the far regions of the East through the Baltic channels of trade. Other Norse-Icelandic people even attempted to settle in the Americas. The headgear they wore never consisted of horned helmets, as is usually portrayed in media, but rather simple iron helmets. This misrepresentation was established through Christian-influenced literature.

The pièce de résistance was their ability to sail. Building ships that were both agile and strong, they designed them with planks that followed the tree’s grain, making them naturally stronger. The clinker method, which was a pattern for building the hull with overlapping planks riveted together, was ingenious in allowing flexibility with a comparatively lightweight and shallow depth structure. This allowed smooth navigation during raids where speed and maneuverability were crucial. With the addition of sun stones and sun charts that would track the sun’s path over the sky during adverse weather, the Vikings were unstoppable.

Making use initially of water advantage, stealth, speed, and brute strength, the Vikings later evolved into a more sophisticated and political force and what some widely considered the reason the Viking Era ended.

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The Nine Realms of Norse Mythology – Niflheim and Muspelheim.

According to Norse mythology, the cosmos is divided into nine realms. These comprised the cosmos and were inextricably linked to one another. 

These included Niflheim, Muspelheim, Asgard, Midgard, Jotunheim, Vanaheim, Alfheim, Svartalfheim, and Helheim.

Each realm has different functions and characteristics that set it apart from the others. Each of these nine realms housed a variety of beings and legendary animals.

The giants lived in Jotumheim, the gods lived in Asgard, and mankind lived in Midgard.

The world tree Yggdrasil, according to the Norse, kept the nine worlds together.

Yggdrasil was the instrument that would unite each world within a wider universe.

Niflheim and Muspelheim are the first two realms. These two are thought to have been constructed from Ginnungagap.

Ginnungagap is made up of two words that have been combined; the terms in issue are ginnunga and gap. The term gap may be translated directly, as it is in English, however, the word ginnunga is more difficult to interpret.

According to the Dutch professor of Germanic linguistics and Germanic mythology, the term ginnunga might be translated as magically-charged.

Ginnungagap is therefore described as the yawning vacuum of total emptiness with a magically charged core that resulted in the formation of the first two worlds.

The cosmos had not yet been formed, as all that existed was Niflheim in the north and Muspelheim in the south.

The other seven kingdoms, on the other hand, were formed from Ymir’s body, a hermaphroditic giant and one of the earliest giants to ever exist in Norse mythology, which was begun by Odin and his brothers at the cosmos’ creation. It’s no accident that there are nine realms. 

The number nine has a lot of meaning, and you can find a lot of it in poetry like Snorri Sturluson’s Eddas. To name a few examples of the number’s significance, Odin was hanged on Yggdrasil for nine days and nights, Heimdallr had nine daughters, and Njord (the god of the wind and the sea) waited nine days for his wife Skadi.

Niflheim

Niflheim is known as the realm of fog and mist. Niflheim, also known as Niavellir in Old Norse, translates to ‘mist home’ or ‘mist planet.’

It is located in the northern part of Ginnungagap and was established at the same time as Muspelheim. Niflheim is the world’s darkest and coldest kingdom. Hvergelmir, located in Niflheim, is the earliest spring in Norse mythology. 

Hvergelmir is said to be guarded by an enormous and vicious dragon known as Nidhug, or Nhöggr in Old Norse.

According to Norse mythology specialists, freezing cold rivers flow out of Hvergelmir and are thought to be the primary source of Niflheim’s eleven rivers (Élivágar).

These eleven rivers were the universe’s earliest rivers since they were the only rivers in the only realm that had water at the time. 

Hvergelmir is extremely important since it was the fundamental source of all that is alive, as well as the spring to which all living beings will return one day.

The freezing water that poured down the massive mountain ranges of Ginnungagap is claimed to have eventually hardened into a big dense covering of frost and ice, generating new territory.

Yggdrasil, the world tree, began to grow, stretching one of its three roots into Hvergelmir’s spring and drawing the necessary water to branch out.

Muspelheim

Muspelheim, also known as Mspellsheimr in Old Norse, is the realm of fire.

This realm, like Niflheim, was established at the same time as Niflheim, although it is located to the south of Ginnungagap.

Niflheim’s polar opposite is Muspelheim. The coldest realm is Niflheim, whereas the warmest is Muspelheim.

According to specialists in Norse mythology, Muspelheim is a searing hot planet filled with exploding volcanoes, lava rivers, flames, sparks, and thick soot. 

The sun, moon, and stars are thought to have been generated from Muspelheim’s sparks.

According to some legends, the warm air from Muspelheim caused the ice of Niflheim to melt, resulting in the formation of Ymir, the father of the wicked giants and the first known entity to inhabit the globe.

Odin and the other gods would murder Ymir. His death would result in the construction of the other realms, much as Odin and his brothers did with Ymir’s corpse.

Ymir’s death would also serve as the impetus for Ragnarök and the destruction of the world by fire. As a result, Ymir was responsible for the world’s creation and annihilation. 

Muspelheim is controlled by the enormous fire giant Surtr and is home to fire giants and fire demons.

Surtr is a sworn adversary of the Aesir, Asgard’s occupants such as Odin, Thor, Heimdallr, and Loki, and has waged war on them in retaliation for the murder of his father Ymir. He would one day lead the Muspelheim sons in the destruction of the world by fire at Ragnarök. Ragnarök will be covered in more depth in a subsequent chapter.

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