View Full Version : Helheim, Nifelheim, Muspelheim?

Friday, January 20th, 2012, 04:50 PM
OK, I'm trying to get straight on something here, and am a bit confused on the significance of the three realms.

Muspelheim is the primordial land of fire, and Nifelheim is the primordial land of ice, from where water melted and made contact with fire from Muspelheim and created the first giant, correct?

Now, from what I've pieced together, those who do not die go to Helheim to be judged by the council of gods, and some go to Valhal, some to Folkvang, some to Thor's hall (where he hosts the thralls), etc. Those unworthy of going to Asgard stay in Helheim.

It seems Helheim is really a fairly pleasant place, though not a lot happens.

However there seems that some are judged worthy of punishment, mainly traitors, adulterers, oath-breakers (all really outshoots of the same wrong committed), etc. But I get conflicting reading. Some seem to indicate that they go to Nifelheim, some say to Muspelheim, some say something vague about the "nine divisions of torture",etc.

Is there any definitive lay-down of who those are that do not stay with Hela in her hall, but go to these other realms, and where exactly they go?

I know we have a thread on who goes to Hel, but I'm looking for further detail on Helheim and teh divisions thereof (or are they really divisions? Is Nifelheim and Muspelheim really even a part of Helheim, or is that an association made by Snorri to be more compatible with christianity?).

Hrafn Odinnsson
Thursday, April 12th, 2012, 04:32 PM
I have noticed that you posted this some time ago.

I am in the process of reading a book called The Road to Hel, this might help you in answering your questions. This is not an easy question you asked! But I uploaded the book just now in the File Archive book section of this site, check it out and tell me what you think when you can.

Thursday, April 12th, 2012, 08:55 PM
Muspelheim is the primordial land of fire, and Nifelheim is the primordial land of ice, from where water melted and made contact with fire from Muspelheim and created the first giant, correct?

Muspelheim and Nifelheim (fire and ice) are a cosmological concept, they are what is there before the galaxy is born, something that comes about in the (not so) emptiness of Ginnungagap. Together they 'give birth' not only to the first Giant, but also Audumla, the Cosmic Cow (the Milky Way!), which houses and feeds the first giant.

A short trip into science: when the universe was created (it still creates space that wasnt there before -> expansion) in the Big Bang, it didnt come about in the form we know today. At first, there were only gas particles (the icy "dust" from Nifelheim, which were made to react by the forces of Muspelheim, ie nuclear forces, "fire", heat) which clumped together to form the first stars. Giant gas stars, probably as huge as a galaxy. Only their nuclear reactions produced the other atomic particles (matter). There was a sort of a second big bang when these gas giants had collected most of the particles and exploded due to their extreme intensive reactions inside. Once the first star started to explode, it led to a chain reaction throughout the universe which made all the proto-stars explode and they spread their matter all over the place. When gas giants explode, their core rather implodes to form a black hole. As far as things are known, all known galaxies possess a black hole (the "black" sun? it's also called the inner sun, where exactly is inner? Of what?) at their center, around which the spread-out matter started to circle to go to form the galaxies with their many million solar systems that we know today.

Imho this First Giant refers indeed to such a proto-star, he is "slain" and from his body the galaxy, and our solar system (Midgård) is formed. It makes much more sense to interprete Völuspa in a cosmic context than in an "earthly" context alone. The cosmic interpretation is very accurate from an astronomic-scientific standpoint too.

Admittedly, the Creation Story has several layers, it too also describes Earth (the various realms of gods), but within the greater cosmic context. Yggdrasil is rather the Gravity Pole (tree) that holds together our Solar System than being limited to Earth. Utgård is the part of the universe where no ordering forces (gravity etc) rule, and where 'wild' gas giants, quasars, fire giants (the nuclear forces, supernovae etc), meteors and other obscure things linger and threaten Earth.

However. The thing with Nifelhel could be both, either influenced by the christian Hell (rather the Greek Hades-Tartarus) or it could be a natural result, as contrast to Folkvang and Valhal. On one hand special treatment for good and heroic deeds, on the other punishment for failure. Once one of these concepts, ie Valhal in the era of wars and Odin as the god of war, experience greater emphasis, the others would follow suit to be more developed. It's hard to tell though whether Nifelhel was thought of as being actual part of Helheim, or whether Hel just reigned also over this special place. Golther in Germanische Mythologie explains that the other realms beside Midgård and Asgård were thought of as rather immaterial, not inhabiting a geographically defined place (above, below, beside, north etc), even Helheim not, although it would seem logical to place it below/inside earth as the place where the dead are buried, ie literally "under world". Then again, the habit to actually bury the dead was reserved for special people (think the mountain graves for Groas, Kings and Heroes), the usual way to dispose the dead was burning them, so that Helheim was nowhere and everywhere, while Asgård was quite clearly located in the sky, thus possessed a geographical location in relation to earth.

But as far as I know, there's no clear account where people go for various misdeeds and failures, or what punishment they receive beside being bared from the normal places for the dead.

Thanks for uploading the book, hrafnodinnsson. Maybe it will help with the problem.

Friday, April 13th, 2012, 06:16 AM
Thank you both. I will look at the book when I can.

Velvet, I've actually come a long way since I posted that (believe it or not, in that short of time), and came to many of the conclusions you mentioned, with the exception I think Midgard refers to what we know as the universe, with the other 8 worlds being what we would consider other universes, yet are really one greater.

I also did notice how the myths "scale", such that they describe the earth, the solar system, the galaxy and the universe, all at the same time. They even scale to the subatomic world.

Certainly more descriptive, encompassing and accurate than some would like us to believe.

Friday, April 13th, 2012, 10:18 AM
The fire and the Ice both refer to temperature which are physical as well as non-physical (in the sense of spiritual). So that areas pertain obviously to the universes though not exclusively and have therefore a connection to Midgard which you seem to equalize with the universes.

The gaseous state of matter is connected to heat, when cooling is in process gas turns into fluid and then into matter. So one can conclude that the beginning was fire/heat and there is a cooling process going on. I have the feeling that the cooling has to do with expansion.

It also seems to me that the whole universe is going from the realm of Muspelheim to the realm ol the Ice. And it might be a rotational movement (or not, who knows).

Through shamanic journeys I know that there are 3 different worlds, dubbed the Underworld, the Middleworld and the Upperworld. these are not locations but the directions to journey. to the Underworld one traveled down, imagined through a hole in the earth. The Underworld is ruled by the Lord/Lady of Life and Death aka in Norse mythology Hel, it is a vast area with many plots, most are beneficial. It is in general also connected to the past (which may or may not really exist as time does not exist there). I always have the impression that it is inside us, in a metaphorical physical sense. It has also the connection to Mother Earth. In Grimm's fairy tales there is a frequent mentioning on traveling down, like falling into a well etc. (like also Alice in Wonderland etc). So Mother Earth can also be connected to Hel, though other wisely she does not have the features of her. (in those fairytales mother Earth is called Frau Holle and is connected to the Holunderbusch ((Hollytree/Hollywood)) which is often connected to death. There was always a Hollytree right beside each house where people would get rid off of negative/heavy/cold energies)

the middle world is basically the universe and one can go wherever one wants. It is connected to the present and things are how you would find them in the presence.

The Upperworld is traveling in the direction of the sky. So the opposite direction than to the inside/down. In that realm light beings reside there is also a place where you can travel over the rainbow bridge into Asgard.
It is a place where the future is made or already exists.

Of these three realms only the Middleworld has a connection to our 'real' world, though travelling there is on a different, energetic level as nothing is solid then. therefore our Middleworld/Midgard has a level connection to Muspelheim and Nifleheim and a vertical connection with Asgard and Helheim.

though that is only a crotched for easier understanding as our minds are trained to think in physical terms.

Friday, April 13th, 2012, 02:22 PM
If one considers the nine worlds from an energetic perspective one can consider each world as one different energetic area.

As we can perceive energies as heavy or light, as dark or light one could determine that heavy/dark energy is a lower form which one could put into a category Helheima. People who had a dark heavy energy would go there or say gravitate there.

People who have a light energy would go into a category named Asgard/

The other worlds could then have different densities of energy.

The Fire and Ice are processes (in one sense one might be able to see them as energies causing certain processes). Ice is making matter more dense and heavy and can thus be seen as a process of making energies more dense. Fire is turning solid crystalized matter into warmth and light, so to say making the crystalized energies light again.

The God Loki is considered by Dumezil related to the Firegod Agni of the Indian/Aryan Lore. Loki is the offspring of Giants but this classifiacation would make him a Firegiant. (Opposed to the Frost giants). Loki is part of Asgard thou not really a God. He is useful in many terms but sometimes destructive when out of control. Properties the fire has too. He is considered to be bound to Odin by Oath. Odin is known as fury or rage which is indeed closely connected to fire.

We also know that noble heathen People were usually burned with their belongings (Ibn Fadlan describes the burial of a viking Jarl), meaning their energy was symbolically/spiritually/magically transformed into light energy which the fire then through the heat brings up, to the upperworld or Asgard.

We also know that common people were buried in the earth where their bodies where mulched into soil by Mother Earth/Hel/Frau Holle. Thus becoming part of the 'Underworld', Helheima.

Levashov describes that the world exists of 7 different energies which would fit nicely with the 7 worlds plus the Fire and Ice process making it nine.

There are also 7 main chakras in human beings which would nicely fit together withthe 7 worlds and the fire or icing process transforming energies into different categories.

Friday, April 13th, 2012, 02:34 PM
Hela is the daughter of Loki and Angrboda (the one who brings grief is her name). She belongs to the giant race.

The three children of them are Fenris, Hel and the Midgard Serpent. So we have one child threatening Midgard, one child ruling the Underworld , my guess would be that the Wolf is threatening the Upperworld.

That means Loki is then present in all three worlds which would indicate a process rather than an energy.

Friday, April 13th, 2012, 02:54 PM
Hellheim is where the soul goes and the gods and goddesses ride the bifost bridge from asgard to hellheim, here the soul is judged by the norns as the thread in karma of one life span. If you have been rotten and evil your soul stays with hell and if murder and depraved killing was on your karmic thread you go to Nifelheim the realm of mist and cold here the soul bodies is sucked out by the dragon nidhogg leaving a empty shell. If you have been a good citizen you asend to asgard and the soul is carried by your independant Valkerie here you go to Briedablik balders hall for good people, normal citizens, Folkvang Frejyas hall if your a woman or Vingolf if your a virgin. Valhall Odins hall if your a warrior or Gladsheim Odins hall of happy folk if your a inteligent teacher. Remember all these worlds are interconnecting.

Saturday, April 14th, 2012, 06:34 AM
Thanks again, everyone.

Ocko, since I seem to have about zero success in shamanistic journeying (maybe not, I've been to, let's say, otherworlds, but by calling not volition), is there a way to discover one's energy trend, or just wait until the end?

Saturday, April 14th, 2012, 12:42 PM
I have done rituals to call in Odin. I experience his presence as something which is tall as a tree.

You can give him permission to enter you and ask him to do so.

He did so with me and it had energetic changes.

I think that is the way he teaches or changes people. Through finer energies one becomes more subtle and experiences more which in turn makes one more wiser. The changes are continueing.

For shamanic travels: there are 2 things which are important, to have trust (in the sense of not doubting) and keeping aim.

It is a skill one has to train but it goes pretty fast. travels to the upperworld are a bit more difficult, it is better to train with travels to the lowerworld. (Helaheim). Go and ask to see the Lady/Lord of life and death. you can ask questions there.

Same is if you found your poweranimals. you can ask them during the day all kind of questiion they will find out for you and answer.

About the Fenris wolf: he was bound in the upperworld/Asgard during a festival which he was invited to. So it seemed that that being lived in the Upperworld (where Asgard is a place of)

So Loki's children lived in all three worlds: Underworld was Hel. Middleworld was the Midgard Serpent and Upperworld the Fenriswolf.

Whether Hel as Frau Holle/Mother Earth is a child of Loki is something I have to think about. But obviously she did not take part in the Ragnaroek and was considered a Goddess by the Gods, reason is unclear to me.

It is also curious that Hela was given an own realm but the Serpent and the wolf threaten existing ones. But Loki was neutral he had good traits and bad ones, maybe his children were divided into bad and good.

Saturday, April 14th, 2012, 01:11 PM
It might be that Hela was a hostage/Guest to the Asa like the Wanes Freya, Frey and Njoerd.

As the offspring of Giants that could make some sense.

As the offspring of Ymir she might then have been given a realm out of Planets and Mother Earth then might just have gotten one after she fell out of disgrace in Asgard pertaining to her eery appearance.

Though as Earth is part of Midgard it seems also part of the underworld, meaning the surface is Midgard and the below surface is Underworld. I do not know whether nature is a creation of the Gods or of Hela/Mother Earth. As giants are obviously not creative, or lets say very primitive in this it seems that it was a creation of Asa. Even modern science sees creation of life as a cosmic event

Saturday, April 14th, 2012, 05:53 PM
Folkvang Frejyas hall if your a woman or Vingolf if your a virgin.

Yet Freyja chooses half the slain warriors to bring them to Folkvangr (the field) and Sessrúmnir, her hall, so I don't think it's all women there.

Saturday, April 14th, 2012, 06:10 PM
Ocko: Very insightful.

Here's as best as I could figure the geography (in physical terms) of Yggdrasil and the nine worlds:

At the top are Asgard, Alfheim, and Muspelheim.
In the middle are Midgardr (the universe we know), Jotunheim, and Vanaheim.
At the bottom (underworld) are Svartalfheimr, Nifleheim, and Helheim.

I thought of "mother earth" as being Nerthus, as in the mother of physical earth. Hel, as being lady of the dead (spiritual earth). Nerthus claims the body, Hel claims the soul -- until it's decided where one is sent.

I can't find anything about Hel or Helheim being particularly unpleasant until the Christians came along and usurped the names. Hel's two sides to me indicate her power over life and death and the fact that she controls the crossing between. Even the gods must yield to her power. i think it appropriate that she is Jotnar, since they seem to be the elemental, base forms, of the universe, and you don't get much moire elemental than life and death.

I was also interested that Loki's spawn span the upper, middle and lower earth, and that Odin and Fenris kill each other, Thor and Jorgumand kill each other.

Yet, though Hel holds Baldur for a time, they are the ones that seem to be at odds, yet, Baldur leads the remaining people into new life, and nothing is said of Hel or any demise of hers. So, though the opposing forces essentially annihilate each other like matter and anti-matter, life (Baldur) and death (Hel) remain.

Though I must say that I believe that Odin and Thor and Loki et al will reincarnate in the next world, perhaps with different names, but the cycle seems to continue no matter what. It's just the way of things.

Monday, April 23rd, 2012, 10:21 PM
Any indication of if there is one or many beings associated with the different worlds who assist in the journey to said worlds after death ?

Monday, April 23rd, 2012, 11:54 PM
This is where things get confusing to me, but that may be due either to my relative newness to the worldview, or the seeming large gaps in the available literature.

In some places it seems every soul goes to Helheim until they are judged by a council of gods. Some souls have runes of speaking to speak on their behalf, most don't and must accept their judgement. Other stories say Hel refuses to release any of the dead in her realm (perhaps refusing only those sent there -- yet that would conflict with the Baldur story). There are also stories of the valkyrie escorting souls to Vahalla.

Hopefully someone with more complete knowledge can contribute.

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012, 05:10 AM
Other stories say Hel refuses to release any of the dead in her realm (perhaps refusing only those sent there -- yet that would conflict with the Baldur story).

There is indeed a bit of conflict there. But one could say that Garm is the one who is tasked with making sure no one leaves the realm of Hell. And since Garm gets slain during the battles of Ragnarok, there would be no one guarding the gates to make sure no one leaves.

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012, 06:12 AM
No, I mena there's a conflict between the idea that Hel (or Garm) makes sure no one leaves, and the idea that the gods have a council to decide where you go, and are then sent there (my understanding is that this occurs in Helheim. If it occurs elsewhere, then I see no conflict.

Sorry I wasn't clear on what I meant.