Mark Neumayer

author of the Valda & the Valkyries series

12 Homes of the Gods

The homes of the gods are mentioned, to greater and lesser degrees in the epic poem Grimnismal. I am working from the 1923 translation by Henry Adams Bellows. Most of them consist of two parts: the land in which the home is located (usually something-heim) and the name of the actual hall located in that land. Heim is from Old Norse and translate as “home, world or land” so Nifleheim becomes Mist Home or Mist World.

1. Thruthheim
means roughly “might world” or “place of might”. Here is where Thor lives in Bilskirnir, his immense hall that has 540 rooms.

2. Ydalir
translates to Yew Dales. Just as in England many years later, the wood of the yew tree was highly prized for use in bows in the ancient Northern lands. It makes sense that Ull (also called Ullr) the god of archery would want his home to be set among a grove of yew trees.

3. Alfheim
the home of the Elves is also the home of the god Freyr. It was given to him by the other gods as a tooth-gift – a present received when a child cuts its first tooth.

4. Valaskjolf
means shelf of the slain and this home of Odin has a roof thatched with silver. Bellows believes that this is another name for Valhalla but I am not too sure about that.

5. Sökkvabekk
translates to “sinking stream” and we are told how cool waves flow there. Odin is supposed to go there everyday to drink wine out of golden cups with the goddess Saga. Unfortunately this is one of the only mentions of Saga so we don’t know much about her..

6. Gladsheim
is the “land of joy” and another one of Odin’s homes. This is the realm where Valhalla is located, the hall where the valkyries bring Odin’s share of the bravest warriors who have died in battle. This is the one place Grminismal tells us the most about. That fits since the main character of the poem is Odin himself. He tells us the hall is easy to recognize because its rafters are spears and its roof uses shields for shingles. The benches within the hall are covered with breastplates (a sign of wealth.) Finally we are told a wolf guards the western door while an eagle hovers above it.

7. Thrymheim
is the land of clamor and the mountain home of the giant Thjazi. After his death his daughter Skadi married one of the gods and lived there.

8. Breithablik
breaks the pattern of homes we have been learning about since it does not end in heim. It seems to me as if we are to assume that the hall is in Asgard but that is conjecture on my part. Breithablik is the home of Baldr. Since Baldr has the reputation of being the fairest of the gods the land he makes his home is reported to be free from everything unclean.

9.  Himinbjorg
The name can be translated as heaven’s cliffs and it is located by the edge of Bifrost, the rainbow bridge. This is because it is the home of Heimdall, guardian of the bridge.

10. Folkvang
belongs to Freyja. The “field of the folk” holds the hall Sessrimner. Bellows casts some doubt on the idea that Freyja receives the slain warriors that do not go to Odin. I haven’t read anything about this doubt anywhere else. Other sources seem pretty clear that Freyja gets half of the Einherjar warriors.

11. Glitnir
is another hall that is roofed with silver although this one also happens to have pillars made out of gold. The name means shining and the hall is the fomeof Forsetti, the Norse god of justice/judgement.

12. Noatun
can be translated to mean Ship’s Haven and it is the home of Njorth (Njord). He governs the winds and is the one responsible for calming the seas and allowing smooth passage of ships.

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1 Comment

  1. Reblogged this on My Journey Through Miðgarðr and commented:
    Here is a nice summation of the homes of the Gods

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