HRAUDUNG, KING OF THE GOTHS, had two sons, Agnar and Geirrod. One day when Agnar was ten winters old and Geirrod eight, the brothers gathered their tackle and went out rowing in the hope of landing some fish. But soon the wind began to bluster, and the boys were driven so far out to sea that they lost sight of land. The night-shadow grew long, and in the darkness the small boat tossed and spun and was smashed to pieces on a rocky shore. Standing bedraggled in the darkness, with waves breaking around them, Agnar and Geirrod had not the least idea where they were.
The Norsemen visualized the universe in three vertical levels; a tricentric structure. Between each level and its adjacent level was a space.
The axis of the three levels and nine worlds was the Yggdrasill tree, a mighty ash which is timeless, has no origin and will survive Ragnarok.
The first level
- Asgard, world of the Aesir
- Vanaheim, land of the Vanir
- Alfheim, land of the light elves.
The second level
- Midgard, Land of humans (middle world/garden)
- Nidavellir, Land of the dwarfs
- Jotunheim, Land of the giants (Jotuns)
- Svartalfheim, Land of the dark elves.
The third level
- Hel, Realm of the dead
- Niflheim, World of the dead.
If Hel and Niflheim comprised one world, as is suggested in some sources, the ninth may have been Muspelheim (Muspell), the land of the fire giants. This region had no place in the tricentric structure of the universe, and Snorri Sturluson wrote that is was the first world to exist and that is lies in the southern hemisphere. Also, the worlds of Svartalfheim and Nidavellir may have been the same. No valid distinction can be drawn between the dwarfs and dark elves; they appear to have been interchangeable.
Alfheim (“elf home”), in Norse mythology, is one of the nine worlds.
Alfheim is the palace of the god Freyr and the homeland of the elves of light.
Neither the elves of light nor the elves of darkness, who live in Svartalfheim, participate in any of the events described in the Norse myths. Elves do, however, have active roles in the literature of quite a few of the other branches of Indo-European mythology.