The Nine Worlds of Norse mythology

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.

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4 Comments

  1. Nimshi

    Thanks alot for all the great information. i am currently building a D&D game based on the norse culture and all this info is very useful.

  2. Gabe Aubry

    Sorry to point this, but you forgot Muspel(heim), land of the fire giants. It super important, since it is one of the first two realms in the creation myth and the evil guardian of this land, Surt, will burn the world to ashes with his sword of fire after the final battle of Ragnarok.

    • Eirik

      Gabe.
      He did Mention it. But there does lie an uncertainty with muspelheim as well as Hel fitting into Niflheim. Which he had mention of as well. He could have gone into a bit more detail in respect to the topic, but if you look at the first
      Paragraph it does make mention of it.
      Hail.

  3. John Most

    Hel is not a realm in Nordic Mythology, Hel is the daughter of Loki, sister to Fenrir the wolf and Jormunjur or the Midgard Serpent

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