Asgard is the highest world in Yggdrasil, the home of the Aesir gods. It is known variously as the White Kingdom, the Golden Kingdom, etc. by those races in the other worlds. Located at the top of Yggdrasil, it is an artificially-created armed camp, probably the most well-guarded world of the Nine. No one gets in or out without an appointment, unless they have prior permission from the Aesir. It was created after the Aesir-Vanir war as a place that the Aesir could live unmolested by any other race. Before the war, the Aesir lived somewhere referred to as Manheimur, the location of which is unclear, but it may lie outside this particular cosmology of the Nine Worlds. Some UPG on the matter was that it was the same area as Asgard, but was still a scattered village rather than an armed encampment, and that only after the war did its focus become one of warcraft and of developing the culture of the Aesir.
Asgard was carved out of the neckbones of Ymir by the brothers Odin, Vili, and Ve in their great task of worldmaking. The great wall around it was demolished by the Vanir during the war between the two races. It was later repaired, but not by the Aesir; they hired a great frost-etin, Hrimthurs, to build it for them. With the aid of his magic draft-horse, Svadilfari, he did do, but his price - the hand of the Vanir goddess Freyja - was not met. Odin promised him Freyja if he could get Asgard finished before summer's end, and then promptly hired Loki to mess up and delay the work so that Hrimthurs would not have to be paid. When the giant discovered how he had been duped, he flew into a rage, which then gave Thor an excuse to kill him. His dead body was changed into a standing stone at the border of Asgard, but the beauty of the city's white walls is a mute testimony to the work of this wronged giant.
Time and Seasons:
Asgard's year is similar to that of Midgard, but somewhat longer. There is a regular turn of the four seasons, and the plants change appropriately. The days lengthen and shorten evenly with the turn of the year, but the summer solstice days are very long and bright, and the winter nights equally long, rather like daylength closer to the Arctic circle. However, Asgard is always fairly warm, the warmest of worlds other than burning Muspellheim. Its position in the top of the World Tree, and its favored spot in Sunna's travels, make it the brightest and sunniest of all the worlds. There is little rainfall unless Thor makes it happen, which accounts for some of his great importance in the workings of Asgard.
While Asgard seems to have the sort of warm, dry, mild weather that would make it the most pleasant vacation climate in the Nine Worlds, its heat and dryness (and the mild but still dark and chilly winters with little snow) does not lend itself to wide-scale agriculture. There is a good deal of gardening - the goddess Iduna is largely in charge of that - and orchards, but nearly all of the agricultural products used in Asgard are imported from Vanaheim, as part of their hostage deal with Frey and Freya. Asgard lacks the wet lushness of Vanaheim, and it is said that Freya's first winter and spring in Asgard found her weeping at the lack of the spring flowers that she was used to, and that her tears fell and became snowdrops, one of the few spring flowers now common in the White Realm.
Asgard is the smallest world of the Nine, and the Aesir are the race with the smallest numbers. (Still, when you are there, it seems immense.) It was created not to house millions, but to be a pinnacle of both beauty and defensive capability, looking down from the height of the World Tree onto the other worlds. Its geography is largely rolling hills and valleys, with a few flat plains, and one mountain range far to the north. The Vanaheim Ocean borders on its western coast, with a great bay, largely given over to Njord and his ships. The Thund Thvitr river, huge and deep, surrounds the remainder of its borders, running along the northern mountains of Jotunheim and dividing the two worlds, then bordering Alfheim in the south and rejoining the ocean again.
The Thund Thvitr is not only so deep that it is said that only Thor can cross it with relative safety, it is heavily enchanted. It will rise up against anyone who tries to cross it, unless they are a denizen of Asgard or have an appointment there. No boat will reach its far side unless the Aesir will it so, and it will rise and flood its borders at a word from them. The river has swallowed many bodies of ambitious Jotnar who decided to cross it and attack the White Realm. The Alfar have never cared even to try; getting appointments into Asgard is much easier for them, as they are allies of the Aesir. (However, there is a good deal of expected diplomatic traffic in and out of Asgard.) The Thund Thvitr is filled with tumbling whitewater, and the Aesir once set a long stretch of it on fire, with Odin's magic, in order to repel the invading giant Thiazi. The Vanaheim Ocean obeys the commands of the Vanir and the sea-etins, right up to within several miles of the Asgard coast, but they Vanir would never allow a Jotun invasion of Asgard by sea, due to their alliance oaths.
The white walls of Asgard are huge and impressive, gleaming in the sun; a great ring around the entire world, just a quarter mile inland from the coast and the riverside. The walls, too, will belch flames half a mile high as a defense against flying enemies. The great main gate is called Valgrind and is bound in iron, ten times the height of a man. Rather than having specific cities, Asgard is organized around various halls and their courts. None of them are more than a day's ride apart - this is a not a large world - and some, such as Gladsheim, Fensalir, Valaskjalf, and Valhalla, are right next to each other in a combination that some folk might mistake for a city. There are sixteen major halls in Asgard that are known to us, as well as a multitude of small halls belonging to minor deities that satellite around the major ones.
The plain of Vigrid is the largest and emptiest part of this world. Nothing grows there and no one lives there. It is a hundred and twenty leagues wide, an enormous patch of brown dust on one end of the Golden World. This is the future battlefield for the possible Ragnarok, and the Aesir have put a great deal of time and effort into laying battle enchantments on it, in order to further their chances of winning against Hela's infinite troops. The layers of battle-magic have grown so thick there that nothing can grow or live for long, and visitors are advised to avoid it and observe only from a distance.
There are two small "pocket-realms" that float above Asgard, called Andlang and Vidblain. They mostly seem to be high-class "summer vacation spots" for the upper-class Alfar, which the Aesir may rent to them. Little is known about them except that mortals are not allowed there.
One of the things that the traveler will instantly note about Asgard is the great number of birds here. It seems as if birds, of all sorts, are the most profligate form of fauna, and that is actually correct. The skies and trees and rooftops are often full of them, and be assured that some, if not all, are the eyes and ears of some deity. Bringing crumbs and feeding them is a lucky thing to do.
Residents: The Aesir
While not every deity or wight in Asgard is Aesir-blooded, most of them are of the lineage of this famous tribe of Gods. There are many halls in Asgard; most of the main ones are listed in the lay of Grimnismal, but there are many smaller ones satelliting around them. For example, some of Frigga's handmaidens abide with her in Fensalir; others have their own smaller halls a short distance away and merely work at Fensalir.
Unless you have made an appointment - which can consist of making an offering to a deity before you leave and then doing a divination to find out if it was accepted - it is best not to walk up to a hall and attempt to invite yourself in. These halls generally have doorkeepers, although if you are expected you may not see them. They are there to keep people out; please remember that a god's hall is their home, and not a Disney tourist attraction for you to wander through. Be as courteous as you would to any important person whose home you had never visited. Bring a gift, if possible.
When dealing with the denizens of Asgard, it is best to be as upfront as possible. Thoughts, emotions, actions and motivations, especially from a human, had best be in alignment. Deception of any sort will generally go badly for the mortal in question. They will be respectful and hospitable to those human god-servants who journey forth to Asgard on business for their respective Deities, however, hospitality is a virtue highly prized by the Aesir, and this includes the hospitality a guest shows to his or her host. Visitors may in fact be judged by the depth of their hospitality.
It is nearly impossible to bring a gift equal to the wealth and beauty of Asgard. Natives, however, value creativity and have a well defined sense of the aesthetic. Crafts, well made weapons, books (surprisingly) all make very good gifts. While they will appreciate bardic offerings and stories, do not boast of your deeds outside the bounds of truth. They do not take kindly to mortal liars and braggarts.
Places in Asgard
The only way in or out of Asgard from another of the worlds, for mortal spirit-workers anyway, is Bifrost the Rainbow Bridge. (It is also possible to be brought straight into some place in Asgard as soon as you start journeying, but you can bet that if this happens, you have the implicit or explicit permission of one of the regular residents to be there. Nobody gets in or out of this well-guarded province without attention.) Bifrost is not a permanent structure; it is generated by magic from a single point in Asgard, a particular tall white crag that forms part of the walls. When the Aesir have a reason to generate and drop the great rainbow, they do it - for the Dead that are welcomed in, or honored guests of any sort. The rest of the time, that point is marked by Heimdall's hall, Himinbjorg, which will be the first thing passed by any traveler across Bifrost.
Heimdall's hall, Himinbjorg, is situated at the top of Bifrost, the Rainbow Bridge. He is the guardian of Bifrost and lets no one through. Heimdall is Odin's son by one of Aegir and Ran's nine daughters, although he does not get along with his maternal folk and is fanatically loyal to his father. Heimdall is tall and handsome with piercing blue eyes, generally wears shining white armor and carries an impressive sword, and his teeth are entirely covered with gold and flash in the sun. We tend to associate golden teeth with replacements for rot, but Heimdall's are gold largely for ornamentation.
Himinbjorg is painted the blue of the sky, with shining windows and a white roof that looks as if it is made of clouds. The great horn, Gjallarhorn, sits beside the doorstep. It is an enormous horn, taller than a man or even a giant. When blown loudly, its blast can be heard throughout the Nine Worlds. Heimdall will blow a soft blast on it when gods and particularly honored visitors arrive via Bifrost, as a way of announcing their presence. Heimdall's horse Gulltop (Gold-Fringe) grazes behind the hall. For some reason, Heimdall does not like riding much, and only rides Gulltop on ceremonial occasions.
The Jotnar refer to Heimdall as "Sharp-Eye" (and by a few other choice names) and it is true that he has exceptionally keen senses of sight and hearing, which is why he is chosen to be the divine gate-guard. He has sacrificed an ear to Mimir's Well in exchange for exceptionally heightened senses, just as Odin sacrificed an eye for wisdom. When Heimdall was born, Odin sent him in the form of a mortal child in a boat to Midgard, where he washed up on the coast of Aurvanga-land. He was raised as a mortal, although with godlike gifts that he used to make himself a king when he came to adulthood, and sired many children. Just before death, he had his dying body placed into a boat and sent out across the waters to Vanaheim, where Odin rescued him, cleansed him of mortal flesh and made him into a young god once more. It is unclear as to whether the whole episode was arranged by Odin to get more of his own blood into the humans of Midgard or to give his new son some sympathy for Midgard's people.
Either way, it worked. Heimdall is especially fond of the mortal folk of Midgard, and is very protective of them. He will extend that fondness to a certain extent to mortals of our own world, if they seem similar to those of Midgard. He dislikes the Jotnar even more than Thor, and that includes humans with Jotnar bloodlines.
If you try to get to Asgard via the Rainbow Bridge, it is Heimdall who will decide whether or not you can pass. He doesn't let just anyone in; generally you have to have an appointment with a certain deity, or you have to have already visited Asgard in some other way (and not caused any trouble), or you had better convince him that you are a sincere worshipper of the Aesir and want nothing more than to bask in their presence. Whatever you do, don't offer him money or any gift as a means to entry, and that includes gifting him after he lets you in. He will see it as a bribe, and become very angry, and it is likely that you will be bounced out right quickly.
Valhalla is the most famous hall in Northern history. It is the home of the Einherjar, Odin's chosen who fall in battle. Its timbers are giant spear-shafts, and it is roofed with a dazzling array of many-colored battle shields. The carved figure of a wolf guards the western door, and the figure of an eagle the eastern one. Inside, it has five hundred and forty doors, and behind each door are rooms for eight hundred warriors. While Valhalla is by no means full, it does have enough people for a small city, populated entirely with the Dead.
The Einherjar spend their time feasting, fighting with each other for practice (being dead, if they fall, they are immediately revived to do it again), drinking, and being generally entertained. They are rowdy, boisterous, and often drunk. If you like the idea of hanging out with hundreds of drunken jocks whose idea of a good time is spitting each other on spears for fun, go ahead; they will welcome any visitor, especially if he has a story to tell. However, be careful to stay sober and not insult any of them, and don't enter fighting contests. Not only are they likely better than you, having little to do but practice fighting, you are a mortal and can be killed while they are already dead.
On the roof of Valhalla, you will see an enormous goat and an even bigger stag, wandering around grazing on the thatched roof as if it is a field. The she-goat's name is Heidrun, and she is milked twice daily. Her udders are enchanted to produce wine from one teat and beer from the other, as a way to get more liquor into the endless gullets of the Einherjar. The stag on the roof is named Eikthrynir (Oak Thorn), and with its goatish companion, it continually nibbles on the exposed bark of the enormous tree that grows up beside the roof. The tree is named Laerad, and it is a sucker-sapling of the World Tree.
The main route into the hall is through the great double doors, but they are of course heavily guarded. A back way into Valhalla is through the kitchen, where the cook Andhrimmer works. If you ask to help, he may give you a task in the scullery, and after a hard day's work you may be allowed to serve in the hall upstairs. Andhrimmer has a giant magical kettle, Eldhrimmer, in which he cooks the stew for the million starving warriors upstairs. One enormous resurrecting boar, Saehrimmer, is slaughtered every night for the feast and revived again the next morning with no memory of what happened.
The employees of Valhalla are Odin's Valkyries. All are tall, strong, fierce women who are sometimes referred to as "shield-maidens" or "corpse-goddesses". They can change into various birds such as ravens and swans, and are usually dressed in armor when on duty. Their first duty is to pick up anyone fallen in battle that Odin feels is appropriate, meaning that they are worthy of being in his troops, and they are his rightful territory. They are also tough enough to keep all those dead sword-jocks in line, and make sure that the fighting does not stray over outside of Valhalla's borders.
Be extremely respectful to any Valkyries you may encounter. Despite the fact that they may not be armed for war while in Odin’s hall - though they may, enjoying battle practice as much as the men- they are warriors and living extensions of Odin’s will. Insult them, particularly by denigrating their battle skills on the basis of gender, and it may well be the last insult you ever offer anyone. They are valued far more by Odin than most of his mortal warriors, and it is unlikely that the average mortal will be met warmly by them at first.
The Valkyries who are in charge of making sure that the Einherjar get fed are named Herfjotur, Goll, Geirahod, Geirdriful, Geirolu, Geirromul, Geirrondul, Geirskigull, Geiravor, and Skeggjold. Two more, Hrist and Mist, are Odin's personal dinner-servants and serve only him. The three most important Valkyries are Gondul, Hildr, and Skogul, who are in charge of deciding which warriors get taken on the battlefield. The three of them tend not to ride straight onto the field; they are generals who watch from the sky. They are mistresses of war magic, and can be invoked for aid and to teach battle-galdr. They will only teach those who are sworn to Odin, however (unless he instructs them to teach someone else), so don't bother them unless you are willing to make that commitment. One may also encounter human women who are claimed by Odin as his Valkyries and who occasionally visit Valhalla as well.
Second in command of decision-making are Gunnr and Rota, Valkyries who ride out on the battlefield and do the work of their commanders. They are sometimes accompanied by Skuld, the third Norn. Skuld's task seems to be one of both witnessing and veto power; the implication is that she represents and protects the interests of Fate, and will step in if she disagrees with the decisions of the Valkyries. (Other random valkyries that we know of are called Halmthrimull, Herja, Hervor, Hildeberg, Hjorthrimul, Holukk, Hrund, Kara, Kreimhildr, Olrun, Ragridr, Rangnid, Reginleif, Sanngridr, Sigrdrifa, Sigrun, Skamold, Svava, Svanhvit, Sveid, Svipull, Tanngnidr, Thogn, and Thrima. Eir occasionally rides with the valkyries as well, though her function seems to be that of a battlefield healer; she may bring a merciful death to some of the fallen.
Odin himself often visits Valhalla, dressed in full battle panoply and with his terrifying Grimnir aspect very close to the surface. It goes without saying that the Einherjar are all fanatically loyal to him and cheer his entry, and compete to serve him. Odin's magical spear is called Gungnir, and when he throws it over the heads of an army, it means that they are going to lose the battle. When he enters Valhalla, Gungnir is hung over the outside doorway, as a sign that he is within.
If you manage to be in Asgard for Yule, you might get a chance to see, or even participate in, the Asgardsreia. This is a Wild Hunt with Odin at the helm, followed by various mounted gods, wights, and some of the dead of Valhalla, hooting and screaming across the sky. The Asgardsreia flies over various worlds, but generally ends up tearing across Midgard and spooking the hapless inhabitants there. The Hunt may stop at various villages and demand food and drink, which will be provided by the terrified villagers. However, there is a purpose to this wild ride beyond just a mere frat-house-style prank. Many of the folk of Midgard have honored dead in Valhalla, and they consider it a blessing to see their dead husbands, sons, and ancestors riding with the Asgardsreia. Most will turn out in spite of their fright in order to catch a possible glimpse of their dead, and give them food and drink as offerings.
The hunt may also ride to claim unwary mortals whom they encounter in their wild ride, and to wreak vengeance on those who have wrought great offense to the All-Father. Occasionally they will ride to gather the soul of a great warrior who did not die in battle, or one whom Woden wishes to bring to Valhalla to join His troops. This however, is rare.
Gladsheim and Valaskjalf
Located on the plain of Idavoll (''Field of Tides") in the center of Asgard stands Gladsheim ("Hall of Joy"), the inner sanctuary of Asgard. Its roof is thatched with gold, and at the end of the hall is a great tower covered in silver called Valaskjalf. Idavoll is a rolling plain usually covered in silvery grasses; the winds blowing across it do make it resemble the ocean, and thus its fanciful name. Valhalla is close by, visible easily from Gladsheim's doorway.
The enormous golden roof is actually made of some sort of grass-thatch that glitters magically like metallic gold. There is a herd of goats on its roof, of which the most famous is Heidrun, the white alpha-nanny. They are milked daily to feed the Gods. Among them is a reindeer named Eikthrynir, who also gives forth milk. They browse from a giant tree, Laerad, that grows next to Gladsheim and hangs over its roof. Inside, feast tables are often spread, or else chairs are set up for meetings. This is divine territory, the ceremonial feast-hall of all the Aesir. At any given supper, several of them will be present, though almost never all of them; they are busy people. Odin often sees visitors here; in fact, if you have an appointment with him, this is the place to report, unless directed otherwise. His enormous and elaborately-carved throne rises at one end of the room, although unless it is during a feast or a formal occasion, he is more likely to be hanging out by the fire, chatting with friends.
There are other thrones up and down the room, between more normal chairs; each belongs to one of the Gods who has a voice on the Council of Asgard - Frigga, Thor, Sif, Tyr, Njord, Frey, Freya, Skadi, Bragi, Iduna, Heimdall, and Ullr. Other Gods may have influence, but their words generally have to go through one of these deities in order to be heard in council. It is not difficult to figure out whose throne is whose when they are empty - Freya's is wreathed in flowers even in the winter; Skadi's bears a white wolfskin, and so on.
The mascot of Gladsheim is an enormous horse named Falhofnir (Shaggy Forelock) who is ridden by Odin in ceremonial parades. Gullinkambi, one of the giant cockerels of the Nine Worlds whose job is to be a warning-siren for Ragnarok, likes to hang out on its roof.
Odin's two pet wolves, Geri and Freki, lay at the foot of his throne and are thrown meat at dinner. There is some question as to whether they are actual wolves, magical wolf-spirits, or werewolf Jotnar who never taken human form, at least not where they can be seen. Odin's two pet ravens, Huginn and Muninn, whose names mean Thought and Memory, can also sometimes be seen perching on his throne, when they are not off flying about to spy on the Nine Worlds for him. It is believed by some Woden’s-folk that Huginn and Muninn are a mated pair, male and female respectively.
If you are invited to dinner at Gladsheim, be on your best behavior. Don't get drunk. Offer to serve food and drink - the social customs here consider it an honor to serve your betters, so it's not about reducing you to an insignificant waiter. Being allowed to pour a God a cup of drink and bring it to them is an honor; don't forget that. If you can bring some kind of food offering as a gift, even better. The Gods sometimes debate things over dinner; if they ask you to testify, do so as honestly and objectively as possible. If they seem to want you to take sides, either side with your patron deity, if you have one - which they will all find appropriate - or if you don't have one or they are not present (or don't live in Asgard) try to stay neutral. Don't argue, don't get angry no matter what is said, don't get involved in political scheming, and generally remain gracious and unflappable.
Valaskjalf, although it is attached to Gladsheim like the turret on a castle, is technically considered a separate hall. This is because although Gladsheim is used by all the Aesir, Valaskjalf is Odin's alone. Geri and Freki's main job is to guard the tower door; they seem to have an instinct for when someone is approaching who wishes to enter it, and they will be up in a flash and growling at its gates. Do not try to pass them; they are authorized by Odin to use deadly force on anyone attempting to enter without permission. If you want to be using the Lord of Asgard's personal watchtower, you had best take that up with him directly. (And the answer will generally be no.)
Valaskjalf is dizzyingly tall, made of silvery-white stone, and thatched with silver. In the top of the tower is Hlidskjalf, Odin's great throne of watching. From this vantage point, he can look out a magically enchanted window/mirror and see much (but certainly not all) of the Nine Worlds. Some places, such as parts of Jotunheim, Muspellheim, and Niflheim, the underground areas of Nidavellir, and the entirety of Helheim behind the wall (Hela likes her privacy and can enforce it) are hidden from him. Still, if he cares to look, he can see much of what is happening in other places. His ravens, Huginn and Muninn, fly out from the tower frequently in order to bear messages and gather information.
Frigga's hall Fensalir is whitewashed with a golden roof, echoing the birch trees that surround it. Birch is Frigga's special tree, and the white trunks and yellow leaves in the fall match the graceful hall and its fine statuary. The lawns are dotted with golden chamomile, the plant called "Baldur's Brow" in honor of her dead son. Behind Fensalir stretch the great fens that give the place its name, filled with the haunting calls of herons and the croaking of frogs.
The hall itself is large, with many smaller houses satelliting around it, which you pass on the way down the road to the great white door itself. Inside, however, it seems homely and bright, smelling of good food and drying herbs, every hearth a busy center of cooking, brewing, and making medicines. While most of the importance in Asgard seems to be centered around Valhalla and Gladsheim - at least for mortals who record such things - Fensalir is incredibly important to the functioning of this realm. It is the center of all small industry in Asgard.
We tend to associate industry with ugliness and pollution, but Asgard runs on what could be termed "home industry", only on a divinely magical scale. Fensalir and its dozens of satellite halls include barns for caring for livestock, especially sheep, goats and poultry; great kitchens that preserve immense amounts of food; workshops full of folk skilled at many homely crafts; and halls for fiber arts including the vast looms that weave the fabric for the clothing of the Gods, which may be from wool, flax, or in the case of Frigga's own spinning, the stuff of the clouds themselves.
Frigga, the Lady of the Aesir, is far more than merely some brood-consort of Odin. She is the most powerful woman in Asgard, and equal in counsel, as far as Odin is concerned, with Tyr, Thor, and Njord. Indeed, the position she holds is very much like that of prime minister to her king-husband. One of her attributes is that of frith-keeper; in this usage, "frith" refers to the kind of peace created when everything runs smoothly, everyone plays their part, and no one feels slighted or wronged by the part of another. This kind of peacemaking is just as relevant to running a country as it is to running a household. Frigga is no decorative First Lady; she is a seer of great worth whose advice Odin takes seriously, the patron of marriage - and thus socially structured relationships - and the patron of all the works (crafts, cooking, etc.) that go into running a proper home, or stead, or village, or town, or country. Although she will not try for peace when it is clear that violence is coming, Frigga is an exceptional strategist and will seldom use force where strategy can prevail. That being said, Frigga is not to be trifled with in any way. She is quite formidable and the times when she has set her will against her husbands, she has come out the victor every time
Unless something important is happening at Gladsheim or Vingolf, Frigga is usually found at home in Fensalir, busy overseeing her various helpers. She is tall, lovely, and incredibly gracious, with the generosity of the most perfect hostess ever, but if you abuse her hospitality she is capable of turning icy-cold and showing you to the door with frigid politeness. She is very much a Queen, and rules Fensalir with a velvet-gloved iron hand.
Most of the smaller halls around Fensalir belong to Frigga's handmaidens. How many of them exist, and what their names and attributes are, is a somewhat shifting list. The best UPG information on them, and for that matter on Fensalir, Frigga, and its denizens, can be found in Alice Karlsdottir's book Magic of the Norse Goddesses (RunaRaven Press, 2003), and we highly recommend this book as the best guide if you intend to have dealings in Fensalir. To cover all of the information Alice Karlsdottir has provided would not only take up too much space for this small guidebook, it would be reinventing the wheel. Instead, we will only touch on each of the known (and some of the little-known) of Frigga's handmaidens, in case you run into them. Some have their own halls, while some prefer to hole up in Fensalir itself. One of them, Saga, has her own hall in an entirely different area of Asgard, and is described there, although she can sometimes be found at Fensalir. They are Frigga's "captains"; besides them, there are dozens of other working folk, mostly women, under her command.
First of Frigga's handmaidens is her sister Fulla, goddess of abundance, usually described as a buxom maiden with long golden hair. As the keeper of Frigga's jewelry box, she has a special relationship with gems and precious stones. That she is the keeper of Frigga’s jewelry box is significant. The Lady of the House controls the wealth of the house, and the jewel box is symbolic of this. Human servants of Frigga who have gotten a glimpse inside the box maintain that it contains much more than temporal wealth alone, being a reservoir of power. Fulla is also the keeper of Frigga's shoes, of which it is said that there are many pairs and they are all magical. She was also called Abundantia, and she wears a golden snood. Fulla lives in Fensalir itself and is very much the second-in-command when Frigga is busy. If you intend to visit Fensalir often, it might be good to get to know Fulla, as she may have good advice on how to handle the others in residence.
Probably the most important, and most highly sought-out, of Frigga's women is Eir the Healer of the Aesir. She is usually described as dignified, practical, plain-looking, with an air of trustworthy competence; she might walk up to you and ask to see a wound in a private place and you would do it, feeling secure that she will respond with useful, professional courtesy. She has a small but spacious house of her own among the satellite buildings of Fensalir, with herbs hanging from the ceilings and medicine in various stages of manufacture. Light and airy rooms hold beds for the sick and wounded that need tending; you will almost never see anyone there as you pass the rooms, though. That doesn't mean that they aren't there, but Eir believes in privacy for her patients, so the rooms will seem empty as you pass. If you go there for healing, you will be shown to one that is actually empty. If you go to learn healing, she might take you on her rounds, but most patients will still be invisible to you. There is also a fountain in the ante-chamber of this house of healing, and its waters are immensely cleansing to wounds of all kinds within and without. Visitors are encouraged to avail themselves of these healing waters.
Gna, Frigga's messenger, does not have her own hall but keeps a small room in Fensalir, which she only visits to sleep. She is always on the go, running from place to place on her horseback errands, and quite content and happy to be continually moving. Gna rides a horse named Hofvarpnir (Hoof-Flourisher). She loves horses and with no provocation may start talking about their gifts, bloodlines, etc., and how her horse is the foal of two others named Gardrofa and Harmskerpir (Thick-Skinned). She will also gladly chat about the other horses in Asgard and their bloodlines - Glad, Gyllir, Glœr, Skeidbrimir, Silfrtopp, Sinir, Gils, Falhofnir, and Lettfeti, among others.
Gefjon, said to be a strong farmworker who could lift oxen by herself, may likely be either a giantess or an Aesir with strong giant-blood. Certainly the lore tells of her four sons, all giants, whom she turned temporarily into oxen in order to plow the island of Zealand away from the continent. She is a patron of manual laborers, working men and women; and also of unmarried girls. She has no daughters, but will advise any young woman about strength and holding their own in a difficult world. As such, she can be called on to help any teenage girl who is in trouble or confused about her life. She has her own cottage, behind the cow-barns.
Snotra, the handmaiden of virtue and hard work, is a quiet goddess who lives in Fensalir proper. Average folk seek her out for advice on right living, moderation, keeping their temper, etc. She does not give advice unless asked, and even then is calm and not preachy. She is an excellent Goddess to approach for advice in diplomacy.
Lofn is the protector of lovers, called upon for arranging for their romance. Lofn intercedes for them when others disapprove, which means that most of her traffic these days is with relationships that society tends to disapprove of; however, she feels that love is love and ought to be encouraged. She spends as much time in Sessrumnir, working with Freya, as she does in Fensalir with Frigga. She has her own small cottage, with a thatched roof full of birds who carry messages to and from lovers.
Sjofn is also seen frequently at Sessrumnir; she is the handmaiden of peacemaking between warring mates. Couples often come to her for relationship counseling when they are having problems. She has her own cottage, peaceful and calm, where she conducts her counseling; all weapons must be laid outside the door and well out of reach before anyone can enter it. She is also sometimes called upon by Forseti to do mediation of a larger sort between enemies, especially when they were once close.
Var, the goddess who witnesses oaths, is a mostly silent witness, rarely seen even at Fensalir unless someone is doing something that she needs to witness. She stands quietly beside the altar at every wedding in Asgard, and can be called upon for all weddings or commitments. She is unyielding, and considers all oathbreakers to be in the wrong, regardless of their reasons. Don't go looking for her; if you need her as a witness, she will show up. Her weapon is the staff, which she will occasionally utilize on oathbreakers.
Hlin, the handmaiden of mourning, gives comfort and consolation to those who are grieving. She generally appears as a comforting, maternal middle-aged woman dressed in dark grey, and she has her own cottage, starkly furnished, for those who wish to bare their souls to her, weep, and be gathered to her breast. You likely won't see Hlin unless you need her for some reason, and then, if you are visiting Asgard, your feet may take you to her cottage. According to some who work with her, she is also a battle Goddess. Hlin is a weaponsmaster, and for those few whom Frigga finds worthy, will teach both Her skill and wisdom in warcraft. She has what can only be described as a "weapons-salle" in one of the back rooms of Fensalir, a stark room with gleaming wood floor and high windows where she practices her craft and takes those sent to her to practice. She is best approached respectfully.
Syn is the doorkeeper of Fensalir, and another goddess of oathtaking. She lives in Fensalir proper, and if you come in after hours, it will be Syn who lets you in....or decides not to. Frigga trusts Syn's instincts, and generally lets her have her head when she is in charge of the door. You will have to explain your reasons for entering, and convince her that it is so important that folks must be disturbed in their beds.
Vor is another rarely-seen handmaiden. She is a seer and wisewoman, small and dark and often veiled. She is not called upon for divination, for like Frigga, she sees much but is close with her information. She is called upon more often by diviners to bless their work and show them how to do it more smoothly, a task which she will teach, if she feels that you are doing it for good reasons. She lives in a small room in the back of Fensalir proper, which is off limits to all mortals.
Huldra, the hardworking handmaiden of flocks and herds, is often conflated with Holda. To date, some folks say that they are the same, and some that they are different. Either way, Huldra is said to have a cow's tail, and to be the patron of the Huldre-folk, small earth-wights of Midgard. She is not often seen at Fensalir during the day, as her job is shepherd/goatherd/cowherd, taking the flocks out to the fields and seeing them safe home again.
The beautiful hall of Vingolf was originally commissioned by Odin for overflow of the growing Einherjar of Valhalla, but since Valhalla itself is not yet full, Vingolf was claimed by the Aesir goddesses as a kind of female haven. Although men are not specifically disallowed from Vingolf, they are subtly discouraged from going there. This is a feminine sanctuary, with halls full of female crafters, beautiful gardens, and a kitchen with excellent food. Vingolf's main charm is that it is built around hot springs, with a sacred healing spa in the center. Men are explicitly forbidden from entering the spa. The walls are rose-colored, and roses climb the walls, drenching the place in their scent.
If you are female and wish to visit Vingolf, it's best to get permission from at least one goddess - any female deity who dwells in Asgard probably spends at least some time there, even the warriorlike ones. Bring some small lovely gift that they can use to beautify the place; homemade soaps or cosmetics are especially valued.
The largest single-owner hall in the Nine Worlds is Thor's place, Bilskirnir. The biggest building ever built, it is practically a small city, with six hundred and forty rooms, swarming with the overflow of Valhalla, specifically those who died while sworn to Thor. The walls are made of sun-dried brick and stone, and the rooms are all high-ceilinged and airy. It's par for the course to leave the windows open even when raining; since there is little natural rain, most rainfall is likely Thor's doing and therefore one does him honor to get wet even in his hall.
Thor himself has been the most popular Norse god for centuries; so much so, in fact, that his hammer is currently the generic symbol for most Norse-religionists. As the thunder-god, hurling his lightning-hammer in one of his famous rages, he is the champion of Asgard, and the one who gets sent out to deal with troublesome invaders. He is the god of the common folk, the ordinary farmers, which is why his chariot is pulled by two goats. Thor is tall and broad and has immense strength - showing the blood of his giantess mother Jord - and is red-haired, and red-bearded. He is impulsive and honest, quick to anger and quick to party, over-hasty in judgment and prone to drinking and carousing, but completely reliable when others are depending on him. Though he is teased for being simple - sort of the uberjock - Thor is very concerned with honesty and honor, and keeping one's promises. He has no patience with prevarication and hypocrisy, or fancy word-games that come perilously close to being either of those. To Thor, whatever you do, you do it with your whole heart. You defend what's valuable to you, you keep your commitments, you are a loyal friend and tribesman, you don't need to lie about anything. Thor can also be surprisingly sensible; one of his by-names is "deep-minded".
Thor is commonly known to be a "size-shifter", which is another trait that he inherited from his earth-giant mother. He can shift from ordinary human size to as immensely huge as any giant, which is why he gets trotted out to fight them so often in Asgard's defense. However, one of the side effects of this talent (for him; not all size-shifters have this issue) is that even when he is only six feet tall, he weighs as much as he would if he was twenty feet tall. Because of this, he is apparently banned from crossing Bifrost, and must leave Asgard by the long way around, crossing the Thund Thvitr river in a (one would assume very sturdy) boat, or even swimming or wading across. His hammer is called Mjollnir, and it strikes with the thunderbolt. Jokes about its overly-short handle abound in the Nine Worlds. His belt of strength is called Mengingjardar, and aids his size-shifting skill.
Thor is an eminently approachable guy. Unlike one of the complaints about Odin - that he sometimes treats those who deal with him in an impersonal, how-can-I-use-this-person-effectively way, Thor treats everyone that he takes an interest in with personal attention. He has baffled some folks by simply showing up to chat and schmooze, but that's the way he is. He's pretty good at smelling ulterior motives and dishonesty, so if you approach him, do it on his terms - be straightforward and hail-fellow-well-met, talk to him and party with him, and strive to be honest and open in his presence.
On certain rare occasions while visiting Bilskirnir, you might run into Meile (whose name means "Mile-Stepper"), the younger brother of Thor by many years. He is usually wandering the Nine Worlds - often in disguise, as he has no wish to be famous or do great deeds - but when he decides to come home, he stays at his elder brother Thor's hall. It might be wondered whether Meile's aversion to being known comes out of his relationship with Thor - after all, who could compete with that kind of fame? - or whether he is just an intensely private person. He will talk to those who run across him, and be reasonably friendly, but it's best to pretend that you don't know who he is (assuming you figure it out), and he may give you a cryptic name if you ask.
Thor's wife Sif is tall, blond, and classically beautiful, with the same sort of queenly grace and dignity as Frigga, except with a younger and more girlish cast to it. There is something of the upper-class golden athletic type to her. She is very much a goddess of the high summer. According to the now-infamous story, Loki shaved off Sif's beautiful long golden hair as a prank. When her husband threatened to kill him, he commissioned a wig of hair made from strands of real gold. While Sif's own hair has long since grown back, she still wears the glittering gold wig on ceremonial occasions.
Sif is generally friendly to visitors as long as they are the sort her husband would approve of. She is fairly good with a sword herself, although she does not fight in battles but instead trains young warriors at home. She has been invoked as a goddess of skill in battle, and also as a powerful seeress and sibyl. Another function of her is that of fertility, and sanctifying spaces. Sif is called upon whenever a new building is built for the Aesir, to walk through its rooms with light and flame and hallow it for new living. She is a gracious hostess and will be attentive to the traveler, but she has a great deal of work to do being Lady of Thor's Hall, so be considerate and try not to monopolize her time too much.
Sif's first husband was Aurvandil (Orvandil), for whom she bore Ullr. It is not known why she and Aurvandil broke up, except that his next wife was Groa, a giantess-sorcerer. Thor didn't seem to mind that Sif had been married before; he is still devotedly in love with his golden-haired wife, and it is most unwise to flirt with her in his presence. It's not that she would ever be unfaithful to him - Thor and Sif are extremely monogamous - but the implication that she might even be interested would be insulting to both of them, and Thor tends to return insults with deadly force. Sif bore Thor the two boys Magni and Modi, both of whom are enormous guys and don't know their own strength, much like their dad.
Two other denizens of Bilskirnir are Roskva and Thjalfi. They are either the half-human children of Egil Skytten, a Midgard human who had an affair with Groa, the giantess wife of Aurvandil, or the youngest children of Groa and Aurvandil themselves, depending on who you ask. Groa and Aurvandil were friends of Thor, and after raising the children to their teen years they sent them to be fostered at Bilskirnir. Thjalfi became Thor's page, accompanying him on many journeys. He is the official Bilskirnir courier and messenger, being very quick on his feet; he is an excellent guide for humans wandering about Asgard and especially the confusing maze that is Bilskirnir. Roskva is also an excellent guide, and as she keeps her ears open, she is a good source of gossip and information as well.
Somewhat behind Thor's hall is a smaller hall that belongs to his daughter Thrud, the sister of Magni and Modi (who apparently prefer to hang out bachelor-style in their father's enormous place). Thrud is red-haired like her father and nearly as strong as her brothers, and people have generally described her as a tall, large-boned woman in battle gear. It's said that she sometimes rides with the Valkyries for fun. She is a warrior woman, and not to be trifled with; she has killed several men who made inappropriate passes at her. The land around Bilskirnir is named Thrudheim, so called because of Thor's doting pride in his daughter.
The best offering to bring to Bilskirnir is food. Thor's house, like Valhalla, is always struggling to feed everyone, and he doesn't have Odin's budget. Any plain, wholesome food or drink will be welcomed, and will usually come with an obligatory invitation to dinner. Thor particularly appreciates a good dark beer or ale and either makes an excellent offering.
Folkvang and Sessrumnir
Freya, the goddess of love, sex, fertility, springtime, warcraft, and magic, is the most honored of all the Vanir hostages who live in Asgard. The eldest child of Nerthus and Njord, she was already an accomplished sorceress - and a great beauty - when she came to Asgard, and she was the one that Odin was most eager to have. This was not necessarily for any prurient interests - although it is well-known that she has had the occasional affair with the All-Father - but because she was the mistress of seidhr, one of the northern-tradition magical arts. The bulk of information about Freya, in general, can be found in the Vanaheim chapter.
However, meeting her in Asgard is somewhat different from meeting her in Vanaheim, because her duties are different in each place. Aside from the beautiful gardens and rich earth of Folkvang and Sessrumnir, she does little of her fertility magic in Asgard. She is still Mistress of Love, and Mistress of Seidhr, but the aspect of her that you will not see in Vanaheim is that of warrior-goddess and collector of the Dead. In her Asgard hall Sessrumnir, she can be seen occasionally in full armor, shining and white, over simple white clothing, going in or coming out to and from battle. Sometimes she can also be seen conferencing with the Valkyries of Valhalla, whom she accompanies onto battlefields. She automatically takes all spiritually-appropriate (meaning not sworn to some other deity such as Odin, Thor, Christ, or looked after by someone else) female warriors, and warriors who are queer or transgendered, who fall in battle. She also takes other folk who worship her and come into her notice, unless they need to pass on to Helheim for some reason.
As Freya conducts her warrior duties out of her Asgard hall rather than her Vanaheim home, it is here that she keeps her armor, weapons, and war animals. These include a great bristled sow named Hildisvin ("Battle-Pig") who can run at great speeds and is sometimes ridden to war (apparently more for her effect on the enemy than anything else, for a boar can't be a comfortable ride). Hildisvin was sired by Gullinbursti, her brother's great Vanir boar.
The great hall is named Folkvang ("Field of the Folk"), and this refers to the land around it as well. However, Freya has manipulated the earth around Folkvang so that it is always springtime there, something that she would not be able to do in Vanaheim. The gardens surrounding the great hall, and the smaller but still graceful hall Sessrumnir beyond, are always in bloom with spring flowers. Blooming trees, a gift from Iduna, float like a cloud of color up and down the broad paths between buildings. Two trees that seemto be her favorites, and are found in many places, are linden and medlar. Green banks are studded with tiny strawberries. Fountains leap, filled with bright fish, and generally the place looks as if Freya has the best landscaper in Asgard, which she does - Herself. Just walking around the place is enough to raise anyone's spirits.
You'll find people strolling there as well, and it may take a while for you to figure out that nearly all of them are dead. Unlike Valhalla, where the warriors spend a good deal of their time practice-fighting, in Folkvang people are expected to behave themselves and partake of the gentler arts. If they want to engage in fighting practice, well, Valhalla's over there in that direction, and no better place for it. The Dead of Folkvang spend their time playing music, telling tales, making love, wandering in the gardens, and - in the case of Freya's priest/esses - giving advice to mortal seidhworkers. There are also lots and lots of cats, everywhere, of every conceiveable color. They are pampered and allowed to do as they like; never mistreat a cat in Freya's lands, and speak to them as courteously as you would a person. You might see a couple of really large cats, golden-colored and the size of small panthers; these are said to be Beegold and Treegold (named for honey and amber), who draw her chariot. They do not attack guests, but don't take liberties with them.
Inside, Folkvang is graceful, comfortable, and generally looks as if Freya also had the best interior decorator in Asgard. (See above.) Unlike other halls, which tend to have large feast-hall-type spaces, Folkvang is divided in many smaller areas surrounding beautifully carved hearths, which encourage people to gather in groups, converse, and entertain each other. Bedrooms are generally off of these areas, for folk to dally in.
Just beyond Folkvang is Sessrumnir, Freya's own hall. It is smaller, as it only needs to house Herself, her maidens, and a few dozen guests of her own choosing. If one were to compare architectural styles, Sessrumnir would far more resemble a Vanaheim hall than anything else. There are several rooms dedicated entirely to the workings of seidhr, including a high seat that is reputed to be the spookiest-feeling high seat in existence, practically a door in and of itself.
It is generally easy to get fed and entertained in Folkvang, and as long as one is courteous, well-behaved, and contributes to the hospitality, it is possible to linger for some time without trouble. The offerings listed in the Vanaheim chapter for Freya work well here, with the possible addition of fine armor and weapons for her folk.
This is Njord's hall in Asgard, located outside the walls and directly on the coast, in a small bay. It is easy to find - a great, arched white structure with curves vaguely resembling a ship, with dozens of actual ships anchored in the bay below like a flight of white-billowed birds. It is full of open windows high up near the great arched ceilings - more like the halls of Vanaheim than the A-frame or square-roofed halls of Asgard - so that the sea breezes constantly blow through. Old fishing nets are hung like curtains and tapestries, swaying in the salt winds. Seabirds cluster in droves on the roof and fly through the open upper areas of the hall, but somehow never leave droppings inside.
All the furniture in Noatun is carved from the wood of old ships, sunken or decommissioned. You can see the projecting bows of ships in every hearth, and the sideboards in every table; keels and wheels and masts make up every part of anything one sits or lies on. The folk about the place are generally going about some aspect of shipmaking, or net-mending, or other such business; behind the great hall are extensive woodcarving and shipbuilding works.
There is a lovely walled garden in a courtyard just off of the main building of Noatun. It is filled with lush plants, many not native to Asgard. This garden is said to have been the favorite place of Sigyn while she was growing up, according to those who place Sigyn as Njord's foster-child. Bringing a potted exotic plant is one possible offering. Njord's favorite herb is rosemary, and the hills around Noatun bloom with many varieties.
Njord himself is generally only home in the evening. He spends the days out on one of his boats and comes back around sunset to feast and go over the day's labor with his crowd of servants, which are mostly Vanir folk but include some humans and the occasional rare ship-mad Alfar. Information about Njord himself can be found in the Vanaheim chapter; basically, what goes on in his one hall goes on in his other hall. Noatun is very much like a small slice of Vanaheim seated on the border of Asgard, and one ought to act appropriate. If you stay for dinner, expect to be served fish and seafood.
Saga, the goddess of learning and lore, lives in a seaside hall called "Sunk-Bench", referring to the fact that the front porch goes right down into the sea. You can literally sit on the benches in front of this many-windowed hall and dabble your toes in the saltmarsh-stream and drink, which is one of Saga's favorite things. Sokkvabek almost always has an informal drinking party happening on its porch, with a great deal of storytelling. Saga collects songs, poetry, and anything that can be committed to memory. She is on good terms with the Norns, although she is more concerned with the past than the present or future. Her hall is sometimes referred to as being made of glass or crystal, but that is largely due to it being windowed entirely around, like a greenhouse.
The stream that flows by her hall is filled with stories and memories; drinking from it (with her permission) will give one better recall and memory, but might also fill your mind with odd snippets and bits of stories, which can be maddening. For an offering, bring her books, or more ale for her regular salons.
Skadi's Hall: Thrymheim II
As far as we can tell, the giant Thjatsi married an Aesir woman and inherited her property and hall in Asgard when she died. When he was slain by the Aesir's flaming wall while attempting to invade Asgard, his daughter Skadi came all the way from Jotunheim to demand her inheritance, and an Aesir husband to make her "legitimate" and accepted in Asgard. While her arranged marriage to the Vanir god Njord didn't work out, she still owns and lives in her late father and stepmother's hall. During the Asgard summer, she goes back home to the northern mountains of Jotunheim for the snow-hunting there. She is a winter goddess, clearly showing her father's frost-thurse background, and those who work with her report her as having dark hair and eyes, very white skin, and a temperament that slides between icy cold and fierce rage.
Skadi has little patience for weaklings, and does not suffer fools at all. If she respects you, and you can keep up with her, she can be a good companion. Her hall in Asgard she named Thrymheim, in honor of the frost-giant Thrym who is the titular king of Jotunheim; his hall in Jotunheim is also called by this name. It is her way of telling the world that she still owes as much loyalty to her Jotun heritage as to the Aesir with whom she currently makes her way. This makes for a certain amount of confusion; if you are in Asgard and someone mentions Thrymheim, they likely mean Skadi's Asgard hall. If you are anywhere else in the Nine Worlds and it is mentioned, they likely mean the Thrymheim in the northern mountains of Jotunheim.
Skadi's Thrymheim is found in the Hartshorns, the sole narrow, cold mountain chain of Asgard. It is a snowy place, but with weather much kinder than that of her home in Jotunheim. She finds it quite balmy, and can often be found hunting there.
Ydalir, which literally means "yew-dales", is just that ... a great, high, heavily-timbered hunting lodge in a thick grove of yew-trees. It is the home of Ullr, the hunter-god. He is the son of Sif (currently Thor's loyal wife) by her first marriage with the star-hero Aurvandil. Ullr is lean, dark, and very silent, with a hunter's gaze and patience. Due to some unknown political or spiritual reason, when Odin leaves home for short periods in the winter, it is Ullr that he puts in charge of Asgard temporarily, perhaps because of his utter neutrality.
Ydalir is sited so that one can easily see the Aurora Borealis, which is dear to Ullr. He is reasonably welcoming to guests who are interested in hunting with him, and his table serves mostly game.
Breidablik ("Broadview") was the hall of Baldur and Nanna, given to them as a wedding gift. After Baldur's death and Nanna's suicide, Frigga sealed its doorways. No unclean thing is permitted to come near it; it exists in a magical state of non-rot in memoriam of her beloved son. While you can gaze on it from a distance, you will not be allowed in. Delling, a Red Alf from eastern Alfheim, guards its doors and turns away all comers.
Landvidi ("Whiteland", also known as "Broadland")
Landvidi is Vidar's hall, where he lives with his giantess mother Grid. (One of the few Jotun who have fully allied with the Aesir and who are allowed to live in Asgard, Grid is one of Odin's sometime lovers, and is also something of a mentor to Thor, whom she considers a beloved stepson. She gave him the magical iron gloves and the belt of strength that he wears, and has lent him her magical iron rod, Gridarvol, on occasion.) Landvidi actually refers to the whole area, which contains greenwoods and many fields with long grasses.
Vidar, the lord of Landvidi, is a grim-faced, dark-haired Aesir who tends to dress in dark red. People come to him in order to ask about vengeance; you can generally tell those visitors by their grim, set faces. Otherwise, most folk leave him be. He is unmarried, and his mother is the Lady of his hall. Grid is large, maternal, and likes to mentor young men; she will freely give advice on any topic from battle to love. If you visit without an agenda directly involving Vidar's aid, go to Grid first and talk to her; she will be much more hospitable.
Glitnir is Forseti's Hall of Justice, shingled in silver, with gold porch-pillars. The axe-bearing son of Baldur and Nanna, Forseti represents justice, good laws, arbitration, and good judgment. Conflicts are brought to his hall to be worked out. Forseti is a top-notch mediator. While he wears his axe on his back as a reminder that Justice has teeth, he is dedicated to finding peaceful ways to work things out that do not require bloodshed. If you have a grievance with a deity that you want publicly heard, it is possible to go to Forseti and ask his aid. Be warned that if he feels it is a lost cause - fair or not - he will tell you. If he feels that your cause is good, he will arrange a mediated session in the Hall of Justice, if the other deity is willing. Be aware that you may have to answer many questions from other deities, and not necessarily ones you expect. Do not lie - no one can lie undetected in Glitnir - and do not refuse to answer anything.
Brimir Hall is as yet untenanted. It is on Okolnir Island, which is in the center of the lake in the Fields of Gimle. It seems to be held as an emergency hall in case Ragnarok comes, as the prophecy claims that should the worst happen, Gimle will survive. Ironically, it is owned by the giant Brimir, who won the island in a game of chance with Odin, He built the hall, and periodically shows up to make improvements and alterations. Do not attempt to enter, as the place is magically warded.
Situated close to Brimir Hall in the Fields of Gimle, this is another emergency post-Ragnarok hall, with a roof of gold. It is currently untenanted. Don't bother it, or consider squatting there; you will be noticed and removed.
This hall is not listed in the lore, but I found it while wandering in Asgard. Iduna lives in a thatched cottage in the middle of a beautiful orchard, notable because the trees are all in different phases - some blooming, some budding, some growing fruit. A lovely garden surrounds the cottage, and the whole place is surprisingly peasant-like. Iduna herself is likely to be found working on the grounds, in the garden or the orchard. She is a tall, plain woman with hands that look like they do manual labor. Her husband, Bragi, tends to appear as a short middle-aged man; he is the Skald of Asgard and a beautiful singer, great storyteller, and excellent poet. However, he is usually away at Gladsheim, and is rarely at home.
Iduna prefers to stay in her cottage and orchard; perhaps a history of being abducted has something to do with that. She grows the magic apples that keep the Aesir young and healthy. Do not attempt to beg, buy, steal, or otherwise obtain any of these apples, because she won't let you have any no matter how much she likes you, being under strict orders from Odin not to share them (and they are few and precious anyway, barely enough for the Aesir) and if you steal them off the trees, you'll find that they are just ordinary apples that don't do anything except taste excellent. There's more to their magic than just their growth; they must be given over with Iduna's magic in order for them to work. That's why outsiders kept attempting to kidnap Iduna herself. Otherwise, if you want to sit with her and talk about gardening, she's glad to have visitors.
Also known as the Isle of Counsel, Rathsey's Sound is a small island lying where the Thund Thvitr meets the ocean. Here lives the once-mortal hero Hildolf, who for some reason (probably a bargain with Odin) has his own small hall rather than living with the rest of the Einherjar. He is much loved by Odin's legions, who come to him for wisdom when they are in a bad way. He has appeared as a middle-aged, grey-bearded man with keen eyes, wearing a wolf's pelt on his shoulders. He will take in and counsel any mortal, although he is wholly on the side of Odin and the Aesir, and his counsel will reflect that. He is especially good at talking to wounded warriors whom stress has mentally wrecked, giving them counsel that does not make them feel like weaklings. A good offering for him would be good drink that he can give to other "clients" when they show up.
Urdabrunnr and the Hall of Fate
At the furthest point of Asgard, beyond the forests of Ydalir and the small mountain range, the uppermost root of the World Tree protrudes through the ground. It is far more than an invader, it is the anchor on which the entire world of Asgard is seated. Like a curved, knobbly mountain of wood, it bears enough sprouts and suckers to create a large grove. Steps are carved into its living bark, so that sacred rites can be performed on top of it. If you climb these stairs, you had better be ready to perform one, with no dawdling.
Sheltered in the curve of the great root is Urdabrunnr, the Well of Wyrd. This is a large stone-rimmed spring from which water continually bubbles, feeding the root of the tree. The ground around it is muddy and wet; watch your footing. It is not known if a mortal could survive falling into the Well of Wyrd accidentally. To look into it will show you many things, most of them difficult to understand and easy to misinterpret. Don't drink the water without the permission of the Keepers of that Well, the three Norns.
The Norns are the Fates of the Northern Tradition. They are named Urd (That-Which-Is), Verdandi (That-Which-Is-Becoming), and Skuld (That-Which-Should-Be), and they are mentioned as "the mighty maids from Thursenheim", or Niflheim, home of the frost-thurses. Urd spins the threads of each person's destiny, Verdandi weaves them, and Skuld cuts them short. Sometimes they appear to look identical; sometimes they appear with different ages. Unlike the Moerae, the Greek fates, Urd is the eldest and Skuld sometimes appears as a black-armored maiden who sometimes rides along with the Valkyries. Generally they do not appear as beautiful, however; most spirit-workers report them as plain, almost dowdy thurse-women, focused on their work.
The Norns may or may not appear when you approach the Well; whether they do or not can give you a pretty good idea of whether or not the knowledge of your Wyrd, or that of someone else, is your business to pursue. If they do not appear, even when propitiated - and the Norns are historically difficult to propitiate - and if the Well shows you nothing that is clear and simple, it's best to go and propitiate them further from home. If they do appear, remember that to Them, They are very busy and you are not very important. Indeed, even the Gods are not terribly important in their scheme of things. The Norns owe allegiance to no one, and not even Odin and Hela - arguably the most powerful Gods in the Nine Worlds - can force their hands. Ask clear, concise, and well-thought-through questions; take what answers they give without arguing, and then go home and meditate on them.
In terms of propitiation, the Norns have no use for things. What they want is work. The best sort of straight-out propitiation for them seems to be doing household cleaning. Before you work, offer all the energy of this cleaning to them. As you work, you may feel as if you are also cleaning some other place as well, a place that you can't see; as if your work is being done in two worlds at once. This can be assumed to mean that they are accepting your gift. Another sort of work-offering is needlework of any kind, especially spinning, weaving, or embroidery. However, as this is contributing to the energy of the tapestry, you will have to get their permission before offering them this gift. Do not think that by giving them the energy of each stitch, you are actually changing the tapestry of Wyrd. They wouldn't allow that; you are simply lending them power to tend it themselves. If for some reason you need an immediate offering, blood is a good one. Cut yourself and allow it to flow right into the well.
Beyond the root of the Tree is a small cottage which, ironically, is referred to as the Hall of Fate. Only those who are the direct servants of the Norns are allowed to enter it and see it, so don't try to go in. You wouldn't get past the doorway anyway without getting mysteriously turned around and finding yourself back again at the edge of the pool.