“Midhgardhur” means “Middle-dwelling” or “Middle-enclosure” in the languages of the North. This is because it is believed that the world inhabited by men is balanced in the middle between the worlds of the gods above and the lands of the dead below, between the world of eternal ice to the north and the world of fire to the south . . . in short, it is in the center of Creation. The exact details of their Cosmology tends to be known only to priests and scholars, since the average person does not know nor want to know the specifics of the “Nine Worlds,” feeling that this sort of thing is of little relevance to daily life. Midhgardhur is also known as Mannheimur (Homeland of Men).
The Nine Worlds and Yggdrasill
The peoples of the North believe there are “Nine Worlds” (Niu Heimar) – nine realms that make up Creation. The Nine Worlds are linked by the connection of of the world-tree (usually conceived of as an ash tree) Yggdrasill (which means “Yggur’s Steed” – “Yggur” being a nickname of Odhinn, the reference being to the myth that Odhinn hung himself from the branches of Yggdrasill for nine nights in order to learn the secrets of the runes). Some tribes conceive of Yggdrasill as a sort of tree, others as a pillar (in Ethelland, sometimes it is called the pillar “Irminsul”). When a tree, it is sometimes called Askur Yggdrasill (the “Ash-tree Yggdrasill”).
The Niu Heimar (Nine Worlds) are as follows, arranged in alphabetical order:
The world of the Ljosalfar (light elves) – a celestial realm above which is said to be the true homeland of the alfar of Midhgardhur. Some men believe that alfar never die of old age, but when they grow older and weary of the world they retreat from Midhgardhur to this world above. It is said that the mysterious Gray Isle is linked to Alfheimur in some way. Alfheimur
Asgardhur (also called Godh-heimur and Asaland, both meaning “Land of the Gods”)
The world of the Aesir – the chief gods of the North. The Aesir defeated the Vanir in an ancient war and conquered the world of Godh-heimur. They established their fortifications – Asgardhur – in this world. The Aesir dwell in this realm above, which is linked to the world of Midhgardhur by Bifrost, the Rainbow Bridge. The bridge is guarded by the Aesir god Heimdallur. Asgardhur holds many halls which serve to house the valiant and good in the afterlife. The most famous of these is Valholl – Odhinn’s “Hall of the Slain,” for those who die in battle. Asgardhur.
The world of Hel, the goddess of death – the Underworld below. Those who die ignominious deaths, who are beyond redemption – murderers, betrayers, rapists, and such – descend into Hel’s halls upon their deaths. Helheimur
Jotunheimur (also called Utgardhur, or “Out-dwelling”)
The world of the Jotnar (singular “Jotunn”), the Giants. The giants who dwell in this realm are gods on par with the Aesir and Vanir. These Jotnar are extremely destructive elemental forces, and tend to be utterly hostile to the world of men. Jotunheimur
Mannheimur or Midhgardhur
The world of men, the middle place, at the center of the Nine Worlds. The world currently belongs to men and their ilk, but the Jotnar and their favored children (e.g. the giants, trolls, thursir, etc.) dispute the right of men to keep it. The Aesir and Vanir help defend the world from the Jotnar and their kind.
The world of Muspell, the realm of fire of the South. This realm is claimed by the Fire Giants. Links are said to exist between the world of Muspellsheimur and the equatorial region of Midhgardhur in the South. Muspellsheimur
The world of Nifl, the “Mist” – the arctic mist and ice. Links are said to exist between the polar regions of Midhgardhur and Niflheimur. Niflheimur
Svartalfaheimur (originally called Myrkheimur “Dark Homeland,” also called Aurvangar or Joruvellir, both meaning “Gravelly Wetlands”)
The world of the “Svartalfar” the “Dark Elves,” though ownership of this world is disputed by the dvergar who seek to reclaim the realm from them – An underground world that is said to be the true origin of the dvergar, huldrufolk, lytlingar, and other races who dwell under the ground, back when this world was known by its original name, Myrkheimur. It was taken over by the svartalfar in distant ages past – perhaps the reason those other races first fled to Midhgardhur. Svartalfaheimur
The world of the Vanir – a race of gods closely linked to Nature on Midhgardhur. Vanaheimur is very close to Midhgardhur. The Vanir promote the natural fertility and life of Midhgardhur from this world, and some maintain halls to which good and valiant dead travel after death. Vanaheimur