Isn’t your World Elements chart made up?

Q. Rota: “Coming from a progressive (read; NOT universalist) heathen, I find your views on women and heathenry to reek of monotheist baggage and otherwise antiquated views, not to mention some information on here is either appropriated for your own views/purposes (i.e Freya as only a goddess of pleasure and beauty) or just super made-up (i.e your World Elements chart). It saddens me that some groups of heathenry have come to this.”

A. Andrew: Regarding the World “Elements” you call “super made up” I’ll say this. Initially, I was taught the “elements” by word of mouth from the one who introduced me to Asatru, not from a book. I debated what I was taught as not lining up in my mind also. However, after review of the source texts and Northern commentary, such as Gundarsson, Hollander, etc. including Edred Thorsson’s book, “Northern Magic” pages19-21, I saw the pattern verified and many of the elements. Since it yields some very helpful things when applying it to rune lore, I did not want deny that understanding to others. So I passed it on.

I did alter one of the associated elements of the worlds as you accuse (by “elements” I am taking you to mean, fire, water, earth, ice, wind, etc), but not much from what I was taught. “Wind” was one I exchanged for “air.” I felt no harm in that since “wind” is still “air,” just air in motion, which corresponded to the “chaos” activities and intentions of the giants in Jotunheim represented by it. The “water” one for Vanaheim puzzled me as well, until I read and understood that Frey and Freya came from their father Njord whose primary dwelling was the seashore (Prose Edda, p.51). Frey himself was said to have come on a boat as a baby over the water, as “Scyld” or “Sceaf” according to H. R. Davidson in “Gods and Myths of Northern Europe” (pgs.104-105).

As a defense to confirm that the “elements” of the nine worlds were not “super made up,” a review of their names and lore, let alone common sense justifies them. Commentators such as Hollander’s translation of “The Poetic Edda” and Gundarsson’s “Teutonic Religion” expressly identify most of them. Gundarsson states:

“The Ases’ Garth is above; Light Alf-Home is in the upper reaches of the Middle-Garth’s air. The four elemental worlds, Etin-Home (ON jotunheimr—air), Muspel-Home (fire), Wan-Home (water), and Nibel-Home (ON Niflheimer—“World of Misty Darkness”; ice) should be understood to be on the same level as the Middle-Garth” (p.9).

He also mentions on the same page that, “Swart Alf-Home is in the depths of our earth, and Hella’s realm is below.” He says in another place, “Traditionally, the alfs are divided into three sorts: the Light, the Dark, and the Swart or Black” (p.109). The word “swart” etymologically means “dark” or “black” as you can see from Gundarsson’s statement. Hollander’s footnote identifies “Muspelheim” as “the world of fire” (p.10), “The realm of Hel” as “the abode of the dead” (p.50 footnote), Midgard or “Middle World” as “the earth as the abode of men” (p.2 footnote). Notice both Gundarsson and Hollander make mention of “earth” as where we humans dwell. Therefore, Midgard is associated with the element of “earth.”

So let us summarize, Gundarsson correlates:
1) Jotunheim (Etin-Home) with “air”
2) Muspelheim (Muspel-Home) with “fire”
3) Vanaheim (Wan-Home) with “water”
4) Nifelheim (Nibel-Home) with “ice”
5) Lossalfheim (Light Alf-Home) with light
6) Swartalfheim (Swart Alf-Home) with “black” or dark.
Hollander correlates:
7) “The realm of Hel” with death, and
8) Midgard with earth.

That is eight of the nine worlds. Only Asgard is left. Since Asgard is “The home of the Aesir” as Hollander puts it (Poetic Edda, p.5 footnote), and it is the Aesir who created the living earth (Prose Edda, p.35), gave conscious life to the first man and woman of our folk, Ask and Embla (Voluspa, St. 17-18), and will defend life on earth down to the last man and woman, Lif and Lifthrasir (Vafthrudnismal, St. 45), Asgard is therefore associated with “life” in contrast to the element of “death” associated with Hel. None of these conclusions seem farfetched to me, but they were especially not “made up” by me.

So, again, I must ask you for specifics to help me clarify what you are actually having problems with. I am no more a “know it all” than Odin is. Odin’s ravens bring him news every morning before breakfast the Prose Edda says. So he is a learning god. I present myself in like mind. Please tell me what you understand or object to and why. That will be helpful to me…and you. I see at least one difference between “monotheists” and Northern folk is that we are more open minded to learn and assist one another in learning. Am I wrong about that too?

Finally, please do not be saddened. It is this very openness to instruction and correction that should inspire you with hope instead. That is my wish for you.
Sincerely, Gothi Andrew Webb

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