Who is Mundilfari?

Mundilfari

I have been looking up the meaning of the name “Mundilfari.”  The general consensus of the internet is that they are “uncertain of its etymology,” but it seems to mean to them, “the one moving according to particular times (?)”.  That quote was from “Nordic Names.”[1]  They even put in the question mark to emphasize their hesitation.  Wikipedia was also uncertain and gave a similar definition.  Well, for me, and probably for you, that was not satisfying.  So, I began researching the name and the etymological process of breaking it down by syllables.

Both the Poetic Edda and Prose Edda, which use the name, Mundilfari, are written in Icelandic, not Old Norse.  So, tracking down the meanings of words diverts to the Icelandic language rather than Norse where the religion and myths originated.  However, Iceland was populated by the Norse, and Icelanders have attempted to preserve the Norse language, let alone the myths, like no other culture, including Norway and Sweden.  Taking that into consideration, I will employ the advantage of Bjorn Halderson’s Icelandic Lexicon, which often provides very clear definitions, albeit in Latin, rather than leaving a reader “uncertain.”  It appears to this author people tend not to use Halderson’s Icelandic Lexicon, perhaps because it only gives its definitions in Latin and Danish.  Let alone the fact, it was written in Iceland, by a native Icelandic scholar in 1814.  So, it is both archaic in time and foreign in thinking.  Halderson cannot help but use colloquial metaphors and idioms peculiar to Icelandic thought when he gets into trouble trying to explain or define an unusual Icelandic word that has no parallel in Latin.  However, that is also why it is authoritative.  We have an Icelander trying to explain what occurs in an Icelandic mind when they hear or see Icelandic words.  Therefore, regardless of the difficultly, the work must be done to discover what truths are hidden in the names of the Nordic Eddas, sagas, and poems.   So, here is what I discovered.

I was taught that Mundilfari, as a mythic person, refers to the “Lord of Time,” operator of the World Mill, who is related to the Norns of Destiny.  These three mythic Norn sisters base their decrees on time, the past, present, and future.[2]  The fact that Mundilfari’s association with being the “Lord of Time” and relation to the Norns of time seems to relate, generally, to the internet definition of “the one moving according to particular times.”  However, there is indeed a more specific meaning to his name as we will see.

Method

We will begin by viewing the complete definition of “Mundilfari,” since the Icelandic Lexicon provides it.  Then we will proceed to expand the definition by breaking down the word into its associated syllables of “Möndull,” “Mun” or “Mund,” “Dil” or “il,” (as in the options of “Mun-dil” and “Mund-il”).  Then we will conclude with “fari.”  Finally, we will contract the multiple insights into a concise definition.  Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.  Therefore, we will exhaust each viable translation option offered in the syllables.  Although Mundilfari may not appear to be an extraordinary character in the Norse myths.  The insights obtained from the facets of meaning embedded into his name will indeed reveal extraordinary results.

Things to Keep in Mind

One explanation before proceeding, names in the ancient and medieval times were often given based on what a person does as an occupation:

  1. Like “Miller” (e.g. Denis Miller) or “Fisher” (Carrie Fisher), “Baker” (James Baker), “Butler” (Gerard Butler), etc. The origin of these names means: the Miller, the Fisher, the Baker, the Butler.
  1. That is, as an alternative to identifying who they were as a person, like surnames: “King” (e.g. Martin Luther King), “Johnson” (Jeremiah Johnson), etc. The origin of these names means: “of the king,” or “of John” or simply, John’s son.
  1. Alternatively, names could originate from who they were in character, like “Armstrong” (e.g. Neil Armstrong), “Wilde” (Oscar Wilde). Meaning the original person was: Arm-strong, i.e. with strong-arms, or “wild” in nature and character.
  1. Another option is names could originate from a place they were from, like “Wood” (e.g. James Wood), “Hill” (Faith Hill), “Rivers” (Joan Rivers), or “Brook” (Jayne Brook). The origin of these names means: of the woods, of the hill, of the rivers, or, of the brook.

In the case of Mundilfari, it appears from the definition, his name originates from his occupation or the place of his occupation.  I ask the reader to consider what happens in the mind of each author, their cultural perspective or orientation, affects what is “meant.”  In the case where “two” or more meanings are possible, then one has to look at context to determine if the author is talking about an “occupation” he performs or a “place” with which he is occupied.   I will let the reader decide.

Like the name, “Ve,” has two meanings, one of a place (a holy garden), the other of a person (a god brother of Odin and Villi), so, likewise the name of, “Mundilfari.”  Mundilfari can refer to a place (the sky) with which he is occupied or a person (begetter of the sun and moon).  The same is true of other languages.  For example, the Greek “Hades” is a place (the underworld) with which Hades is occupied and a person (a god brother of Zeus and Poseidon).  Whereas, in Hebrew, the word “Sheol” is a place (the underworld), but not a person at all.  “Hel” in Norse is a place (the underworld) with which Hel is occupied, but it is also a person (daughter of Loki).  I could go on comparing and contrasting, but by now the reader gets the point.

Mundilfari

Let us begin with Halderson’s Icelandic Lexicon definition of the entire word, “Mundilfari.”  It identifies a “place.”  The word “Mundilfari” means “the starry sky” perceived by looking up rotating with one foot planted on the ground.  So, it is not just a spot in the sky looking at it from one direction, but the entire circle of the heavens perceived in a moment of time.  Halderson translates it as, “Caelum…quasi omnia, uno momento sub planta pedis rotans” (pg. (Vol. II, pg. 90).  Translated into English, that means, “Heavens (caelum)…as if (quasi) everything (omnia) in one moment (uno momento) under (sub) a planted foot (planta pedis) rotating (rotans).”[3]  So, he is trying to say, “revolving” (rotans) on a “planted foot” (planta pedis) looking up under (sub) the sky or heavens (caelum).  Picture, Julie Andrews twirling around on the mountains looking up with her arms out like fan blades in the movie, “The Sound of Music.”  At this point, the cumulative definition of “Mundilfari” would be:

The entire starry sky viewed in a moment by rotating on a planted foot.

The translation of “starry sky” is the preferred translation here, rather than “heaven,” for the following reason.  In the lore, Mundilfari was the father of a daughter he named, Sunna (sun) and a son he named, Mani (moon), who the gods sent to each location.[4]  Therefore, it only refers to the starry sky apart from the sun or moon, since mythically those refer to his offspring.  Also, I did not want “heavens” confused with the spiritual dimension of the Biblical “heaven.”  Furthermore, “Day” and “Night” are distinguished from the “sky” in the Eddas.[5] So, like the sun and the moon, “Day” and “Night” refer mythically to other beings.

Admittedly, the definition of “the starry sky” may be obscure for translators to accept confidently as the meaning of Mundilfari’s name, even though it is the clear meaning in Icelandic Lexicon.  It may be difficult to reconcile Halderson’s definition with Mundilfari’s activities and functions in the Eddas.  So, let us provide some context to assist in what the author had in mind regarding the name “Mundilfari.”

The World Mill

The Teutonic lore says that Mundilfari operates the World Mill on which the body of the primal giant, Ymir, was laid and ground down into the “mould” from which Odin, Villi, and Ve shaped the world as we know it.  That is, the mountains, trees, oceans, clouds, and the dome of the sky, etc.  The bodies of the other giants who died in the flood of Ymir’s blood when he was slain were also placed upon the World Mill.  From the grist of their bodies, the sand of the sea shores and ocean floor were formed.[6]  Viktor Rydberg claims the poems of heathen time “speak of two wonderful mills, a larger and a smaller ‘Grotte’-mill.”[7]  Those two mills refer to a greater one of “the starry vault of heaven” (Rydberg, pg. 580) and a lesser one “situated at the entrance of Hel” (Ibid., pg. 578).

In that case, like a man with the name “miller” who operates a mill of a circular stone twirling on another stationary stone to grind grain into flour, he is not the “mill,” but rather his occupation is being the operator and overseer of the mill.  Likewise, the definition of Mundilfari above refers to the physical “place” with which he is occupied, “the starry sky,” poetically called “The World Mill.”  However, he is not the “place” of his occupation, but rather the person who is the operator and overseer of it.  Rydberg calls him, “the lord of the regular revolutions of the starry firmament” (pg. 602).   Tolley, makes the following observation, “the cosmic mill was not, in extant Norse sources, a widely developed mythologem. Nonetheless, the myth of Mundilfæri connects the turning of the cosmos via a ‘mill-handle’ with the regulation of seasons” We can further peer into who Mundilfari is and what he does by breaking down the meaning of the word into its syllables.

Mundil or Möndull

There is no word “Mundil” in the Icelandic Lexicon corresponding to the first two syllables collectively in “Mundilfari.”  However, Clive Tolley suggests in his article, “The Mill in Norse and Finnish Mythology,” “Mundil” may be “akin to möndull [mill-handle],” citing “Cleasby and Vigfusson.”[8]  Indeed, they do have a phonetic relationship of sounding the same, as well as, having a similar meaning in Halderson’s primary definition. So, we will consider the option “Möndull” instead of “Mundil” in this effort.

Unlike “Mundil,” the word “Möndull” does have a definition in the Icelandic lexicon which Halderson presents in two ways:

  1. axis rotarum” ( II, pg. 88). The Latin word, “Axis,” means, the “sky,” “north pole,” or, “the heavens or a region or clime of these” (Glosbe).  The word, “rotarum,” means, “wheel (rotate).”[9]  So, “axis rotarum” means the “wheel of the sky rotating around the axis of the North Pole.”  Rydberg provides the following insight about the sky to the Teutons, regarding it as:

a movable ceiling. Hence the starlit sky was thought to be in motion. The sailors and shepherds of the Teutons very well knew that this revolving was round a fixed point, the polar star, and it is probable that veraldar nagli, the world-nail, the world-spike, an expression reserved in Eddubrott, ii., designates the north star. Thus the starry sky was the movable part of the universe. (Rydberg, pg. 581)

In other words, the north pole is the axis on which the starry sky rotates.  That indeed sounds close to Halderson’s definition of the word “Mundilfari,” provided above, “The entire starry sky viewed in a moment by rotating on a planted foot.”   However, that was not the reason Tolley associated “Möndull” with “Mundilfari.”   Tolley was eyeing the second definition.

  1. In his second option, Halderson defines, “Möndull,” as, “cotis rota tilis et similium instrumentorum.” The Latin word, “cotis,” means “grinding stone” (Whitaker). “Rota” means “wheel,” “whirl around,” “revolve,” or “rotate” (Whitaker).  “Tilis” is not in any Latin dictionary I can find.  The closest word is “tilia,” which refers to a type of “tree” or “wood” (Glosbe).  So, if we follow Tolley and Rydberg’s suggestion that it means a “handle” of wood standing up like a tree as used on a quern-mill, then we can proceed.  The rest of the Latin words, “et similium instrumentorum,” simply mean “and similar instrument” (Whitaker).  So, the operative words of “cotis rota tilis” means, “Grinding stone wheel handle.”  Tolley and Rydberg were attracted to the poetic relationship of, “Möndull,” being the, “Grind stone wheel handle” of a quern-mill as representing the great “World Mill” of “Mundilfari.”[10]

The value Tolley and Rydberg provide associating “Mundilfari” with the mythic image of “Möndull,” a “mill-handle,” and thus the handler of the “World Mill,” is gratefully admired for their scholarly efforts to connect the two and reconstruct the Teutonic myth of the World Mill.

However, their efforts may run the risk of over emphasizing Mundilfari mythically as being the “World Mill-handle,” rather than the handler and overseer of the World Mill’s operation.  Tolley admits, “the cosmic mill was not, in extant Norse sources, a widely developed mythologem. Nonetheless, the myth of Mundilfæri connects the turning of the cosmos via a ‘mill-handle’ with the regulation of seasons.”[11]  It bears recalling, the leading definition Halderson presents of “Möndull” is of the rotating wheel of the sky or heavens.  So, it appears Halderson is defining real meaning of what “Möndull” is first: the rotating wheel of the sky.  Then he proceeds to its poetic meaning second.  That being a mythic handle that drives a grindstone representing the whirling World Mill of the starry heavens.  To understand the import of this, we need to return to the point made at the beginning of this article.  That is, the Miller is not the Mill, but the one overseeing the operation of the Mill.  Likewise, Möndull, is not the “handle” of the World Mill, but the one handling or overseeing the operation of the World Mill.  For we will see below that “women” were the ones who used the “handle” to push the wheel of the grindstone mill, not Mundilfari himself.

With that said, a summary definition of “Möndull” would be: The wheel of the sky rotating around an axis represented by the operation of the grindstone wheel handle.

Even so, there are a few limitations to accepting “Möndull” alone as the definition of “Mundilfari.”

  1. First, there is Rydberg’s own statement, “Now the word möndull is never used in the old Norse literature about any other object than the sweep or handle with which the movable mill-stone is turned” ( 582-583). That means the name, “Mundilfari” was never spelled, “Möndullfari.”

However, in Rydberg’s defense, the fact that “Möndull” was never used to represent anything other than the handle of a movable mill-stone, yet the Icelandic Halderson, understood “Möndull” to represent, “the heavens rotating on an axis,” as well as, the “handle with which the movable mill-stone is turned,” indicates Halderson was aware of the poetic description of the World Mill, pictured as whirling by the means of a handle, and its meaning, “the rotating sky on an axis.”  Therefore, we can discern from Halderson’s primary definition of “Möndull,” he first provided the literal or “real” meaning of “Möndull” as, “the wheel of the sky rotating around the axis of the North Pole.”  Then he presented the secondary definition of the figurative or “mythic” meaning of, “the grinding stone wheel handle.” It appears his reasoning was to assist mythologists to interpret the myth of the World Mill correctly as, “the wheel of the sky rotating around the axis of the North Pole.”

  1. Another difficulty accepting “Möndull” alone to define “Mundilfari” is the fact it still lacks the suffix syllable of “fari.” We still need to add the final syllable of “fari” to complete the whole word, “Mundil-fari,” as written in the Poetic and Prose Eddas.

Therefore, let us proceed to break down “Mundilfari” into its alternative syllables of “Mund-il” and “Mun-dil,” as provided by Halderson.  We can then conclude with viewing Halderson’s definition of the last syllable, “fari.”

Mund-il-far

Halderson provides a division of the syllables in Mundilfari’s name.  In the Icelandic Lexicon, Halderson breaks down the name, “Mundilfari” into, “á mund, il et far” (Vol. II, pg. 90).  The “á” and “et” are Latin, indicated by Halderson’s use of italic script.  “á” means “from” (see more below) and “et” means “and” (Glosbe).  Note that Halderson does not complete the name with “fari,” but rather “far.” We will inspect this later.

There are two separate definitions in the Icelandic Lexicon for “Mund.”  The first is, “manus” (Vol. II, pg. 90).  In Latin, “manus,” simply means, “hand,” (Glosbe).  Halderson even offers the alternative Danish translation of “ℌaanծ.”  Tolley notes this in his article, Mundil- may be related to mund, ‘hand’, or mund, ‘time’; there may even be a play on both senses, accounting for the uniqueness of the name.[12]  The inference being, “the hand of time.”  Tolley refers to an intentional, “play on both senses,” of “hand” being associated with the “handle” of a mill, and “time” being associated with the time calculated by rotation of the starry sky, because it is common for the Norse to make plays on words.

Mund,” as the alternative for “hand,” Halderson presents another definition with multiple options.  The first option is, “tempus indefinitum” (Ibid.), which means, “Time indefinite” (Glosbe).  But he adds the second option of “circa eo tempora.”  Translated contextually means, “concerning (circa) passing (eo) [of] time (tempora)” (Ibid.).  “Tempora” also means, “circumstances of a certain period or era in time” (Ibid.).  That would imply not just the “time” of events, but the “timing” of events.[13]  Furthermore, “eo” has the added connotation of “advance” or “pass (time)” (Whitaker).  The “á” in Latin Halderson introduces “Mund” with refers to “from…remote origin/time.”[14]  So, “á Mund” taken collectively means: circumstances that occur over time from remote origins as an era advances or passes.  “Mund” also has the definition in Old Norse of “protector,” or “guardian” or “tutelage” in Old Frisian (Nordic Names).  “Tutelage” means, “the state of being under a guardian or tutor” i.e. a guardian teacher.[15]  It may sound excessive to include the Norse and Frisian connotations with the Icelandic.  However, as stated above, what happens in the mind of each author, their cultural perspective or orientation, affects what is “meant.”   Translators struggle to render “one word” in a primary language for “one word” in a foreign language.  As the reader can see above, sometimes it takes multiple words in foreign language like Latin to render one word in a primary language like Icelandic.  So, we must include what happens in the Norse mind when they would hear the one word “Mund.”  That is true because very often Norse thinking packed or compressed multiple ideas into one expression.  Unpacking those imbedded meanings was part of the fun the Norse culture had in the word games of their riddles.  Therefore, if we take the connotations of Norse, Frisian, and Icelandic definitions together, “Mund” would mean: Guardian teacher of circumstances that occur over time from remote origins as an era advances or passes.  That is a profound insight if I may say so.”il” is the second syllable.  Halderson defines “il” specifically as, “planta pedis” in Latin, which we saw above in the definition of “Mundilfari,” has the meaning, a “planted sole of a foot” (Glosbe).  But, because he gives the additional movement of the foot “rotating” (rotans) in his definition of “Mundilfari,” he is attempting to be consistent with his prior definition by relying on the obscure idiom of a “planted foot” implying that it rotates under the entire sky to perceive it in a moment of time.  However, the “movement” of a rotating foot may become clearer with the addition of the last syllable “far.”  At this point, it means, the “planted sole of a foot.” Add this definition of “il” to the meaning of “Mund” given above, the translation of “Mund-il” would be: Guardian teacher of circumstances that occur in a moment of time from remote origins viewed on a planted foot as an era advances or passes.

Far” is the final syllable Halderson parses out from “Mundilfari.”   He only cites, “far,” not “fari,” as the name is written.   Let us see why.  “Far” according to Halderson is defined as “vestigium” in Latin (Vol. I, pg. 195).  “Vestigium” means “step” or “footstep” (Glosbe).  Therefore, Halderson appears to be translating “il,” as one foot is planted (“planta pedis”), while “far,” the other foot is stepping (“vestigium”).  Stepping with one foot while the other foot is planted would result in rotating (rotans) on the planted foot, which is consistent with his full definition of “Mundilfari.”  Add this definition of “far” to the meaning of “Mund” and “il” given above, the translation of “Mund-il-far” would be: Guardian teacher of circumstances that occur in a moment of time from remote origins viewed on a rotating planted foot as an era advances or passes.  We know from his definition of “Mundilfari” the word “era” refers to a period of time that passes in the “starry sky” (caelum).  Nevertheless, the final definition of “Mundilfar” would be:

Guardian teacher of circumstances that occur in time from remote origins viewed on a rotating planted foot as an era advances or passes.

However, we know that the complete spelling of the name is, “Mundilfari,” not “Mundilfar.”  Therefore, let us continue the pursuit of the alternative rendering of Mundil-fari’s syllables.

Mun-dil-fari

The alternative parsing of the name “Mundilfari” reveal more information that is useful for understanding who he is and what he does.  The second option of breaking down “Mundilfari” into syllables is “Mun-dil-fari.”  That is, with the last syllable “fari” intact.  Since Halderson does not parse the syllables in this way, it is a less confident approach, except for the suffix “fari.”  However, the possible word play occurring in the mind of the Norse listener from this alternative break down is compelling.  Anybody who is experienced in Norse/Icelandic poetry knows a skilled poet could have intentionally wanted these options to occur in the minds of his listeners. With that caveat, we will continue.

Mun,” according to Halderson means, “verbum auxiliare futurum.”  Translated from Latin means, “Words assisting [the] future” (Glosbe).  Halderson adds the optional connotation for “verbum” as “scribam,” which means “writing” (Glosbe).  So, another way to translate his meaning is, “Writings assisting [the] future.”  I submit that “words assisting the future” can be a way of referring to “predictions.”  The word “predictions” literally means, to “foretell” the future.  Foretelling can be done with words or writing.

Furthermore, scholars agree that the syllable “Mun” implies “memory,” as in the root of Odin’s raven, “Munin.”[16]  The consensus translation of “Munin” is “memory”[17] or “remembrance.”[18]  So, “Mun” does not just mean any “words” or “writings” to assist the future, but words written to “memorize” or “remember” events to assist in future considerations or predicted events.  In this case, he writes down what he sees in the starry sky to memorize or remember future predictions.  Halderson’s use of the word “futurum” (future) combined with the root meaning of “Mun” being “memory” (past) correlates with the syllable “Mund” being association with indefinite “time” (tempus indefinitum), including the past and future.  That is just like the Norns of destiny using the Past (Urd) and Present (Verdandi) to predict the Future (Skuld).

So, a collective definition of “Mun” would be, “Written memories assisting the future.” Or, “Writing memories of future predictions.”

Dil,” comes from “Dili,” which, according to Halderson, means “punctum” in Latin, which translated means, a “point of time,” “moment,” or “period” of time (Glosbe).  So, here again we see the central syllable relates to “time” just like the first syllable of “Mun” (memory) or “Mund” (eras of Time).  Since meanings of words often have to be contextually defined, in context, this syllable and meaning have the strength of concatenated overlapping consistency.   Add this definition of “Dil” to “Mun” and the translation of “Mun-dil” would be, “Written memories of points of time assisting the future” or “Writing memories of points of time for future predictions.

 Fari

Here we finally get to “Fari.”  Halderson provides two separate definitions of “Fari.”

  1. Halderson translates “Fari” as “viator” ( I, pg. 197). In Latin, “viator” means “traveler: one who travels” or “messenger: one who brings messages” (Glosbe).

Here is where the translators of Nordic Names or Wikipedia get the “movement” in their definition of “Mundilfari” as “the one moving according to particular times (?).”  “Movement” and “times” seem to be the primary elements of their definition.  Yet, we have seen above, the Icelandic translation, of “Mund-il” and “Mun-dil” are related to “time” with little more “movement” than rotating on a planted foot.  So, the option of a “traveler” seems strained, since a “traveler” would not get very far rotating (rotans) in circles on a planted foot (planta pedis).

Even if a mythologist wanted to present the idea that Mundifari travels as he pushes the World Mill around in circles would be a stretch beyond the mythic account.  That is true, since the “lesser mill” of the underworld, “situated at the entrance of Hel” is pushed around by “false_faced women” also described as “dark women” (Sólarljóð, St. 57-58).[19]  Or, two giantesses, named “Fenja and Menja” of Frodi’s magical Mill (Grottosöngr, St. 1-3).[20]  While the “greater mill” of the starry sky is pushed by “nine brides of skerries” who are located “Beyond the Earth’s last outskirt” (Skaldskaparmal, XXV, “Snæbjorn”).[21]  In every case females are the ones pushing mills, not males.  Therefore, Mundilfari oversees the operation of the World Mill, but he does not engage in the “travel” of pushing it himself.

Therefore, I submit the alternative translation of “viator” being a “messenger: one who brings messages,” as the preferred translation.  It still has the implied movement of a messenger who “brings” a message, but it is the purpose and value of his message that provides a coherent translation.  For if we add the definition of “Fari” as “messenger” (viator) to the those of “Mun-dil” provided above, the translation of Mundilfari would be: “Messenger of written memories of points of time assisting the future” or “Messenger writing memories of points of time for predictions of the future.”

  1. However, Halderson also offers a separate definition in Latin of “Fari” as “commeatus, vectura conducta” (Vol. I, pg. 197). In Latin, “commeatus,” means, “passing back and forth” with “stores” or “supplies” (Glosbe).

So, what “supplies” are being “passed back and forth”?  In the context of the other syllables that would be the supplies of written memories.  In context of the alternative definition of “Fari” being “messenger,” this makes complete sense.  That is, while the previous definitions of “Mun” and “Dil” provide the content of what the traveling messenger possesses.  That is, written memories of predictions.  Furthermore, the idea of a “messenger” confirms the idea compressed in the syllable, “Mund” of a “teacher” or “tutor.”  For what does a teacher do, but convey “messages” to his or her listeners?

The words “vectura conducta” are offered as a secondary option by Halderson. “Vectura” means, to “bear” or to “convey” (Whitaker).  In other words, to “transport: human-directed movement of things or people between locations” (Glosbe).  “Conducta” means, “to collect, assemble, unite” things of “profitable” advantage (Whitaker).  So, “vectura conducta” together means, “to transport or convey profitable things collected.”  What profitable things are being collected and transported?  From the context of “Mun” and “Dil” those would be “written memories of predictions.”

To Halderson’s credit, the words “Commeatus” and “Vectura conducta” do not differ in meaning.  Appropriately, they say the same thing using other words.  A collective definition of all four words would be “a messenger (viator) passing back and forth stores of [messages] (commeatus) conveying (vectura) profitable things (conducta).”  Or, more simply, “A messenger passing back and forth stores of messages conveying profitable things.”  Put that together with the summary translation of “Mun” and “Dil” and the translation of Mun-dil-fari would be:

A Messenger writing and storing memories of points of time to convey profitable predictions of the future.

Summarizing

 We are now ready to view the translations we have concluded for each option of how to define “Mundilfari.”

  1. Mundilfari: The entire starry sky viewed in a moment by rotating on a planted foot.
  2. Möndull: The wheel of the sky rotating around an axis represented by the operation of the grindstone wheel handle.
  3. Mund-il-far: Guardian teacher of circumstances that occur in time from remote origins viewed on a rotating planted foot as an era advances or passes.
  4. Mun-dil-fari: A Messenger writing and storing memories of points of time to convey profitable predictions of the future.

We can now begin to summarize and compress these alternatives with their connotations into one coherent definition of “Mundilfari.”

  1. Mundifari: The entire starry sky viewed in a moment by rotating on a planted foot.  The words, “in a moment by rotating on a planted foot” are superfluous at this point.  So, we can remove them. “How” we see the starry sky is not as relevant as “what” we are attempting to see.  So, this definition can be reduced to “the starry sky.”
  1. Möndull: The wheel of the sky rotating around an axis represented by the operation of the grindstone wheel handle. Again, we see “the sky” being the primary target of meaning.  The “wheel” of the sky or the “grindstone wheel handle” are just poetic ways to represent the sky as a giant World Mill operated by a Miller.  Those poetic allusions may tie the name to the myths, but they do not help in the actual meaning of the name, which is “the starry sky” and its Miller.  Since we already have “the starry sky” identified in the definition of “Mundilfari” we can absorb together that aspect of the two into one. Regarding the allusion to the “mill-handle” we still do not know from this definition what this “miller” is actually producing with his “mill.”  Therefore, we can set that aspect aside, while keeping in mind its poetic inferences. The result would be again, “the starry sky.”
  1. Mund-il-far: Guardian teacher of circumstances that occur in time from remote origins viewed on a rotating planted foot as an era advances or passes. Here we have some valuable insights of what the “miller” is actually up to with his World Mill. We know what he is viewing on his “rotating foot” from the definition of Mundilfari and Möndull, namely, “the starry sky.”  He is viewing the sky over time as it advances or passes to identify circumstances he can gather and teach while guarding their value. Again, “how” he views the starry sky (on a rotating planted foot) is not as relevant as “what” he is doing with what he sees.  So, we can remove the references to his foot for simplicity, while leaving it implied.  If we compress the auxiliary references modifying “time,” namely, “from remote origins” and “as an era advances or passes,” simply to “over time,” then we can compact the definition even more.   Finally, the words “guardian teacher” can be reduced to one word, “teacher,” for the simple fact that a “teacher” is also the “guardian” of his knowledge.  The result of combining these reductions would be: “Teacher of circumstances that occur over time viewed in the starry sky.”
  1. Mun-dil-fari: A Messenger writing and storing memories of points of time to convey profitable predictions of the future. This definition provides the implied content of what “circumstances” the “teacher” is “guarding” in order to “convey” as a message, “writings of predictions stored in memory.”  If we take the idea of a “messenger” and unite it with the idea of a “teacher,” then we can reduce repetition while leaving it implied.  For Mundilfari is not just a “messenger” between two parties, rather, he is the author and writer of the message he obtains from observing the starry sky.  That elevates him to a “teacher,” if not a “professor,” rather than a mere “messenger.”  “Conveying” can also be fused with “teacher,” because a “teacher” must convey his or her thoughts to “teach.”   The words, “storing memories” can also be condensed into a single word, “memories.”  For all memories are stored or you simply cannot “remember.”  The words, “profitable predictions of the future,” can be coalesced into one word, “predictions.”  For all “predictions” apply to the future and all accurate predictions can be “profitable” for decision making, whether they be for good or bane.  The words “points of time” can be summarized like the preceding definition of “over time” while retaining the implications that there are “moments of time” and “points of time” that occur “in time” but are collected together “over time.”

The ultimate definition of “Mundilfari” with all its connotations in compression can therefore be conceived as:

“Teacher of predictions written over time from memories of viewing the starry sky.”

Conclusions

What do we call a person who watches the starry sky to obtain predictions to teach others?  If a person who oversees a millstone to grind out flour is a “Miller,” then a person who oversees a mill of the starry sky to write predictions for others is an “Astrologer.”[22]

I submit to the reader, the difference between an “astronomer” and an “astrologer” is magic.  An astrologer knows the magic of how the patterns in the stars benefit our lives or can mark out our doom.  I submit Mundilfari is a magical being, if not a divine being,[23] who guards the memories of how the stars and their patterns apply to everything, including the destiny of the world.  I submit his associates, if not relatives, are the Norns who use the past, the present, and the future to make their decrees.  They determine the destinies of the all beings, gods and mortals, giants and elves, even the world.  That is true from the doom of Odin by Fenris’ jaws predicted and therefore “known” by the Norns up to the doom of world with all the elder gods and giants in Ragnarok.  If they determine those destinies, then he is the writer to remember those destinies and uses the stars to predict or mark the points of time for their fulfillment.

Now we may ask, “With what script does he write?”  I submit the only written script our ancestors used in ancient times were “runes.”  Therefore, the magical Mundilfari recorded the memories of predictions in magical runes.  Therefore, the runes, may be related in some ways to the stars or constellations in their movement.

Indeed, the Old English rune poem of the rune, “Tiwaz,” says, “(Tir) is a star, it keeps faith well with athlings [= princes], always on its course over the mists of night it never fails.”[24]  The only star “always on its course” is the North Star.  That is, the polar star on which the World Mill of the starry sky rotates, and which sailors and travelers use for guidance.  The Old Norse rune poem for “Sowilo,” says, “(Sun) is the light of the land; I bow to the holiness” (Ibid. pg.49).  The last word “holiness” in the poem is “dómi,” which is translated elsewhere as “divine decree.”[25]  So, there is a “divine decree” associated with the sun.  So, we see two runes are related to celestial bodies, namely the North Star and the sun.  The summer and winter solstices and the spring and fall equinoxes can be calculated by using the sun.  Using the North Star and the Spring Equinox one can calculate the progression of the constellations.  There are two other runes: “Yera,” from which we get the English word “year” (Thorrson, pg. 41), and “Dagaz,” which in English means “day” (Ibid. pg. 63).  These are time runes that use the sun to define them.  So, there are clearly two celestial runes and two time runes.  There are deeper implications of other runes, but those are sufficient to show a relationship between runes, time, and the starry sky.

Furthermore, if Mundifari was there at the same time as Odin, Villi, and Ve to grind down the body of Ymir, and he was father of the Sun and the Moon, then he is a primordial being on the level of divine rank.[26]  Also, if the assertion that he wrote with the runes is correct, that means he knew the runes before Odin, who only discovered them later when he hung on the World Tree.[27]

One more point, if Mundilfari was there with Odin, Villi, and Ve, grinding the body of Ymir, “ages before the earth was made” (Vafthrudnismal: St. 35), before the sun and moon and stars were set in their courses (Voluspa: St. 3-5), and Mundilfari was writing them down as they were set, furthermore, if Mundilfari was indeed of “divine rank,” then Mundifari was the first of astrologers, yea, the father and god of astrology.

In conclusion, Mundilfari deserves more investigation beyond the scope of this writing.

 

By Andrew Webb/Asadrew Gothi,

Kindred Kreators & Odin’s Kindred,

© May 28, 2018

[1] Source: https://www.nordicnames.de/wiki/Mundilfari, website cited hereafter as “Nordic Names.”

[2] The Norn of the Past is “Urd.” The Norn of the Present is “Verdandi.”  The Norn of the Future is “Skuld.” (The Prose Edda, Young’s translation, pg. 44).

[3] Translations of Latin are obtained from, Latin to English, Glosbe.com, hereafter (Glosbe), unless otherwise noted. The first translation of “caelum” is “sky,” the “heavens” is second.

[4] Poetic Edda, Hollander translation, Vafthrudnismal, Stanza 23, pg. 46; Prose Edda, Young translation, pg. 38

[5] Poetic Edda, Hollander’s, Vafthrudnismal, St. 25, pg. 46; Prose Edda, Young’s, pg. 38.

[6] Teutonic Myths and Legends, Donald Mackenzie, pgs. 4-5.

[7] Book by Viktor Rydberg, “Teutonic Mythology: Gods and Goddesses of the Northland.” (1907), Vol. II, Pg. 565.  Hereafter cited as (Rydberg).  (Source: http://www.unilibrary.com/ebooks/Rydberg,%20Viktor%20-%20Teutonic%20Mythology.%20Gods%20and%20Goddesses%20of%20the%20Northland%202.pdf:)

[8] See the heading, “Mundilfoeri.” Hereafter cited as (Tolley). (Source:http://www.germanicmythology.com/original/cosmology5.html#_ftn14)

[9] University of Notre Dame, William Whitaker’s Words, “rotarum”. Hereafter cited as (Whitaker). Source: http://archives.nd.edu/words.html.

[10] See, Tolley, under titles: “Mundilfoeri” & “Comparison,” and, Rydberg, pgs. 582-583.

[11] Tolle, under the title: “Comparison”.

[12] Tolley citing “Cleasby and Vigfusson (1957, s. v. Mundil-föri)” under title, “Mundilfoeri.”

[13] It has been submitted that Mundifari is not the “Lord of Time,” but rather the “Lord of Timing,” (Mark Webb, Mundifari-Priest, 5/6/2018).

[14] Whitaker, “a”, third definition meaning: “from (departure, cause, remote origin/time).”

[15] Merriam Webster’s Dictionary. Source: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tutelage

[16] Odin’s raven, “Munin,” is actually spelled, “Muninn.” (See: The Parallel translation of the Icelandic beside the English at: (http://www.germanicmythology.com/ProseEdda/BRODEURPrologeandGylfaginning.html).  The suffix stem, “-inn,” of “Mun-inn” is simply the definite article, “the,” attached to the root prefix “Mun” (See, Viking Language I, Jesse Byock, pg. 66).  In other words, “Muninn,” means “The-Mun.” See above for the definition of “Mun.”

[17] E.g. Young’s, Prose Edda, pg. 63; Carolyne Larrington’s, The Poetic Edda, pg. 338.

[18] Hollander’s, Poetic Edda, pg. 57.

[19] Sólarljóð by Brodeur, source: http://www.germanicmythology.com/works/songofthesun.html & Rydberg, “Fickle-wise (svipvisar, heathen) women of dark complexion turned the mill.” pg. 578.

[20] Grottosöngr by Green, source: http://www.germanicmythology.com/PoeticEdda/Grottosongr1908GReene.html & Rydberg, pg. 567.

[21] Skáldskaparmál by Brodeur: http://www.germanicmythology.com/ProseEdda/BRODEURSkaldskaparmal.html & Rydberg, “The strophe says that the mill is in motion out on the edge of the earth, that nine giant-maids turn it (for the lesser Grotte-mill two were more than sufficient), that they had long ground with it, that it belongs to a skerry very dangerous to seafaring men, and that it produces a peculiar grist.” pgs. 568-569.

[22] Conclusion by Mark Webb, Mundifari-Priest (5/6/2018).  Mark Webb associated the activities of Mundilfari with the Biblical prophet Daniel.  Daniel was the “master of the magician” in ancient Babylon (Dan. 4:8-9), who exceeded in his “wisdom and understanding…ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers” in Babylon (Dan. 1:17-20).  I submit, if Mundilfari was there with Odin, Villi, and Ve, grinding the body of Ymir, “ages before the earth was made” (Vafthrudnismal: St. 35), before the sun and moon and stars were set in their courses (Voluspa: St. 3-5), and Mundilfari was writing them down as they were set, furthermore, if Mundilfari was of “divine rank,” then Mundifari was the first of astrologers, yea, the father and god of astrology.  The implications cascade through my mind.

[23] Rydberg himself states, “As the father of Sol and Mane, Mundilfore was a being of divine rank,” pg. 583.

[24] Edred Thorsson, At the Well of Wyrd, pg. 51.  Hereafter, Thorsson.

[25] Jan Fries, Helrunar: a manual of rune magic, pg.380.

[26] Rydberg, “Mundilfore was a being of divine rank,” pg. 583.

[27] Poetic Edda, Holland translation, Havamal: St. 138-139, (pg. 36).

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