The Nine Worlds Series: Niflheim

In Norse lore, Niflheim is one of the first of the Nine Worlds to emerge into being. Mist-Home is filled with icy mountains and glaciers. The entire realm seemed perilously high but that may be because of where I landed upon entering the world. Obviously, Niflheim is also frigidly cold. The whole world is bombarded with snow and wind, and heavy grey clouds hang in the sky. These were my observations on my first travel excursion to Niflheim nearly a year ago.

I’ve visited Nifl-World a few times since then. One foggy night nearly six months after my very first trip, I visited by astral home and from there made my way to Niflheim. I eventually found the road that I had been shown so many times before and I struggled to move at all. The snow was deep and frigid cold. The wind was howling and a storm was gathering. I made a tiny bit of progress along the way. As the storm gathered, I thought about seeking shelter and in an instant I ended up in a small cave that I think belonged to an ice giant or some other denizen of the realm. The owner of the home, such as it was, was nowhere in sight. The walls of the space were pale and a small window faced the gathering storm in the southwest. The room was warmer than the outdoors but I did not linger. I gathered myself and all of my accompanying parts and left post-haste. I desperately needed the warmth and took ease where I shouldn’t have.

When I returned to the road I paused to ask my guide why I was having so much trouble. I was incredibly frustrated with the lack of progress on this journey so I had to ask. My guide spoke of the sluggish nature of Isa and of the toilsome work embodied by Nauthiz. My journey through Niflheim having been supported by these two runic forces was mired in their might, for better or worse. My guide added that various parts of my soul are energetically compatible with Niflheim and other parts are less so which adds to my challenges with navigating this world.

After sharing these tidbits with me he showed me flashes of the Nifl-Giants, most slow moving and the oldest ones appearing completely unmoving to the naked eye, but all of them present and aware and active in their own way. I understood that they figure time, energy, and awareness differently than I do. What had felt like a literally glacial pace to me was just another hectic day to them.

In a previous divination session and another meditation I was told that my time in Niflheim would be lengthy. My guide’s comments about the flow of Nifl life helped me to see that basically I need to slow down and focus in order to get anywhere or do anything in Niflheim. Again time, energy, and everything are figured differently here. His call was not for the slow ease of a Caribbean vacation but for the careful, meditative engagement that comes through a wise mind sharply focused on a task – which is pretty slow if not “easy”.

After I received my guide’s rede I collected myself and returned to the middle world. I opened my eyes and gasped at the time because what had felt to me like a 30-minute astral journey had in fact been two hours.

When considering the runes that rule this world, a few came to mind. Mist-Home has strong Isa might of course, and Hagalaz factors prominently as well in the form of the cosmic seed. For humans, Nauthiz is a part of Niflheim too because it provides the needed spark of warmth, light, and life to deliver us from the Bone Chill of Mist-Home. I say Nauthiz instead of Kenaz because Nauthiz is is the red blinking emergency light to Kenaz’s warm white hall light. Nauthiz is the last light, the only light, the one standing between us and the teeming hordes of the yawning dark. Nauthiz is the warding force at the edge of the camp fire keeping the predators at bay.

When facing the challenges of Niflhiem, at the human scale of power, the Hrimthursar can’t be bested by overpowering (too much energy) or erosion (too much time). The Rime Thursar can’t be trampled over. They must be worked around or worked with, like mighty glaciers. Glaciers move extremely slowly and yet are powerful beyond compare. They are destructive and also creative – sculpting the continents and nourishing life on Earth for eons. Never forget, the first Well – Hverglmir – emanates from Niflheim.

After having been to Niflheim a few times, here’s some travel advice gained from a giantess I met on my first visit and from experience there after:

  1. Do not travel in human form. The mountains have eyes and humans are generally unwelcome in this realm.
  2. Do not use fire often. It may act as a beacon for woe.
  3. Do not wander in this world. One should be here with a purpose so stay on the road presented to you.
  4. Keep moving! Slow and steady.
  5. If challenged on the way, speak the name of the Power who protects you and under whose auspices you travels. If you are allied with no such being, reconsider your travel plans.
  6. Navigate the storms (and all of this world) with great care. It lives. I’ve found this to be just as true of the Eight Worlds as of our One World.

Blessed Travels!

A Stave of Ironwood

Finally…finally a staff has come to me, a stave of Ironwood wrestled from the etins of Fox Ridge. Unfortunately, I was not dressed for wrestling etins on the damp Saturday afternoon in late April when we went seeking (bad planning on my part, I know!) but Cindy was indeed clothed for the mighty work at hand. She fought as my champion and won this stave in my name.

A Winding Stave for the Winding Road

I will allow it to dry, probably until Yule, at which point in time I will strip the bark, rub the shorn staff with the appropriate protective oils to waterproof the wood (thanks for the woodworking tips, Cindy!). I hope to sain and consecrate the stave for journey-work and deity/spirit communication at the start of the 2011 Wild Hunt. I may even have a three or nine day blessing ceremony beginning in mid-December, just before or right on Mother Night and extending through the first few days of the Hunt. As part of the saining and consecration, I will add glass and gemstone beads (for my gods, the wights, and my ancestors), small bells (for warding and protection), and possibly some fur and/or bone from the animals that guide me on my path (Coyote and Crow, no Barn Owl inclusions due to legal restrictions). I also wish to carve or burn a few runes into the stave. Eihwaz is a common journey rune that I utilize often in my work. Elhaz is another, for protection and connection to deities and spirits. Ansuz for Old One-Eye, the original Wanderer (Gangleri and Vegtam are common epithets of Odin). Fehu or Kenaz for Freyja, the Spádis herself, Seidhkona of Seidhkonas. Berkana or Laguz (leaning toward Laguz) for Nerthus, Lady of Birch and Bog. And maybe, just maybe, a rune or three (Perthro, Nauthiz, and/or Hagalaz) for the Nornir, the executors of Wyrd. I will listen for each of their voices to see what they will.

Hail the Ironwood stave! May our journeys together be blessed!