Saturday, 18 May 2013

The Continuity of the Gods after Ragnarok

The Eddas inform us that eight of the Aesir/Vanir survive the great cataclysm of Ragnarok.
These Gods are Widar, Wali, Magni, Mothi, Baeldag, Hothr, Hoenir and Njord. Seven of these Gods are Aesir and one a Van. There is no apparent record of any surviving Godesses. There are several reasons which may account for this: either none of them survive, no `significant` ones survive or they are not mentioned purely because of their gender. Maybe it is assumed that the divine consorts of these Gods will survive with them. I find it strange that as Baeldag is released from Hel where He resided with His wife Nanna and His brother Hothr yet His wife is not mentioned. Perhaps it is assumed that the reader would take this for granted that She was released from Hel with Her husband. We can only speculate.

Let us take a look at the portions of the Eddas which refer to the surviving Gods:

"The Aesir meet on Idavoll and they converse about the mighty Earth-girdler, and they  remember there the great events and the ancient runes of the Mighty One. There afterwards will be found in the grass the wonderful golden chequers, those which they possessed in the ancient times. Without sowing the fields will grow, all ills will be healed,......"[Voluspa 60-62, translator Carolyne Larrington]

So we know that a new Golden Age is coming when crops will grow without human intervention. The earth will presumably experience that age without seasons which it experienced before the polar shift.

".....Baldr will come back; Hod and Baldr, the gods of slaughter, will live happily together in the sage`s palaces-do you understand yet, or what more? "[Voluspa 62, Larrington]

An alternative version[Benjamin Thorpe] words the previous verse slightly differently::

"Unsown shall the fields bring forth, all evil shall be amended; Baldr shall come; Hoedr and Baldr, the heavenly gods, Hropt`s glorious dwellings shall inhabit. Understand ye yet, or what?"
According to Rudolf Simek`s Dictionary of Northern Mythology Hropt is another name for Odin. So in other words the Gods will inhabit Odin`s halls. Walhalla will survive! Its future function though is not clear.
We are told that Baeldag and Hothr will be reconciled as brothers. The light[Baeldag] will be reconciled to the night[Hothr] . In the Golden Age there will be no nights as there will be no winter. Thus there will be no further conflict between Baeldag and Hothr.

"Then Haenir will choose wooden slips for prophecy, and the sons of two brothers will inhabit, widely, the windy world-do you understand yet, or what more?[Voluspa 63, Larrington]

The Thorpe version refers to the "windy world" as Vindheim which may be a reference to the home of the Vanir who apart from Nerthus appear to have been exterminate by this point in the post-Ragnarok world. Interestingly Widar means the "wide ruling one". The " two sons of two brothers"  means of course cousins. Perhaps this is a collective expression for the Aesir who of course are related or maybe it refers to the two sets of brothers-Magni/Mothi and Widar/Wali. However technically Magni and Mothi are the nephews of Widar and Wali. This may allude to Thunor and Woden at one early point being equals-brothers rather than father and son. The later mythology as recorded in the Eddas places Thunor in a subservient relationship to the more recent Woden. Thunor`s authority was eclipsed in much but not all of the later Germanic world.

"A hall she sees standing, fairer than the sun, thatched with gold, at Gimle; there the noble lords will live and spend their days in pleasure."[Voluspa 64, Larrington]

The Thorpe version instead refers to these "noble lords" as "righteous people". So presumably these are humans faithful to the Gods not just the Gods alone?

Simok speculates that Gimle means "the place protected from fire". This realm is a heavenly place and lies in the third heaven[Vidblainn] and cannot be touched by Surt`s fires. Until Ragnarok it is inhabited by light elves.

"Then the powerful, mighty one, he who rules over everything, will come from above, to the judgement-place of the gods."[Voluspa 65, Larrington]

This is a reference of course to Guido von List`s "Der Starke von oben" who we Wodenists refer to as Wid-Ar, the conquering son of the sun, the Kalki Avatar, the Third Sargon who will avenge the death of his father Woden and bring judgement upon a degenerate and fallen mankind. Many, indeed most will perish on that day.  In Voluspa

Woden will continue in His sons, Widar, Wali and the resurrected Baeldag and Hothr. The role of lord of the Runes will fall upon Hoenir. Thunor`s legacy lives on in His sons Magni and Mothi who will possess His hammer, Mjolnir:

"Vidar and Vali will dwell in the gods` holy places when Surt`s flame goes dark. Modi and Magni shall have Miollnir when Vingnir fights no more."[Gylfaginning, translated by Anthony Faulkes]

Njord will return to His home of Vanaheim at Ragnarok and presumably survives:

"In Vanaheim the wise powers made him and gave him as hostage to the gods; at the doom of men he will come back home among the wise Vanir."[Vafthrudnir 39, Larrington]

There appears to be no other reference in the Eddas to Njord`s survival and neither is it explained what the background is to His return to Vanaheim unless it is on the basis that the conditions of the pact between the Aesir and Vanir had now been fulfilled, after all His son Freyr had died fighting on the side of the Aesir at Ragnarok. 

Apart from the aforementioned deities the Eddas tell us of the birth of a new sun from the old after Ragnarok:

Sol is a Goddess who personifies the sun and is referred to in may places in the Poetic or Younger Edda. Among the continental Germans She was known as Sunna[Second Merseburg Charm].  She shall have a daughter before Her destruction at Ragnarok. So in a sense there will be a Goddess who survives this cataclysm, the personified and deified sun! We could therefore bring the total known number of post-Ragnarok deities to nine, a magical and significant number in Germanic mythology.

"A daughter shall Alfrodul bear before Fenrir catches her. She shall ride, when the powers die, the maiden, her mother`s road."[Gylfaginning, Faulkes]

Alfrodul is referred to as "elf-disc" in Skaldskaparmal. The sun is always portrayed as a Goddess and not as a God in Germanic mythology because Her rays are not as sharp and destructive as in the hot and sweltering south. We thank Her for this.

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