The homeworlds of norse cosmogony


As you probably know, the Norse cosmogony speaks of nine homeworlds, that are - from North to South - as follows:

1. Múspellsheimr: World of Muspell (fire, in the south)
2. Álfheimr: World of the Ljósálfr ('light elf')
3. Vanaheimr: World of the Vanir
4. Goðheimr: World of the Æsir which contains Ásgarðr (Asgard)
5. Manheimr: World of the Maðr ('human')
6. Jǫtunheimr: World of the Jǫtunn ('giant')
7. Svartálfaheimr: World of the Svartálfar ('dark elves', aka Dvergar 'dwarves')
8. Helheimr: World of Hel (the realm of the dead)
9. Niflheimr: World of Nifl (arctic 'mist' and ice, in the north)

I wonder why the human world is in the center... Do you think the Norse people considered humans to be somehow protected by the other homeworlds? Or is the human world the most important?


The human world is almost always on the central plane or in the middle of an multi-layered cosmology.

Geographically it makes some sense for the warmer and happier realms to be south of the Norse environment, and the especially harsh uninhabitable places further north. Humans get the balance of good weather and are the center of interaction for the people of the other worlds.

Mayan cosmology places us at the center trunk of the world tree with its branches and roots extending into the upper and lower worlds.

Older Catholic cosmology popularized by Dante had humans on Earth at the center plane, the heavenly bodies and angels in spheres in the upper world, and the levels of Hell beneath us.

Why are we always at the center? Every map requires a reference point. We make the maps, and we are the reference point.


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