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Midgard, or Jormungand

Jormungand

Of the descendants of the Norse god Loki, Jormungand is definitely the largest – namely in size. In the form of a great serpent, he encircles the castle of Midgard, created from the eyebrows of the giant Ymir. After Midgard, Jormungand is also called the Midgard Serpent, or Midgard for short. That's to keep the names straight.

Midgard, the castle (or Middle World in English) was originally a fortress in the center of the earth, located between the heavens and the underworld, surrounded by the ocean where Jormungand lived. As the world grew larger, so did the serpent; no matter where the borders moved, there was still the sea. Not just for the Norsemen. Until it came to be thought that the gods threw Jormungand into the world's ocean, where he stretched around in circles as was his custom.

Let's go back for a moment to the arrangement of the world according to the Norse myths. One version of it.

Below, as almost everywhere, was the realm of the dead, Helheim, Above, of course, was the heavens with their sun and moon gods, stars, clouds, and other weather influences. And in between, a whole line of worlds. Midgard you already know, is surrounded by the ocean with the serpent Jormungand. But beyond the sea was not the end of the world, but a realm called Utgard, the land of giants. Or a whole series of worlds, Jotunheim, the land of the ice giants, Nidavellir, the realm of the dwarves, Svartalfheim, the land of the dark elves. A little higher up stands Ásgard, the known home of the warrior gods, and Vanaheim, the home of the more peaceful deities. And more and more, the Norse world was pretty well divided.

Now back to Midgard, the serpent. Mention has already been made of parents and siblings. Jormungand's father (not mother, as in the case of Sleipnir) was Loki, and his mother was the giantess Angrboda. The serpent had two siblings who at least equal him in glory, a brother Fenrir, the great wolf who bites Odin himself at Ragnarök, and a sister Hel, goddess of death and ruler of Helheim, the Underworld. The Midgard serpent is quite peaceful in comparison, lying on the ocean floor, meeting its own tail. But it wouldn't be a child of Loki if it didn't wait for an opportunity – just as Fenrir kills the High God in his final battle, Jormungand has Thor as his target. The two have enough unfinished business past and present, with Thor having attempted (unsuccessfully) to dispose of the serpent several times in a sort of preemptive manner. It never quite worked, he only saved a number of sailors, so death awaits him thanks to Jormungand's poison after all.

 

Midgard: Unknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

1.7.2024 (9.11. 2003)

Uwibami

A giant dragon (according to other sources, a snake) that once flew in the Japanese sky. This would not have mattered, given all that was crossing the Japanese sky at the time if the Uwibami had not launched dive attacks in which it pulled riders from their saddles and devoured them.

This, of course, displeased many people, but the one who finally got the better of the dragon was named Yegara-no-Heida.

1.7.2024 (16.11. 2003)

Aeternitas

This snake comes from the Apennine Peninsula for a change. Aeternitas is the personification of immortality (the Romans were experts at personification) and is usually depicted as a snake eating its own tail. Which is, of course, an ancient symbol of infinity and eternal life. This snake was called Uroboros (Ouroboros) later. Before I say a few words about him, I note that Aeternitas also personified immortality by being reborn from his own ashes, after the manner of the phoenix bird.

Uroboros was originally imagined to be a circular river, flowing into itself or an all-enveloping ocean (the Greek Okeanos being an example); under Roman influence, the idea of an endless serpent prevailed. The undulations of the reptilian body and the movement of the waves are not so far apart. In medieval Europe, the Uroboros became a symbol not only of immortality but of everything that a circle can radiate, the beginning and the end or infinity. Alchemists in particular took it as their own.

1.7.2024 (16.11. 2003)

Dewi

An ancient Celtic god who, in one form, gave Wales its emblem – the red dragon, which you can see on the Welsh flag. The legend is quite well known, as it features the figures of Vortigern and Myrddin Emrys (Merlin in English, of course).

The latter, in his childhood years, as an unknown bastard, showed King Vortigern, according to a prophecy, two dragons residing under the foundations of the future mansion. Red and white, the red one Celtic, the white one Saxon, and when they awoke, one destroyed the other. How the king dealt with the prophecy is well enough known, Uther Pendragon killed Vortigern, then Arthur was born and the knights sat down at the Round Table. And the story continues...

Certain is that the original legend is indeed Celtic, and you don't read about the Holy Grail in it. Like this legend, and like many other pagan gods, Dewi changed in the Middle Ages, and today you will find him as St David (Dewi), the patron saint of Wales.

1.7.2024 (16.11. 2003)

 

 

 

 

"Things just happen. What the hell."
Didaktylos*
* Terry Pratchett. Hogfather

 

Welcome to my world. For the longest time I couldn’t think of right name for this place, so I left it without one. Amongst things you can find here are attempts of science fiction and fantasy stories, my collection of gods, bogeymen and monsters and also articles about things that had me interested, be it for a while or for years. (There is more of this, sadly not in English but in Czech, on www.fext.cz)

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