Is about what supported the world understanding of a civilization that ours still likes to consider as "barbaric". A story of a tangle of realms, inhabited by mythical creatures ruling the different aspects of Life, as nuanced and ever-changing as the sea.
It's the story of a Tree, central pillar and axis of this universe. A Tree, itself a poetic metaphor designating, without naming them, a human being.
Such is the great History of a people, who, before placing their faith in gods, claimed their trust in their "own might and capacity for success", with deeply-rooted feet and soaring imagination.
Norse mythology has built its cosmos around this Tree, Yggdrasill, which name litteraly means "Óðinn's courser". Is it the god riding the tree, or the human body being a vehicle for the divine spark to shine through ? Such a vast and topical question...
NINE REALMS ?
No written source decribes them in detail. One of the most beautiful eddic poems, Völuspá, composed aound 1000 AD, and Vafþrúðnismál, another eddic poem possibly dating from the early Xth century, fill us in on their number, without naming them all. Famous XIIIth century Icelandic mythographer and historian Snorri Sturluson compiles this knowledge in his prosaic Edda, but it is very likely that there already was some confusion regarding the nature of these worlds.
If we consider the different types of mythological beings, we can tentatively name these worlds.
- Miðgarðr, the human domain
- Ásgarðr, the realm of the Aesir gods and goddesses
- Vanaheimr, the world of the Vanir gods and goddesses
- Jötunheimr, the wilderness inhabited by giants and chaotic forces
- Niflheimr, a primordial realm of ice and mist, possibly mixed up with Niflhel or Hel (or even Helheimr), where the dead reside
- Múspell, or Múspellheimr, a primordial realm of fire
- Álfheimr, or Ljósálfheimr, the world of the Light Álfar
- Svartálfheimr, the dwelling of the Dark Álfar
- Niðavellir, the domain of the Dwarves, possibly confused with Svartálfheim in the case where Hel was a separate world from Niflheim.
THE LITTLE STORY
It's a couple's story, who enjoys handicrafts, getting inspired by this mythology, this iconography, and this incredible energy that woke the entire Europe up through the Viking Times.
Unlike countless other companies using these evocative names to promote products or concepts far removed from History or viking myths, we do come back, time and time again, to this fundamental and fascinating Yggdrasill of ours, which is the Norse world.
WHAT ABOUT THE VIKINGS ?
The true etymology of the word viking is still debated.
To begin with, the Northmen never referred to themselves as such... under a 13th century sagnamaðr's quill, the name came to designate, often in a derogatory way, a pirate. Who is, nowadays, such a tenacious part of our collective imagination.
In fact, "to go a-viking" is an activity. It designates the fact of going from marketplace to marketplace (latin "vicus") or from creek to creek (old-Norse "vík") or to journeyby taking rowing shifts (old-Norse "vika", literally sea-mile) to trade and sell the product of their craft, their farming, their hunting or fishing, and if lucky, their raids.