Asgard is the home of the Æsir gods and the location of Valhalla. Many of the stories of the Norse gods take place in Asgard.
What does Asgard mean in English?
The word Asgard comes from the Old Norse Ásgarðr. Translated literally into English, Asgard means “enclosure of the Æsir gods.” The most common definition is “dwelling place of the Norse gods.”
Asgard shares many similarities with the Greek home of the gods, Mount Olympus. This world is gloriously scenic and filled with lush rolling hills, abundant water, and a clear sight of the world below.
From his place in Asgard, the Norse god Odin can see all that happens in Midgard, the dwelling place of humans.
Is Asgard Norse Heaven?
While slain Viking warriors who died in battle would be brought to one of two places in Asgard by the Valkyries, Asgard is not technically Norse heaven.
Even Valhalla, the hall where half the Viking warriors were taken after death, does not fit the traditional concept of heaven. Rather than a land of eternal rest, it is the place where heroes resided with Odin until Ragnarök.
Even though there are a lot of similarities, the description of Asgard in the Prose Edda, the Poetic Edda, and other story traditions don’t support a connection between Asgard and the Christian idea of heaven.
Like many pre-Christianity faith traditions, people from the Viking age generally went to the realm of the dead. In Norse mythology, this realm is known as Helheim and is ruled by the goddess Hel. Entrance into Asgard was granted only to those chosen by the Valkyries.
The Norse religion continued well into the 11th century. Despite the rapid spread of Christianity, the Norse people fought against conversion for over three centuries. They maintained their faith traditions, with many vikings quietly practicing their faith until the latter part of the 12th century when Norse gods were reduced to ancient folklore, and their temples and statues were destroyed.
Which gods live in Asgard?
In Norse myths, the gods belong to two tribes–the Æsir and the Vanir. The Vanir gods live in Vanaheim. Like Asgard, Vanaheim is one of the nine realms surrounding the world tree Yggdrasil.
Does Asgard exist in reality?
While some believe that Asgard could be the fabled city of Troy, there is no evidence that Asgard existed in real life. Asgard existed in an area surrounding an ancient world tree that was large enough to cradle nine worlds.
Like many ancient cultures, the people of Scandinavia have rich traditions that go back generations. These stories and legends are not based on science but taught through allegory, much like fables.
The tales of the Norse gods were passed down through generations. In the 13th century, Icelandic scholar Snorri Sturluson compiled these tales in the Prose Edda. Sturluson placed the location of Asgard in the center of Midgard, or Earth.
Regardless of beliefs, Asgard was never a real place outside the Norse myths.
What happens to Asgard during Ragnarök?
Ragnarök was a cataclysmic event that brought forth the end of the world of both men and gods. While Loki instigated Ragnarök, the fire giant Surtr led the attack on the Asgardians. By the time the battle ended, everything in the universe was destroyed, including Asgard.
But the world tree Yggdrasil held a secret deep inside its trunk. Lif and Lifthrasir were the only humans to survive Ragnarök. After the submerged ruins of the world were reborn anew, Lif and Lifthrasir emerged from Yggdrasil and repopulated the new world.