Loki’s Guide to Norse Mythology: Valhalla

 

I think my first exposure to Valhalla was hearing Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song on the radio (yes, radio, I’m old). You know the one, it starts with Robert Plant doing this: “Ahhhhahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhahhhhhhhhh!”

Of course, growing up near the U.S. border, I thought they were saying “Walhalla“, and wondered why they were screaming about North Dakota.

What they actually meant, was the enormous hall where Odin housed the souls of those who died in combat. These souls, gathered by the All-Father’s Valkyrie–his Choosers of the Slain–awaited Ragnarök and another battle. The last battle. They would fight jötnar and the forces of Hel herself.

It’s a weird coincidence that Valhalla is today’s post. Originally, it wasn’t meant to be. But I like that things turned out this way. Serendipity. Tonight is the launch of Thunder Road. Tonight I take my book out in search of glory. Immortality. Or, at the very least, one hell of a good time.

Valhalla, I am coming.

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Loki’s Guide to Norse Mythology: Midgard

The action in Thunder Road takes place on Midgard, the realm of the Nine Worlds in Norse mythology that is the home of humanity. You know, Earth.

But what is it about Earth that makes it so attractive to the gods? Why are they constantly coming down and mucking around with us mere mortals? Maybe they feel that because they made the world, they are entitled to play with it and everyone and everything upon it. Maybe they just want to appreciate a job they felt was well done.

Every mythology has its own creation story for Earth. In Norse Myth, Midgard was formed from the blood and bones of the primordial giant, Ymir, by Odin and his brothers. The gods built a fence from Ymir’s eyebrows at the edge of Midgard to keep the giants from invading the home of men (fences do make for good neighbours, after all). Surrounding Midgard was a great, impassable ocean that became the home to Loki’s son, Jormungandur, AKA the Midgard Serpent, a being so vast he could circle the world to bite his own tail.

Beyond Midgard are the other eight worlds in Norse myth; Jötunheim, realm of the giants; Alfheim, realm of the elves; Asgard, home to the Aesir gods; the underworld of Hel, named for Loki’s daughter, among them. With these realms and more to choose from, why have Thunder Road start out on boring old Earth, let alone in Manitoba?

No fence, no matter who built it, can keep everything out. If you get a couple hours north of Winnipeg you can hide anything–we still have wilderness. Manitoba has lake serpent sightings, sasquatch sightings, numerous reported hauntings. If you look at our folklore, the monsters are already here.

Then there is Manitoba’s large community of people of Icelandic descent. Manitoba has a rural municipality named Bifrost, Bifrost also being the name of the rainbow bridge that connected Midgard to Asgard. In the myths, Gimlé, also known as Gimli, is the place where the survivors of Ragnarök are said to live; “the most beautiful place on Earth”. I’m sure folks who summer at their cottages in Gimli, Manitoba would agree.

So I had lots of reasons to write about “boring old Earth”, but that doesn’t mean the story will always stay there.