The cosmology of Norse mythology – the places in which the action occurs and their arrangement, you could say – is primarily an invisible, spiritual otherworld, although it overlapped with the Vikings’ physical world in a few cases. The Norse cosmology shares much in common with the cosmologies of other northern Eurasian shamanic traditions, but it presents a unique take on those shared patterns.[1][2]

In the center of the cosmos is the trunk of the mighty, sprawling world-tree Yggdrasil. Within its branches and roots it holds the Nine Worlds, the homelands of the various kinds of invisible beings who populate the Norse otherworld, as well as the world of mankind. While the surviving period sources never explicitly list the homelands that comprise the Nine Worlds, the list can be tentatively reconstructed as follows:

  • Midgard, the home of humanity and human civilization
  • Asgard, the world of the Aesir tribe of gods and goddesses
  • Hel, the world of the eponymous goddess Hel and the dead

Other than the Nine Worlds, there are a few other locations that feature prominently in Norse mythology that are worthy of our consideration here:

  • Valhalla, where some elite warriors chosen by Odin find themselves after death
  • Folkvang, where Freya, too, receives some of those who die in battle
  • Bifrost, the rainbow bridge that connects Asgard and Midgard
  • Hlidskjalf, the seat where Odin sits to watch what’s going on throughout the worlds

Looking for more great information on Norse mythology and religion? While this site provides the ultimate online introduction to the topic, my book The Viking Spirit provides the ultimate introduction to Norse mythology and religion period. I’ve also written a popular list of The 10 Best Norse Mythology Books, which you’ll probably find helpful in your pursuit.

The Viking Spirit Daniel McCoy


[1] Price, Neil S. 2002. The Viking Way: Religion and War in Late Iron Age Scandinavia.

[2] Eliade, Mircea. 1964. Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy. Translated by Willard R. Trask.

The Ultimate Online Guide to Norse Mythology and Religion