the dictionary of norse mythology


HEIMDALL Heimdall, the watchman of the gods, rides Gulltop and brandishes his horn, Gialar. Historical Picture Service-Chicago bridge that led from asgard, the home of the gods, to midgard Middle Earth. Heimdall spotted sly loki from afar, after the trick-ster god had stolen freya's necklace and escaped with it into the sea, where he changed himself into a sleek seal. Heimdall, too, was able to change his shape. He dived, seal-like, into the water, barking and nipping. Heimdall vanquished Loki and took the necklace back to Freya. He and Loki were enemies from then on and in the end would kill each other at ragnarok. Heimdall was clever, too. He had the brilliant idea of sending the thunder god, thor, to jotun-heim dressed as a girl in bridal dress in order to get back Thor's magic hammer from the giant thrym, who had stolen it. Heimdall's hearing was so acute and finely tuned that he could hear the grass pushing up from under the earth and the wool growing on a sheep's back. Heimdall needed so little sleep that it seemed he was always awake and alert. Heimdall's Nine Mothers One obscure and fragmented myth, related in the hyndluloth of the poetic edda, told the following story about the ori-gins of Heimdall, the watchman of the bridge Bifrost. One day when the great god Odin walked along the seashore, he came across nine beautiful giantesses, sound asleep on the sand. They were the wave maid-ens, daughters of the sea god, aegir. Their names were Alta Fury, Augeia Sand Strewer, Aurgiafa Sorrow-Whelmer, Egia Foamer, gialp Howler, greip Gripper, jarnsaxa Ironstone, Sindur Dusk, and Ulfrum She-Wolf. Odin was so enchanted with their beauty that he wedded all nine of them, and together the nine giantesses brought forth a beautiful son named Heimdall. The nine mothers nurtured their son on the strength of the earth, the moisture of the sea, and the heat of the Sun. The new god thrived so well on this diet that he was soon tall enough and strong enough to hasten to asgard, the home of the gods.

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