This is an illustration I did of the Nine Worlds from Norse mythology for my maps project. I wanted to do a simple, informative map because I was baffled by how little most people know about it compared to Greek/Roman/Egyptian mythology.
The descriptions about how the worlds are set up are quite contradictory or logically impossible, so it’s really up to each individual how they want to interpret and render them. Some theorizes it as a flat island world (with an inner, middle and outer circle), or (as a certain Marvel comic does it;) a mush of dimensions with aliens and stuff. I’ve always imagined it as a giant tree whenever we had story time in elementary school, so I tried to fit all the named places I could find strictly into a tree. Also, the tree has its presence and is the centre in most of the worlds, so I solved that by putting a tree within a tree within a tree - Yggdraception!
Yggdrasil is the world tree. Its branches stretch across the sky and its evergreen leaves covers the world. At the very top of the tree, there’s a golden eagle by the name of Vidofnir, and between his eyes sits the hawk, Verfolne. The pair looks out towards the world. Yggdrasil has three rots, each going down their own wells.
One goes down to Kverghjelme, a well in Niflheim. The root is gnawed on by the serpent Nidhogg, in hopes that it will one day kill Yggdrasil and the world(s) with it. Another goes to Urd’s well in Åsgard, which is tended by three norns (destiny-thread goddesses). In the well lives two golden swans. The water here is so pure and holy, it’s white (but I still coloured it blue!). The third root goes to Mime’s Well in Jotunheim. It is guarded by the wise god Mime, who got beheaded but his head is still there giving advice to gods. This place is also where Odin sacrificed his eye for wisdom.
A squirrel, Ratatosk, relayes gossip and insults between Nidhogg and Vidofnir. There’s also four deers I forgot to draw in but they don’t do much than eat the leaves.
I split the world into four sections:
At the top section is Åsgard, the world of the Aesir gods. Here is Valhall, the banquet hall of the gods and warriors, and Folkvang, Freya’s house, where she lives with her own hand-picked warriors (who are more honorable and less bloodthirsty than those who live in Valhall). I’ve also put in the homes of the gods that were given by name, like Bilskirne (Thor’s house), Breidablik (Baldur’s house) and so on.
The only way to get to the other worlds is by Bifrost, the rainbow bridge, which is guarded by Heimdall, from his home in Himmelberget.
In the upper-mid section is Alvheim, land of the elves. The fertility god, Frey, lives here as their ruler. There’s also Vanaheim, the land of the Vanir gods, who specialize in fertility/farming/etc. but not much is known about them.
Midgard is the human world and lies in the centre of the three. It is surrounded by the world sea and the gigantic Midgard serpent which bites its own tail.
In the east is Jotunheimen, the land of the giants. I imagine it as a very mountainous terrain. Utgård lies here, which is where the wolf Fenris is being tied.
In the south, is Muspelheim, the land of fire.
In the west, lies Svartalvheim, the land of dark elves and dwarves.
And in the north, lies Niflheim, the land of ice and mist.
Helheim, the land of the dead lies below/within Niflheim. I drew it as an underground realm under Kverghjelme. Everyone who died outside of battle gets sent here, regardless of how good/bad they were when they were alive, but criminals would be put in Nåstrand, a house by the corpse river.
I just totally realised I forgot to include an explanation with my assignment, d’oh.
I used the Norwegian names instead of the Norse/Icelandic ones because that’s how I know them as and is a lot more relatable to me (ek snakkur ikkur islendur!) and the descriptions are in English, but there’s a full Norwegian version around somewhere…!
Sources: Norrøn Mytologi, Åsgard Web, Noregur.is, Valkyria, NT Shamanism and Wikipedia NO/SE/DK.
I also knew nothing about Norse myths…and now I know tiny bits more than I did.