Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Guardian Of The Rainbow

The Guardian Of The Rainbow Cover Fearing lest their enemies, the frost giants, should make their way over this bridge, which, connecting heaven and earth, ended under the shade of the mighty world tree Yggdrasil, close beside the fountain where Mimir kept guard, the Gods bade the white-clad Heimdall watch it night and day.

“Bifrost i’ th’ east shone forth in brightest green;
On its top, in snow-white sheen,
Heimdal at his post was seen.” - OEHLENSCHLAGER (Pigott’s tr.)

To enable their watchman to detect the approach of any enemy from afar, the assembled Gods gifted him with very keen senses, for he is said to be able to hear the grass grow on the hillside, and the wool on the sheep’s back, to see plainly one hundred miles off by night as well as by day, and to require less sleep than a bird.

“’Mongst shivering giants wider known
Than him who sits unmoved on high,
The guard of heaven, with sleepless eye.” - LAY OF SKIRNER (Herbert’s tr.)

Heimdall was further provided with a flashing sword and a marvelous trumpet, called Gjallarhorn, which the Gods bade him blow whenever he saw their enemies draw near, declaring that its sound would rouse all creatures in heaven, earth, and Niflheim; would announce that the last day had come and that the great battle was about to be fought.

“To battle the gods are called
By the ancient
Loud blows Heimdall,
His sound is in the air.” - SAEUND’S EDDA (Thorpe’s tr.)

To keep this instrument, which was a symbol of the moon crescent, ever at hand, Heimdall either hangs it on a branch of Yggdrasil above his head or sinks it in the waters of Mimir’s well, where it lay side by side with Odin’s eye, which is also an emblem of the moon at its full.

Heimdall’s palace, called Himinbiorg, was placed on the highest point of the bridge, and here the Gods often visit him to quaff the delicious mead which he sets before them.

“’Tis Himminbjorg called
Where Heimdal, they say,
Hath dwelling and rule.
There the gods’ warder drinks,
In peaceful old halls,
Gladsome the good mead.” - NORSE mythology (R. B. Anderson)

Heimdall, always clad in resplendent white armor, is therefore called the bright God, as well as the light, innocent, and graceful God, all which titles he fully deserves, for he is as good as beautiful, and all the Gods love him.

Connected on his mothers’ side with the sea, he was sometimes counted among the Vanas; and as the ancient Northerners, and especially the Icelanders, to whom the surrounding sea appeared the most important element, fancied that all things had risen out of it, they attributed to him a knowledge of all things and imagined him particularly wise.

“Then said Heimdall,
Of ?sir the brightest —
He well foresaw
Like other Vanir.” - SAEUND’S EDDA (Thorpe’s tr.)

This God is further distinguished by his golden teeth, which flash when he smiles, and won for him the surname of Gullintani (golden-toothed). He is also the proud possessor of a swift, golden-maned steed called Gull-top, which transports him to and fro over the quivering rainbow bridge. This he crosses many times a day, but particularly in the early morn, when he is considered a herald of the day and bore the name of Heim-dellinger.

“Early up Bifrost
Ran Ulfrun’s son,
The mighty hornblower
Of Himinbiorg.” -SAEUND’S EDDA (Thorpe’s tr.)

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