chapter  XVII
The Bridges of Heaven and Hell Among the Norse
Pages 11

From the Elder and the Younger Eddas,(a) c. 1100-1175, we can obtain a fairly clear idea of the Norse conceptions of the Underworld and Heaven. The latter was called Asgard and was perched on a high mountain, which stood in the middle of the earth and was linked by the Rainbow Bridge, Byfrost, w ith the Mountains of Sunrise and Sunset. The gate on to Byfrost was appar­ ently situated in the dawn-land of the East and was guarded by Heimdall, who unlocked the gates for the gods to pass across when they journeyed to the three Norns whose house could only be reached from its crown ,l By the house was the fountain of Urda, which fertilised the whole world.2 Heimdall, however, would not allow Thor to mount the bridge, declaring that he was too heavy and would break it. Thor therefore had to wade through two cloud rivers, named Kormit and Ermit, but for all that reached the dwelling place of the Norns before the other gods .3 This bridge was first discovered by Odin after he had looked into Niflheim, the Underworld, a most significant fact, and will 1 Compare therewith the three Buddhas who stand on the bridge of iron and brass in the Hung ritual 2 Compare with the water which reached to the Heavens in the City of Willows. 3 I t will be remembered tha t the Hung Heroes likewise did not pass over the bridge but crossed the

138 THE HUNG SOCIETY. be broken down when Surtur (primeval fire) rides over it to attack Asgard on the day of Ragnarock.