Heimdal (Heimdallr in Old Norse, the prefix Heim- means home, house, while the meaning of the suffix -dallr is unknown) is the guardian god in Norse mythology. He is the son of Odin and nine giant women who fed him with boar blood. He had sharp eyesight, a fine ear and could go without sleep for several days. His perception was so extraordinary that he heard the grass grow, which is why he was appointed guardian of the dwelling of the gods, Asgard, and of the Bifrost, the rainbow that bridges to it.
According to Norse mythology, with a horn called Gjallarhorn, given to him by Odin, he will announce the combat between gods and giants, after which the end of the world will come, the Ragnarök. Heimdal will intervene in the fight, in which he will die at the hands of the god Loki. Although it will be a symbol of power because it will be the last god to fall in Ragnarok. A Nordic tradition says that he descended to earth and begot in three women the three lineages (castes): princes, subjects, and servants.
Origin and History
During a walk along the sea, Odin once saw nine beautiful giants, the wave maidens, Egia, Augeia, Ulfrun, Aurgiafa, Sindur, Atla, Iarnsaxa, Gjálp, and Greip sound asleep on the white sands. The sky god was so in love with the beautiful creatures that, as the Eddas relate, he married the nine and they combined, at the same moment, to bring to the world a son who received the name of Heimdal.
The nine mothers proceeded to feed the baby with the force of the earth, the humidity of love, and the warmth of the sun, a diet that proved to be so empowering that the new god fully grew in an incredibly short space of time and ran to join his father in Asgard. He found the gods proudly observing the rainbow of the Bifröst Bridge, which they had just built with fire, air, and water, the three materials that can still be seen in this sprawling arch, where the three main significant colors of these elements shine: the red representing fire, blue in the air and green in the cool depths of the sea.
Heimdal, keeper of the rainbow, the Bifröst
Heimdal, playing the Gjallarhorn, the horn that will herald the final battle between the forces of good and evil, the dreaded Ragnarok.
This bridge linked Midgard with Asgard and ended under the shadow of the powerful Yggdrasil tree, near which was the spring that the giant Mímir watched over, and the only drawback that prevented the full enjoyment of the glorious spectacle was the fear that the giants of Frost will eventually use it to gain access to Asgard.
At the time of Heimdal‘s arrival, the gods were debating the advisability of assigning a bona fide guardian, and they cheered on the new recruit as someone appropriate to fulfill the burdensome duties of his office.
Heimdal happily agreed to take responsibility and has watched the rainbow trail leading into Asgard day and night ever since. To allow Heimdal to detect the approach of any enemy from afar, the assembly of the gods granted him such keen senses that he was said to be able to hear the grass grow on the hills and the wool on the backs of the sheep, to see a hundred miles away so clearly both day and night, and yet he needed less sleep than a bird, so was the mighty Heimdal.
Heimdal was also provided with a gleaming sword and extraordinary horn, called the Gjallarhorn, and the gods commanded him to sound it whenever he saw enemies approaching, the frost giants, claiming that its sound would awaken all creatures in the sky, earth and Niflheim. Its last terrible sound would announce the arrival of the Ragnarok, the day when the final battle would be contested, and on which Loki would kill him.
To always have this instrument, which was a symbol of the crescent moon, at hand, Heimdal either hung it on a branch of the Yggdrasil over his head or immersed it in the waters of the Mímir spring. In this last place he lay next to Odin’s eye, which was a symbol of the full moon.
Heimdal‘s palace, called Himinbjörg, was on the highest point of the bridge, and the gods often visited him there to drink the delicious mead with which he entertained them.
Heimdal was always depicted in resplendent white armor, which is why he was known as the bright or light god. He was also known as the delicate, innocent, and indulgent god, names that he deserved because he was as kind as he was beautiful and all the gods loved him affectionately. Connected on the side of their mothers with the sea, it was sometimes related to the Vanes and since to the ancient Norse, especially the Icelanders to whom the sea surrounded them, it seemed the most important element, believing that everything had emerged from there. They attributed very extensive knowledge to him and imagined him especially wise.
Heimdal was also distinguished by his golden teeth, which flashed when he smiled and earned the nickname of Gullitani (the one with the golden teeth). He was also the proud owner of a swift golden mane steed called Gulltoppr, which transported him hither and thither but especially early in the morning, at which time, as the herald of the day, he was named Heimdellinger.
Heimdal discovers Loki stealing Brisingamen from Freya
Heimdal delivers Brisingamen to Freya, after taking it from Loki (commonly mistaken for the fire giant Logi due to his pronunciation). Thanks to his extreme hearing acuity, Heimdal (the god of light) heard, at night, the soft sound of what seemed to be cat steps in the direction of Freya’s palace, Folkvang. He turned his eagle gaze in the dark and perceived that the sound was produced by Loki, who, having sneaked into the palace like a fly, had approached Freya’s bed and was trying to steal her brilliant gold necklace, Brisingamen, the emblem of fertility and harmony of the Earth.
Heimdal, the rainbow guardian Bifröst, saw that the goddess was asleep in a posture that made it impossible to open her necklace without being awakened. But the cunning Loki remained hesitant by the bedside for only a few moments, and then began to mutter the runes that allowed the gods to change shape as they wished. While Heimdal was aware of the situation, Loki was reduced to the size and shape of a flea, after which he slipped under the covers and stung Freya’s side, thus causing her to change position without being awakened from her dream.
The lock was now in sight and Loki, carefully opening it, obtained the coveted treasure and proceeded to leave with it without delay. Heimdal immediately launched into the pursuit of the night thief and, quickly catching up to him, unsheathed his sword from its sheath with the intention of cutting off his head, when the god transformed into a flickering blue flame. Quick as thought, Heimdal transformed into a cloud and quickly sent rain to put out the fire. But the evil Loki altered his shape with the same speed to transform into a polar bear, which opened its jaws to swallow the water. Heimdal, without being intimidated, then assumed the shape of a bear and attacked fiercely. But as the combat threatened to end disastrously for Loki, he transformed into a seal and after imitating him Heimdal, the one with the golden teeth, the last fight was fought, which ended with the defeat of Loki, who was forced to deliver the necklace, which was duly returned to Freya by Heimdal.
In this legend, Loki can be taken as a symbol of drought or the disastrous effects of the sun’s too hot heat, which comes to steal from Earth (Freya) its most precious ornament (Brisingamen). Heimdal is a saving personification from the rain and the gentle dew, who, after fighting for a while against his enemy, the drought, which Loki represents, ends up defeating her and forcing him to give up his prize.
Heimdal has other names, including Hallinskide and Irmin, as he sometimes took the place of Odin and was identified with that god, as well as with other sword gods, Er, Heru, Cheru, and Tyr, who all stood out for their gleaming weapons. He, however, is better known generally as the custodian of the rainbow and God of heaven and of the fertile rains and dews, which bring good times to Earth.
Heimdal also shared with Bragi the honor of welcoming the heroes in Valhalla, the warriors’ paradise, and, under the name of Riger, he was considered the divine lord of various social classes that make up the human race.
Heimdal was known as the White God because he wore very shiny white metal armor and a high gloss sword of the same metal called Hofuth.
Riger’s story (the creation of social classes)
Heimdal left Asgard one day to wander the Earth, as the gods sometimes did. He had not yet walked much when he reached a poor cabin by sea, where he met Ai (great-grandfather) and Edda (great-grandmother), a poor but respectable couple, who hospitably invited him to share their meager meal of porridge. oats. Heimdal, the god of light, who said his name was Riger, gladly accepted the invitation and stayed with the couple for three whole days, teaching them many things. At the end of this time, the journey continued. Sometime after her visit, Edda gave birth to a plump, dark-skinned boy, whom she named Thrall.
Thrall soon showed unusual physical strength and great aptitude for heavy-duty. Once he had grown up, he took Thyr, a chubby-built girl with sunburned hands and flat feet, who, like her husband, worked from sunrise to sunset. Many children were born to this couple and their descendants were that of the servants of the gleba or slaves of the north.
After leaving the poor cabin and the desolate coast, Riger headed towards the interior lands, wherein a short time he reached some cultivated land and a fertile farm. Upon entering this comfortable abode, he found Afi (grandfather) and Amma (grandmother), who is a very hospitable gesture invited him to sit with them to share the simple but abundant food they had prepared for lunch.
Riger accepted the invitation and spent three days there with his hosts, imparting all sorts of useful knowledge to them. After leaving home, Amma had a robust blue-eyed son, whom she named Karl. Growing up, he demonstrated great and varied agricultural skills and in due course married a plump and hard-working wife named Snor, who bore him many children, and his offspring was the race of farmers.
Leaving this second couple’s house, Riger continued the journey until he reached a hill, on which a majestic castle stood. There he was received by Fadir (father) and Modir (mother), who, well-fed and luxuriously dressed, like aristocrats, received him cordially and entertained him with exquisite meats and delicious wines.
Riger spent three days with that couple, after which he returned to Himinbjorg to resume his guard duty as Bifröst’s watchman, and soon the wife of the third couple had a beautiful, slender son, whom he named Jarl. This boy soon showed a great fondness for hunting and all manner of martial exercises, learned to interpret runes and lived to perform great feats of courage and great courage that made his name distinguished, adding glory to his lineage. After reaching adulthood, Jarl was married to Erna, an aristocratic and slender figure maiden, who ruled his house wisely and bore him many children, the offspring of which was destined to rule, the youngest of whom, Konur, became in the first king of Denmark.