Saturday, April 17, 2010

Faring Forth: A Quick Tour of Seven of the Nine Worlds

Our group over the last several months has walked the worlds.
It has been an enlightening experience.
I travel often.
My Nordic geography shares about 75% of content with Raven Kaldera's Nine Worlds(Pathwalker's Guide to the Nine Worlds, good Berlitz of the terrain and denizens). Only Midgard, which I believe is our world and Svartalfheim, which looks totally different from Kaldera's description, are significantly different.
I prefer to travel by boat than walking, I have a deep affinity for water and sailing. Odin showed me the river route through the worlds many years ago.
It was a surprise for me to learn how difficult it is to take a group.
On this trip, we went places I often go.
Vanaheim was our first stop during the part of the year Frey was in residence. Vanaheim or Asgard are the two places I visit my first deity of choice, Freya.
Asgard was our second stop. I don't go to Asgard that often, I usually meet with Odin at his high seat at Hlidskjalf, sometimes with Frigga, sometimes not. As what became the pattern, once we got to one of the worlds, the group, as any tour group would do, scattered to see what was interesting for them.
Then we discovered we were under a bit of a time constraint. One of the members is pregnant, and I have firm rules about journeying, drawing down or other personality perilous activities during pregnancy.
So we started with what I thought of as the most dangerous places.
Muspellheim was our next stop. And this is where Kaldera's travel guide was invaluable.
I had never been to Muspellheim before. The negotiations to allow a group to come there went very smoothly, Surt was very polite, and the trip itself was spectacular, the black sand and the lava flows and the great dark giants striding majestically through the smoke.
Niffleheim was our next stop. And the stop I learned a very valuable lesson about the group. We discussed shape shifting, I shifted into a firebird form to carry them from our boat to Muspellheim, and they had all had the urge to shift with me. So when we went to Niffleheim, I suggested that they all try shapeshifting.
Shapeshifting is listed as one of the most difficult skills to learn by many writers and teachers in this field. I have a personal addendum to that, If you don't have a talent for it. If you do have a talent for it, shapeshifting can be as easy as breathing.
Our group is varied across worldview, deity of choice and focus of learning lines. I've always wondered what common thread they shared that brought them together. Well, shapeshifting seems to be that thread. They all shapeshifted into polar bears or arctic wolves with ease on our trip to Niffleheim.
Jotunheim was our next stop. The negotiations to go there went very well. I have run in the Iron Wood, my normal aspect when I go there is a wapiti, which is designed to let the denizens know that I'm not from around there, but big enough to to defend myself. I let the group choose what forms they wanted. We got an elephant, a snow leopard, a badger, a wolverine, a horse and a emu. Our visit to the Iron Wood went very well, with the exception of a giant taking quite a liking to our badger, and some difficulty in getting them to let her leave. The group also learned it is difficult at first to talk in animal form, there was some shifting back and forth to communicate.
Next we went to Svartalfheim. This is not someplace I usually go, but my son's father had a great affinity for this place, and as a result, so does my son. I spend a lot of time following my son to the edges of this space, because he really likes to travel here in his dreams. The negotiations to go there were a bit rocky, with warnings not to show any giantish traits,not to shapeshift and not to look through their illusions. One of our members did all of those things once we got there, despite warnings to the contrary. We had to beat a hasty retreat to avoid elf shot.
Helheim was next. Hel is one of my deities of choice, so I felt there was little danger in going here. The experience was profound for everyone, as Hel had something to say to each person in the group.
Outside of Helheim, there are many gates to different death realms. I pointed out some that were relevant to other world views, and then we stepped through the one to Vahalla.
In Vahalla, we met with the ambassador to Alfheim. I had been petitioning to go to Alfheim for weeks with no luck. Despite its proximity to Vanaheim and my close relationship to Freya, I could not get permission to go there or bring the group there. So we had to make due with meeting the ambassador.
Since many people felt they had been shortchanged on our trip to Svartalfheim, and a few people weren't there, we went back to Svartalfheim. The second trip went much smoother. We were able to come and leave in peace.

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