The Great Myths #59: Odin Talks About Valhalla (Norse)

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Then spoke Gangleri: “You say that all those men that have fallen in battle since the beginning of the world have now come to Odin in Val-hall. What has he got to offer them for food? 1 should have thought that there must be a pretty large number there.”

      Then High replied: “It is true what you say, there is a pretty large number there, and many more have yet to arrive, and yet there will seem too few when the wolf comes. But there will never be such a large number in Val-hall that the meat of the boar called Sæhrimnir will not be sufficient for them. It is cooked each day and whole again by evening. But this question that you are now asking, it seems to me very likely that there can be few so wise as to be able to give the correct answer to it. The cook is called Andhrimnir and the pot Eldhrimnir. Thus it says here:

Andhrimnir has Sæhrimnir cooked in Eldhrimnir, best of       meats. But there are few that know on what the Einheriar feed.”

      Then spoke Gangleri: “Does Odin have the same fare as the Einheriar?”

      High said: “The food that stands on his table he gives to two wolves of his called Geri and Freki. He himself needs no food: wine is for him both drink and meat. Thus it says here:

Geri and Freki the battle-accustomed father of hosts feeds, but on wine alone splendidly weaponed Odin ever lives.

      Two ravens sit on his shoulders and speak into his ear all the news they see or hear. Their names are Hugin and Munin. He sends them out at dawn to fly over all the world, and they return at dinner-time. As a result he gets to find out about many events. From this he gets the name raven-god. As it says:

Hugin and Munin fly each day over the mighty earth. I fear for Hugin lest he come not back, yet I am afraid more about Munin.”

      Then spoke Gangleri: “What do the Einheriar have as drink that lasts them as plentifully as the food? Is water drunk there?”

      Then said High: “This is a strange question you are asking, whether All-father would invite kings and earls and other men of rank to his house and would give them water to drink, and I swear by my faith that there comes many a one to Val-hall who would think he had paid a high price for his drink of water if there were no better cheer to be got there, when he had previously endured wounds and agony leading to his death. I can tell you a different story about this. There is a goat called Heidrun standing on top of Val-hall feeding on the foliage from the branches of that tree whose name is well known, it is called Lerad, and from the goat’s udder flows mead with which it fills a vat each day. This is so big that all the Einheriar can drink their fill from it.”

      Then spoke Gangleri: “That is a terribly handy goat for them. It must be a jolly good tree that it is feeding on.”

      Then spoke High: “There is a matter of even more note regarding the stag Eikthymir which stands on Val-hall and feeds on the branches of this tree, and from its horns comes such a great dripping that it flows down into Hvergelmir, and from there flow the rivers whose names are: Sid, Vid, Sekin, Ekin, Svol, Gunnthro, Fiorm, Fimbulthul, Gipul, Gopul, Gomul, Geirvimul; these flow through where the Æsir live. These are the names of others: Thyn, Vin, Tholl, Boll, Grad, Gunnthrain, Nyt, Not, Nonn, Hronn, Vina, Veg, Svinn, Thiodnuma.”

      Then spoke Gangleri: “That is amazing information that you have just given. Val-hall must be a terribly large building, it must often be pretty crowded around the doorways.”

      Then High replied: “Why don’t you ask how many doors there are in Val-hall, and how wide they are? If you hear about this then what you will say is that on the contrary it is amazing if everyone cannot go out and in that wants to. But to tell the truth it is not more crowded when it is occupied than when it is being entered. You can hear about it here in Grimnismal:

Five hundred doors and yet forty more, that is what I think are in Val-hall. Eight hundred Einheriar will go at once through one doorway when they and the wolf go to fight.”

      Then spoke Gangleri: “There is a very large number of people in Val-hall. I declare by my salvation that Odin is a very great lord when he commands such a great troop. But what entertainment do the Einheriar have when they are not drinking?”

      High said: “Each day after they have got dressed they put on war-gear and go out into the courtyard and fight each other and they fall each upon the other. This is their sport. And when dinner-time approaches they ride back to Val-hall and sit down to drink, as it says here:

All Einheriar in Odin’s courts fight one another each day. They select their victims and from battle ride, sit the more at peace together.

      But it is true what you said: a mighty one is Odin. There is much evidence that points to this. Thus it says here in the words of the Æsir themselves:

The ash Yggdrasil, this is the foremost of trees, and Skidbladnir of ships, Odin of the Æsir, of horses Sleipnir, Bifrost of bridges, and Bragi of poets, Habrok of hawks and of dogs Garm.”

– from the “Gylfaginning” in the Prose Edda,
translated by Anthony Faulkes, Edda, 32-34