Andlang – Spiritual Heaven And Shelter For The Dead After Ragnarok In Norse Mythology

Ellen Lloyd - - The concept of life after death is often mentioned in Norse mythology, and there are several stories about the journeys of the dead and souls in Norse Sagas.

Andlang – Spiritual Heaven And Shelter For The Dead After Ragnarok

Andlang offered shelter for those who died during or after Ragnarok. Credit: Public Domain

The afterlife is interesting because it reflects some of the deepest beliefs of the Norse people. For example, the Vikings were convinced that if they died as heroes in a battle, they would be granted access to Valhallawhere God Odin ruled.

Valhalla was a reward for the most challenging struggles, wounds, and, finally, death. Knowing you would enjoy this gigantic and majestic chamber of the fallen heroes, warriors, and mighty chiefs motivated Vikings to become fierce warriors, and they certainly didn't fear death.

As the leader of the dead, God Odin is often mentioned as the one responsible for the souls of the deceased. The Norse deity Odin can be regarded as a counterpart of the Roman Mercury Psychopompus. As a personification of the wind, Odin uses his wings to carry disembodied souls when they leave the mortal sphere.

The Norns – Shapers Of Destiny Who Recorded Days In Person’s Life In Norse Mythology

The Norns Urðr, Verðandi, and Skuld under the world oak Yggdrasil (1882) by Ludwig Burger (1825-1884). - Wägner, Wilhelm. 1882. Nordisch-germanische Götter und Helden. Otto Spamer, Leipzig & Berlin. Page 231.

One of the most critical events that gods, humans, and all living creatures must face and deal with is Ragnarok, an inevitable doomsday that cannot be stopped. Ragnarok is the doom of the gods and an apocalyptic record of the coming comet that will damage the Earth.

The concept of fate dominates Norse mythology, and to the Norse people, fate was a fact of life that could not be avoided or changed. The Norns were goddesses who ruled people's fates and determined the destinies and lifespans of individuals.

Described in the Eddas (1250), a collection of Old Norse poems, Ragnarok will be a horrifying period when life on our planet will perish. People must be prepared for massive earthquakes, fire, and water, with steam and flames reaching the high heavens.

Fenrir, the most infamous of all creatures in Norse mythology, plays an essential role during Ragnarok. This giant monster wolf will kill God Odin and bring chaos to the world.

The new world that rises after Ragnarök, as described in Völuspá (depiction by Emil Doepler)

The new world that rises after Ragnarök, as described in Völuspá (depiction by Emil Doepler). Emil Doepler Doepler, Emil. ca. 1905. Walhall, die Götterwelt der Germanen. Martin Oldenbourg, Berlin. Page 58. Photographed and cropped by user: Haukurth - Public Domain

Needless to say, like all other doomsday prophecies, Ragnarok offers a pessimistic view of the future. Death, misery, and catastrophes will rule the Earth. Those few who survive will be wishing they died instead.

Snorri Sturluson (1179 – 1241), an Icelandic poet, historian, and politician who wrote the Prose Edda and the Heimskringla, described the existence of nine heavens in his works, similar to the mysterious nine worlds of Yggdrasil – the sacred tree of life in Norse mythology.

According to Snorri, Andlang will be a shelter for the dead after Ragnarok.

Andlang is spiritual heaven where the souls of the dead can gather during and after the destruction of Ragnarok. It is the second of three heavens in the cosmology of his work Gylfaginning which deals with Norse cosmology concepts and the creation and destruction of the world of the Norse gods.

It is above Asgard, the realm of the gods, and below a higher Heaven, Vidblain.

In Gylfaginning, Snorri writes: "Thus says the Prophecy of the Vala:

A hall I know, standing

Than the sun fairer,

Than gold better,

Gimle by name.

There shall good

People dwell,

And forever

Delights enjoy.

Then said Gangleri: Who guards this palace when Surt's fire burns up heaven and Earth? Har answered: It is said that to the south and above this heaven is another heaven, which is called Andlang.

But there is a third, above these and called Vidblain. In this heaven, we believe this mansion (Gimle) to be situated; but we deem that the light elves alone dwell in it now.

While researching the subject of Andlang, we face a problem. No Norse texts mention this place, and Anlang is also never described in Norse runes.

Was Andlang just an invention of Snorri? Scholars made attempts to interpret the name and suggest Andlang could mean "long-" or "far-breathing" and "limitless aether."

Philologist Rudolf Simek who translated many Norse Sagas into German found a connection between Andlang and the Coelus Spiritualis, the "spiritual heaven" in the original Latin version of the Elucidarius.

Still, without finding more sources mentioning Andlang, it's impossible to determine the nature of this heavenly realm.

Written by Ellen Lloyd –

Updated on November 28, 2022

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