As we have already noticed, Norse mythology has a vast number of celestial deities and other creatures. People always lean towards the „good guys,“ a.k.a. The Gods of Aesir and Vanir. Each God had its purpose and special skills, and all of them combined were the all-powerful beings in the Norse cosmos.
Today, we’ll talk about the sentry God, Heimdall. Heimdall (Old Norse Heimdallr) is the son of Odin (as most of the Aesir Gods are), and he had nine mothers. His loyalty to the All-father Odin is unmatched, and he had one of the most significant tasks to perform. Being a sentry at the gates of Asgard, Heimdall’s role was to keep the Asgard gates safe and to watch over the bridge that’s connecting Asgard with all other worlds in the Norse mythology realms. That bridge is known as the Bifröst bridge.
Although gatekeeping was his primary duty, Heimdall wasn’t only the gatekeeper. Heimdall had many other responsibilities, and he was known for his incredible sight and hearing with which he could see and hear to the far reaches of the nine realms.
Stay tuned as we’ll talk more about Heimdall and his magnificent story in this article, as we’ll try to cover the most exciting legends about this Norse mythology God.
Norse mythology teaches us that all Gods are special in some way, and what makes Heimdallr different from other Gods are his duties and abilities. One of the distinguishing features about Heimdall is his horn Gjallarhorn that he’ll use when the giants cross the Bifröst bridge and enter Asgard, which will signify the beginning of the end that is also known as the Doomsday or Ragnarök.
Additionally, Heimdallr owns the unique golden horse Gulltoppr, and he is known by many names. Heimdall's other names were Hallinskiði, Gullintanni, Vindhlér or Vindlér, and Rig. Heimdall was the God that probably had the most different names from all the other Gods of both Vanir and Aesir. He is also described as the white God or the shiniest God of all with golden teeth.
It is said that Heimdallr had incredible hearing and sight and that he could hear the plants growing thousands of miles away. Heimdall’s incredible sight is described as his most compelling feature. He could see everything happening in all nine realms simultaneously.
Heimdall didn’t need much sleep. In fact, he slept less than the birds, and that allowed him to watch over the nine realms almost all the time. With all his skills and abilities, Heimdall was the perfect gatekeeper of the most powerful realm of Gods – Asgard.
Heimdall’s home is known as Himinbjörg („The Cliffs in The Sky“), and it’s the place where he used to spend his free time drinking mead, although he didn’t have much of free time because there was no one else who could guard the gates of Asgard as he could. Himinbjörg was located in the place where Bifröst (the rainbow bridge) connects with the sky.
Interesting Stories and Facts About HeimdallrHeimdall’s name roughly translates to „the God that illuminates the world, “and he was considered as „the God of humans“ since he’s the one who introduced social classes to the human society.
Additionally, it’s said that Heimdall had three sons, and when one of his sons proved to be worthy of gaining more knowledge, he introduced his son with the rune magic, and that’s how the people of Midgard learned about the magical runes.
Furthermore, Heimdall liked to leave his duty as the overseer of things and that he likes to go on adventures of his own using the name Rig which translates as „the King. “
One of these exciting stories about Heimdall is the one with Freya’s stolen necklace known as Brisingamen. Loki stole Freya's prized possession and jumped into the sea to hide among the seals. Heimdall turned himself into a seal and followed Loki so he could retrieve Freya’s treasure. When Loki finally went out from hiding, Heimdall punched him in the face, took the necklace from his hands, and brought it back to Freya.
Historians have found another incredible story about Heimdall saying that the God of Mischief, Loki, and Heimdallr were foretold to slay one another during the ultimate battle of Ragnarök.
Heimdallr’s Family Tree
Before Heimdall was appointed to be the one to watch over the nine realms, he used to travel throughout the world, and especially to Midgard. Heimdall was keen on visiting married couples and sleeping with them. That’s where Heimdall’s family story has begun.
Heimdall was one of Odin’s sons, and he had nine mothers, but the Norse mythology says that Heimdall was also the father of three sons and the Allfather of humankind. Heimdall was the one who created the Norse society’s hierarchical structures.
Risthula (Old Norse Rígsþula) is the Norse mythology poem, which explains that Heimdall had slept with three human couples for three nights from different social backgrounds. These couples were named as the „Parents“ and „Grand-parents“ in the poem. The people were divided into three social classes: the noblemen, peasants, and serfs.
Heimdall’s firstborn son was an ugly boy by the name of Thrall. He was an ancestor of the serf social class, and he was the strongest one of Heimdall’s sons. His second son was Karl. Karl was the farmer with incredible skills, and he was the ancestor of the peasant class. Heimdall’s third son, Jarl, was a cunning warrior, and he represented the noble and warrior class. Jarl was born with incredible battle skills and intellect.
Heimdallr In Poetic Edda
Poetic Edda mentioned Heimdallr on many occasions. His was attested in six different poems: Völuspá, Lokasenna, Hrafnagaldr Óðins, Þrymskviða, Rígsþula, and Grímnismál.
Additionally, Heimdall was mentioned in Völuspá three times. During the first stance of the poem, the völva that recited the poem called out for everyone who’s listening to be quiet, which referred to Heimdallr.
Snorri Sturluson's Poetic Edda
Second time in Völuspá, the völva foresees the events that will happen during the Ragnarök. She also predicted the role that Heimdallr will have along with his Gjallarhorn („The Resounding Horn“). The Völuspá mentions how Heimdallr blew loudly into his horn to warn the Asgardians of the incoming trouble.
The Völuspá also mentioned Heimdallr’s hearing that will help him discover the incoming intruders before they arrive at the gates of Asgard. Thus, he’ll be able to blow his mighty horn and send a warning throughout Asgard.
The Unclear Details About HeimdallrThere are some sources describing the connection between Heimdall and a ram, but the connection is quite unclear due to the scarce sources available. Additionally, Hljod the Giantess (Old Norse Hljóð) is somehow connected to Odin’s lost eye, and it might also be connected to Heimdall's missing ear. Hljod was sent under the Yggdrasil, and the connections are still unclear due to the incomplete translations.
The term hljóð has a great variety of translations, and some of them refer to hearing or ears. It’s unknown if Heimdall sacrificed one of his ears for gaining some ultimate reward like the All-father Odin sacrificed his eye. These are just speculations since there’s no firm evidence to substantiate these claims.
Heimdall In Modern CinematographyThanks to numerous TV shows and movies, we had the opportunity to learn more about Heimdall as well as many other Gods, giants, and Norse mythology creatures from all nine realms of Norse universe. The Marvel Cinematic Universe depicted numerous characters from Norse mythology, including Heimdall.
The gatekeeper of Asgard, Heimdall, was presented in several Marvel movies depicting his incredible abilities as the watcher over the nine realms. Still, it also showed us that Heimdall had a significant role to play in every one of these stories. Without his heightened sense of hearing, the other Gods, like Thor and his companions, wouldn’t be able to achieve all the victories and successful escapes.
Heimdall’s powers allowed him to hear the cry for help coming from anywhere within the Norse cosmos. He would then activate the Bifröst bridge to aid his fellow-Gods in their time of need, like when he saved them from the Ice Giants when Thor led the party of warriors to confront these Jotunns.
Heimdall had roles in all MCU Norse mythology movies, which undoubtedly shows his importance in the Norse lore.
Modern InfluenceThere are plenty of books, movies, video games, and comic books that include Heimdall’s character nowadays.
The first Marvel’s comic book that presented Heimdall’s character was published back in 1962, and the copy of this comic that is in excellent condition costs around $4000 today.
Video games like Yu-Gi-Oh game called „Heimdall the Guardian of the Bifröst Bridge“ allow players to use Heimdall as an Asgardian warrior.
At the End of The RainbowSo far, most of Norse mythology Gods and Goddesses had pretty exciting background stories. Do you think that Heimdall’s story is good enough for a God of his stature?
Do you believe that Heimdall’s position within the Aesir tribe was good enough for a God? Being a God and a gatekeeper doesn’t sound like an honorable thing compared to what duties other Gods had. What are your thoughts about this? Is there anything else you know about Heimdall that we didn’t cover?
Share your thoughts, and let’s discuss the mighty God Heimdallr in the comment section below.