Heimdall, Odin and the Nine Waves of Creation
Myths constantly need to be decoded and reinterpreted so that we shall be able to retrieve new knowledge from them – new knowledge which is continuously being created by the great cosmic dance and thrown into the molds of the old myths. Everything is in constant state of movement and change - and so is the essence of the myths. Rereading Carl Johan Calleman’s seminal book The Nine Waves of Creation led me into the following contemplation: Do these insights exist in a fragmentary form in the pre-Christian myths, insights created from an alchemical coalescence of the cosmologies of the Mayan calendar and quantum physics? It does! – and this leads into an expanded interpretation of some truly archaic themes that concern Urvölvan, Heimdall and Odin.
In his book, which I have previously reviewed in Swedish on this blog Calleman points out that the very number nine recurs in many original myths from across the world. There seems to have existed a rudimentary, or maybe better said intuitive, understanding that the world has been formed by nine different impulses, which qualitatively speaking are very different. In the Nordic tradition we have the myth of the world tree Yggdrasil and the nine worlds that are connected to, or maybe rather interwoven with the world tree. In the first song of the poetic Edda Urvölvan (the original female seer) has the following to say:
born of giants, remember very early
Calleman sees what he calls the Tree of Life – somewhere close to the center of the universe – as the sphere that all the creative impulses, both on a macro and a micro level, have emanated from. The Tree of Life is thus a sort of a cosmic matrix for everything that ever was and is: as above, so below; as inside, so outside. The question is now if the nine worlds in the Nordic tradition correspond to the nine creation waves that has brought the world forth. There does not seem to be a total conformity between the two, but common elements do exist and in this case there also exists a chronological order of the Nordic “worlds”, even if it is not a question of a hierarchical order.
Eight of the worlds, which I would rather call spheres, can be combined into pairs and thus exist in a complementary and at the same time contradictory relationship to each other. They are polarities that mutually condition each other. The two oldest spheres are the cold and the heat, which from the Emptiness (Ginnungagap) bring forth the very first being, the androgynous giant Ymer (= the roaring, the rambunctious). The Cold = Nifelhem, the Heat= Muspellhem. The third sphere, which then takes the shape of Ymer is Jotunhem, which is balanced by Vanahem, the domain of fertility. The next pair in this chronological tale about cosmic creation is Helhem, the sphere of death, and Asgård, the dimension of the heavenly gods. Then follows Svartalvhem and Ljusalvhem, the life-generating forces of the earth and the air, and finally we have Mannhem, the sphere of the humans. What we are looking at here is a cosmic as well as a planetary and inner process of evolution.
If we analyze the correspondence of the nine Nordic worlds with the nine waves of creation described by Calleman by means of the runic system of the uthark and in particular consider the numerological magic we arrive at the following highly interesting result: Nifelhem = Iss, which is rune no 10, Muspellhem = Ken with the numerical value 5, Jotunhem = Thurs (2), Vanahem = Lagu (20), Helhem = Eh (18), Asgård = Ass (3), Svartalvhem = Bjarka (17), Ljusalvhem = Sol (15) and Mannhem = Madr (19). The sum of these becomes 109. If we reduce this to a single digit number we get 1+0+9= 10, which in turn becomes 1+0=1. Rune no 1 is Ur, which represents the origin, the beginning and the creative, constructive primordial power. This seems to indicate that the myth about Yggdrasil and the nine worlds implies a creation story, which is consistent with the nine waves of creation of Calleman.
A character, which is strongly connected with this creative cosmic process, is Heimdall – the divine being which drank from the well of wisdom in exchange for one of his ears and thus had been endowed with a supernatural hearing and as a result had taken the place of guardian at the gate of the Dreamtime. Heimdall has been interpreted as a personification of the World Tree or the World Pillar and has a counterpart in Sapmi cosmology in the character called Veralden olmai, the man of the world or the worlds. That Heimdall indeed is the man of the worlds becomes clear from the Edda song about Hyndla.
was born in bygone days,
Gialp bore him, Greip
was born greater than all,
In the Edda of Snorres it is said about Heimdall: ”He is called the white god. He is big and holy. Nine virgins, all of them sisters, gave birth to him as a son.” A fragment from Heimdallsgaldern is also given there:
am the child of nine mothers,
This song also exists in a more complete version:
are Heimdall, white among Asar,
The mothers of Heimdall may simply be the nine waves of creation. That they are described as sisters is in order to point to the organic connections between the waves of creation. They have a common origin and are intimately connected, even if they carry different qualities, or better said potentialities. The nine waves bring forth Heimdall as a representative of the world in its totality. In this myth there is also an evolutionary chronology inscribed.
Acording to Calleman the three last waves of creation were activated in the years 1755, 1999 and 2011. How did people more than a thousand years ago know that there were actually nine waves when only six had been activated? This is undoubtedly a question which complicates the analysis, but maybe people leaning towards esoterics felt a kind of pre-waves (as Calleman talks about) or they simply had a prophetic intuition about the cosmic dynamics – maybe attained by using runes as a means of divination. In contrast, it seems fully clear that it is only after 2011 that we are able to gain a more complete understanding of the nine waves of creation as well as the nature of the world and thus also possible ways towards bringing peace, harmony and balance. For this, there was an intuitive understanding already when the old myths were told, which emerges for instance from the initiatory rite of Odin at the World Tree.
In Odins own words in Havamal:
know that I hung on a windy tree,
bread did they give me nor a drink from a horn,
I began to quicken and be wise,
Consequently it is only after the ninth night (read the ninth wave), that complete knowledge is possible. This is potentially present in all of creation for whoever makes oneself receptive. It did not exist in a complete form when these myths were narrated or written down and it only existed as a premonition or pre-wave when CG Jung developed his thoughts about the collective unconscious and synchronicities, or when Carlos Castaneda and Michael Harner wrote their texts about the path of the shaman in the 70-ties and 80-ties. This may explain why these groundbreaking authors chose individualist positions. Their stances are today completely insufficient, but they should be recognized that they have opened doors for us to acquire new knowledge. They were however not themselves capable of entering these doors, but yet made it possible for us to do so at this later point and then transcend their limitations. Today all necessary knowledge exists for us to be able to create peace and harmony and as a result it falls upon ourselves and those living today to do so. And this can only be the result of shared views and not in the form of spiritual ego trips. Carl Johan Calleman has realized this and through this he has made a very significant contribution to the world. As he himself writes as the final words of The Nine Waves of Creation: ”Everything is now available for us to go in this direction toward Oneness with the Divine and unity among ourselves”.
Jörgen I Eriksson, July 2017
(Translation from Swedish by Carl Johan Calleman. The quotes from The Poetic Edda are from the translation by Carolyne Larrington (2014).)