19 November, 2014

Anglian Religion and World View - Airtha, Fairwhus

Few in mainstream Anglian society dispute Odin and Frigga and their family, or the kinship of the Æsir and the Vanir. They take for granted that these individuals exist as (divine and different) flesh and blood, and that they live in a place called Asgard. To assume much more than that in public company is often seen as becoming a bit too familiar. Even referring to whether Asgard lies in some other nigh-inaccessible place, or is located in an as-yet undiscovered region of the same world on which Anglia rests can be a matter of deep contention. The reasons for this are somewhat complex.

A different group of travellers meets elves
The official position of the Imperial Church is that when Theodoric the Elder first stepped through the Imperceived Door to this world, he had left Midgard and set foot on Ælfheim. This was self-evident to Theodoric, since he almost immediately met the elves. He declared to all those of his kin travelling with him that they had arrived in Ælfheim, and indicated this with a sweeping gesture. This sweeping gesture, the Church maintains, marked the entire world on which he now stood. Even these early people were comfortable with the concept of what we would now call a “planet,” or “fairwhus” to them, though it’s unclear whether they brought this understanding with them or gained it from the elves.

Fairly early on in the history of what would become Theodoric’s kingdom, and then empire, in this new realm, his people encountered coastlines and seas, as one eventually does after walking far enough. As travelling and exploration was the current wont of these fourth century Germanic expatriates, they ventured forth to nearby islands and other coastlines. Now they had a quandary. Did Ælfheim stop at the cold shingle beach they had left? Standing on an island or some further shore, were they still standing on Ælfheim, or were they standing somewhere new? If it was somewhere new, where was it?

Map of Yggdrasil - Tina Solstrand
Those who said “yes, this is somewhere new” took their cue from Theodoric and selected from the other worlds of their cosmology: Vanaheim, Niflheim, Jotunheim, Muspelheim, and Svartalfheim. They “knew” they hadn’t found Asgard or Hel, and also hadn’t gone back to Midgard. “Svartalfheim” is yet to be applied to a land here. A few felt that names like Útgarðar and Niðavellir must refer to unique places, rather than being other names for places like Jotunheim and Svartalfheim, since after a while it became clear there were more lands than a mere five names would cover.

Admittedly, there was some advantage to this. Theodoric had specifically claimed all of “Ælfheim” as his.

As more diverse members of what the Romans had called “The Germanic Tribes” continued to find their way to this other place, some even rejected the notion that they had ever left Midgard at all.

And with that, we have the current spectrum covering most opinion. At one extreme, “it’s all just more Europe” and at the other extreme, “every new landmass here is a different one of the nine worlds.” Some are even certain that one could sail to Asgard or Hel; they just haven’t been found yet. The most common view throughout the Empire, and in Anglia as well, is that:

  • This is indeed not Midgard. 
  • Neither Asgard nor Hel reside upon this sphere. 
  • The six more earthly homelands of legend (Ælfheim, Vanaheim, Niflheim, Jotunheim, Muspelheim, and Svartalfheim) are in fact merely different continents on this world.

The third point is deep heresy in the eyes of the Church, and can land one in deep trouble back in the Old Empire if bandied about publicly. Interestingly, although still technically heresy, the Church in Anglia tends to overlook this. Anglia, of course, happens to rest on a continent explorers named Jotunheim.

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