From Iceland — Gods Of Iceland: Heimdallur, Bouncer At Club Ásgarður

Gods Of Iceland: Heimdallur, Bouncer At Club Ásgarður

Published February 15, 2021

Gods Of Iceland: Heimdallur, Bouncer At Club Ásgarður
John Pearson
Photo by
Adobe Stock

Superpowers: Bionic eyesight and hearing, (anyone else remember The Six Million Dollar Man?)

Weaknesses: The wives of cuckold mortals

Modern Analogue: That asshole club doorman with the golden dental grill who doesn’t like your sneakers

If you’ve been paying attention to our fabulous and informative Gods of Iceland series—and I do hope that you have, ‘cos there will be a test—then you’ll know that the Norse Gods are a pretty licentious bunch. And most are indiscriminate in the focus of their affections. Family members? Here’s looking at you, Njörd. A lovely horse? For shame, Loki, you shape-shifting scallywag.

But Heimdallur, our latest divine example of Nordic naughtiness, is known for always—quite literally—having the horn. Oh, and for tricking us mere mortals into kinky three-in-a-bed romps.

Your name’s not down, you’re not coming in

Heimdallur’s job is to guard Bifröst, the burning rainbow bridge linking Miðgarð, (the realm of men), to Ásgarð, (the home of the gods). To detect the approach of any intruding monsters or dwarves, Heimdallur is blessed with razor-sharp eyesight and super-sensitive hearing, which apparently enables him to hear the wool growing on the backs of sheep.

Heimdallur requires very little sleep—handy when you’re a security guard—and anyway, nodding off must be difficult with the racket of distantly-growing wool constantly in your ears. Always close at hand is Heimdallur’s horn, which he blows so loud when raising the alarm that it is ”heard in all worlds”, according to the Prose Edda. At least Heimdallur’s resultant tinnitus will drown out the sound of those damn woolly-backs.

Of course our hero has other god-like qualities, like gold teeth (bling!), a horse with a golden mane (bling bling!) and some sort of skin condition that renders him luminous. But perhaps most interesting is his parentage. He is said to have been born simultaneously of nine mothers, who were all sisters. Now we at the Grapevine have fertile imaginations, but if you can talk us through the logistics of that process, please do. It sounds like the anxiety dream of an overworked midwife.

Watch your wife, homestead boy

We hate to stereotype, but to be honest you’d be unwise to trust any of the Icelandic gods; most of them are best-described as being of fluid morality. Heimdallur’s contribution to this reputation is to make a habit of visiting earth, accepting the hospitality of mortal couples and offering advice in return. But the deal also involves Heimdallur sleeping between man and wife for not one, but three consecutive nights. At the end of which–surprise!–the wife will have fallen pregnant, putting Heimdallur firmly into the category of worst house-guest ever.

So if some glowing guy shows up at your homestead atop a golden-maned horse, blowing his horn and flashing you his gleaming grill as he dispenses unsolicited advice, it’s probably best for your marriage if you don’t invite him in for a goblet of mead. Trust us.

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