By Mark Puryear
From The Odisbook

Once the first world was established, the fountains of Jormungrund received their guardians. Mimir would take care of the central fountain, hence called Mimisbrunn ‘Mimir’s Well;’ his sons, the Alfar, would guard Hvergelmir, and the Norns, who will be described below, became the caretakers of Urdarbrunn ‘Urd’s Well.’ The primal forces of creation would now be manifested in three holy meads, the purest liquids in all the worlds, which are coveted by every race of beings, including the Gods. In one source their attributes are described in poetic metaphor, when Hvergelmir’s mead is called ‘Cool-Cold Sea’ (Svalkaldur Sær), while Mimir’s is called ‘Són’s Blood’ (Sónar Dreyri), and Urd’s is labelled ‘Urd’s Strength’ (Urðar Magn) and elsewhere ‘Earth’s Strength’ (Jarðar Magn, probably because it strengthens Yggdrasill as representative of the Earth element), all connecting them to their particular powers (see TAE VI. 6).

The symbols connected to these meads overlap throughout the lore, as we see them related to the three primary liquids— water, blood, and mead itself. Hvergelmir is the ‘Mother of all Waters,’ yet it is also a mead fountain. When Ymir was decapitated his blood became the sea. Mimir’s mead is called ‘Són’s Blood’ (Són is another name of Mimisbrunn) and when he is later decapitated himself his blood became or is mead— “the sap which had leaked from Heiðdraupnir-Mimir’s head and Hoddropnir- Mimir’s horn” (TAE LII. 21, LXIX. 24). In one story, Thor drinks from a mead-horn that is actually dipped into the sea, so the ‘sea’ is here seen as mead (TAE XXX. 23-29, 39), just as the Norns rise from the ‘sea’ that is their mead fountain (TAE LIII. 45).

The mead we drink is typically golden-brown in color, whereas that of the Underworld is described as clear (Skírar Veigar— ‘Clear Liquids’) like water, and when Urd and her sisters pour their mead onto the roots of Yggdrasill the tree itself becomes transparent (read invisible) like the membrane of an eggshell (TAE IV. 5).
Water, blood, mead. The water, which came from the ice in the North, the blood that is the warmth or ‘fire’ of life, and the mead that serves as a spiritual intoxicant. Again we are back to the principal ‘divine’ elements of Ice/Water, Fire, and Air/Spirit. To put this further into perspective let’s consider another symbol in the lore, that of the food the warriors in Valhall feast upon. It is said that here the boar Saehrimnir is cooked in the kettle Eldhrimnir by the cook Andhrimnir (TAE XXV. 7). We are told that “few know what the Einherjar eat” which reminds us of the statement about Yggdrasill: “no one knows from what root it springs,” which is interesting because both are connected to the same elements. The Valhall metaphor beautifully displays the creation imagery, and how it can relate to our own feasts and blóts. The word Saehrimnir (Sæhrímnir) means ‘Sea-Rime’ (Remember that rime is the substance of creation, which formed the first world, Ymir, Audhumla, and Buri). Eldhrimnir (Eldhrímnir) means ‘Fire- Rime’ and Andhrimnir (Andhrímnir) ‘Spirit-Rime.’ As in the creation, the ice, sea, or rime is ‘cooked’ or gestated with the fires of the south by the Spirit of Ginnungagap. This then becomes the archetype from which we could cook our own feasts in sacred kettles, to become the sacrificial, communal meal with our Gods and folk.

Materializing these symbols in such a way allows us to interact with them, to experience them in our own ceremonies and prayers so that we too can enjoy a spiritual bond with nature and divinity via the creative elements. When we drink mead, or cook a meal, or offer to the Gods, our actions connect us to the very formation of the living universe. The blót then becomes the ideal celebration of the creative force of the divine, as we ourselves seek to recreate these energies on our own microcosmic level.

The three creative elements of the Fire that cooks, the Water (Mead, Stew, etc.13:00) that is cooked, and the Air/Spirit that cooks it, then provide sustenance to the created element (Earth, i.e. the Practitioners that participate). Keep this in mind when we examine the blóts in a later chapter.

The three meads are continuously found throughout the lore as the substances of life. Odin sacrifices himself twice for drinks from Mimir’s fountain to gain wisdom, Heimdall is allowed to partake in all three liquids in order to empower him for his trip to Midgard, Durin steals some of Mimir’s mead for his own selfish purposes and thus becomes Surt, the first Fire-Giant who will destroy the worlds at Ragnarok (yet another Ice/Fire/Spirit symbol can be seen here:. There are the Frost- or Rime-Giants [Hrímþursar], the Fire-Giants, and Mimir himself is a Giant who protects the well of spiritual wisdom), and the dead are returned to life by a drink from Mimir’s Gjallarhorn, given to them by Odin himself.

The idea is that each mead serves a different function in restoring the life-force of the dead from that of a ‘corpse,’ ‘ghost,’ or ‘draug’ to that of a living being fit for the afterlife. Urd’s fountain, the fountain of warmth, restores warmth to their cold bodies and gives them strength, ‘Urd’s Strength,’ in the same way strength is also partitioned to Yggdrasill when the Norn’s water its roots with the liquid. Hvergelmir’s mead is thought to provide endurance, for ice and water can endure almost anything through their adaptability. Ice is very hard, but is also transmutable when heated, and then it transforms into water, which can flow around or over any obstacle. Hvergelmir’s mead allowed Heimdall to endure his earthly adventures in human form and keeps Yggdrasill resilient against the ravages of time and all that attack it through the ages. Of course, Mimir’s mead gives them the coveted wisdom that Odin sought, which gave Heimdall the inspiration to bring culture to men, and Yggdrasill the creative force to sustain the cosmos.

The lore then states that the golden leaves of Yggdrasill became saturated with the mead that feeds it. The horses of Nátt, our Goddess of Night, and the Valkyries feed on these leaves, then travel across the sky. Foam forms on their bits, which drops as morning dew onto Midgard’s fields, bees feed on this dew as nectar, then make the honey which we brew our mead from. Although this idea derives from a misunderstanding of both dew (which is condensation) and nectar (which is actually produced by the plants that the bees collect from, although we are told that all plants come from Yggdrasill), the underlying concept is that mead is a gift from the Gods, and the substance of creation should not be forgotten.

It was revered as Soma or Soma-Madhu (‘Soma-Mead’) by the Hindus, and Nectar by the Greeks, and is probably viewed as sacred because its substance, honey, is the only food actually produced or manufactured by another animal which we can eat. When we consider the immense importance bees have to our ecosystems, even today, and that Yggdrasill is the very symbol of these systems, the relationship between the two becomes obvious.

That mead is intoxicating relates to its spiritual essence, though, of course, Odin wants us to not drink too much, for “the more he drinks, the less control he has of his own mind” (LXXX. 17).

Once the first world was established, the fountains of Jormungrund received their guardians. Mimir would take care of the central fountain, hence called Mimisbrunn ‘Mimir’s Well;’ his sons, the Alfar, would guard Hvergelmir, and the Norns, who will be described below, became the caretakers of Urdarbrunn ‘Urd’s Well.’ The primal forces of creation would now be manifested in three holy meads, the purest liquids in all the worlds, which are coveted by every race of beings, including the Gods. In one source their attributes are described in poetic metaphor, when Hvergelmir’s mead is called ‘Cool-Cold Sea’ (Svalkaldur Sær), while Mimir’s is called ‘Són’s Blood’ (Sónar Dreyri), and Urd’s is labelled ‘Urd’s Strength’ (Urðar Magn) and elsewhere ‘Earth’s Strength’ (Jarðar Magn, probably because it strengthens Yggdrasill as representative of the Earth element), all connecting them to their particular powers (see TAE VI. 6).

The symbols connected to these meads overlap throughout the lore, as we see them related to the three primary liquids— water, blood, and mead itself. Hvergelmir is the ‘Mother of all Waters,’ yet it is also a mead fountain. When Ymir was decapitated his blood became the sea. Mimir’s mead is called ‘Són’s Blood’ (Són is another name of Mimisbrunn) and when he is later decapitated himself his blood became or is mead— “the sap which had leaked from Heiðdraupnir-Mimir’s head and Hoddropnir- Mimir’s horn” (TAE LII. 21, LXIX. 24). In one story, Thor drinks from a mead-horn that is actually dipped into the sea, so the ‘sea’ is here seen as mead (TAE XXX. 23-29, 39), just as the Norns rise from the ‘sea’ that is their mead fountain (TAE LIII. 45).

The mead we drink is typically golden-brown in color, whereas that of the Underworld is described as clear (Skírar Veigar— ‘Clear Liquids’) like water, and when Urd and her sisters pour their mead onto the roots of Yggdrasill the tree itself becomes transparent (read invisible) like the membrane of an eggshell (TAE IV. 5).
Water, blood, mead. The water, which came from the ice in the North, the blood that is the warmth or ‘fire’ of life, and the mead that serves as a spiritual intoxicant. Again we are back to the principal ‘divine’ elements of Ice/Water, Fire, and Air/Spirit. To put this further into perspective let’s consider another symbol in the lore, that of the food the warriors in Valhall feast upon. It is said that here the boar Saehrimnir is cooked in the kettle Eldhrimnir by the cook Andhrimnir (TAE XXV. 7). We are told that “few know what the Einherjar eat” which reminds us of the statement about Yggdrasill: “no one knows from what root it springs,” which is interesting because both are connected to the same elements. The Valhall metaphor beautifully displays the creation imagery, and how it can relate to our own feasts and blóts. The word Saehrimnir (Sæhrímnir) means ‘Sea-Rime’ (Remember that rime is the substance of creation, which formed the first world, Ymir, Audhumla, and Buri). Eldhrimnir (Eldhrímnir) means ‘Fire- Rime’ and Andhrimnir (Andhrímnir) ‘Spirit-Rime.’ As in the creation, the ice, sea, or rime is ‘cooked’ or gestated with the fires of the south by the Spirit of Ginnungagap. This then becomes the archetype from which we could cook our own feasts in sacred kettles, to become the sacrificial, communal meal with our Gods and folk.

Materializing these symbols in such a way allows us to interact with them, to experience them in our own ceremonies and prayers so that we too can enjoy a spiritual bond with nature and divinity via the creative elements. When we drink mead, or cook a meal, or offer to the Gods, our actions connect us to the very formation of the living universe. The blót then becomes the ideal celebration of the creative force of the divine, as we ourselves seek to recreate these energies on our own microcosmic level.

The three creative elements of the Fire that cooks, the Water (Mead, Stew, etc.13:00) that is cooked, and the Air/Spirit that cooks it, then provide sustenance to the created element (Earth, i.e. the Practitioners that participate). Keep this in mind when we examine the blóts in a later chapter.
The three meads are continuously found throughout the lore as the substances of life. Odin sacrifices himself twice for drinks from Mimir’s fountain to gain wisdom, Heimdall is allowed to partake in all three liquids in order to empower him for his trip to Midgard, Durin steals some of Mimir’s mead for his own selfish purposes and thus becomes Surt, the first Fire-Giant who will destroy the worlds at Ragnarok (yet another Ice/Fire/Spirit symbol can be seen here:. There are the Frost- or Rime-Giants [Hrímþursar], the Fire-Giants, and Mimir himself is a Giant who protects the well of spiritual wisdom), and the dead are returned to life by a drink from Mimir’s Gjallarhorn, given to them by Odin himself.

The idea is that each mead serves a different function in restoring the life-force of the dead from that of a ‘corpse,’ ‘ghost,’ or ‘draug’ to that of a living being fit for the afterlife. Urd’s fountain, the fountain of warmth, restores warmth to their cold bodies and gives them strength, ‘Urd’s Strength,’ in the same way strength is also partitioned to Yggdrasill when the Norn’s water its roots with the liquid. Hvergelmir’s mead is thought to provide endurance, for ice and water can endure almost anything through their adaptability. Ice is very hard, but is also transmutable when heated, and then it transforms into water, which can flow around or over any obstacle. Hvergelmir’s mead allowed Heimdall to endure his earthly adventures in human form and keeps Yggdrasill resilient against the ravages of time and all that attack it through the ages. Of course, Mimir’s mead gives them the coveted wisdom that Odin sought, which gave Heimdall the inspiration to bring culture to men, and Yggdrasill the creative force to sustain the cosmos.
The lore then states that the golden leaves of Yggdrasill became saturated with the mead that feeds it. The horses of Nátt, our Goddess of Night, and the Valkyries feed on these leaves, then travel across the sky. Foam forms on their bits, which drops as morning dew onto Midgard’s fields, bees feed on this dew as nectar, then make the honey which we brew our mead from. Although this idea derives from a misunderstanding of both dew (which is condensation) and nectar (which is actually produced by the plants that the bees collect from, although we are told that all plants come from Yggdrasill), the underlying concept is that mead is a gift from the Gods, and the substance of creation should not be forgotten.

It was revered as Soma or Soma-Madhu (‘Soma-Mead’) by the Hindus, and Nectar by the Greeks, and is probably viewed as sacred because its substance, honey, is the only food actually produced or manufactured by another animal which we can eat. When we consider the immense importance bees have to our ecosystems, even today, and that Yggdrasill is the very symbol of these systems, the relationship between the two becomes obvious.

That mead is intoxicating relates to its spiritual essence, though, of course, Odin wants us to not drink too much, for “the more he drinks, the less control he has of his own mind” (LXXX. 17).