Continuing the Novel Gnosis series, in which I tell you about my religious insights gained via writing a novel, we come to Jotunheim. That means the home of the Jotuns / Jotnar, aka giants.

Jotunheim is flat, but the only time in the story human characters were aware of its flatness was when Freya crossed dimensions with Ottar to bring him to see a wisewoman. Most of the time, humans journeying in Jotunheim experience it as if it were a three dimensional universe. (Most of the time, humans experience Asgard that way too, and other worlds.) When Thor and Loki visit Jotunheim, they usually arrive in an empty snowy field near their destination. Jotunheim also has forest and riparian habitat, and even city. It is always winter in Jotunheim. Some Jotnar manage to grow things anyway, variously by creating sheltered spaces, by staying close to the river, by using magic, or by choosing to grow evergreens and other permafrost adapted things.

The river powers Jotunheim’s ecosystem to a great extent. The river starts at a hot springs in the middle of the Iron Woods. That well is guarded by the werewolf people, of which Angrbodha is the priestess. She is the sister of the chieftan. At the springs, the river is so hot it will kill anyone who enters the water, except certain magical beings. It remains hot enough to kill people until after it leaves the Woods, although as soon as it drops below the giving-off-steam temperature there are various fish and other life forms that make it home. The areas next to the river are frost free and many plants grow there. The sides of the river are green, in a land of perpetual white. The temperature of the water drops as the river gets farther from its source, until it becomes a pleasant stream supporting deciduous trees on the banks. There lives Laufey on the the Leafy Isle. The island is full of birch trees, and she makes birch extracts for sale and trade. In the Fireverse, she also made other potions and magics for sale, some of them dark, to buy forbidden books for Loki when she was training him to be a king someday. This may or may not apply to the Laufey of our own universe, since that detail was related to the book’s plot.

Image: icy landscape with river by Katie Walker, creative commons via Pixabay