Voluspa or Völuspá means The Prophecy of the Seeress and tells the story of the creation and coming destruction of the world related by a völva or seeress in what could be described as a shamanic trance to Odin. It is considered a primary source for the study of Norse mythology. It is the first song in the collection known as the Elder Edda.

The prophecy commences with an address to Odin (or Óđinn), (who summoned her by use of seid), in which the seeress Heidi explains how she came by her knowledge. She explains further that she understands the source of Odin's omniscience, and other secrets of the gods of Asgard.

She then continues to relate the story of the creation of the world in an abridged form. She then deals with the then present and future happenings, the substance of many of the Norse myths, such as the death of Baldur, and ultimately, Ragnarok, the end of the world, and its second coming, as a continuous narrative.


The Völuspá is the most famous and the most furiously debated of the Eddic poems, it is found in the Codex Regius (composed between the 9th to 13th centuries) and in Hauk Erlendsson's Hauksbók Codex (circa 1334), and many of its stanzas are included in Snorri Sturluson's Prose Edda (circa 1220). The order of the stanzas varies in these sources, and widely so between the Hauksbok and the Codex Regius. Many of the published translations (cf. Auden) have further rearranged the material. However, many find the Codex Regius version clearer than these rearranged versions.

The poem is at once as rhythmically beautiful as it is visually severe, a contrast befitting the world it's set in, and reveals a poet of great genius. The gods may be doomed by their past actions, but all is not lost - the struggle can produce a better world.

Óđinn, ever seeking fore-knowledge and constantly pursuing wisdom, compels the Völva (seer) to return to the living and tell what she knows of the world.

The past is revealed, the beginnings of existence. How the world was created, the years numbered, the origins of the dwarfs are revealed and creation of the first man and woman are recounted. Yggdrasil, the world-tree, is described. The seer recalls the events that led to the first ever war, and what occurred in the struggle between the Aesir and Vanir.

Heith (or Heidi), the seer, then reveals to Odin that she knows some of his own secrets, of what he sacrificed of himself in pursuit of knowledge. She tells him she knows where his eye is hidden and how he gave it up in exchange for inner sight; and tells of how he willingly hung, by his own spear wounded, for nine days and nights from the branches of Yggdrasil until he saw the secret of the rune stones. With pain and loss was ever his knowledge gained. She asks him constantly if he would like to hear more.

Then she warns that the shadows will come. The slaying of Baldr (or Baldur), best and fairest of the gods. The enmity of Loki, and of others. The final destruction of the gods where fire and flood overwhelm heaven and earth as the gods fight their final battles with their enemies. All this is forecast, this the "fate of the gods," the ragna rök. She describes the summons to battle, the personal struggles of the gods. She tells of the tragic endings of many of the gods - and how Odin, himself, is slain. It seems that all is wasted and endless night will reign.

However, finally a gleam of hope is revealed; a sliver of golden day-light pierces the gloom. A beautiful reborn world will rise from the ashes of death and destruction; Baldur will live again, but this time in the place where he always should have been, in this new world where the earth sprouts abundance without sowing seed.

While the old gods will be no more, and perhaps even memory of them pass forever, yet that they existed at all was in the end good: for it was their deeds that enabled this new world to grow unopposed into paradise, and finally their best qualities live on in the body of Baldr, in the peace of the land.

External links

is:Völuspá no:Voluspĺ sv:Völuspá uk:Волюспа


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