An Elven Story – Chapter Four – The Rainbow Bridge

Edain De Kerri speaks “ There is a sadness about us Elves, only the word sadness does not adequately convey the depths of this feeling. Those of us who missed or refused the first call to Valinor always carried a strange melancholy, a deep sadness which could be seen behind every Elven eye. We loved Arda and were content to be with her but we missed our Elven kin and dreamed that one day we would see the golden palace of the Valar. Though the gates had not closed at this point in time, the journey without the guidance of Oromë would be perilous indeed. There were only two ways to our Elven kin, one way was across the great sea which was perilous full of sea serpents and monsters, and the other was across the great frost bridge. Even the Teleri dare not sail their ships to the outer sea and no one had survived the freezing journey of the ice. “

Sea serpents of the deep are not mythical beings residing in the oceans of the earth, they are turbulent forces which exist outside of the egg which is the electromagnetic field of Arda. These monstrous forms of dragons and serpents are the Elven way of saying that huge electrical discharges were being emitted in the turbulence of the forming earth system. They resembled flaming haired serpents. If you look to the myths of men you can also see stories of creation birthed from the belly of the Serpent Mother. The Elves who missed or refused the first call to Valinor were no longer able to pass with their celestial ships from the electromagnetic egg of the earth and venture to the upper dimensions, where the home of the Light Elves now resided. They were somehow now bound to the earth. The other way to Valinor was just as perilous to cross the rainbow shimmering Bridge.

In Norse mythology, Bifröst is a burning rainbow bridge that reaches between Midgard (the world) and Asgard, the realm of the gods. Bifröst means “shimmering path. Bifrost is the rainbow bridge that connects Asgard, the world of the Aesir tribe of gods, with Midgard, the world of humanity. Bifrost is guarded by the ever-vigilant god Heimdall. During Ragnarok, the giants breach Heimdall’s defences and cross the bridge to storm Asgard and slay the gods.

The original form of the name seems to be Bilröst, which suggests a meaning along the lines of “ the fleetingly glimpsed rainbow.” If Bifröst is correct, however, the meaning would be something akin to “the shaking or trembling rainbow.” In either case, the word points to the ephemeral and fragile nature of the bridge. Bifrost is built out of fire, air, and water by the Gods. The three materials gives the three colours Red “Fire”, Blue “Air”, and Green “Water”. Also known as Asabru “Bridge of Gods”, Not only do the Gods use this Bridge to travel to and from the Earth, it also leads to the Urdar Well, situated at the foot of the great ash Yggdrasil, the Tree of Life, where they assemble daily in council.

The Bridge of the Gods, Bivröst (“Moving Way” in Old Norse) is mentioned in Snorri Sturluson’s Prose Edda, written around 1220 , and in the Poetic Edda which is probably much older . The Poetic Edda is the modern attribution for an unnamed collection of Old Norse anonymous poems, which is different from the Edda, written by Snorri Sturluson. Several versions exist, all consisting primarily of text from the Icelandic medieval manuscript known as the Codex Regius. The Codex Regius is arguably the most important extant source on Norse mythology and Germanic heroic legends.

The Bifröst Bridge is the way to Asgard in the Viking stories. The god Heimdall who waits there is the guardian. He can hear the grass growing and leaves falling from Yggdrasil, he can see to the end of the world and he never sleeps.

The rainbow looks like a giant bridge or gate , it is the Gateway to Heaven. The Zulu of South Africa call the rainbow the Queens Arch because it is one of the frames that form the house of the Queen of Heaven.

A Japanese myth tells of the first man Isanagi and the first woman Isanami who stood on the floating bridge of heaven while creating the island of Onogoro. They then walked down to earth on this rainbow bridge, called Niji. The first gods Kunitokotachi and Amenominakanushi summoned two divine beings into existence, the male Izanagi and the female Izanami, and charged them with creating the first land. To help them do this, Izanagi and Izanami were given a spear decorated with jewels, named Ame-no-nuboko (heavenly spear). The two deities then went to the bridge between heaven and earth, Ame-no-ukihashi (“floating bridge of heaven”), and churned the sea below with the spear. When drops of salty water fell from the spear, Onogoroshima (“self-forming island”) was created. They descended from the bridge of heaven and made their home on the island. Eventually they wished to be mated, so they built a pillar called Ame-no-mihashira (“pillar of heaven) and around it they built a palace called Yahiro-dono. Izanagi and Izanami circled the pillar in opposite directions and, when they met on the other side, Izanami spoke first in greeting. Izanagi did not think that this was proper, but they mated anyhow. They had two children, Hiruko (“leech-child”) and Awashima (“faint island”), but they were born deformed and were not considered deities, but devils.

Auroral sightings in China are rare and would have been caused by a significant solar event so unsurprisingly, the ancient Chinese were in awe of the lights that sporadically illuminated their night sky. It is said that many of the early Chinese legends associated with dragons were a result of the Northern Lights. The belief is that the lights were viewed as a celestial battle between good and evil dragons who breathed fire across the firmament.

In Eskimo cosmology, heaven was located beyond the Dome of the sky by the Shimmering Bridge. The aboriginals of Scandinavia, the Sámi, feared and respected the aurora, and placed auroral symbols on their magic drums, believing that the Northern Lights had supernatural powers to resolve conflicts. This shimmering bridge connected heaven and earth, and ended under the shade of the mighty world-tree Yggdrasil, close beside the fountain where Mimir kept guard.

Northern Lights are called Guovssahasat in Sami language. The Samis used to think that the Northern Lights were living beings with a soul and ability to hear and understand the humans. The Skolt Samis believe the lights are souls of people who were killed in a war. In the northern Finland people used to think the Northern Lights were made by the Fire-fox running over the lands swinging its red tail around it. In the old days the women did not dare to go out without a hat or a cloth on their head. They were afraid their hair could catch fire from the Fire-fox.

The Samis imagined they could hear the Northern Lights talk. During the faster movements of the Northern Lights no-one was allowed to make noises or talk loud. And you could not point them with your finger either. If you insulted the Northern Lights you could be attacked by them and punished. A long time ago there were two reindeer herders in Lapland. They were brothers. The younger brother was killed by the Northern Lights, the Guovssahasat, because he had made too much noise with his yoiking and he had insulted and teased the Northern Lights. They came down on him and killed him.

The Eskimos and Indians of North America have many stories to explain these northern lights. One story is reported by the explorer

Ernest W. Hawkes in his book, The Labrador Eskimo –“ The ends of the land and sea are bounded by an immense abyss, over which a narrow and dangerous pathway leads to the heavenly regions. The sky is a great dome of hard material arched over the Earth. There is a hole in it through which the spirits pass to the true heavens. Only the spirits of those who have died a voluntary or violent death, and the Raven, have been over this pathway. The spirits who live there light torches to guide the feet of new arrivals. This is the light of the aurora. They can be seen there feasting and playing football with a walrus skull. The whistling crackling noise which sometimes accompanies the aurora is the voices of these spirits trying to communicate with the people of the Earth. They should always be answered in a whispering voice. Youths dance to the aurora. The heavenly spirits are called selamiut, “sky-dwellers,” those who live in the sky”.

Wawatay, otherwise known as Aurora Borealis or the Northern Lights, have always fascinated people. For the First Nations peoples of Manitoba,they are more than just the northern lights. The Northern Lights symbolize some of the teachings and practices of the First Nations people. One of these teachings, passed on from generation to generation, is the belief that Wataway are spirits of the ancestors celebrating life, reminding us that we are all part of creation. Their dancing forms a pathway for the souls as they travel to the next world. It is said that when we are living properly and conducting our ceremonies and dances, the spirits of our ancestors dance in the heavens. A teaching tells us that when we leave this earth, we are to dance out the doorway to the next world in spirit form. When we do this, our relatives will meet us. Those left living on the earth will see the Northern Lights (Wawatay) dancing in the sky from the north-east to the north-west.

Aboriginal people commonly saw aurorae as fires in the cosmos. To the Gunditjmara of western Victoria, they’re Puae buae (“ashes”). To the Gunai of eastern Victoria, they’re bushfires in the spirit world and an omen of a coming catastrophe. The Dieri and Ngarrindjeri of South Australia see aurora as fires created by sky spirits. As far north as south-western Queensland, Aboriginal people saw the phenomenon as “feast fires” of the Oola Pikka ,ghostly beings who spoke to Elders through the aurora. The Maori of Aotearoa/New Zealand saw aurorae (Tahunui-a-rangi) as the campfires of ancestors reflected in the sky. These ancestors sailed southward in their canoes and settled on a land of ice in the far south. The southern lights let people know they will one day return.

Mungan Ngour, a powerful sky ancestor in Gunai traditions, set rules for male initiation and put his son, Tundun, in charge of the ceremonies. When people leaked secret information about these ceremonies, Mungan cast down a great fire to destroy the Earth. The people saw this as an aurora. Near Uluru, a group of hunters broke Pitjantjatjara law by killing and cooking a sacred emu. They saw smoke rise to the south, towards the land of Tjura. This was the aurora, viewed as poisonous flames that signalled coming punishment. The Dieri also believe an aurora is a warning that someone is being punished for breaking traditional laws, which causes great fear. The breaking of traditional laws would result in an armed party coming to kill the lawbreakers when they least expect it. In this context, fear of an aurora was utilised to control behaviour and social standards.

The Vendidad or Videvdat is a collection of texts within the greater compendium of the Avesta. The Avesta is the primary collection of religious texts of the Iranian prophet Zoroaster (or Zarathustra). The Chinvat Bridge Avestan Cinvatô Peretûm, “bridge of judgement” or “beam-shaped bridge”) or the Bridge of the Requiter in Zoroastrianism is the sifting bridge, often, the Chinvat Bridge is identified with the Rainbow, which separates the world of the living from the world of the dead. All souls must cross the bridge upon death. The bridge is guarded by two four-eyed dogs. The Bridge’s appearance varies depending on the observer’s asha, or righteousness. As related in the text known as the Bundahishn, if a person has been wicked, the bridge will appear narrow and the demon Vizaresh will emerge and drag their soul into the druj-demana (the House of Lies), a place of eternal punishment and suffering similar to the concept of Hell. If a person’s good thoughts, words and deeds in life are many, the bridge will be wide enough to cross, and the Daena, a spirit representing revelation, will appear and lead the soul into the House of Song. Those souls that successfully cross the bridge are united with Ahura Mazda the Supreme Being.

Maker of the material world, thou Holy One! Where are the rewards given? Where does the rewarding take place? Where is the rewarding fulfilled? Whereto do men come to take the reward that, during their life in the material world, they have won for their souls?

Ahura Mazda answered: ‘When the man is dead, when his time is over, then the wicked, evil-doing Daevas cut off his eyesight. On the third night, when the dawn appears and brightens up, when Mithra, the god with beautiful weapons, reaches the all-happy mountains, and the sun is rising

‘Then the fiend, named Vizaresha, O Spitama Zarathushtra, carries off in bonds the souls of the wicked Daeva-worshippers who live in sin. The soul enters the way made by Time, and open both to the wicked and to the righteous. At the head of the Chinwad bridge, the holy bridge made by Mazda, they ask for their spirits and souls the reward for the worldly goods which they gave away here below.

‘Then comes the beautiful, well-shapen, strong and well-formed maid, with the dogs at her sides, one who can distinguish, who has many children, happy, and of high understanding. ‘She makes the soul of the righteous one go up above the Hara-berezaiti; above the Chinwad bridge she places it in the presence of the heavenly gods themselves.”

As-Sirāt is, according to Islam, the hair-narrow bridge which every person must pass on the Yawm ad-Din (“Day of the Way of Life” i.e. Day of Judgment) to enter Paradise. It is said that it is as thin as a hair and as sharp as the sharpest knife or sword. Below this path are the fires of Hell, which burn the sinners to make them fall. Those who performed acts of goodness in their lives are transported across the path in speeds according to their deeds leading them to the Hauzu’l-Kausar, the Lake of Abundance.

Vaitarna river, as mentioned in the Garuda Purana and various other Hindu religious texts, lies between the earth and the infernal Naraka, the realm of Yama, Hindu god of death and is believed to purify one’s sins. Furthermore, while the righteous see it filled with nectar-like water, the sinful see it filled with blood. Sinful souls are supposed to cross this river after death. According to the Garuda Purana, this river falls on the path leading to the Southern Gate of the city of Yama. It is also mentioned that only the sinful souls come via the southern gate. The Vaitarna River is, to the sinless, a river of nectar. To the sinner, it appears filled with blood, bones, and pus. When the sinner approaches, flames appear everywhere. Those who try and cross, and are in fact sinners, will burn forever in the whirlpools in it’s depths.

In Greek mythology, the River Styx had to be crossed to reach life after death. The only way to cross the Styx was in a ferryboat rowed by a an old boatman named Charon. The boatman would only take a soul if their bodies had received funereal rites on earth. Charon the ferryman also demanded to be paid, therefore a small coin was placed under the tongue of a dead person for this purpose.

It is rare for the Northern Lights to appear over Southern Europe and such appearances require intense solar activity which usually results in red Auroras appearing in the night sky. In the British Isles, the Northern Lights were known as the Na Fir Chlis ,”nimble men” or the “merry dancers,” names belying the fact that auroras were seen as clans at war, and the red light as blood spilt in violent battle. In Gaelic “Na” is the definite article, while “fir” is the plural of “fair”, meaning man, or one. “Chlis” means quick, lively, or nimble. It is, in fact, probably a mis-pronouncing of the word “mirrie” which means shimmering, a very suitable description of the Northern Lights. Thus from Na Fir-Chlis, the nimble / lively ones, we have the sense of motion, of “dancers”, while the description as shimmering, or “merrie”, completes the name, properly . The Mirrie Dancers. That “mirrie” sounds very similar, especially in the Orcadian tongue, to the English “merry” leads to them being called the Merry Dancers, with connotations of happiness, but the name more properly describes their shimmering nature.

In Northern Scotland and on Orkney and Shetland some still call the Northern lights ‘The Merry Dancers’. The Scottish names or the Northern Lights suggest moving forms. As one folk song relates: ‘She called them the heavily dancers, merry dancers in the sky’.(The Northern Lights of Old Aberdeen).

The Lights were described as epic fights among sky warriors or fallen angels. Blood from the wounded fell to earth and spotted the “bloodstones” or heliotrope found in the Hebrides. There is an old story, a young boy goes out fishing and falls asleep in his boat. He wakes to see giants dancing around a great bonfire. But then he realises they are not dancing but fighting and his boat is adrift on a pool of blood. Returning to shore , he finds he has been gifted with second sight. The blood undoubtedly refers to the scarlet aurora that appears during particularly intense solar storms. In another story, the Fir Chlis take part in a war called ‘an linne fhuil’ or ‘pool of blood’ and the local red and green ‘bloodstones’ were believed to be drops fallen from the sky warriors.

Chapter Five

 NB * This is an ongoing project , these are the first chapters more to come

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