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The Völuspá ( isl. ), Old north. Vǫluspá - " prophecy of the seer " (völva = seer + spá = prophecy) - is the first of the 16 songs of gods in the "Book of Kings" Codex Regius with 63 stanzas (see also: Edda ). A slightly different version with 57 stanzas can be found in the Hauksbók .

The Völuspá is considered to be the most important poem of the Nordic Middle Ages . The normalized form (comparison between Codex Regius and Hauksbók) consists of 66 stanzas. These stanzas consist of stick rhymes ( Fornyrðislag ).


The Völuspá prophetess is the Völva (seer, sorceress). Depiction on a postage stamp from Postverk Føroya from 2003. Artist: Anker Eli Petersen .
The beginning of the end of the world Ragnarok .
The new world after Ragnarök, as it is described in the Völuspá (drawing by Emil Doepler , 1905)

The time and place of origin are still controversial in research. While in the 19th century mostly a very early dating was done, in the 20th century most researchers agreed with Sigurður Nordal that the Völuspá originated around the year 1000. Nordal argued that the poem dealt with the end of the world and that at that time all of Christianity reckoned with the Apocalypse in the year 1000 or 1033 (1000 years after the birth of Christ or his death). This fear, however, is only a romantic myth and there is no reliable evidence for it in the sources. It is therefore unclear when a first version of the poem was written. Many motifs are likely to be much older than the Völuspá itself. In some cases, an Indo-European background is assumed. Many motives were attributed to Christian influence, but this is controversial in all cases.


The words are put in the mouth of a seer who tell of the creation and the end of the world (see also: Germanic creation story ), to the end of the world (the Ragnarök ) and the associated new emergence, with the emphasis on the future, the end of the world lies. The unknown poet of the Völuspá falls back on old Nordic myths , which are generally assumed to be known, so that much is briefly touched on. The Völuspá differs from most of the Edda songs of the gods because it is not a mere list of various religious elements, but a coherent sequence of actions from beginning to end.

The basis of the current versions is the reorganized form of the Norwegian philologist Sophus Bugge (1833–1907). In Bugge's interpretation, the song began with a performance by Völva . The seer first tells of creation, of the beginning of time in the mythical emptiness Ginnungagap , of the creation of the world and of how the gods succeeded in bringing order into the universe.

After a short detour, during which the seer reports on the creation of the dwarfs, it is shown how the first humans were created, by the Norns , the personified fate, who are located at one of the roots of the world tree, the Yggdrasil ash .

This is followed by a description of the first war in the world, in which the two families of gods, the Aesir and Wanen , quarreled over the murder of the mystical Gullveig .

The second part of the Völuspá begins with the murder of the cheerful and kind-hearted Baldrs . This crime is the initiation of a series of violent acts that culminate in the battle of fate, the Ragnarok , in which gods and giants kill each other. Ragnarök is the end of the world, when the earth sinks into the sea and the world returns to complete darkness of chaos . During this time the world is wrapped in a cloak of snow and ice, brothers fight against brothers and Fenrir frees himself from his bondage Gleipnir to devour the sun and even Odin . In the era known as the time of the wolf , it says in verses 45 and 46:

Brothers then beat,
murder one another;
sons spoil kinship;
The world is desolate,
full of fornication; It's time to
beat, sword time,
shattered shields,
wind time , wolf time,
until the world collapses -
not one man wants
to spare the other.

According to the seer, however, a new world will arise out of the waves, on which Baldr and his slayer, Höðr , will rule. A new golden age for gods and humans begins.


Since the Völuspá represents the entire mythological world history from creation to extinction, the number of figures mentioned is very large. The main characters involved are


  • In the Völuspá catalog of dwarves, many names of dwarves have come down to us, which JRR Tolkien used in the Hobbit .
  • The symphony No. 9 Sinfonia Visionaria for soli, choir and orchestra by the Swedish composer Kurt Atterberg , completed in 1956, uses the Völuspá as a textual basis.

Individual evidence

  1. http://www.thomasnesges.de/edda/woeluspa.html


  • Ludwig Ettmüller : Vaulu-Spá. The oldest monument of the Germanic-Nordic language. Along with a few thoughts on Northern knowledge and belief and Nordic poetry. Weidmann, Leipzig 1830 ( digitized version ).
  • Rudolf Simek : Middle Earth. Tolkien and Germanic Mythology. CH Beck, Munich 2005, ISBN 3-406-52837-6 ( Beck'sche series 1663).
  • Helmut G. Nikolai: Völuspá. In old Icelandic and German. = Revelation of the seer. Old Icelandic according to the Codex Regius. 4th edition revised by Hans Kuhn. Translated into German and commented. Uthr-Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2008, ISBN 978-3-941131-02-6
  • John McKinnell: "Völuspá" and the Feast of Easter. In: Alvíssmál. 12, 2008, ISSN  0942-4555 , pp. 3–28, online (PDF; 290 KB) .

Web links

Commons : Völuspá  - album with pictures, videos and audio files
Wikisource: Völuspá  - sources and full texts
Wiktionary: Völuspá  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations