In Asatru, Heathen, or any of the Northern Paths, or even just those who like Norse Mythology, there is one bridge keeper that we all know. Heimdal, keeper of the Bifrost, Guardian of Asgard. He can hear the grass grow, and see a dew drop in deepest black.
But there is another. Someone who keeps a bridge as vital, if not more so, than the Bifrost. For while the rainbow bridge rises to the highest of heavens to blessed Asgard, there is another bridge. But this bridge crosses a river, not sky. The river Gjoll, which guards the borders of another Realm. And over this river Gjoll is the bridge Gjallarbru, and it is the sole entrance into what is the second most important realm: Helheim. The keeper of this bridge is a female Jotun, an maiden etin (female warrior), trusted to keep those who would trespass from entering, and those who would escape from leaving.
Her name is Mordgud. She is the bridge keeper. Like her Mistress, often forgotten. But she keeps our ancestors safe, just as Hel cares for them. She is a warrior, and one whose power puts her beyond being trifled with. Not even Gods dare to cross her as she carries out her duty. Though she appears young, like her Queen, youth belies power, and just as none escape the gaze of Heimdal, none escape her challenge. She will ferry the dead home, and keep them safe.
The alternative of her name is Modgunn, which translates into “Battle Courage.” Mordgud translates roughly into “Great Killer.” The debate over these two names is unsettled, but I believe that either will work, depending on the situation in which she is called. As a reaper of souls and warrior strong enough to keep the dead in Helheim, and those who would steal them out, “Great Killer” certainly is a fitting name. But as one who guards the guardians, those who protect and defend, “Battle Courage” too is a fitting name.
Hail unto Mordgud, the bridge keeper, the guardian of dead, keeper of those who walk the path of guardians. Give praise to her, and honor, for her deeds are as important as they are unsung.
Thoughts or prayers to Mordgud are well come in the comments. 🙂