If you’re familiar with Norse mythology at all, you’ve probably heard of the Rainbow Bridge. The Norse called it Bifröst. The etymology of the word is not fully known, but it translates roughly as, “the vibrating or trembling rainbow.” Another possibility is “shimmering rainbow.” This supposedly speaks to the fleeting and fragile nature of a rainbow.
Bifröst is the bridge that links Asgard, the home of the gods, with Midgard, the world of humans. The gods traverse Bifröst on horseback, moving between earth and heaven. The Rainbow Bridge stretches from this world to Himinbjörg, “heaven mountain,” home of Heimdallr, the watcher of the bridge. Heimdallr is a god who is equipped with a mighty horn to warn of Ragnarök, the death of the gods and the end of the world. The bridge will be destroyed when the sons of Muspell, a race of giants, ride across and trigger the end of times for gods and men.
I’ve been thinking about these images today and have arrived at the conclusion that they have great meaning for one trying to fathom the truths of the soul. Since the soul is a kind of bridge between spirit and matter, being the metaxy in Platonic terms, it is analogous to Bifröst. Now, the gods, except for Thor, travel the Rainbow Bridge and descend every morning to Midgard, assembling at the Fountain of Urd to sit in judgment. Thor was told he had to find another route to the fountain. Because of his great strength and power, it was feared the god of thunder would destroy Bifröst if he set his feet or his chariot wheels upon it, the bridge being very fragile. The balance between heaven and earth, spirit and matter, is very delicate. The soul must be built and fortified over many years if it is to stand strong and mighty when the giants of adversity come storming across.
Even then, however, the bridge may collapse, just as we sometimes have “breakdowns.” But Bifröst, and bridges in general, symbolize a state of transition, moving from one mode of being to another. Cirlot says, “there are a great many cultures where the bridge symbolizes the link between what can be perceived and what is beyond perception” (A Dictionary of Symbols, p. 33).
Bifröst also points to something I wrote about in my article, The Brunian Revolution, Part 4: Epistemology, where I discussed Bruno’s idea of the copulation between human minds and the anima mundi, the cosmic mind. This is gnosis that flows freely between heaven and earth, macrocosm and microcosm, just as the gods descend and ascend across the Rainbow Bridge. Bifröst is fragile, though, so the metaxical bridge must be guarded closely, lest ragnarök is unleashed.