Prophecy of the Völva (Seeress)

Codex Regius 07
Hauksbók 07

  Hittusk æsir
á Iðavelli,
þeir er hörg ok hof
afla lögðu,
auð smíðuðu,
tangir skópu,
ok tól gørðu.
The Æsir met
at Iðavellir
They built altars and temples,
they established hearths,
created wealth,
shaped tongs,
and made tools.
  Völuspá 07

 Christopher Abram in "Pagan Myths of the North" (2011) p. 159

  "The Æsir are represrented as all-powerful at this point in the narrative; they are called regin ('powers') and  ginnheilog goð ('most holy gods'); they sit on rókstólar ('thrones of judgment'). And they seem to perform some sort of religious ceremony, presumably in their own honour. The 'altars' and 'temples' are described in the language of the pagan religion: both hörg and hof are well represented in the historical record as words for sits of pagan worship, although their precise meaning is unclear. It seem curious that the gods should need to create temples— at this point in the narrative, they appear to be the universe's only inhabitants— but the poem seems to suggest that  they are responsible for all aspects of human culture; religion is just one thing that they introduce into the world, alongside the use of tools and the creation of precious objects."
  Sigurd Nordal in "Völuspá"
  "Müllenhoff connected this with íð or iða ('to be moving') and it would then derive its name from the constant labour of the Æsir. Bugge considers the first part to be 'Eden', and the idea of the golden age of the gods an entriely Christian one (Studier I, 417). Nevertheless he was the first to see that it would have been connected with the stem (cp. Latin iterum, 'again') which occurs in iðjagrœnn (cf. st. 59 and Bugge 391) and iða (an ever-renewed whirlpool, where the same water appears to return again and again). But I cannot agree with his more detailed explaination, 'the field where gods meet again in a reborn world.' For it had been thought of as existing in the first age of the gods, and could not therefore be limited by them to Ragnarök and what followed it. It is therefore better explained as 'the field which grows every year unsown' (cf. st 62)"
 The Ida-plains are mentioned again later in the poem, as surviving Ragnarök. The gods meet here in the beginning of time, and the surviving gods meet there in the end of time. This is the only place, besides Snorri's Edda, they are mentioned— here in Völuspá.  

A careful reading of Gylfaginning 16 suggests that Snorri thought of the Ida-plains as located within the earthly city of Asgard (Troy). From there, the gods build a bridge up to the heavens, where they find Urd's well.  Paraphrasing Völuspá 7, Snorri writes:  

"In the beginning he [Odin] established rulers and bade them decide with him the destinies of men and be in charge of the government of the city. This was in the place called Idavoll in the centre of the city. It was their first act to build the temple that their thrones stand in, twelve in addition to the throne that belongs to All-father. This building is the best that is built on earth and the biggest."  

In Gylfaginning 15, he continues:   "The third root of the ash extends to heaven, and beneath that root is a well which is very holy, called Weird's well. There the gods have their court. Every day the Aesir ride up over Bifrost."   (Faulkes translation)  

In Snorri's Edda, the Ida-plains are said to be located in Asgard, but we have reason to doubt this since they survive Ragnarök, after Surt's fire has played against heaven itself and the sky is rent and the earth sinks into the sea.  Thus, it is more likely that these plains were actually conceived of as located in the underworld, the world which exists before the heaven and earth were created and which will exist after Ragnarök. See 'Old Norse Cosmology Drawn from passages in the Poetic Edda.'

     Richard North defines iða as "eddy." Scholars such as North and Dronke connect the word to Iðunn's name and suggest it means "renewal", since these same plains will return after Ragnarok. Dronke for example "assume[s] that the name of the plain refers to the cyclic ebb and flow of the world (and its gods), a perpetually returning cosmos."  In this case, might the Ida-plains be the "plains of eddies", plains where fountains with eddying waters are located? If so, I suggest that they refer to the place the 3 fountains that feed Yggdrassil are located. Hvergelmir means "roaring kettle" suggesting waters in motion, i.e. eddying.

The gods build hofs and hörgs for themselves. Do they simply serve as models for humans to emulate or can the gods be seen as making sacrifices and holding rituals in them?   If so, what or who do the gods worship there?   Perhaps understanding this passage would better help us understand the nature of sacrificing, Why do humans sacrifice? Is it to gain favor from the gods, or is it to strengthen the gods with offerings of food and wealth? If the latter is the case, might the Aesir be seen as sacrificing to one another to increase their own strength?   The Atharvaveda says that the Hindu gods (which are Indo-European in origin, as are the Aesir) sacrificed to themselves.  

Atharvaveda Book 7, verse 5, line 3: "As the gods sacrificed to the gods with oblation, to immortals, with immortal mind...."   The same verse, line 1, reads: "By the sacrifice the gods sacrificed to the sacrifice, those were the first ordinances; those greatnesses attached themselves to the firmament, where are the ancient perfectible gods." (Dwight Whitney Translation). Similarly in Hávamál 143, when Odin hangs on the "windy tree", he does so as a sacrifice to himself.
  Ursula Dronke
in The Poetic Edda, Volume II, (1998) p. 119
"That the gods should build their own temples would seem to be a very ancient motif (as in the Akkadian Creation Epic, Pritchard 68, lines 51-52). The poet of Vsp is clearly influenced by Grímnismál 5, 6, 12, 16, where some of the gods are said to have built their own dwellings. The verb hátimbra occurs only in Vsp and Grímnismál 16, where Njörðr 'lord of men' ...rules the high-built shrine (hátimbroðom hörgi ræðr)"

"...The gods are fashioning the abstract auðr with their concrete tongs and anvils, because Auðr, in myth, is the 'richness' of his sister, Jörð, the earth. ...The scene is succintly symbolic and prepares us for the gods' wealth of gold in the following stanza."