Humans, Please Stop Misusing the Rainbow Bridge

Heimdal at Bifrost by Emil Doepler.

Heimdall at Bifrost by Emil Doepler.

I have a message for humanity from Heimdall. Let me first explain how I got this message. While I’ve been writing my novel in progress Some Say Fire, I have sometimes gotten flashes of UPG. This year I’ve been spending close to full-time-work hours open to the gods, thinking about them, devoting my time and energy to them, inviting them into my mind if they have anything to say. I feel that sometimes what flowed out of my fingers while I was writing was inspired by the gods. Out of thousands of hours of being open to them, I got perhaps a few minutes of actual messages, so I’m not claiming to be any better at receiving their messages than anyone else. I just happened to be able to spend the time doing it because I’ve writing a novel based on heathen mythology. When I received this message, it was in the form of a story that fits into my novel. I’m going to quote the message, and then analyze what I think the message means, and then present some information that could be used to follow the message if one wishes.


Heimdall’s Message to Humankind: A Story 

Thor and Loki walked to the Rainbow Bridge. The rainbow lay melted on the ground like an oil slick on a puddle. The puddle shimmered over a green field full of little white flowers and what looked at first like hail lying in the meadow. When they got closer, they saw the hailstones were the curled up bodies of animals.

Thor asked Heimdall, “What happened to the Bridge?”

Heimdall’s gold teeth glittered as he spoke. “The humans of Midgard weighted it down with hundreds of millions of dead dogs and cats. Not traveling across it. Not sending dogs to Zisa and cats to Freya. Sitting there. Waiting. Until the Bridge broke under the strain.”

“How can we fix it?” Thor asked. “Loki, get the dwarves to make a new bridge.”

“I have no way to get to Svartalfheim without the Bridge.”

“Oh. Right.” Thor turned to Heimdall, who shone with rainbow light. “How are the dead getting to Valhalla? Can the Valkyries still ride without using the Bridge?”

“They cannot, and the dead are rising in Midgard. Those slain in battle are becoming draugr instead of einherjar.”

“But that’s terrible! What can we do?”

“Nothing. The Bridge was part of the structure of the universe. We didn’t make it; it just became. Like the World-Tree, and the Sacred Cow, and the first giant she licked out of the ice. All older than us, all part of the same order that gave rise to us. There is nothing any of us can do. I don’t know why I even still stand here guarding the rainbow. Nothing can come over it now.”

Loki said, “You will still need to blow the horn when the time comes.”

“You would remind me of that, Loki? The Prophecy says I am to be the one who kills you in the final battle.”

Loki shrugged. “Someone has to.”

Heimdall put his hand on the ram’s horn hanging from his belt. “You know if I could restore the Bridge, I would, for the sake of the human souls who can’t get to Asgard when they die. The humans are my children. I love them.”

“Twilight comes,” Loki said.


What I Think Heimdall’s Message Means

Humans are misusing the Bridge and it’s putting a terrible strain on it. He wants us to stop.

There is a poem circulating that encourages people to imagine their dead pets waiting for them at Rainbow Bridge, to join them when they die. There is power in human imagination, especially when many people focus powerful emotion on the same image. Grief is a powerful emotion.

The Rainbow Bridge, Bifrost, is for traveling over, not camping on. It is not supposed to be an afterlife destination but a way to go places, including afterlife destinations. Most of the people mentally sending their dead pets to wait for them at Rainbow Bridge are not even heathen. This is not just a matter of cultural appropriation of the imagery of the Bridge. It’s actually affecting the Bridge itself, putting a load on it that it can’t handle. If we break the Bridge, we break the afterlife, and it will lead to Ragnarok.

The Bridge is Heimdall’s concern as its guardian. In my opinion, there is an additional concern that may be of interest to non-heathens: if you do not expect to go to Asgard when you die, and you send your beloved pet to wait for you on the Bridge to Asgard, he will be waiting there for you forever. Forever, looking down the road and waiting to run to you wagging his little tail, until the universe collapses in fire or ice, while you went somewhere else. Please stop doing this, everybody.


How We Can Follow This Message

If you want your animals to go to appropriate heathen afterlife destinations, it would make the most sense to visualize them going to the god associated with that specific type of animal. The following list contains both European and American animals because it is derived not only from Icelandic, English, and Germanic / Continental traditions, but also from Urglaawe, the Pennsylvania Dutch tradition. It is not a complete list of all known animal associations and animal forms of the heathen gods, but an attempt to include all possible animals that one might conceivably keep as a pet, livestock, or personally owned performing animal.


Animals and Their Associated Heathen Gods

Bear: Odin, Thor, Modi
Beaver: Berchta, Frigga, Holle
Bee: Thor, Eir, White Haired Woman (Weisskeppichi Fraa)
Bird (songbird): Sigyn
Butterfly: Sigyn
Cat: Freya
Chicken: Frigga
Cow/Ox: Nerthus, Gefjon
Coyote: Loki
Deer/Stag: Freyr, Ullr, Wild Huntsman
Dog: Zisa, Nehellenia, Frigga, Holle
Falcon: Freya and Frigga
Fish, freshwater: Njord, Nehellenia, Erda
Fish, saltwater: Njord, Aegir, Ran
Fox: Tyr, Thor, Loki
Goat: Thor
Goose: Holle, Berchta/Perchta
Horse: Freyr, Wayland Smith
Owl: Berchta, Til Eileschpiggel (Trickster), Frigga
Pig: Freyr (boar) and Freya (sow)
Rabbit: Ostara
Raven: Odin
Sea gull: Njord
Seal: Heimdall
Sheep/Ram: Heimdall
Snake: Odin, Eir, White Haired Woman
Swan: Valkyrie
Turtle: Tuisco/Tuisto
Wolf: Odin



Visualization has power. It’s good to be sure what one is visualizing is really what one wants to accomplish. If readers have anything to add to the list of gods and animals, please add them in the comments.


[Erin Lale is the Acquisitions Editor at Eternal Press and Damnation Books. Her writing and publishing career began in 1985. She has an extensive list of published nonfiction, fiction, poetry, etc. In the print era she was the editor and publisher of Berserkrgangr Magazine and owned The Science Fiction Store, and she publishes the shared world Time Yarns.]


16 thoughts on “Humans, Please Stop Misusing the Rainbow Bridge”

  1. Marydale Stewart said:

    I loved this! The aforesaid sentimental “poem” is everywhere and is read aloud at animal lovers’ gatherings (one I know of releases helium balloons while the R.B. is read over a loudspeaker, thus creating double pollution). As a longtime animal rescue worker and horse owner, I’ve said farewell to too many of my shorter-lived fellow creatures and I believe that their spirits may go a variety of places. Some stay with me for a while, or return in another form. They are never truly gone, but have entered a stream of life on other levels of existence, somewhat like Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Over-Soul, derived from the beliefs of Emmanuel Swedenborg and influenced by the Bhagavad Gita and the Vedas. Now, certainly Emerson never said that our pets jump up and into the Over-Soul flying about overhead, but we might do well to think of the spirits of all living things in this way.

  2. Thanks! Returning in another form is a definite possibility, too.

  3. I’d never heard of the poem that triggered this story, but in my experience Gods are myth makers and storytellers themselves, and change tales according to the needs of the occasion, just as humans have done for ages. The literal truth isn’t what it’s about, and I don’t take this story literally.

    Several of your animal correspondences I recognize from lore or seidhr travels. Some were quite new to me, and I’d love to explore them. Expanding a little bit on your animal correspondences, from lore and experience:

    Aurochs/Cow – the Vanir, from the Uruz rune, folklore and associations below
    Bees – Frey and Freyja (folklore; Frey’s servant ‘Beyla’ is a bee according to Dumezil, although, according to Simek, it may mean ‘cow’)
    Cats – Frau Holle (she is attended by cats in folklore)
    Crow- Loki, from experience and other worshipers’
    Dogs, especially hounds – Frey, Loki and Odin (experience)
    Eagle- Odin (in the getting of the mead), and by cognate with Slavic Perun, who is a white eagle, I would strongly suggest Thor, who historically resembles Perun as king. Also Thiazi, who is not a God, but Skadi’s father. (Interestingly enough, Perun has a huntress daughter, Dziewona……..)
    Fly – Loki, who in Saxo’s version bit Frigg to steal her necklace
    Geese – are associated with the Wild Hunt and Frigg; Volund has duck or goose feet in the Icelandic poem
    Stag – I have seen Nodens, the ancient form of Odin, as a great, extinct giant stag more than once. And I’ve experienced him associated with Elhaz.
    Hind – Perchta, Bertha, Frau Holle (lore), Frigg (experience)
    Horses – Odin, as leader of the wild hunt and in other folklore; The Alcis, the little-known continental twin Gods, known as the Horse twins, related to Castor and Pollux (they may, in fact, BE Castor and Pollux and have come from northern Greek colonies… or, according to the practices of their cross-dressing priests and associations with Horses, be strongly related to Frey and Jarilo)
    Rooster – Menglodd; giants of the underworld, from Svipdagsmal
    Snake – Skadi, according to Snorri.

    The butterfly for Sigyn has been repeated enough by completely separate parties that it should be a part of modern Heathen lore.

    • Rooster also goes with Frau Holle.
      Informally, I’d associate Loki with raccoons based on personality. But that is neither lore nor UPG, just an observation about cleverness.

      Otter, too, since he slayed Otter and had to pay the ransom, and Otters are clever and fun-loving. But I don’t know that I’d use them in altar or worship for him, given the myth’s dark overtones.

  4. I would think people would ask Earth Mother to care for their pets.

  5. Im not sure what bothers me the most about this post, the idea that humans in their grief are causing a problem on Bifrost that the Gods cannot handle or the critiquing of a persons grief according to anothers standards. Once again the Pagan community is boisterous, lacking in compassion, insensitive and uppity. Gee isnt that something new.

  6. James Davey said:

    You’re a fruitcake, Lale.

  7. That was depressing. My cat recently passed away and I found comfort in hearing about fur babies going to wait for us at rainbow bridge . Now I worry that it’s been broken.

  8. Melissa Naujoks said:

    Whilst I understand what you are saying here, I think you may have misinterpreted the poem to begin with… I don’t mean any disrespect, but it would seem as though you may not have even read the poem from beginning to end.. it does not elude to waiting on the bridge, but rather waiting before it.. then, once reunited, crossing it together.. The amount of comfort this poem has given to so very many, the amount of healing and acceptance it has granted… I doubt wholly that the lightening of the many heavy hearts who have lost their best friend and in some cases only friend, could weigh down a creation of pure light and promise… Love conquers all, and light has the power to cast away darkness . Darkness cannot be cast on light to vanquish it.. it doesn’t work that way… Even a black hole, once filled with enough energy, will then mother new stars, as it cannot contain an infinite amount of light… This is the beginning of galaxies if I’m not mistaken…

  9. Lucinda said:

    Your assertion that you know all about the after life and most people don’t, and they are all wrong and causing inter-dimensional chaos, preventing souls from going where they should, is completely mean spirited and arrogant.
    As the kids say “Who died and made you God?”

    • The Millenial Millipede said:

      I agree one hundred percent! But in a culture where everyone HAS to be right is it really any big surprise?

  10. The millenial Millipede said:

    You have to remember that this is just your opinion. Opinions are not reflections of reality. You’re basically saying “all if you who are grieiving over a pet have the wrong idea and are grieving in the wrong way because MY opinion on rainbow bridge are different than yours”. Everyone has their own ideas. Stop making people feel worse about their own opinions about what happens after their pets die by forcing this idea that because this is YOUR interpretation that EVERYBODY ELSE HAS TO BE WRONG just because they don’t have the same views and opinions as you. It’s shallow and causes unnecessary suffering for those need it most.

  11. I like to think that when they die, all creatures great and small including humans pass over the rainbow bridge to a place of eternal rest and peace.

    • I think what you said is just your opinion. Animals are created by God and those of us with faith believeGod has a special place for these beautiful creatures. I feel you have a mean spirit.

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