Jötunheimr, “World of the Giants”) is one of the Nine Worlds, and, as the name implies, the homeland of the giants (Old Norse jötnar).
Jotunheim is also known as Utgard (pronounced “OOT-guard;” Old Norse Útgarðr, “Beyond the Fence”), a name which establishes the realm as occupying one extreme end of the traditional Germanic conceptual spectrum between the innangard and the utangard. That which is innangard (“inside the fence”) is orderly, law-abiding, and civilized, while that which is utangard (“beyond the fence”) is chaotic, anarchic, and wild. This psychogeography found its natural expression in agrarian land-use patterns, where the fence (the “gard” or garðr of the above terms) separated pastures and fields of crops from the wilderness beyond them. In fact, the very word “wilderness” comes from a Germanic language, Old English, where the word formed from the roots wild-deor-ness literally means “the place of self-willed beasts.”One would therefore expect the cosmological Utgard/Jotunheim to be symbolized as a vast, mighty wilderness that surrounds a more civilized world.
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