In the beginning, before the birth of the gods and giants, dwarfs and elves, humans and Valkyrie, there existed Ginnungagap, the Great Void Chasm. On either side of Ginnungagap, ice from Nilfheim and fire from Muspelheim could not exist together, being utter opposites. However, the eternal heat of Muspelheim warmed the air with the Chasm and the air came into contact with the ice of Niflheim. As the ice began to melt, life came into being.
From the combination of fire and ice, Ymir, the father of the frost giants, and the cow, Auðumbla (Audhumbla), were born. Ymir fed from Auðumbla’s milk while the cow licked at the salty ice for nourishment. As Auðumbla licked, she uncovered a man in the ice, and three days later Búri, grandfather of Odin and the Aesir gods, was born from the ice. At the same time, Ymir birthed a man and a woman from the sweat of his left armpit and a son for them from his right leg. From Ymir’s children all of the frost giants were born. Also, the dwarfs were born from Ymir, but the exact method depends on the source of the story whether it is The Poetic Edda or The Prose Edda. In the former, the dwarfs were born from Ymir’s blood and bones, and in the latter, the dwarfs began as maggots festering in Ymir’s flesh before the Aesir later gave them reason as a gift.
Búri begot Bor (the first example of normal procreation and birth in Norse myth), and Bor married the frost giant Bestla, daughter of Bölþorn (Bolthorn). Bor and Bestla bore three sons: Odin, Vili and Vé.
Together Odin, Vili and Vé murdered Ymir and created and shaped Midgard, the mortal world, from his body. They fashioned the earth from his flesh, the mountains from his bones, and the rocks and gravel from his teeth and molars and all of Ymir’s broken bones. Ymir’s blood flowed in such vast amounts that all of the frost giants drowned except Bergelmir and his unnamed wife who managed to escape the flood of blood on a lúðr, which was some sort of floating object, possibly a ship, I do not know. His blood formed the lakes, seas and oceans of Midgard. Finally, the three brothers took Ymir’s skull and made the heavens, putting four dwarfs called Norðri (North), Suðri (South), Austri (East) and Vestri (West) in the four corners of the heavens to hold it up.
None of the sources I have access to describe the creation of the álfar (elves). It is possible that the creation stories of the elves simply did not survive the test of time.
However, we do have stories about the creation of humans. There are two versions of the myth. In the first story, Odin, Hönir, and Lothur created Ask and Embla, the man and woman who were the first humans. Odin gave them life, Hönir gave them spirit and movement, and Lothur gave them good appear, speech, and the senses. In the second version, it was Odin, Vili and Vé who created the first humans.
That’s the creation myth in Norse religion. I hope you enjoyed the story.
I have not decided yet what I am going to write next week’s post about, any ideas? Otherwise it will be a surprise.
Until next time, have a wonderful day!