January 11, 2021 4 min read

The Norse Creation Myth

In the beginning there was nothing. Just an empty void and a mist that stretched as far as the mind can see.  The world was misty, formless and shapeless. There was also the fire world which was always burning. A dark world existed in the far north which was known as Mulheim. Before the creation, Mulheim had eleven poisonous rivers that cut through the dark mist and each river originated from the center in a place known as Hvergelmir.

Muspell

In the far south was Muspell which was always fire. In Muspell everything glowed and burned. When the mist reached Muspell it burned into light. Muspell was not in any form or shape but rather an endless ocean of molten lava. Even before the gods existed there was Surtur who dwelt in Muspell. Surtur wielded a giant flaming sword. Surtur still stands there now undeterred by the flaming lava and the burning mist. He will only leave his station during Ragnarok and burn the world with his flaming sword.

Ymir and Audhumla

There existed a void known as Ginnungagap between Muspell and Niflheim. Over time, the poisonous rivers between the two regions solidified forming huge glaciers. When the ice and fire met, the ice melted into water and in the melting, glaciers emerged a being that is greater than any other in shape and form. The creature was neither male or female but rather it was both at the same time. The creature would become an ancestor of all giants. The creatures name as Ymir and he was one of the two creatures to be formed from the melting ice. Besides Ymir, there was also a hornless cow that licked the salt and the ice for food. The cow was bigger than the mind could comprehend. The milk from its udders flowed into two rivers which nourished Ymir. Ymir drank the milk and grew even larger and he called the cow Audhumla. The cow had a giant tongue that he used to lick people from the ice. When he first licked the ice, he revealed a man’s hair, the second lick unearthed the man’s face and the third lick revealed his whole shape and form. The man’s name was Buri who became an ancestor to all the gods.

When Ymir slept, he gave birth to male and female giants from beneath his left hand. It also gave birth to a six headed giant from its legs. The children of Ymir would become the descendants to all the giants. Buri married one of the children of the giants and they had a son named Bor. Borr married Bestla, a daughter of the giants and they both had three sons named; Odin, Vili and Ve. As the three brothers grew into manhood that they realized that they were forever trapped in Ginnungagap, which was the vast gap between fire and mist.

Odin, Vili and Ve

Odin, Vili and Fe looked to each other and realized what needed to be done. There was a need for a universe swarming with life. The Ginnungagap needed to be filled with the sky and the earth. The three brothers realized that for life to be possible it would only be occasioned by death. Odin, Vili and Ve stabbed Ymir and blood gushed from his at unimaginable quantities that it drowned all the giants with the exception of Bergelmir and his wife who climbed into a wooden box and survived the flood. Odin and his brothers made the soil from Ymir’s’ flesh and the bones they piled into mountains and cliffs. The rocks, pebbles, sand and gravel were made from Ymir’s teeth and bone fragments. The oceans and the lakes were made from Ymir’s sweat and blood. The earth emerged as a disk with seas surrounding the perimeter. The giants lived at the edges of the world close to the deepest seas. Odin, Vili and Fe built a wall in the middle of the world to keep the giants at bay. They called the place within the wall Midgard.

Ask and Embla

Odin, Vili and Ve wandered around the newly created world looking for people and they found no one. The beautiful land and mountains were without people and quiet. They realized that the land was empty. No one fished in the clear waters or hunted in the beautiful hills. They came across two logs one from the Ash tree and the other from the elm tree tossed by the sea side. Odin, Vili and Ve took the logs and created two human beings; they named them Ask and Embla. Ask and Embla became the ancestors of all human beings. They lived in peace in Midgard protected from the giants and other terrors of the universe. Odin became the All-father because he breathed life into the first human beings and became an ancestor to the gods.