Myths – In the beginning

Far back in time, before history, before the world even existed, there was nothing but a vast yawning abyss, Ginungagap. 

To the North the abyss was bitterly cold, here there grew ice and fog, where the cold gathered we call Niflheim.  Within the ice glaciers stirred and icy water flowed, the source of these waters we call Hvergelmir, the source of all life.

To the South the abyss was fiery hot, the air boiled with fire, lava and smoke.  This place we call Muspelheim.  The great heat from the fires sent sparks into the great void, and gloopy bubbles of lava that drifted into Ginnungagap.

Where the glaciers of Niflheim met the molten lava of Muspelheim they mixed together with a hiss of steam.  The fire melted the ice and water began to drip.  From the ice a figure slowly took shape, it was shaped like a man only ten thousand times bigger.  This was Ymir, the first of the giants.

As Ymir slept he sweated the same blend of fire and ice that he was born from, the sweat shaped itself into more of his kind, sons and daughters

A second shape emerged from the primal forces of ice and fire, this time a giant cow, Audhumla.  Milk flowed from Audhumla’s teats which nourished Ymir and the Jotuns.  Audhumla licked at the salty ice for her own nourishment.  Where the cow licked the ice softened and melted, first it revealed soft hair, then a head, and next a body.  When Audhumla had licked enough Buri stepped out from the salty rock, Buri was strong, clever and handsome, the first of the Aesir.  From Buri three sons were given life, Odin, Vili and Ve.

Ymir felt the heat of Muspelheim and he sweated constantly, every day more jotuns emerged from his armpits, between his legs, and all the moist crevices on his body.  Soon there were so many each day became a battle for sustenance.

Odin, Vili and Ve realised that things could not continue as they were.  The only solution they could see was to kill Ymir before the giants become so many they could not all survive each day that passed. There were only three Aesir and countless giants, and the three brothers knew their lives would be brutally short.

The next time Ymir fell asleep and his sweat began to pool beneath him, they attacked.  Ymir was killed and a huge wave of blood spouted out from his body, his children woke and rushed to avenge him just in time to be swept away by his blood, leaving most of them drowned, the few that didn’t perish fled,

Odin, Vili and Ve wanted to honour Ymir.  They dragged his remains to the centre of Ginnungagap, and created the world from his remains.  Ymir’s flesh became the land, his blood became the oceans, rivers, and lakes.  Ymir’s bones they shaped into mountains, his teeth into rocks. His hair became trees and grass.

They threw his brain up in the air and it became the clouds, and his skull became the sky, that covered the new world. The three brothers caught some of the sparks shooting out from Muspelheim, they threw the sparks up into the air where they would light to night skies as stars.

They chose a beautiful place to build themselves a home which they called Asgard, far away they built a place called Jotunheim where the surviving giants could live.

While the brothers were busy creating the world worms fed on Ymir’s rotting flesh, the worms grew fat and began to take on the shape of Ymir, they became the dwarves.  Odin Vili and Ve gave the dwarves a home under the ground in Svartalfheim in return for four of them them holding up the sky.  Nordi, Vestri, Sundri and Austri took on the task while their kin learned to use all the resources of the earth to become expert craftsmen.

In the centre of the all grew Yggdrasil the world tree, which holds all the nine worlds in their given places. Yggdrasil is the tree of life, the branches stretch out over all of the heavens and it’s roots delve to the depths of the underworld

Yggdrasil has three enormous roots, the first root from is in Asgard, the home of the Gods.  It is watered by the well-named Urd, where the Aesir meet.  The second root from Yggdrasil goes all the way to Jotunheim, the land of the giants, this root is watered by Mimir’s well. The third root goes down to Niflheim, to the well Hvergelmir source of all life.

In Niflheim the roots of Yggdrasil are chewed by the dragon Nidhug who sucks the blood out of the dead before they enter into Hel.  At the very top of Yggdrasil lives an enormous eagle. Nidhug and the eagle truly despise each other. They are forever insulting each other, Ratatosk the squirrel spends the entire day running up and down the great tree to pass on every ill word he hears.  Each time he passes four stags Dainn, Dvalinn, Duneyrr, and Durathror who shake their heads as the gossip passes then go back to grazing on the leaves of the great tree.

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