• Thu. Mar 30th, 2023

Norse Creation Myth: Fire and Ice from the Abyss


Dec 3, 2022

The Norse folks have been the traditional tribal communities of Scandinavia, who within the modern-day are sometimes referred to or regarded as the Vikings (who have been really a subset of them). Like many different historic communities, that they had their very own concepts about how the earth and the universe have been created.

The Sources of the Norse Creation Fable

Our understanding of the Norse creation delusion comes from a small variety of sources. Probably the most helpful of those have been created within the medieval interval, and subsequently don’t come from the time when Scandinavian folks have been telling these myths. Thus, they should be taken with a pinch of salt.

That is for a lot of causes. Later authors might have simply added data themselves, or as a result of many of those tales weren’t ever written down however slightly handed on by means of phrase of mouth, they could have modified a number of instances as they have been handed down.

Regardless of this, students are likely to assume the myths that we’ve right this moment share most of the similar components and primary buildings of the originals. Not solely have they assumed so due to bodily proof left, like paintings, but in addition from the similarities between  Norse myths  and different European and Close to East creation myths.

Whereas these similarities could very properly be the product of medieval writers making their very own additions to the unique Norse tales, students are pretty assured that the similarities display a shared origin of all these myths.

For instance, there are figures much like the Christian  Adam and Eve  within the Norse creation delusion. The Egyptian goddess  Hathor was typically pictured with a cow, much like the goddess Hera from historic Greek myths. Norse mythology depicts Ymir being nursed by a cow, whereas in Greek mythology,  Zeus is nursed by a goat.

One other widespread theme is homicide of the earlier ruler. That is one thing that occurs in Norse mythology, in addition to in different European myths, just like the Irish  Tuatha De Dannan , who conquers the Fir Bolgs and Fomorians. There are additionally the myths of  Cronus and Uranus, the place this theme is current.

There are attention-grabbing similarities between the Norse creation delusion and different worldwide creation myths. The Tuatha Dé Danann as depicted in John Duncan’s Riders of the Sidhe, 1911 (SevenSeaOcean /  CC BY SA 4.0 )

World Constructing In keeping with the Norse Creation Fable

In keeping with the Norse creation delusion, at first, there was nothing. This void of darkness was given the title Ginnungagap. Finally, two different realms got here into existence and got the names Niflheim and Muspelheim.

Niflheim was positioned within the north and was characterised by extraordinarily chilly climate and everlasting darkness. It was thought to have been the realm of ice, with nothing there however frost and fog. Muspelheim, then again, was identified for its fireplace and excessive warmth. There was nothing there however lava and smoke. It will definitely grew to become the house of the hearth big Surtr, who was finally accompanied by fireplace demons and different fireplace giants.

In Ginnungagap, it was additionally mentioned that there was a spring (or properly relying on the supply) which was given the title Hvergelmir. From this spring, freezing chilly rivers have been shaped. These rivers have been collectively named Elivagar, which meant ‘ice waves’. It was the water from this supply that additionally fed  Yggdrasil, the world tree.

In keeping with some information of the creation delusion, the water from these rivers flowed throughout Ginnugagap and thru its desolate mountain ranges. There they solidified into ice and shaped layers upon layers of frozen wasteland.

According to Norse mythology, a spring in Ginnungagap fed the world tree Yggdrasil (Public Domain)

In keeping with Norse mythology, a spring in Ginnungagap fed the world tree Yggdrasil ( Public Domain )

The First Beings in Norse Creation Fable

In keeping with Norse mythology, the primary beings to occupy this desolate, darkish wasteland have been giants. The primary big was given life when sparks from the extraordinarily scorching Muspelheim flew into Ginnungagap. The lava and the spark from Muspelheim started to soften the ice that had come from Niflheim.

Finally, one block of ice started to soften away, revealing the type of a person. This may be the primary  jotunn (or big), and he was given the title  Ymir. Ymir then gave life to different beings, for when he fell asleep, two extra giants grew from his sweat.

Considered one of these new giants was a feminine and the opposite a male; from the remainder of Ymir’s sweat got here their baby Thrudgelmir. The three shaped the primary household of giants. These early giants have been sustained by breastfeeding from a cow named Audhumbla, who had additionally been shaped from the melting ice in Ginnungagap alongside Ymir.

In the Norse creation myth, Ymir suckled the cow Audhumbla at the dawn of the gods. Painting by Nicolai Abildgaard, 1777 (Public Domain)

Within the Norse creation delusion, Ymir suckled the cow Audhumbla on the daybreak of the gods. Portray by Nicolai Abildgaard, 1777 ( Public Domain )

These giants and the cow, Audhumbla, have been the creators of all different beings. Audhumbla sustained herself by licking a salty rock or block of ice. She licked and licked, till in the future a human man emerged from the rock. This man can be the primary god and was given the title Buri. Buri was mentioned to be massive and good-looking, and would finally take a spouse by the title of Bestla and produce a son named Borr.

In keeping with some sources, in an attention-grabbing flip of occasions, Borr and Bestla then reproduced and had youngsters of their very own. In different variations of the parable, Bestla was Buri’s daughter, and in but others, she was a frost big who was additionally shaped from Ymir’s sweat.

No matter their household historical past, these youngsters have been named Odin, Vili and Ve, the primary of which might go on to change into the king of the Norse gods and rule over  Asgard.

Whereas all this was occurring, the primary big Ymir continued to stay. Nonetheless, over time he grew to become violent, and Odin, Vili and Ve determined they wanted to be rid of him. Moreover, the giants had saved reproducing, which meant they now outnumbered the gods, which was one other problem the brothers wished to resolve.

The logical answer to this problem, in line with Odin and his brothers, was to kill Ymir. Nonetheless, as a result of Ymir was a robust big, they didn’t like their probabilities and so waited till he was asleep to assault him.

An enormous battle broke out between the brothers and Ymir, however the brothers managed to achieve the higher hand and kill the enormous. His blood spurted in all places violently and ended up drowning a lot of the different giants. Solely two have been mentioned to have survived (Bergelmir and his spouse), they usually fled to a faraway land and continued the enormous race.

Odin, Vili and Ve killed Ymir and created the world of Midgard from his body (Sokol_92 / CC BY SA 3.0)

Odin, Vili and Ve killed Ymir and created the world of Midgard from his physique (Sokol_92 /  CC BY SA 3.0 )

The Creation of Earth within the Norse Creation Fable

From Ymir’s dying got here life, nonetheless, as his stays have been used to type Earth. The three gods dragged Ymir’s physique again to Ginnungagap the place it remained perpetually and have become the Earth. The blood that was nonetheless flowing from his physique grew to become the ocean and rivers, and his bones and enamel grew to become the mountains.

His cranium grew to become the sky and his mind the clouds. Odin and his brothers took a few of the sparks from Muspelheim and threw them into the sky so as to create the celebs. The gods additionally constructed Asgard, the realm of the gods and a spot named  Jotunheim the place the giants might stay.

After Odin and his brothers killed Ymir in the Norse creation myth, rivers of blood enable human life to arise (PlasmaCommentates / CC BY SA)

After Odin and his brothers killed Ymir within the Norse creation delusion, rivers of blood allow human life to come up (PlasmaCommentates /  CC BY SA )

As a way to shield this new world from the specter of the giants, the brothers used Ymir’s eyebrows to construct a protecting wall round this new land. This new world was given the title  Midgard (Center Yard) because it was within the middle of the Yggdrasil.

There weren’t solely giants and males on this new world, but in addition dwarves. They have been mentioned to have shaped from the worms that have been crawling out and in of the decaying stays of Ymir’s physique. 4 of those dwarves have been tasked by the gods to go to the 4 corners of this new world and maintain up the sky, for they have been scared that it might fall down. These 4 dwarves got the names Nordi, Vestri, Sundri and Austri (North, West, South, East).

The remaining dwarves made their houses within the rocks and caves. Their house was finally given the title Svartalheim. They have been often called consultants in craftsmanship and have been accountable for making Thor’s well-known hammer,  Mjolnir.

Thor with his hammer Mjolnir, forged by dwarves in Svartalheim, from an 18th century Icelandic manuscript (Public Domain)

Thor along with his hammer Mjolnir, cast by dwarves in Svartalheim, from an 18th century Icelandic manuscript ( Public Domain )

The primary human males have been created by Odin and his brothers. They went to a seaside, the place they discovered two logs; one was ash and the opposite was elm. In different sources, the gods took branches from the world tree and used these as a substitute.

Utilizing his powers, Odin breathed life into the logs, Ve gifted them motion and intelligence, and Vili gave them their form alongside their speech and feelings.

These logs took the type of the primary man and first girl. The person was named Ask and the lady Embla. The Gods then positioned the pair in Midgard the place they carried on the human line.

Carving of Ask and Embla, the first humans (Bengt Oberger / CC BY SA 3.0)

Carving of Ask and Embla, the primary people (Bengt Oberger /  CC BY SA 3.0 )

The Gods of Norse Creation Fable

The gods then went to stay of their realm, Asgard. Nothing else is recorded of Vili and Ve, however Odin went on to change into the ruler of the Aesir gods and married the goddess of marriage and household, Frigg.

Finally, one other tribe of gods named the Vanir would type and stay individually from the Aesir gods in Vanaheim. Historians are likely to consider that these two tribes characterize two completely different Norse cultures. The Aesir have been the gods of the Germanic folks and the Vanir of individuals in Scandinavia. The Germanic folks have been those that moved into Norway and Demark.

The continuous cycles of preventing after which peace between the Vanir and the Aesir is assumed to have been consultant of the connection between these two teams. Though they battled at first, they finally grew to become intermingled and created one group.


The Aesir and Vanir gods may have represented two distinct Norse cultures. Painting, The Northern Gods Descending, by W.G Collingwood, 1890 (Public Domain)

The Aesir and Vanir gods could have represented two distinct Norse cultures. Portray, The Northern Gods Descending, by W.G Collingwood, 1890 ( Public Domain )

The Creation of the Solar and the Moon and of Evening and Day

The solar and moon have been created when a person named Mundilfari had two youngsters whom he named  Mani and Sol  (Moon and Solar). He gave them such names as a result of he believed them to be so stunning. The gods have been angered by this perceived vanity and sought to punish Mundilfari. They banished his youngsters to the sky, the place they have been compelled to drag a chariot, one all day and the opposite all night time.

Sol would pull the chariot throughout the day and was given two horses named Arvakr and Alsvior. She was additionally given a defend named Svalin, which she used to defend the earth from the flaming warmth. Mani was tasked with pulling the chariot at night time. He was given just one horse named Aldsvider, and he stole two youngsters from Midgard named Bil and Yuki to assist him with this troublesome process. Sol and Mani have been chased by two terrifying wolves named Skoll and Hati. The pair managed to outrun the wolves each night time, till Ragnarok.

The Wolves Pursuing Norse sun and moon gods Sol and Mani, by John Charles Dollman, 1909 (Public Domain, colorized)

The Wolves Pursuing Norse solar and moon gods Sol and Mani, by John Charles Dollman, 1909 ( Public Domain , colorized)

The parable states that night time and day have been created when an enormous named Norvi produced a daughter who he known as Nott (Evening). Nott went on to have a son, who she named Dagr (Day). The pair rode chariots like Mani and Sol; Nott’s was pulled by a horse named Hrimfaxi and Dagr’s was pulled by Skinfaxi.

The parable of day and night time is complicated, nonetheless, as a result of information state that they too have been chased by the 2 wolves Skoll and Hati. This appears unlikely in the event that they have been additionally chasing the solar and moon on the similar time.

To conclude, the Norse creation delusion shares many widespread themes with different European and Close to Jap creation myths. Nonetheless, it stays attention-grabbing and supplies an perception into the foundations of Norse beliefs and the tales Norse folks handed on from technology to technology.

High picture: Within the Norse creation delusion, worlds of fireside and ice emerge from the abyss firstly of the universe. Supply:  ivanovevgeniy / Adobe Inventory

By Molly Dowdeswell

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