For countless ages before the earth began the universe consisted of very little. In the center of everything there was a bottomless abyss called Ginnunga-gap, the cleft of clefts, the yawning gulf.
North of this gap there was a region called Niflheim. This misty, dark, and desolate region was considered the home of fog. In the center of this realm was an eternal spring. This spring was called Hvergelmir, the seething cauldron, which was the source of twelve streams, called the Elivagar. As some of this water approached Ginnunga-gap it met cold blasts of air. The water froze into giant ice blocks which rolled into the abyss making a continual roar like thunder.
South of Niflheim and Ginnunga-gap was the region known as Muspellheim. This area contrasted directly with Niflheim. It was the home of elemental fire where everything was bright, warm, and fiery. It was also the home of the destroyers of the world. Muspellheim was guarded by the flame giant Surtur who had a mighty flaming sword.
"Great Surtur, with his burning sword,
Southward at Muspel's gate kept ward,
And flashes of celestial flame,
Life-giving, from the Fire-world came." (Guerber 11)
Whenever Surtur brandished his sword he sent out showers of sparks and flame into the Ginnunga-gap. These flames and sparks melted some of the ice that was falling into the abyss. The result was plumes of steam and clouds rising above Ginnunga-gap. The steam rose so high that it encountered cold again which turned it into frost. The frost kept forming until it created a massive creature name Ymir, the ice giant. The frost then formed a giant cow called Audhumla. When Ymir became hungry he found that four streams of milked flowed from her udder to provide him with nourishment. When Audhumla became hungry she wandered to an ice block and began licking the salt off of it. As she licked with her rough tongue she uncovered a god who was called Buri, the producer. As Audhumla uncovered Buri, Ymir slept. From the sweat in Ymir's armpit a son and daughter were born and from his feet the six-headed giant, Thrudgelmir, was born. Thrudgelmir then made the frost giant Bergelmir, from whom all evil frost giants developed. Meanwhile, the god Buri produced a son whom he named Bor.
These gods and giants were opposing forces representing good and evil, respectively. They were in constant warfare with each other with neither side gaining an advantage for ages. At some point in time Bor married Bestla, the daughter of Bolthorn, the giant. Bestla gave birth to three sons who were named Odin, Vili and Ve. These three sons gave the gods an advantage over the giants and they helped to finally defeat Ymir, the frost giant. When they killed Ymir his blood flowed everywhere killing all of the giants except Bergelmir who sailed away.
Since the gods no longer were engaged in warfare they had time to improve their bleak surroundings. Thus, they proceeded to make the world using parts from Ymir's dead body.Go Back to Front Page