In the morning of time was Gunnunga-gap, the great abyss. To the north was Nifl-heim, the home of mists and darkness, and to the south Muspel-heim, the home of flame giants. In the midst of Nifl-heim there burst forth Hvergelmir, ‘the roaring cauldron,’ from which flowed Elviagar, twelve great rivers. These waters were frozen in the winds of the gap, melted by the heats of Muspel-heim; and the steam re-frozen into hoarfrost and brine. Thus came into being Ymir.

Seeking food the giant discovered Audhumla, a great cow from whose udders ran four streams of milk. Drinking deeply Ymir then slept, and being hungry herself, Audhumla began licking the brine from the giant’s body. Thus was Buri exposed, first of the gods. Mimer and Bestla were born of the perspiration of Ymir's left armpit. Hrimthursar, first of giants, from the sweat of Ymir's feet.

Hrimthursar brought forth Bergelmir and Buri brought forth Bor, and so was begun the struggle of the gods against the giants. At the first they were evenly matched, but Bor took Bestla to wife and she begot Odin Vile and Ve, three mighty gods. Now was the tide turned toward the gods, and great Ymir was slain, and the blood of his wounds caused a deluge in which all of the giants, save only Bergelmir, were slain.

The gods then took up Ymir's body; and from the giant's flesh was ground the soil of Midgard (middle garden-between Nifl-heim and Muspel-heim), from Ymir's shattered bones and teeth were made the rocks and stones of the earth, and from the giant's blood were made rivers and lakes. The Aesir gods built for themselves Asgard, the celestial city, wherein is build Idavoll, High Thing-stead of the gods. Here is set Odin's golden throne. The gods then gave form to the maggots that swarmed in Ymir's body, and these became the dwarves that dwell in Svartalf-heim, in the deep places of the earth. Modsognir is their king. The sons of Bor then discovered two logs: one of ash and one of alder, and from these Ve, Odin and Vile formed Ask and Embla, the father and mother of the human race.

Ygdrasil, the tree of existence was set in order by the will of Odin. He has three mighty roots. One reaches even to Asgard and receives warmth and life in Hela's glittering plains from the fountain of Urd. Another reaches Jotun-heim, whence Bergelmir fled and raised his evil brood, and this root is fed in the egg-white well of Mimer. The third root is in gloomy Nifl-heim and drinks of Hvergelmir. Above Midgard the gods placed Ymir's skull, held aloft by four strong dwarfs: Nordre, Austri, Sundri and Westri. Alf-heim is home to the elves of light. The Vana-gods, who once made war with the Aesir, dwell in Vana-heim.

Black Book > Norse Mythology