Chapter 2: The Creation of Human in Norse Mythology

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Chapter 2: The Creation of Human in Norse Mythology

In the beginning of the cosmos, there was nothing but a bottomless abyss, fire, and ice. As the fire and ice met together in the bottomless abyss, there came the story of the World Creation


Once the universe finally had its basic order, the gods were less busy fashioning the world. One day they were wandering along the seashore. Odin and his brothers Vili and Ve were there in the beginning (some accounts tell that Odin's brothers were Hoenir and Lothur). As gods were wandering, they saw two logs along the seashore. We don't know what captured their attention so much that they picked up the logs and fashioned them into what resembled themselves. 

Spirit they possessed not, sense they had not,

Blood nor motive powers, nor goodly colour.

Spirit gave Odin, sense gave Hœnir,

blood gave Lodur, and goodly colour

The gods just picked up the logs and fashioned them based on their own appearance. However, gods desired more of these logs. They wanted to breathe the life into the logs to make them more active and lively. Then Odin gave them the soul. And the brothers of Odin gave them feeling, thought, and the complexion. There came the first humans on the cosmos. Gods called them Ask for the man and Embla for the woman. The pair lived in Midgard the land of the humans which we call Earth today. They dominated there and became the father and the mother of the human race. 

Image of Ask and Embla statue

Statue of Ask and Emble wearing their birthday suit in the main square of Sölvesborg, Sweden

Some accounts though agreed that gods created humans by giving them with the mental power, the process of designing the appearance belonged to the dwarves who were the best craftsmen in the Nine Worlds. 


First off, we want to discuss the name of the first two humans in the cosmos. The word "Ask" in Old Norse means "ash tree", however, the meaning of the word "Embla" remains controversial because no official conclusion has been drawn up on this matter. However, studying only the word "Ask" is exciting enough to dazzle us to the core. To be specific, the first male had something related to the Yggdrasil. Because the Yggdrasil Great Tree of Life was described as an enormous ash tree standing tall in the middle of the cosmos. And the "Ask" word meant "ash tree" as well. Maybe at this point, the Norse myth creators tried to emphasize the importance of men in their society. They valued the men as the men in the Norse society were the main pillars not only for the families but also for the society.

Image of Ask and Embla Norse mythology creation of humans

Odin and his brothers carved the wood and created a human couple 

Ask the Man was created by gods and he himself had a connection with the holy symbol Yggdrasil Tree of the Norse world. Once again, Yggdrasil held the Nine Worlds within its branches and supported many creatures the food and the shelter within their trunks despite the pain Yggdrasil had to tolerate. And the first man in the Norse belief shared this same value: maintaining the life for the family and support his family as much as he could even if he had to bear the agony for himself. 

Among the most popular theories of the word "Embla", the definition that goes well with the definition of "ash tree" was "vine". Embla could have meant "vine". Vine was a type of climbing plant and it always strived to climb to the direction of the light. The "vine" intertwined with the "ash tree" and together they stretched themselves to the better place. One thing to remember was that the Norse mythology wasn't trying to belittle the women by saying the woman was just the vine that appeared small and dependant on the ash tree. We have to bear in mind that the woman in the past didn't have any important role in any places, let alone to be equal and to go along with the man. But this "vine" (woman) could climb along with the "ash tree" (man). This represents the very first trace of civilization in Norse society: respect for their woman. 

Image of Ask and Embla Creation of human in Norse mythology

"Ask" the name for man and "Embla" the name for woman

Regarding the reason why Odin and his brothers created the humans, there was no specific and official claim about this. This is quite different from other mythologies where the humans were created to be the toys for the gods. But the Norsemen weren't the toys. Rather, they were the elite warriors who would fight along their gods until their last breath was taken. One cool theory that I've read was that Odin and his brothers first just wanted to create something resembling themselves. But the more they carved the wood, the more it became something that had never appeared in the world. And there came the greatest beings in the cosmos: the human. 

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