Chapter 1: The Creation of Norse World
NORSE MYTH PART
The story began
Before the evergreen Midgard or the majestic stronghold Asgard, the cosmos was a complete void. The only way to imagine the cosmos at that time is to close your eyes. What you see when you close your eyes is completely what the cosmos was at that time. Complete darkness.
At that time, there were only two realms: Muspelheim and Niflheim. In Prose Edda, Muspelheim was the first land that existed in the cosmos. It was the realm of flames, heat, and lava. Many ages passed, Niflheim came into being. It was the land of ice, frost, and cold. Lying between Muspelheim and Niflheim was the Ginnungagap the Gaping Abyss. The fire from Muspelheim spread out and the ice from Niflheim did exactly the same thing and the two met right at the Ginnungagap. And there came the Big Bang Explosion in the sense of Norse mythology that created the very first being in the cosmos: Ymir the first giant.
Before Norse Pantheon
Ymir was no longer alone in the cosmos when other giants came to life. The heat from Muspelheim made Ymir sweat. From the sweat of Ymir, there came many Ymir's giant offsprings.
As the ice continued to melt, there came the very first cow in the cosmos. Her name was Audhumla. Ymir the giant was nourished by the milk of Audhumla. And Audhumla kept herself alive by licking the salty ice. Audhumla's licks gradually uncovered Buri the very first god of the cosmos. Buri later fathered Borr who fathered Odin the Allfather. The mother of Odin was Brestla who was a giantess daughter of Bolthorn the giant. Odin had other two brothers Vili and Ve.
The World Creation and Humanity
For Ymir kept giving birth to many of the giants, Odin and gods couldn't live in harmony with them. So the gods decided to put an end to Ymir's life. The flesh of Ymir was used to create the land, blood for the sea, bones for the rocks, teeth for the mountains and cliffs, skull for the sky, and brain for the clouds. However, it still remains a mystery as to whether the gods used Ymir's body to create Midgard land of humans only or to create the whole Nine Worlds.
Odin, Vili, and Ve created the world
The world was missing the breath of life so gods decided to created the human. On one ocassion, the brothers found tree trunks and used magic to turn the tree trunks into human. So there came the first humans in the cosmos. Ask for the man and Embla for the woman. The pair started to populate the world of humanity in Midgard.
Days and nights were also created. At that time, a family in Midgard had a pair of beautiful children. Their father was so arrogant about their beauty that it made gods angry. Gods' anger quickly motivated them to take the beautiful children. So the pair was brought to the sky and given the responsibility. One pulled the chart to bring the Sun across the sky and the other followed by pulling the cart carrying the Moon. So there came the day and night in the cosmos.
Why Cow Audhumla?
I used to wonder why it had to be a cow? Why not a phoenix that could return from death or a dragon that could breathe fire? That would sound more awesome and fit better for the context of such magical Norse world. But I missed the literal meaning that the creators of Norse myth wanted to convey. We just superficially judge things and seldom see it through, don't we? So after researching for a while, the symbolism hidden in Norse myth just excited me to carry on reading every chapter of the myth.
Cow Audhumbla by Xaphaisa on Deviantart
Universally, cow is the symbolism of motherhood, fertility, and a nurturing soul. First off, the primaeval giant Ymir grew up thanks to the milk from Audhumla. In other words, Audhumla mothered the very first giant whose body was used to construct the world. Second, Audhumla, whether directly or not, brought life to the very first god who was Odin's grandfather. And Odin and his brothers created the world and the humanity. Without Audhumla, there would have been no Nine Worlds at all. Overall, the image of a cow in this context was just perfect fit.
Norse world didn't belong to Gods only. The giants also had a part to share.
We might think that Norse gods were the rulers of the Nine Worlds. But that's not true. Every realm had a king or queen. Gods only presided over their lands. But because of our faith in them, they became the holiness and sole divinity.
But coming to the very beginning of the cosmos, there were always rooms for the giants. Odin, the ruler of Asgard land of Gods, was a son of a god and a giant. Thor was, too. Even the supreme gods had the giant blood running in their veins. But the point was that thanks to the giant blood, these mixed gods became more powerful and stronger.
Where ice met fire
The world was also fashioned by the body of a giant. Although gods created the world, they used the body of a giant to do so. Ever since this event, the giants had great influence upon the world.
However, many of us might have a biased viewpoint about this detail from the myth. The myth pointed out that Gods created the world with Ymir's body. This easily made us jump into the conclusion that all of this world came from the effort of gods. It was right but it was still missing a point - the giant. What about the body of Ymir? If we carefully consider, we will see the obvious link among the world, giant, and gods.
Moreover, the body of Ymir to form the cosmos had its symbolic meaning. It presented that to a certain extent, the giants were still there even if Odin and his brothers slew their ancestor (Ymir). The humanity has been obviously among the two primary armies (Gods vs Giants). We, the humans, always have to fight for two voices inside us: the evil and the angel. We are torn inside between the claim of goodness, order, and holiness and the claim of selfishness, wickedness, and chaos. This fact just exists ever since the human exists. This tension seems to only be ceased when the world comes to an end. In Norse myth, it was the Ragnarok.