Norse, Teutonic, or Scandinavian mythology is the collective myths of Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Iceland. Norse myths were brought into being during the Viking era, which lasted from 1070 A. D. to 1780 A. D. Our main sources of these myths come from the Icelandic Eddas, including the Prose (Younger) and the Poetic (Elder). The Poetic Edda is comprised of thirty-five poems. The Volsunga saga and the Nibelungenlied are also significant sources.
The lack of much further information was the direct result of Christian Termination (Cherry, Intro) Scandinavian mythology holds interesting parallels to other early religions and has strongly influenced modern literature. One of the most important elements to any myth or form of religion is to explain how the world came into being. In the beginning, there was Ginnungagap or “yawning emptiness” That lay between the realms of fire and ice. As the warm air from the south met the north the ice of Ginnungagap was melted forming Ymir, the frost giant, and Audhumla, the primeval cow, from whom flowed four rivers of milk.
From Ymirs’ armpit came the sweat that formed the frost giants. Audhumla began to lick the ice and uncovered Buri, the ancestor of the gods in three days. Buri had a son named Bor whom married a frost giantess. From that union, Odin, Vili, and Ve were born. Growing tired of Ymir’s brutality and the growing band of frost giants, Odin, Vili, and Ve took up arms and slew Ymir and all the frost giants, excluding Bergelmir and his wife who fled across the sea. Odin and his brothers then threw the corpse of Ymir into Ginnungagap.
Ymir’s flesh became the earth, his unbroken bones mountains, his teeth and jaws rocks and boulders, his blood rivers, lakes, and the sea, and his skull the sky held at the corners by four dwarfs. Sparks were used to make the sun, the moon and the stars. From Ymir’s flesh also the light elves that were placed in Alfheim. Odin Vili and Ve came upon two beautiful fallen trees, an Ash and an Elm. Odin gave them soul; Vili gave them emotion and intelligence; Ve gave them the ability to see and hear. They became the First Humans, Ask and Embla. The gods gave them Midgard.
Angered by Mundilfari’s comparison of his children to the sun and the moon, Odin made them into constellations to guide the actual heavenly bodies. This creation myth has strong relation to that of Babylon when Mardok the champion slew Tiamat to form the universe(Ultimate Encyclopedia of mythology 183 186 195 253) The firmament of the nine realms in Scandinavian mythology was Yggdrassil, meaning, and “dreadful mount “It” was the cosmic ash tree (Ultimate Encyclopedia of mythology 252) It’s Name is a reference either to the gallows or to Odin’s horse Odin did hang himself for nine nights in order to learn wisdom.
Yggdrasil’s three roots descended into the nine worlds. However there seems to be much speculation of how they lay. ‘Three roots spread three ways Under the ash Yggdrasil: Hel is under the first, Frost Giants under the second, Mankind below the last’ (The Elder Edda 66) However, in The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Mythology it seems to be described somewhat like this: Asgard, the stronghold of the gods lay on the first root. Along with Asgard were Vanaheim, the home of the Vanir, and the Well of Urd, the meeting place for the Gods.
Muspelheim, the land of fire, and Nifleheim, place of the dead lay upon the second root; that Nidhogg the dragon gnawed on. ‘ The hardships endured by Yggdrasil Are more than men can dream of: Harts Bite the Twigs, the trunk rots, Niddhogg gnaws at the roots. ‘ (The Elder Edda 67) Jotunheim, the land of the giants, lay upon the third root, also upon it was, Midgard, the home of humans. Also upon that root lay the well of Mimir, the source of all wisdom. The rainbow bridge, Bifrost connected Asgard to Midgard.
Upon the high branches of Yggdrasil, Ratatosk, the messenger squirrel dwelled with Vidofnir, the cock. The cause of this variant in texts seems to be elusive, yet we must consider that the Elder Edda is a poetic source with simplified information, while The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Mythology is a compilation of many texts. It would be safe to think that both are correct by the varying stories of Scandinavian Mythology. ‘
I am called Grim, I am called Traveler, Warrior and Helmet-Wearer, Agreeable, Third, Thud and Ud,High-One and Hel-Blinder Broad-Hat, Broad-Beard, Boat-Lord, Rider, All-Father, Death-Father, Father of Victory… ‘ (The words of Odin in The Lay of Grimnir) (The Elder Edda 69) By many other names is the All-Father called, yet it would be rude to continue the passage too far. “Like Zeus Odin was the sky father… He is a strange and solemn figure, always aloof… He eats nothing… while other gods feasted Odin pondered what thought and memory taught him. ” (Hamilton 308) He was responsible for postponing Ragnarok for as long as possible.