ymir, norse giant being killed by Odin
ymir, norse giant being killed by Odin

Odin and co hacking Ymir to bits to build the world.

So if you were a little viking, some 1500 years ago and asked your parents ‘who made the world?’ this is the answer you might have received according to Norse mythology.

In the beginning there was a Great Emptiness with frozen ice to the north and fires to the south. The ice eventually melted bit from the heat rising up and it formed into the shape of a great giant called Ymir and his cow Auðhumla. From the left armpit of Ymir emerged the first man and woman from some drops of sweat while from the right stepped out the frost giants.

Meanwhile the cow produced her own family and her grandchildren were the gods Odin, Vili and Vé. They reckoned it was time to cut Ymir down to size and slew him, drowning most of the giants in his blood.

Now here’s the bit to make you change the way you see the world forever: Ymir’s flesh turned into the earth, his blood became the rivers and lakes, his skull was made into the dome of the sky (with a trusty dwarf holding it down at each corner), while his bones became the mountains, his teeth the rocks and his brains? They floated up to become the clouds.

norse wolves chasing the sun and moon, Skol and Hati

You can run but you can't hide

The gods then put Night and Day in horse-drawn chariots to gallop around the world and set the Sun and Moon up in the sky and to make sure they didn’t slack, a wolf was sent to relentlessly chase each. In fact, at the end of the world both get eaten

So the next time a child asks you where the world came from, forget the Bible and Darwin, tell them a really good story instead.