In Norse mythology, Ymir, also named Aurgelmir (Old Norse gravel-yeller) among the giants themselves, was the founder of the race of frost giants and an important figure in Norse cosmology.
Snorri Sturluson combined several sources, along with some of his own conclusions, to explain Ymir's role in the Norse creation myth. The main sources available are the great Eddic poem Völuspá, the question and answer poem Grímnismál, and the question and answer poem Vafþrúðnismál. The Völuspá opens with the Norse account of the creation of the present universe :
According to these poems, in the beginning there was nothing except for the ice of Niflheim, to the north, and the fire of Muspelheim, to the south. Between them was a yawning gap called Ginnungagap and there a few pieces of ice melted by a few sparks of fire created a moisture called eitr, the liquid substance of life. Ymir was the first to be conceived as drops of eitr joined together and formed a giant of rime frost (a hrimthurs) and sparks from Muspelheim brought him to life. While Ymir slept, the sweat under his arms became two more giants, one male and one female, and one of his legs mated with the other to create a third, a son Þrúðgelmir. These were the forebearers of the family of frost giants or jutuns. They were nursed by the cow giant Auðumbla who, like Ymir, was created from the melting ice in Ginnungagap. Auðumbla herself fed on a block of salty ice, and her licking sculpted it into the shape of a man who became Búri, the ancestor of the gods (Æsir) and the grandfather of Odin.
Buri fathered Borr, and Borr fathered three sons, the gods Vili, Vé, and Odin. These brothers killed the giant Ymir, and unleashed a vast flood from Ymir's blood killing all the frost giants but the son of Þrúðgelmir, Bergelmir, and Bergelmir's wife who all took safety in a hollow tree. Odin and his brothers used Ymir's lifeless body to create the universe. They carried it to the center of Ginnungagap and there they ground his flesh into dirt. The maggots that appeared in his flesh became the dwarves that live under the earth. His bones became the mountains, his teeth rocks and pebbles. Odin strewed Ymir's brains into the sky to create the clouds, and took sparks and embers from Muspelheim for the sun, moon and stars. The gods placed four dwarves—Norðri (North), Suðri (South), Austri (East), and Vestri (West)—to hold up Ymir's skull and create the heavens.
Full article ▸