The creation myth of Norse Paganism is attested in the Eddic stories. This myth starts with an endless expanse of void called Ginnungagap. One one side of the void was Niflheim, a waste of frozen fog, and on the other was Muspelheim, a raging inferno of flames. They swirled together to create the first giant, Ymir, and the cosmic cow, Auðumbla. Ymir grew to a great size from the cow’s milk, and Auðumbla found nourishment by licking the salty rim of Ginnungagap.

At one point Ymir fell into a deep sleep. From his armpits sprouted the first male and female jötunn, and from his thighs grew a six-headed troll. These beings quickly had offspring of their own.

While this happened, Auðumbla licked a man out of the salty ice; on the first day his hair appeared, on the second day his head, and on the third day his body. This man’s name was Buri, who had a son named Bor, who married the giantess Bestla. Their half-jötunn sons were Odin, Vili/Hœnir, and Vé/Loður.

Odin and his brothers slew the giant Ymir. His body gushed so much blood it drowned every last jötunn and troll, save for Bergelmir and his wife who escaped using a boat. Odin and his brothers then fashioned the world from Ymir’s body; his blood became the oceans, his flesh the soil, his bones the mountains, and his teeth the rocks and bounders. Ymir’s eyelashes became a barrier separating Midgard (Earth) from Jötunheim (the world of jötunn). The brothers pushed Niflheim underground and divided the fires of Muspelheim into many different places, including the sky to become stars. Ymir’s brains became the clouds and his skull became the firmament, which is held aloft by four dwarves; Norðri, Suðri, Austri and Vestri.

The Aesir gods then called an alðing (council) to designate the positions of the stars, the passage of days, and the passing of months and years. As time went by, the warmth of the sun and the falling of the rain gave rise to the grass, trees, and plants of the world. The earth was soon populated with all the manner of animals and spirits.

One day Odin and his brothers were walking alongside the sea when they came across an ash tree and an elm tree. From these they made the first man and woman; Ask and Embla. The brothers each gave them a gift: Odin gave them the breath of life or soul. Hœnir/Vili gave them spirit, mind, and/or will. Vé/Loður gave them blood, feeling, and lively complexion. Ask and Embla went on to have many children, giving rise to an abundance of human beings.