Saturday, January 30, 2010

History of Nordic Mythology IV: Germanic Creation Myths

Dear ‘Hyperborea Exists’ followers:

Yet another week, I’m here with all of you with my basic lessons about the history of Northern Mythology.

Many will ask themselves why am I “losing my time” with these basic notions instead of going straight to the point. The answer is quite simple: it’s important to know the basis, the source of what we believe
we know, for the better appreciation of what I expect you to discover with me. So, I’m giving way to today’s chapter: the myths of Germanic creation.

You’ll remember that in the previous chapter I was talking about Tacitus and how he had written a work about ‘Germania’ in which he made inexact interpretations about a feminine deity. Tacitus offers us one of the
most antique references to the Germanic myths. In his “Germania” he mentions that the Germanic tribes commemorated humanity’s origin in the “old songs” dated to >. That is, these three sons were considered the ancestors of the most important Germanic tribes which lived on the East, Center and West of northern Europe.

Even though these mythical Germanic ancestors only appear in Tacitus’s writings, the name “Mannus” clearly refers to the Germanic “Mann”. The Scandinavian cosmogony, according to sources as the two “Edda” is
diverse, but it seems clear that they share a few concepts.

Tales of the Cosmos by Ancient Nordics 

Unlike the myth of Tuisto as the first father of the Germanic tribes as Tacitus explains, according to the Scandinavian tales, cosmos had its origin in mysterious but dynamic interactions such as water, ice and
fire, which had as a result many well-defined sub worlds, many of them inhabited by specific beings. It is true that the northern sources do not always offer a systemic or consistent vision of the structure of the
universe, but some aspects are quite clear: in Midgard, conceived as a continental mass surrounded by the sea, live the gods and the humans.

Inside of Midgard rises Asgard, the city of the gods presided by Odin, lord of all of them. Beneath lies the world of the dead reigned by the goddess Hel. Giants have their own world too, vaguely situated in the
outskirts of cosmos, perhaps beyond the all-surrounding sea. The different sub worlds of the Scandinavian myths are dominated by the tree of the world, Ygdrasill, which rises among all of them, while its roots
sink in all three: Asgard, Midgard and Hell.

Hel, Loki’s daughter and goddess of Hell, by Johanned Gehrts (1855-1921). Some say that Hel was born after Loki ate the heart of a female giant called Angerboda. Hel was relegated to the lowest level by Odin to rise again in the final battle. Her room was Elvidnir or Misery, and her reig, Nifheim (Hel).

According to the old Nordic myths, the first living creatures were the giants. All living beings came from the “protogiant” Ymir, whom had a son, Buri, bred by the legs of Ymir, who also had a son named Burr. This
one fathered three children with a giant, the gods Odin, Vili and Vé. The gods evolved from them, and they created the first man and woman using two trunks dragged by the current that they found at the shores of

When the protogiant Ymir died, his dismembered body was used to create the world: his blood became the sea; his head, the firmament; his brain, the clouds, and his bones, the stones.

In spite of the different names, the three descendants of the protogiant Ymir – Odin, Vili and Vé – seem the ancesters of the main tribes in the Germanic lands, as described in the myth of Tuisto, which suggests a
common origin of the myth, especially when from Scandinavia to Great Britain and Lombardy Odin is considered as a mythological ancestor of the Western Germanic tribes and the royal houses. In the case of the
three (?) that Tacitus mentions, a relationship could also be found. In Scandinavian tradition we could associate the ancestors of the Ingaevons to Yngvi, name granted to the god Freyr, protector of the Swedish royal dynasty of the Ynglingar.

Two families of gods

In this world created from Ymir, there were two different families of gods: the Vanes and the Ases. In the beginning of the universe they had fought between themselves; but when the first myths begin to create, they have long ago forgotten their differences and live in harmony in the reign of Asgard. The main members of the Vanes are Niord and his sons: the goddess Freya and his non-identical twin, Freyr. All of the Vanes are closely linked to love, fertility and opulence, mythological and religiously. The rest of the main deities – Odin, Thor and Tyr – are Ases, despite the sources do not emphasize too much on the difference between the two families.

And with this today’s chapter has come to an end! For the next update, we’ll go into the myths of Nordic gods and giants. It’ll be the first of a series of updates on which I hope to reveal to you some of the main
deities like Odin, Thor, Freyr or Bald with some of their main deeds.

I encourage you all to stay tuned to Hyperborea Exists in the next week, because some interesting updates await!

Note. You can find some of the info included in this series of chapters in the book Mythology/: Myths, Legends and Fantasies/ by Global Book Publishing, a great work to introduce yourselves into the general
mythology of every culture in the world.

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