Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Mythology Monday: the Beginning and the End of the World

I'm very sorry for this very belated Mythology Monday post. I was swallowed whole by the Midterm Monster and after emerging from its maw I had some serious demonstering en relaxing to do.
I think the waiting will pay off though, because this is one of my largest paintings yet and one of the most interesting stories: the creation and destruction of the world according to Norse mythology.

In the beginning there was only Muspell in the south, Niflheim in the north and Ginnungagap in between. Then, layer by layer, ice began to grow in Ginnungagap and Ymir, the first frost giant, appeared. Next the ice formed the shape of the cow called Audhumla. Four rivers of milk streamed out of her udder, and on this the giant Ymir fed himself. She licked the salty ice for nourishment, and with every lick she created the likeness of a man. This man was called Buri, and from him all the gods descend.
A grandson of Buri slayed the giant Ymir and together with the other gods he made from him the world in the middle of Ginnungagap. From his blood they made the sea and lakes, and from his flesh the land. His bones they build into mountains and from his teeth, molars and broken bones they made stones and gravel.
They raised his skull over the earth to make the sky and placed a dwarf to hold it up at every corner. These dwarf are called East, West, North and South.
Trees were made of Ymir's hair and from his eyelashes the gods formed Midgard, which would be the dwelling of man. Last, they threw his brains up in the air and these formed the clouds.
The stars, the moon and the sun were created from sparks that flew in from Muspellheim. They fixed places for the stars among the heavens, but the sun and moon were placed in chariots. Both the chariots are chased by a hungry wolf, and to avoid them they move across the sky.

Three grandsons of Buri were walking on the beach one day, when they found two trees. From these they created people. The first gave them breath and life, the second gave them intelligence and movement and the third provided them with form, speech, hearing and sight. They were given a home in Midgard.

The gods made a stronghold for themselves and called it Asgard and between this place and Midgard they build a rainbow bridge called Bifrost.
The ash tree Yggdrasil is in the middle of everything. The gods hold their court at it each day, and it's branches spread over the whole world. The root of Yggdrasil reaches down all the way to Niflheim, where Nidhogg gnaws at it.
All this will end, however, at Ragnarok. The wolfes will catch the sun and the moon.The Midgard Serpent will awaken, and with the help of the Giants and other monsters, it will bring the world to an end. Two people and a few gods will survive though, and their descendants will rebuild and inhabit the world.

1 comment:

Let It Be Raw said...

I love the world tree! This story is what almost made me become a mythology/lit major.

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