A primeval frost giant of Norse* mythology, Ymir was formed at the beginning of creation from rivers of ice that flowed from Niflheim, the land of mist, into Ginnungagap, the yawning emptiness. Ymir emerged from the ice as it melted from the heat of Muspelheim, the fire kingdom that lay near these two regions.

As the evil Ymir slept, other frost giants formed from the sweat of his body. The first male and female emerged from his left armpit, and another man came from his legs. Ymir drank milk from a primeval cow, which in turn licked blocks of ice and released a man called Buri. Buri's grandsons were the gods Odin*, Vili, and Ve. These three gods eventually attacked Ymir while he slept and killed him. As Ymir's blood gushed from his body, it caused a flood that drowned all the frost giants except Bergelmir and his wife. They escaped in a ship and founded a new race of beings.

primeval from the earliest times

Odin and his brothers used Ymir's body to form the world. They took his flesh to make earth; his bones became mountains; his teeth turned into stones and boulders; and his hair became trees and vegetation. The gods made the sky from Ymir's skull, and they threw his brains into the air to form clouds. Dwarfs emerged out of hills and rocks, and they helped to hold up the sky. Finally, Odin and his brothers used Ymir's eyebrows to make a great wall to surround and protect Midgard, the world of humans.

See also Creation Stories ; Dwarfs and Elves ; Floods ; Giants ; Norse Mythology ; Odin .

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