From Void to Existence
April 18, 2020
What was it like for our Northern European ancestors to be raised thinking they were descended from trees? How does having a deep kinship with trees through a creation myth reflect on that particular culture and their relationship with the world around them? Almost every ancient mythological system that has been passed down to us includes a story, sometimes multiple, about the creation of human beings. One can trace how different indigenous cultures viewed themselves through the sometimes subtle commentaries on the human condition woven into these myths.
August 29, 2019
Of Ymir's flesh the earth was shaped,of his blood, the briny sea,of his hair, the trees the hills of his bones,out of his skull the skyBut of his lashes the loving gods madeMidgard for the sons of men;
The Poetic Edda, Grímnismál (st. 41-42)
Our Northern European ancestors had a vision of the world and multiverse that is radically different than the one that we are familiar with. We, as modern humans can only attempt to grasp the vibrant mytho-poetic consciousness that infused their reality, worldview and how they viewed their own placement in this unfolding drama. The microcosmic/macrocosmic model finds one of its most inspiring visions in the concept of our tangible world's origin being wrought from a gigantic "human" form that mirrors our own bodies. To view Midgard, and ourselves, as a chosen creation that is emblematic of a refusal to allow disorder to reign unchallenged, is an empowering inheritance that reaps great rewards when meditated upon.
Midgard was the first conscious creation to be executed (no pun intended) by the three sons of Borr, Odhinn-Vili-Ve, in response to what they viewed as an inhospitable and chaotic mess that served no other purpose beyond ceaseless perpetuation of non-evolving and monstrous beings. Keep in mind this was still a time outside of any enframing substance beyond the Ginnungagap's melding of polar elemental opposites. In form and essence it still was ur-life in a seething void without any true cosmic order or regularity.
The creator god triad of brothers, Odhinn-Vili-Ve, or Ecstatic Inspiration-Will-Hallowing, eventually synthesize into Odhinn after creating Midgard and giving life to humans. We don't hear of Vili and Ve again, due to their absorption into the Allfather's many nuanced personality. Their function and individual characteristics are in truth, inseparable qualities that help define and activate any magickal or creative endeavor. These three necessary ingredients must be present and effected before any transformation or "work" can take place. All three are essential; all three must work together as one. Odhinn is emblematic of what makes the human animal unique; a manifold whole whose many parts work in unison to effect change in one's surroundings.
So, carried away by the divine inspiration of how their universe could be shaped, Odhinn-Vili-Ve slaughter (sacrifice) Ymir, dismember his body and create the world that we as humans know. The divine triad are possessed by a new breed of consciousness that stands in opposition to the preceding age of titanic chaos. Indeed, they are the young and hungry triad seeking to topple the existing dominating reality triad of Ginnungagap-Niflheim-Muspelheim. This new world that they envision and create has vital cyclical order. It stands alongside and oftentimes in opposition to the forces of chaos; the giants and their realms of elemental extremes.
The creation of Midgard from Ymir's living body is a never ending source of symbolic imagery. It is the vital poetic mead that Skaldic wit in all its nuanced layers quaffs to see ever deeper into the mysteries! Ymir's body is our world. It is dead and not dead. It has changed form to become something other than what it originally was. Yes, creation is destruction is creation. This act of taking raw material and refining it is indeed a murder and a creative endeavor. Both virtuous and treacherous simultaneously.
It appears that after Midgard is set up in the Ginnungagap the framework of the multiverse unfolds from its axis betwixt the extreme poles of Niflheim (Ice) and Muspelheim (Fire). Midgard can be viewed as the seed that sprouted Yggdrasil, the World Tree, and as a gate to access the other eight worlds that surround it. Ymir is a symbolic entity of the Ginnungagap's womb, if you will, and since Midgard is made of Ymir's body, the Mother Void does live on in a significantly altered state. Ginnungagap ceases to exist as an inhospitable void and is now functioning as a pivot point for the eight worlds that revolve around it. Yggdrasil (Stead of Ygg) has unfurled itself and cosmic order has been born.
We will next take two paths that explore the Yggdrasil's Nine Worlds and the creation of Humans...
July 18, 2019
In earliest times did Ymir live:was nor sea nor land nor salty waves,neither earth was there nor upper heaven,but a gaping nothing, and green things nowhereThe Poetic Edda, Voluspa (st. 3)
A significant component of the Northern European Mysteries is the understanding of dynamic balance and flux that dwells at the heart of the creation myth. From the inception of the known universe, the nine worlds, and all whom dwell in these realms, we see a constant dynamic rhythm and dance of polarized opposites that create a spiraling vortex of shifting contrasts. What is remarkable is that these apparent contrary states create a holistic whole in the totemic symbol of the nine worlds and the world-tree, Yggdrasil.
The creation story of the universe/multiverse is an elegant and deceptively simple one, yet contains deep poetic wisdom and just as many revelatory truths pertaining to our own lives here in Midgard.
We begin at the beginning, naturally...
The void, Ginnungagap, is the all expansive possibility of existence, a magickally charged space yearning for activation. Flanking this undiluted "all potential" is Niflheim, a watery world of mist and ice streams infused with yeast-venom. On the opposite pole is Muspelheim, a world of fire and heat exhaling sparks and streaking embers. The inherent oppositional, yet life producing potentiality of these two extremes meet at a harmonious point in Ginnungagap where the heat infused air activates the ice-yeast and forms the first living beings.
Before we go further, it should be noted that I am writing this creation myth in "the now" as if, and indeed, it is occurring at this very moment in the realm of true potential that exists in every living sentient being. We all contain and harbor this triple helix of two energy extremes and the middle ground or tenuous balancing point where positive results can be brought forth from the union of two opposing raw elemental forces. These ultimate opposites remain abstractions until they are introduced to one another to create dynamism and action.
Niflheim can be viewed through the alchemical lens of a coagula or coagulant being comprised of both Ice and Venom. Snake venom has since ancient times been recognized as a medicine that closes, congeals and binds. These are all qualities of freezing cold states and ice as well. The yeast that lies dormant in this static suspension awaits heat to activate it's potential to become living food.
Muspelheim, being Niflheim's polar opposite, is a solve or solvent, in that it dissolves and opens through indefinite expansion. Fire, being the active element that represents this, loosens and breaks down its fuel as it consumes it. Energy is generated...In a sense, the macrocosmic/microcosmic alchemical harmony betwixt the purest oppositional elemental states gives birth to existence itself!
Ymir, whose name equates them with sound/mantra/galdr, engenders offspring unconsciously from their body's sweat, and so the first sexually polarized beings are born, this race is called Jotun-Thurs. These beings are usually adversarial and antagonistic towards harmonious states due to their raw primal strength and wild, chaotic 'ur' origins. Yet, they are also responsible for co-mingling their life essences with other, 'younger' beings. Because of their great age and non-evolving existence they oftentimes harbor wisdom and memories of primal states of the multiverse's creation.
Audhumla, the primal mother, nourishes herself on the yeast that lies embedded in the massive blocks of icy salt that she licks. In doing so, she forms/frees an androgynous entity named Buri, described in the Eddas as having an attractive human form. Buri then asexually engenders a son named Bor. Bestla, a Jotun-Thurs woman becomes Bor's wife and their union produces the divine triad Odhinn-Vili-Ve, the architects of Midgard and the co-creators of what we understand to be human beings.
It should be noted that there is no 'creator' or divine hand at work in the initial formation of the triad Niflheim, Muspelheim and Ginnungagap. In fact, this triad represents the Always; a primal, separate condition devoid of even divine god forms. This is, after all, the state prior to "existence" itself where even divinity would be hard pressed to find shelter. The flavor is alien to terrestrial life. A chaotic and inhospitable seething cauldron that indeed still contains some semblance of structure because of its polarity. It is this thread of structure that allows the newly born divine triad of Odhinn-Vili-Ve to instill conscious order in this undifferentiated maelstrom of potentials...
We will next examine how Yggdrasil, Midgard and the Nine Worlds were wrought from the birth of a young, chaotic and raw potential multiverse.