~ Heathen Stories and New Myths ~
In the Beginning
"Tell us a story!"
"Now that would be a very long story indeed. But all stories have a beginning, and in the beginning of the beginning, there was neither land, nor sky, nor sea, and no rivers or woods as you know them. There was no sun above, or grass under your feet. And even had there been grass, there were no feet to walk over it, either. There was just nothing."
"Nothing?", echoed the children, somewhat surprised.
"Well, almost nothing. From one side there was a
vast stretch of ice, an expanse of frozen sleet and snow, white as milk and so
wide you could not see whether it ended anywhere.
From the stables behind them came a lowing, as if in corroboration.
"Ymir drank the cow´s milk, and that was his food
and drink. The cow (whom Ymir named Audhumla) found no grass to eat, but the ice
was salty. Cows just love to lick salt, so Audhumla licked and licked at the ice
for quite some time.
The children murmured expectantly.
"And at the end of the third day, a whole man came out of the ice."
"How did he come into the ice?"– "He must have been
terribly cold!" –
"Indeed he was hungry, so with Audhumla standing nearby, he was glad he too could drink her milk. Unlike Ymir, Buri was not a giant, but he was not a human man either. At first the two were alone. There were no giant women around, but Ymir did have children, though he did not know how it happened. One morning he awoke to find a giant son between his two feet, and under his armpit cuddled two smaller beings that were the first real human man and woman."
"Eew. I hope he was cleanly", piped a girl. "I
don´t believe it", said an older boy precociously. "You cannot have children
like that. You need a father and a mother. I mean, everybody knows that!"
"A little time later, Buri got his own children in
much the same manner. Soon afterwards, the small bit of ground that existed was
filled with Ymir and his giant children, it was filled with Buri and his sons
and grandsons, and it was also filled with human men and women, and their
children. All were crowded together in the little space between the big ice on
the one side, and the fields of fire on the other.
The children nodded.
"They created ground from his body, rich soil for meadows and fields, where food could grow. They made rivers and sea from his blood, trees from his hair, and mountains and stones from his bones and teeth. From the cup of his skull they made the dome of the sky, with his brains for clouds."
Some children looked up at the sky a little uncomfortably.
"So in what had been the middle of nowhere, there
was now space enough for everyone to live in. They called it Midgard, the garden
in the middle. All the giant offspring, who had much of Ymir in them, moved to
the outer edges of Midgard, to live near the big ice, or the land of fire. The
humans stayed in the middle, and called the place where the giants lived Utgard,
the outer garden. But Odin, Vili and Ve, who had slain Ymir and saved them all,
The children were sitting in a hushed spell, which their teacher would have given half his week´s wages to see.
Then the silence broke like a bursting peapod, and
"The end of the story? Of course not. The story does not end for a long time. And even when this story finally ends, there will be a new story to be told. There always will be."
"Boo, I´m an ice giant!" A small girl shrieked as
her brother put a cold hand on her neck.
The old man smiled to himself. They would not forget the story. Drawing his hat a little deeper into his face, he got silently up and walked away, his blue cloak blowing in the evening wind.
© Michaela Macha