|Artist image of Ymir|
In Norse mythology, Ymir is the primordial giant and the progenitor of the race of frost giants.
Ymir was created when there was littleelse in the world. He was brought forth when
ice from Niflheim, realm of eternal cold, was touched by hot air from Muspellheim, realm of eternal fire.
The ice began to melt, releasing drops of eitr (ether, a substance once believed to be the essence of life). The drops slowly congealed and became the giant’s body. The fires of Muspellheim sparked him to life.
But Ymir merely slept. From Ymir’s sleeping body came the ﬁrst giants, creeping out from his legs and from under his arms.
The frost slowly melted. From the drops that fell and congealed, the huge, primal cow, Audhumla, came into being. From her vast udder flowed four rivers of milk, on which Ymir fed whenever he woke. The cow, in turn, got her nourishment by licking hoarfrost and salt from the eternal ice.
On the evening of the first day, as Audhumla licked the ice, the hair of a man appeared. On the second day, the whole head was freed. On the third day, a figure rose up. This was Buri, the first god. From his line came three grandsons, Odin, Ve, and Vili.
There was no world yet, nor a heaven. There was only the ice, Ymir, and his evergrowing number of frost-giant offspring. Odin, Ve, and Vili disliked Ymir and hated the giants.
They killed Ymir, and all but two of the giants drowned in the rivers of blood that flowed from Ymir’s body. From these two who remained, all other giants descended.
From Ymir’s body, the brother gods created the world. Ymir’s flesh became the land, and his blood became the rivers, lakes, and oceans. His bones became the mountains, and his teeth the rocks and stones. His hair became the trees and all other plant life, and his brain became the clouds.
The maggots that crawled in Ymir’s carcass became the race of dwarves. Ymir’s skull became the overturned bowl of the sky, which was forever held aloft by four dwarves (the four directions).
In astronomy, Ymir is the name of one of the planet Saturn’s moons, a fitting name for an icy moon.