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1001 Stories Collection

How the World Began: Fire and Ice

1001 howtheworldbegan
Added on 29th June 2020

Oral tradition Norse mythology

Europe Myths and legends
1001 , Audio

A dramatic Norse creation story that tells how the world began with fire and ice.


Ice flowed south and fire flowed north and where they met they merged to form the mighty Frost Giant, Ymir. The great cow Audumla emerged as the ice melted and licked the ice to form the gods - and the gods and the giants fought from the very beginning. When the gods killed the giant Ymir they used his body to create the world. His bones became mountains and his teeth became rocks, his blood became lakes and seas and they flung his skull into the air to form the sky and threw sparks from the fire to create the stars and light the world. They created man and woman from two fallen trees and the gods, the giants and the men lived in three linked worlds, all contained within the roots and branches of the great tree Yggdrasil.

Why we chose it

The Norse creation myth is a dramatic and poetic story of gods and giants. The Norse myths are a great linked cycle of stories, which begins with the creation of the world and finishes with the end of the world at Ragnarok. In between are stories of god and giants, men and dwarves, shapeshifters, tricksters, monsters. They are stories that show how the Norsemen saw the world.

Where it came from

The Norse poems and myths were told orally by poets and storytellers for many centuries before they were first written down in the 13th century in one of two manuscripts. The first, known as the Prose Edda, was written by Snorri Sturluson. He wrote it to preserve the stories of the Icelandic skalds (or court poets). A section of it tells the story of Gyfli the king of the Swedes who visits Asgard, home of the gods, where the gods tell him tales about the beginning of the world, the adventures of the gods and what will happen when the world ends. The second manuscript, known as the Poetic or Elder Edda, is a collection of poems by unknown authors, which date back earlier than the skaldic poetry (to 800-1100AD) and are generally dramatic mythological poems.

This story is told in three poems in the Poetic Edda and a version is found in the Prose Edda.

Associated stories

Our 1001 includes other Norse myths - The Treasures of the Gods, Thor Loses His Hammer, Thor and Utgard Loki and Ragnarok. Further myths include Three Monstrous Children, The Death of Balder, Thor goes fishing and The Apples of Immortality.

There are many retelling of the Norse myths and legends, including most recently Norse Myths, Tales of Odin, Thor and Loki by Kevin Crossley Holland, with illustrations by Jeffrey Alan Love and Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman.

Added on 29th June 2020

Oral tradition Norse mythology

Europe Myths and legends
1001 , Audio