A giant cow, a lot of chaos and a sudden death, to be exact.
Let's start at the beginning:
According to Norse mythology, before the beginning there was only chaos, eruptions everywhere and an abyss full of nothing. The abyss was called Ginungagap and it was divided into two places: Nilfheim, the ice cold north, and Muspell, the fiery hot south.
All this chaos, the abyss, the ice cold north and the volcanic south pre-dated the creation of the world. In fact, this was a previous era in which gases, explosions and volcanic eruptions existed amongst each other giving birth to a mysterious stream of fog that flowed into Ginungagap.
When this stream of fog passed through ice cold Nilfheim it froze, forming glaciers and icebergs, and when it approached Muspell these glaciers melted forming a mass of water.
Up to this point, with some details left out, it all seems a bit austere. That is until you take into account, the first creature that sprung from these waters, a creature bigger than all the world’s known and yet to be known. Ymir was it's name and it had no gender. Legend says that Ymir was the mother/father of all giants.
So what about this cow? You might be wondering. Well, this cow also sprung from these waters. A giant cow that was even bigger than Ymir. The cow’s name was Audhumla and she was so hungry that when she emerged from the waters, she began licking the salt formed by the ice. Suddenly, large rivers of milk began pouring out from her enormous udders. This proved a stroke of luck for Ymir who began drinking these rivers and growing exponanentially as a result.
As a side note to the story, Aundhumla the cow and Ymir the giant, lived in the middle of nowhere, not in the world as we know it, but in an empty space, one that could have very well been part of a remote universe.
But, I digress let's return back to the action. So, after finally satisfying her hunger, Aundhumla the cow, began licking the icebergs and this was how the first man to ever exist began to form. First a huge arm, then a leg, then the heart and slowly Buri’s figure was revealed. He was the predecessor of all the gods. At the same time, Ymir began having children, giant ones that had children of their own with Buri. And so that's how Odin, Vili and Ve came into existence.
They were the ones that orchestrated the murder of Ymir. From his body, Odin and his brothers formed the mountains, hills, plains, and beaches that now makeup the world we as we know it today. Rivers and the oceans came from Ymir’s blood.
And that is how it all began: with a lot of chaos, a cow and a murder.
“Impossible”! You might be saying to me. It’s too obscure, crazy and implausible to believe.
But tell me this, spend a week traveling thousands of miles, through fields of lava, cliffs, black sand beaches, geysers and glaciers that make up Iceland, tell me then that you've never been to Ginnungagap. Tell me that you have not seen with your own eyes the streams of fog, creation erupting from the underground, glaciers coming to life. Tell me you did not have the impression that Odin’s ravens -- Hugin and Munin -- could appear any moment from atop a mountain, that a dragon could take flight over your car at any moment, or that a giant was responsible for the cliffs your eye's behold.
Iceland has more stories per square foot than inhabitants. At The Doc Collective we wanted to tell you some of these fascinating tales bringing them to life through the beauty of the island’s landscape. We bring all these with narratives without special effects, without dragons, or big battles, because all you really need is to spend two hours driving on the endless roads of this country to realise that the reality of it is magical.
We hope you enjoy this guide as much as we enjoyed making it and that you do so from the warmth and comfort of your own home.
Remember, 'The Beginning' was only episode 2, there are 6 more still to come!