Many of the Faith often assume a very literal stance on many of the most sacred parts of Germanic Lore, and to a certain extent this may be a correct approach, but it’s also worth remembering that our forefathers, while likely not learned in formal philosophy until much later periods, were gifted with divine accounts and inspiration from those numinous beings we would term The Wise.
In such a principle, we are going to look into the account of the Creation of Reality found within the Völuspá and Gylfaginning, and what hidden secrets, known to few alone, that we may uncover in the attempt.
The Völuspá begins with an account of nine worlds and then proceeds to discuss the state of reality before any creation had occurred, during the time of the Primordial Rimethurs Ymir and the great Aesir Burr.
“Of old was the age | when Ymir lived;
Sea nor cool waves | nor sand there were;
Earth had not been, | nor heaven above,
But a yawning gap, | and grass nowhere.”
We can see here that at the Beginning, there existed no material things in reality, no crude matter or soil or liquids, nor even a divine space. This fact is important to remember later on to inform our understandings. There was however the Ginnungagap, here translated as a “Yawning Gap” by Bellows. This is perhaps an imperfect translation to hang our hats upon though, for scholars have speculated for decades now that the term “Ginnungagap” might be slightly misread.
The Particle “Ginn-” is often attached to words to denote a holy and spiritually powerful nature, found in words such as Ginn-Heilagr (That which is Holy), Ginn-Regin (The Gods), and Ginn-Runa (the Runes), and it’s suggested that “Ginnungagap” should more properly be understood as a “magical and creative power-filled space”, a vessel for the sacred and creative force. Thus we can properly read that at the beginning there existed no material things nor divine things, but only the sacred creative force.
The story of creation can be further explained through the discussion of Odin (in his guises) in the Gylfaginning, where he states this about Niflheim and Muspelheim respectively.
“”It was many ages before the earth was shaped that the Mist-World was made; and midmost within it lies the well that is called Hvergelmir”…..And Thridi said: “Yet first was the world in the southern region, which was named Múspell; it is light and hot; that region is glowing and burning, and impassable to such as are outlanders and have not their holdings there.”
Here we can see that the first things to come into existence alongside that of the Ginnungagap are the opposing realms of Niflheim, a Land of frost and mist and home to serpents and venom streams, alongside that of Muspelhiem, a region of light and flame and heat. It may be tempting to take the two worlds as entirely literal, that they represent a world entirely of opposing heat spectrums, but we were previously informed that no material matter existed during the time of Ginnungagap. what if we apply a little philosophy to the worlds in an attempt to rectify this seeming contradiction and see what they might mean in relation to the creative force?
Niflheim can be seen to be a dark, misty and frost covered land because it represents the force of Entropy, the lack of action and will. When something’s atoms stop vibrating and moving about in agitation, it develops a bitter gripping cold from the sheer lack of movement and action, just as Niflheim is cold from its utter stasis. It is fundamentally “That which is not Being”.
Muspelhiem can be seen as the polar opposite, a place of light and heat and fire because it represents the forces of Negentropy, the continuous excitation and movement of change and possibility. It fundamentally represents “Being”.
Gylfaginning aids us by continuing to explain how the realms mix together:
“”Ginnungagap, which faced toward the northern quarter, became filled with heaviness, and masses of ice and rime, and from within, drizzling rain and gusts; but the southern part of the Yawning Void was lighted by those sparks and glowing masses which flew out of Múspellheim.” And Thridi said: “Just as cold arose out of Niflheim, and all terrible things, so also all that looked toward Múspellheim became hot and glowing; but Ginnungagap was as mild as windless air, and when the breath of heat met the rime, so that it melted and dripped, life was quickened from the yeast-drops, by the power of that which sent the heat, and became a man’s form. And that man is named Ymir, but the Rime-Giants call him Aurgelimir””
Here we can see that the twinned realms come together within Ginnungagap, mixing their natures and combining to spontaneously give birth to the Giant Ymir. Astute readers may note that Ymir is formed from the material of Niflhiem but given life “By the power from that which sent the heat”, which can only refer to Muspelhiem. I would contend that if we look at this process using the “nature” of each realm, what happens can be clearly elucidated.
When the forces of Stasis and Entropy meet with the forces of Change and Negentropy within the space of Holy Creation, we see that actual possibility develops from this interaction, possibility that gestates into the first actual being in the Giant Ymir and the cow Auðumbla.
Ymir and Auðumbla are born not from crude matter reacting with one another as a literal reading might suggest, but rather through more rational, conceptual forces. Creation stems from the interactions of “nothingness” and “somethingness” and is gestated by the Ginnungagap, the very essence of holy creation, that which might be.