|In the North was a place called Niflheim (or Mist Home), where there was endless cold and darkness. That was the home of those who died of old age or disease, ruled over by the goddess Hel. Hel was one of the children of Loki, and Hell comes from her name. The Vikings knew the Arctic Circle, in the far north, where the midwinter sun never rises above the horizon, and it is bitterly cold. The Vikings hated the cold, so the frost giants were always the most important enemies of the gods.|
In the south was Muspelheim, the land of brightness and fire. This was the home of the sons of Muspel, the fire giant. The Vikings travelled as far as Constantinople, and they realised that the further south you go, the hotter it gets. They may have heard tales of hot deserts in Arabia or Africa, seas of burning sand, where no-one could live.
At the start of time, these two hostile places were separated by Ginnungagap, the empty place. Then the great giant Ymir appeared. From him were born the gods and the giants. Odin killed Ymir, and made the world we know, called Midgard, or Middle Earth. Ymir's blood made the sea, his bones the mountains, his flesh made the earth, and his eyebrows became a wall to keep out the giants.
Tolkein's books, the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings, were about Middle Earth.
© Jo Edkins 2009 - Return to Nordic gods index