It is known as Cosmogony to all those mythical narratives that try to explain the origin of the universe and also of humanity. At the origin of many mythologies and religions we find a primal couple who, in the style of Adam and Eve of the Judeo-Christian Bible are the origin of humanity. In the Zoroastrian cosmogony the names of those characters are Mashya and Mashyana, in the Vedic tradition Yama and Yami, in Nahuatl mythology they are Cipactonal and Oxomoco, which were later deified and in the Scandinavian cosmogony they are called Ask and Embla. Join us to know the story of Ask and Embla, the Nordic "Adam and Eve".
When you talk about Nordic mythology reference is made to the collection of stories and beliefs shared by the Germanic Scandinavian peoples. It was not a revealed religion nor did it have a sacred book since it was transmitted orally in the form of long poems. During the Viking era It continued like this and has come down to us, embodied in medieval texts such as the Eddas that were written at the time of Christianization. Nordic mythology remained for centuries as a source of inspiration for both literature and art and today we can get to know it through films and other stage productions.
Ask and Embla Nordic "Adam and Eve"
Odin and his brothers Vili and Ve defeated a primal giant called Ymir and with their remains created the Miðgarðr or Midgard which means "Middle Earth" (the Middle Earth of Tolkien ) and refers to a land that will become a settlement or residence in the center of the known world. With the skin of the giant they created the earth, from their blood and sweat arose the seas and oceans, with the hair of their body they gave birth to the vegetation and with the giant's skull they created the celestial vault, entrusting some dwarves to hold it. They also created the Sun, the Moon and the stars from the sparks of Surtr's sword and the seasons. The clouds emerged from the brain pieces of the giant Ymir. Everything was prepared to receive the human race .
The Norse myth explains that Odin, Vili and Ve (in some poems are Hoenir, Lódur and Odin) were walking one day on the beach when they found two logs. One was ash and the other was elm. The gods decided to give them human form and created with them a man and a woman. In addition to training them, Odin, Vili and Ve granted them other gifts: Odin gave them the vital breath in the form of physical life and soul, Vili infused their emotions and wit and finally, Ve, granted them the senses and the faculty of talk. The gods dressed them and installed them in that "middle ground" they had created with the remains of the giant Ymir. Ask and Embla they lived in Midgard and became the fathers of mankind.
Both in the Poetic Edda of the thirteenth century collected from traditional oral sources, and in the Prose Edda of Snorri Sturluson also from that century, reference is made to the original couple emerged from two tree trunks. Historians have sought to relate the names of Ask and Embla with its function as progenitors of humanity. Ask means in Old Norse language "ash" and Embla, can have different meanings like "elm" or "climbing plant". This climbing plant or liana is the basic material of ritual fires. First the climbing plants are placed and on top of them the hardest woods and thus a lasting fire is achieved. Bearing in mind that in Indo-European societies a relation or simile was established between the ignition of fire and sexual relations, it is evident that Ask and Embla they are the origin from which all human beings are born later.
Unlike the cosmogonies of the Middle East that give rise to these primitive couples of mud or blood by a divine action, the peoples of Indo-European Europe, Asia Minor and Iran They look for the origin of humanity in living elements of nature such as trees and forests. Ask and Embla They are representative of this current.
Norse mythology also tells us about another primal couple, but this time it does not refer to the past, to the origin of humanity, but to a second beginning of human beings. This couple, whom you call Líf and Lífthrasir , they will be the only ones who will survive the Ragnarök and together they will repopulate the world.
Nordic mythology is rich and complex and in the rural areas of many Scandinavian countries it was never completely forgotten despite the arrival of Christianity. Have you heard of Ask and Embla ? Did you know his story? If you are interested in learning more about characters and legends of Norse mythology and cosmogony, we invite you to read: Odin's father | Borr progenitor of the father of the Nordic gods or The 10 most important Viking Gods | Did you know them? .
Image: Henrik Sendelbach