In the beginning there was nothing. There was not land nor sea, wind or sky. Earth had not yet been founded in the great gap of chaos. Now this gap, as most gaps do, had two sides and one was Muspelheim, a place of fire, light and heat, and the other Niflheim a land of dark and cold ice.
Where these two lands of ice and fire met the melted drops of water and rime dripped into the form of a huge frost giant. Now this frost giant went by the name Ymir. He suffered from horrible night sweats during which he sweated out ogres, witches, and warlocks for Ymir was a wicked and evil giant.
Soon Ymir found a cow created from the same steam and rime as he. This sacred cow called Audumla gave forth milk that Ymir lustily drank for his meals. But, there was no grass for Audumla to eat, so she began to lick the salty ice blocks on the edge of this great void.
One day Audumla licked the frozen body of a man out of the ice. This man, once freed, married a daughter of Ymir and eventually they had a grandson called Odin.
Now Odin saw the evil in Ymir and slew him in a great battle. He took the body of Ymir and used it to create the realm of Midgard. The frost giant’s flesh became the earth and his bones became mountains. His blood was the salty sea and his coarse hair made the trees.
Odin then took the cracked skull of the giant and placed it over the sky, so the light shining from Muspelheim would shine through the cracks to create the stars. But, most fascinating of all is what Odin the All Father did next.
The All-Father threw the scattered brains of Ymir into
the sky to create clouds. Our picture Ymir’s Dreams shows us what happened. The dark and red clouds of a storm are the evil and foreboding thoughts of Ymir’s twisted brain. The rains and hail falling from them are the tears and anguish that these thoughts caused his fellow giants.
While the lofty white clouds are the calmer dreams of Ymir, and this is why people see shapes and people outlined in those clouds. So, when you look into the sky and see shapes forming in puffy clouds you’re actually seeing the thoughts, hopes, and even the anguish of an evil frost giant.
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Note: This story is a storyteller modified retelling of The Beguiling of Gylfi from the Viking saga The Prose Edda written about 1200 A.D. by Snorri Sturlson, with some modern storytelling changes to help move the story along for modern people.