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Author Topic: Earth = Ymir  (Read 3125 times)
Collinsky
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« Topic Start: September 26, 2010, 09:21:35 pm »

It seems that so much of the time, the Earth is assumed to be some sort of goddess (if deified at all) or seen as Mother Earth; usually female, fertile, nurturing, as well as no-nonsense, powerful and very necessary.

I'm struck by the difference in the Poetic Edda:

"Of Ymir's flesh the earth was fashioned, And of his sweat the sea; Crags of his bones, trees of his hair, And of his skull the sky. Then of his brows, the blithe gods made Midgard for sons of men; And of his brain, the bitter-mooded Clouds were all created." Grimnismal 40-41

What does this verse mean to you? Do you reject the "Mother Earth" imagery, or see that as allegorical? Or do you embrace both concepts as different parts of a greater whole?






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« Reply #1: September 27, 2010, 01:21:19 am »

It seems that so much of the time, the Earth is assumed to be some sort of goddess (if deified at all) or seen as Mother Earth; usually female, fertile, nurturing, as well as no-nonsense, powerful and very necessary.

I'm struck by the difference in the Poetic Edda:

"Of Ymir's flesh the earth was fashioned, And of his sweat the sea; Crags of his bones, trees of his hair, And of his skull the sky. Then of his brows, the blithe gods made Midgard for sons of men; And of his brain, the bitter-mooded Clouds were all created." Grimnismal 40-41

What does this verse mean to you? Do you reject the "Mother Earth" imagery, or see that as allegorical? Or do you embrace both concepts as different parts of a greater whole?

Ymir is just what the earth is made of, and there's nothing particularly nurturing about it. If you want Mother Earth parallels, that's Freya, Sunna, Frigga and her handmaidens, Idunn, and probably others who've slipped my mind. You said it yourself, "If deified at all". The Eddas don't deify the earth itself. It's just part of a creation story.
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« Reply #2: September 27, 2010, 02:13:00 am »

It seems that so much of the time, the Earth is assumed to be some sort of goddess (if deified at all) or seen as Mother Earth; usually female, fertile, nurturing, as well as no-nonsense, powerful and very necessary.

I'm struck by the difference in the Poetic Edda:

"Of Ymir's flesh the earth was fashioned, And of his sweat the sea; Crags of his bones, trees of his hair, And of his skull the sky. Then of his brows, the blithe gods made Midgard for sons of men; And of his brain, the bitter-mooded Clouds were all created." Grimnismal 40-41

What does this verse mean to you? Do you reject the "Mother Earth" imagery, or see that as allegorical? Or do you embrace both concepts as different parts of a greater whole?

I no longer believe in a 'mother Earth' as such. I think a lot of the modern concept of Gaia/Mother Earth is about the planet as a whole thing, and I think that was fed by the beautiful pictures of our planet taken from space in the 60's. However there are Earth Goddesses, or evidence suggestive of similar; 'Erce, Erce, Erce' in the Acerbot, Nerthus and, although she's a giant, Jord. I tend to make the distinction between earth as soil - the nourishing foundation of life, and the modern understanding of Earth as the planet.

If the planet as a whole is sentient in some way then IMO it's too vast to really relate to these little individual human beings.

As for Ymir I'm not sure...
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« Reply #3: September 29, 2010, 11:55:08 am »

What does this verse mean to you? Do you reject the "Mother Earth" imagery, or see that as allegorical? Or do you embrace both concepts as different parts of a greater whole?

My personal take on this is that Ymir was the chaotic unordered proto-universe that was acted upon by Odin, Vile & Ve to form the universe as we now know it. If you like, Odin, Vile & Ve established the “laws of physics” that shaped the new universe. Ymir is not divine and was the “building material” that Odin, Vile & Ve used to build our world (and all other worlds).

So Ymir is both dead and never was divine. In Gylfaginning it is said, “by no means do we acknowledge him as god: he was evil as were all his kin”. So I don’t think we can see Ymir as the “masculine divine earth” because he was not a god and “was” not “is”.

Gylfaginning also contains the following on the destruction of Ymir, “Of the blood which ran and welled forth freely from his wounds, they made the sea, when they had formed and made firm the earth together and laid the sea in a ring around her …”

A little later we have, “that is a wondrous piece of craftsmanship, and cunningly made. How was the earth contrived? And Harr answered: “She is ring-shaped without and round about her without lieth the deep sea …”

The references to earth as “her” and “she” and her being formed from Ymir’s remains strongly suggests to me that the earth is not Ymir, but instead that the female earth was formed from the remains of Ymir.

We also have references to earth being the daughter of Night (granddaughter of Narfi) and being both the daughter and wife of Odin (Gylfaginning 9 & 10). My view is that we have a few different creation myths being brought together. One has the earth being formed from Ymir’s remains, the other as the daughter of night (void?).

The non-recon way I bring this together in my personal world view is that Odin, Vile & Ve formed the laws of the universe which shaped the “shapeless universe” (Ymir). That lead to the physical earth which through the union of Odin (the free and unbounded creative force that flows through the entire universe) and “Night” (void) became the divine and living earth (Jord). So I draw a distinction between the rock that is earth, and the living entity that is also earth.

Jord then mates with Odin to produce Thor (the divine protector of earth and its inhabitants) which allows life to evolve. If you’ll allow me some more serious and unbounded UPG-ing …

The laws of physics (Odin) mean the earth (Jord) has a magnetic field. Thor is of course strongly associated with electromagnetism (thunder and lightening and all that). So I can see the union and child there. That electromagnetism has a massive effect on climate (Thor’s domain) and redirects the sun’s solar wind to ensure that our atmosphere remains. No electromagnetic field and we’re all dead. The redirected particles from the sun form the highly radioactive Van Allen Belt. This highly toxic belt encircles the earth a bit like Thor’s archenemy Jörmungandr. So I can see Thor battling to keep us safe on the earth as his archenemy encircles us.

Not saying the above is how our ancestors saw things (obviously!), but it works for me and ensures the observable universe and myth can coexist. One being the scientific explanation and one being a poetic representation of the unseen “divine forces” that give rise to the observable universe. The gods and goddesses being poetic renderings of those forces and the human reaction to them. The gods and goddesses therefore exist, not a literal beings, but as a symbolism for something deeper and as a way for us to connect with that “something deeper” by anthropomorphising them.

Wow that’s a meandering post! Apologies for that. I hope there is something of use in the above. If nothing else, it kept me busy until it is time to leave work!

Mark.
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Collinsky
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« Reply #4: October 03, 2010, 06:59:16 pm »


Gylfaginning also contains the following on the destruction of Ymir, “Of the blood which ran and welled forth freely from his wounds, they made the sea, when they had formed and made firm the earth together and laid the sea in a ring around her …”

A little later we have, “that is a wondrous piece of craftsmanship, and cunningly made. How was the earth contrived? And Harr answered: “She is ring-shaped without and round about her without lieth the deep sea …”

The references to earth as “her” and “she” and her being formed from Ymir’s remains strongly suggests to me that the earth is not Ymir, but instead that the female earth was formed from the remains of Ymir.



I hadn't read any of that, so I didn't realize that the earth was ever referred to in the feminine. Thanks for sharing that - very interesting.

Quote
The non-recon way I bring this together in my personal world view is that Odin, Vile & Ve formed the laws of the universe which shaped the “shapeless universe” (Ymir). That lead to the physical earth which through the union of Odin (the free and unbounded creative force that flows through the entire universe) and “Night” (void) became the divine and living earth (Jord). So I draw a distinction between the rock that is earth, and the living entity that is also earth.


Definitely useful! I really like your perspective. 
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Collinsky
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« Reply #5: October 03, 2010, 09:42:59 pm »

Ymir is just what the earth is made of, and there's nothing particularly nurturing about it. If you want Mother Earth parallels, that's Freya, Sunna, Frigga and her handmaidens, Idunn, and probably others who've slipped my mind. You said it yourself, "If deified at all". The Eddas don't deify the earth itself. It's just part of a creation story.

Just using your post as a jumping off point, I don't necessarily see earth goddesses as being analogous to Mother Earth/Earth-as-goddess. (Not that you were suggesting that at all, it just has been tickling my brain and I decided to throw it out there for discussion.) I don't think the Earth has any consciousness that could be at all understood by us; I'm a bit pantheist though, so I do think it is Divine, but not deity.

I do think it can be possible to have the modern "Mother Earth" imagery as part of a philosophy, even if it isn't part of the theology.
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« Reply #6: October 04, 2010, 10:25:58 am »

My personal take on this is that Ymir was the chaotic unordered proto-universe that was acted upon by Odin, Vile & Ve to form the universe as we now know it. If you like, Odin, Vile & Ve established the “laws of physics” that shaped the new universe. Ymir is not divine and was the “building material” that Odin, Vile & Ve used to build our world (and all other worlds).

So Ymir is both dead and never was divine. In Gylfaginning it is said, “by no means do we acknowledge him as god: he was evil as were all his kin”. So I don’t think we can see Ymir as the “masculine divine earth” because he was not a god and “was” not “is”.

Gylfaginning also contains the following on the destruction of Ymir, “Of the blood which ran and welled forth freely from his wounds, they made the sea, when they had formed and made firm the earth together and laid the sea in a ring around her …”

A little later we have, “that is a wondrous piece of craftsmanship, and cunningly made. How was the earth contrived? And Harr answered: “She is ring-shaped without and round about her without lieth the deep sea …”

The references to earth as “her” and “she” and her being formed from Ymir’s remains strongly suggests to me that the earth is not Ymir, but instead that the female earth was formed from the remains of Ymir.

We also have references to earth being the daughter of Night (granddaughter of Narfi) and being both the daughter and wife of Odin (Gylfaginning 9 & 10). My view is that we have a few different creation myths being brought together. One has the earth being formed from Ymir’s remains, the other as the daughter of night (void?).

The non-recon way I bring this together in my personal world view is that Odin, Vile & Ve formed the laws of the universe which shaped the “shapeless universe” (Ymir). That lead to the physical earth which through the union of Odin (the free and unbounded creative force that flows through the entire universe) and “Night” (void) became the divine and living earth (Jord). So I draw a distinction between the rock that is earth, and the living entity that is also earth.

Jord then mates with Odin to produce Thor (the divine protector of earth and its inhabitants) which allows life to evolve. If you’ll allow me some more serious and unbounded UPG-ing …

The laws of physics (Odin) mean the earth (Jord) has a magnetic field. Thor is of course strongly associated with electromagnetism (thunder and lightening and all that). So I can see the union and child there. That electromagnetism has a massive effect on climate (Thor’s domain) and redirects the sun’s solar wind to ensure that our atmosphere remains. No electromagnetic field and we’re all dead. The redirected particles from the sun form the highly radioactive Van Allen Belt. This highly toxic belt encircles the earth a bit like Thor’s archenemy Jörmungandr. So I can see Thor battling to keep us safe on the earth as his archenemy encircles us.

Not saying the above is how our ancestors saw things (obviously!), but it works for me and ensures the observable universe and myth can coexist. One being the scientific explanation and one being a poetic representation of the unseen “divine forces” that give rise to the observable universe. The gods and goddesses being poetic renderings of those forces and the human reaction to them. The gods and goddesses therefore exist, not a literal beings, but as a symbolism for something deeper and as a way for us to connect with that “something deeper” by anthropomorphising them.

Wow that’s a meandering post! Apologies for that. I hope there is something of use in the above. If nothing else, it kept me busy until it is time to leave work!

Mark.


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« Reply #7: October 06, 2010, 02:40:51 am »



I hadn't read any of that, so I didn't realize that the earth was ever referred to in the feminine. Thanks for sharing that - very interesting.


Bear in mind that Old Norse has gender and the gender of the word doesn't necessarily mean the item is considered 'feminine'. For example IIRC The modern german word for 'bra' is masculine! When translating the different terms for 'it', therefore, 'she' might get used. So I'm not saying here that the earth isn't feminine, but that the little I know of ON would make me treat it with caution until I was certain it wasn't just a grammatical gender.
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« Reply #8: December 21, 2010, 03:22:16 am »

My personal take on this is that Ymir was the chaotic unordered proto-universe that was acted upon by Odin, Vile & Ve to form the universe as we now know it. If you like, Odin, Vile & Ve established the “laws of physics” that shaped the new universe. Ymir is not divine and was the “building material” that Odin, Vile & Ve used to build our world (and all other worlds).

So Ymir is both dead and never was divine. In Gylfaginning it is said, “by no means do we acknowledge him as god: he was evil as were all his kin”. So I don’t think we can see Ymir as the “masculine divine earth” because he was not a god and “was” not “is”.

Gylfaginning also contains the following on the destruction of Ymir, “Of the blood which ran and welled forth freely from his wounds, they made the sea, when they had formed and made firm the earth together and laid the sea in a ring around her …”

A little later we have, “that is a wondrous piece of craftsmanship, and cunningly made. How was the earth contrived? And Harr answered: “She is ring-shaped without and round about her without lieth the deep sea …”

The references to earth as “her” and “she” and her being formed from Ymir’s remains strongly suggests to me that the earth is not Ymir, but instead that the female earth was formed from the remains of Ymir.

We also have references to earth being the daughter of Night (granddaughter of Narfi) and being both the daughter and wife of Odin (Gylfaginning 9 & 10). My view is that we have a few different creation myths being brought together. One has the earth being formed from Ymir’s remains, the other as the daughter of night (void?).

The non-recon way I bring this together in my personal world view is that Odin, Vile & Ve formed the laws of the universe which shaped the “shapeless universe” (Ymir). That lead to the physical earth which through the union of Odin (the free and unbounded creative force that flows through the entire universe) and “Night” (void) became the divine and living earth (Jord). So I draw a distinction between the rock that is earth, and the living entity that is also earth.

Jord then mates with Odin to produce Thor (the divine protector of earth and its inhabitants) which allows life to evolve. If you’ll allow me some more serious and unbounded UPG-ing …

The laws of physics (Odin) mean the earth (Jord) has a magnetic field. Thor is of course strongly associated with electromagnetism (thunder and lightening and all that). So I can see the union and child there. That electromagnetism has a massive effect on climate (Thor’s domain) and redirects the sun’s solar wind to ensure that our atmosphere remains. No electromagnetic field and we’re all dead. The redirected particles from the sun form the highly radioactive Van Allen Belt. This highly toxic belt encircles the earth a bit like Thor’s archenemy Jörmungandr. So I can see Thor battling to keep us safe on the earth as his archenemy encircles us.

Not saying the above is how our ancestors saw things (obviously!), but it works for me and ensures the observable universe and myth can coexist. One being the scientific explanation and one being a poetic representation of the unseen “divine forces” that give rise to the observable universe. The gods and goddesses being poetic renderings of those forces and the human reaction to them. The gods and goddesses therefore exist, not a literal beings, but as a symbolism for something deeper and as a way for us to connect with that “something deeper” by anthropomorphising them.

Wow that’s a meandering post! Apologies for that. I hope there is something of use in the above. If nothing else, it kept me busy until it is time to leave work!

Mark.


This was great. I'm really enjoying reading your posts, Mark. Smiley

I just would add that, for me, I can easily see Ymir being matter that Odin et al manipulated and set into order as Earth...but that the Jord is the spirit that fulfills earth, and not the matter. I'm flesh and bone and matter...but I'm also not just flesh and bone. My parents DNA created me, but I'm not my parent's and we don't share a soul.

 Undecided Hope that made some sense.

ETA: I'm up late watching the eclipse so if my last few posts are completely nonsensical...just...be understanding.
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