Study Guide

Norse Creation Myth Odin, Vili, and Vé

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Odin, Vili, and Vé

Odin and his brothers are the third generation of Aesir gods. Their names come from the Proto-Norse Wodin, Wili, and We – words that mean knowledge, will (to do something), and spirit. In other words, Odin, Vili, and Vé might symbolize aspects of human consciousness which, working together, create life. The creative act that the brothers perform in this story involves transforming the parts of Ymir's body into the parts of the world, then separating night from day, and creating the races and animals.

Still, the three brothers' creation of order and beauty begins with an act of horrible violence: Odin, Vili, and Vé spill so much of Ymir's blood that it forms an ocean. Then they tear his body to bits.

Do you find it a bit odd that the creators in Norse mythology are also kind of homicidal maniacs? Maybe their mythology reflects the violence of Viking life, in which wealth and prosperity came from success on the battlefield.

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