Study Guide

Norse Creation Myth Transformation

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Where did the earth come from? Good question, Shmooper. Would you believe us if we told you it came from the corpse of a giant?

According to the Norse creation myth, the gods transformed the body of a dead giant into soil, rocks, oceans, and all the other stuff that makes up the earth. They even morph maggots – those gross little worms that grow on a corpse – into dwarves. Waste not, want not, right? It's like recycled art.

Their act of creation through transformation makes the Norse gods seem like human artisans. It links acts like building a ship, or hammering away at metal to make a sword, to the creation of the universe, because all of these acts involve transforming stuff into other stuff.

Creation through transformation of a dead body also expresses the whole "ashes to ashes" mentality – the idea that our bodies take shape thanks to the energy that comes from the soil and sun and water and other bodies, and will eventually go right back into the land to begin the transformative process all over again.

Questions About Transformation

  1. What do the different parts of Ymir's body become?
  2. What is the ocean made of?
  3. Where do the sun, moon, and stars come from?
  4. What causes the sun and moon to rotate?
  5. Where do the dwarves come from? What do they do?
  6. What character qualities do the Norse gods display by creating through transformation? How do these character qualities link them to humans?
  7. How might believing the world is created from something else cause you to think differently about it – and yourself – than believing the world is created ex nihilo (out of nothing)?
  8. How does the Norse creation story express the "ashes to ashes, dust to dust" mentality, or the belief that "from dust you are, and to dust you shall return" (Genesis 3:19)?

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