Home History How the ‘Gods’ Created Mankind, According to Norse Mythology

How the ‘Gods’ Created Mankind, According to Norse Mythology

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Ask and Embla, in Norse mythology, were the first two human beings created by the gods, analogous to Adam and Eve.

The Norse creation myth or cosmogony is considered as one of the richest of such accounts in all of world literature. And while today we aren’t discussing the myth behind the creation of the Cosmos but how the Norse Gods created mankind, it is noteworthy to mention that the creation of the cosmos according to Norse Mythology is a powerful, and an exceptionally entertaining story worth reading.

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Yggdrasil, the World Tree. Image Credit: Simon E. Davies.

Ask and Embla are attested in both the Poetic Edda, written sometime in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources and the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson.

Just like numerous other ancient mythologies and ancient legends mentions the creation of man, Norse Mythology too mentions that mankind was created. It was crafted. And it did not come into existence on its own.

Before mankind was created, the gods had already designed Midgard as the abode of man.

Since there were still no human beings to inhabit it, the Gods decided to populate it.

According to chapter 9 of the Prose Edda book Gylfaginning, one day, Odin his brothers, Ve and Vili, were walking along the seashore and they found two trees, the ash tree (Ask) and the elm (Embla) whose whimsical shapes seemed humanoid.

The gods watched in silence the inert wood. Odin, realizing the use that could be given to him, endowed them with souls.

Vili granted them the movement and the senses, and Ve contributed with blood and a healthy complexion.

The Gods had given them everything they needed. Thus endowed with speech and intellect, and with the power to love, wait and work, and with life and death, the newly created man (Ask) and woman (Embla) were granted the freedom to rule Midgard at their will.

Eventually, they populated it with their offspring, while the gods, remembering that they had been the ones who had endowed them with life, became very interested in all their activities, watching over them and frequently granting them their help and protection.

What I find extremely interesting is that no matter which ancient culture you look at, you’ll find written evidence that the Gods created mankind.

The Gods, who were not from Earth—and therefore extraterestrial—are the ones who gave mankind everything they needed to survive. They created them in their own liking and watched over them from above.

For example if we take a look at 1:26 we read: Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness, to rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and the livestock, and over all the earth itself and every of creature that crawls upon it.”

Keywords here are ‘Let Us make man…’ Us.

Mankind was Created. It was built.

Featured Image Credit: Severine Pineaux