There was nothing in the beginning but
seemingly almost endless
chasm called the Ginnungagap. Ginnungagap was a void like the Greek
Chaos. Ginnungagap was bordered by Niflheim, which is the place of
darkness and ice, far to the north; and Muspelheim, a place of fire,
far to the south. Out of this chaos the first being came into existence
from the drop of water when ice from Niflheim and fire from Muspelheim
This first being was Ymir, a primeval giant. The frost-giants called him Aurgelmir, but everyone else called him Ymir. Ymir became father of a race of frost-giants.
Ymir was the father of six-headed son that was nourished by a cosmic cow called Audumla. Audumla fed herself by licking the salty rime-stone, until that stone was licked into a shape of man. This stone-man was named Buri and he was the first primeval god. Buri was the father of Bor.
Bor married the giantess Bestla, the daughter of the frost-giant Boltha. And they became the parents of the first Aesir gods Odin, Vili (Hoenir) and Ve.
Ymir grew so large and so evil that the three gods killed Ymir. The blood that flowed from Ymir's wound was so great that almost all the frost giants drowned in the torrent. Only the frost giants Bergelmer and his wife escape the flood in a chest, arriving on the mountain of Jötunheim (Jotunheim), which became the home of the giants.
and his brothers then used Ymir's body to create the universe. This
universe comprises of nine worlds. They placed the body over the void
They used his flesh for creating the earth and his blood for the sea. His skull, held up by four dwarves (Nordri, Sudri, Austri, and Vestri), was used to create the heaven. Then using sparks from Muspelheim, the gods created the sun, moon and stars. While Ymir's eyebrows were used to create a place where the human race could live in; a place called Midgard (Middle Earth).
A great ash tree called Yggdrasill ("World Tree") supported the universe, with roots that connects the nine worlds together. One root of Yggdrasill extends to Muspelheim ("world of fire"), while another root to Niflheim (the "world of cold" or "of ice"). Niflheim was sometimes confused with Niflhel; Niflhel being known by another name ? Hel, was the world of the dead. Hel was sometimes used interchangeably with Niflhel by many writers, as the world of the dead.
While one root was connected to Asgard (home of the Aesir), another root to Vanaheim (home of the Vanir). The frost giants lived Jötunheim (Jotunheim). Midgard was the world for human. Alfheim was home of the light elves (ljósálfar). There was also the underground world for the black elves (svartálfar), called Svartalfheim. The dwarves inhabited the world of Nidavellir.Besides the three roots of Yggdrasill, there were three wells.
The Norns guarded the Urdarbrunnr, which is often known as "Weird's Well", "Wyrd's Well" or "Urda's Well". The Weird's Well was considered to be very holy. The Norns were Urda or Weird or Wyrd ("Past"), Verdandi ("Present") and Skuld ("Future"). Two swans drink from this well.
The Norns cared for the root near the Weird's Well. Every day, they take water from the holy well, pouring on the root and soil, so that at least this root doesn't rot or decay likes the other roots. The mud was white in colour. This white mud caused honeydew to fall to the earth, keeping the valley around the well to be forever green.
Each day, the Aesir sit at the court at Weird's Well. Horses take the Aesir to this court. Odin rides Sleipnir. Ten other horses were given names: Glad, Gyllir, Glær, Skeidbrimir, Silfrtopp, Sinir, Gils, Falhofnir, Gulltopp (belonging to Heimdall) and Lettfet. Balder's horse was burned with him. Apart from Sleipnir and Gulltopp, no specific horses were assigned to a particular god. The Aesir must ride across Bifrost (Rainbow Bridge) to reach Weird's Well.
Thor doesn't bother to ride to attend the court. Thor walked and waded through the rivers, Kormat and Ormt and two Kerlaugs.
The second well was Mímisbrunnr (Mimisbrunnr) or the "Well of Mimir", which was also known as the "Well of Knowledge". The well was said to be guarded by the Aesir god named Mimir, a Norse god of wisdom. See the Well of Knowledge in the Search for Wisdom on how Odin pay Mimir to drink from this well.
The third well was called Hvergelmir or the "Roaring Kettle", where a giant serpent called Nidhogg, continuously gnaws at the root of Niflheim. Eventually, Nidhogg will eat its way through the root that will cause Yggdrasill to collapse. But this won't happen until Ragnarok finally arrived. Nidhogg also liked sucking on the bodies of the dead.
There are many other animals that dwelled around Yggdrasill. Apart from Nidhogg, there were countless snakes living with the great serpent. From above, four harts or stags feed on the foliage. The harts were given the names of Dain, Duneyr, Durathror and Dvalin. So with Nidhogg feed on one root from above, the stags feed from above, while the side of the tree rotted, Yggdrasill suffered greatly.
Perched on one of the branches was a great eagle, wise beyond its years. A hawk, called Vedrfolnir sit between the eyes of the eagle. Not only that. There was a squirrel called Ratatosk who seemed to enjoy running up and down the great ash tree, delivering malicious messages between the eagle from above and Nidhogg below.