The first living being.
Ymir, also known as Aurgelmir is considered the oldest living being. In the Edda Ymir is also called Brimir and Blainn.
The name Ymir is Old Norse and means “Gemini”, “Intermediate Being” or “Hermaphrodite”. Although Aurgelmir and Ymir are one and the same, both are also mentioned in parallel (Edda, Vafþrúðnismál 21 and 29). The name Aurgelmir comes from the Old Norse word aurr, which means “moist sand”. The name Aurgelmir therefore means “sand screamer”, “sand-born screamer” or “seething clay” (primordial dust).
This oldest of all creatures was created from meltwater from the ancient ‘glacial ice’ of the eleven icy streams known collectively as Elivágar (storm waves). Because of his advanced age, he is also nicknamed ‘the sage’ or hundviss, knowing all. Wisdom is generally associated with older giants.
Ymir was a riding giant that grew out of the Eitr (kind of frost) that existed in the cold world. For from the source of Hvergelmir, the cosmic rushing cauldron, eleven streams flowed, frozen in the Ginnungagap by the cold of the ice world and evaporated by the heat of the fire world Muspelheim. That first cosmic being, Ymir, formed from the frost. The first gods Odin, Vé and Vili, who later emerged from Bor the son of Buri, sacrificed Ymir to build the world from his body parts.
So Ymir or Aurgelmir was the first ancestor of the riding giant race. Snorri Sturluson combined various sources and explained Ymir’s role in the Nordic creation myth partly through his own conclusions. The most important of these sources are the great Edda poem Völuspá, the question and answer poem Grímnismál, and the question and answer poem Vafþrúðnismál. According to these stories, Ginnungagap existed as chaotic void for heaven and earth. The northern area was filled with ice, which became Niflheim, the nebula world. On the contrary in the south there was Muspelheim, world of fire, full of bright sparks and glowing embers. Ymir originated in Ginnungagap where the Niflheim ice came into contact with Muspelheim’s heat and melted, releasing “eligolven” and drops of egg. The Eitr drops coagulated to form a so-called riding giant (hrimthurs) between the two worlds, and the Muspelheim gensters gave him life.
While Ymir was sleeping, he started to sweat, delivering the race of the giants. And from the sweat under his left armpit a male and female creature grew, and his legs brought forth his six-headed son Thrudgelmir.
Ymir fed thanks to the primal cow Auðhumla who let four streams of milk flow from her udder. She fed herself by licking the salty ice blocks. This constant licking finally released the shapes of a giant male body, namely Búri. Búri became the father of Borr, and Borr and his wife Bestla had three sons, Odin, Vili and Vé.
Those sons of Bor killed Ymir, and when his juice began to flow, almost the entire tribe of rhyme giants was drowned. Only two survived the flood, one was Ymir’s grandson Bergelmir (son of Thrudgelmir), the other his wife. They managed to climb on Bergelmir’s wooden box (ludr, ark). Bergelmir and his wife spawned the new generation of rhyme giants.
Maggots arose in his flesh, which would later become dwarfs and shaped the earth. Alves had to convert his juice of life into water for the sea and for the rivers. And from its skull was formed the expanse, supported by the four dwarfs Norðri, Suðri, Austri and Vestri, one for each cardinal point in space. His eyebrows were placed around Midgard to protect against the giant world of Jötunheim. Mountains sprang from his bones. His teeth and bone grit turned to stone. Trees grew from his hair. Odin created the wind by placing one of Bergelmir’s sons in the shape of an eagle at the far end of the world. Ymir’s brain became clouds.
Then the sons of Borr took sparks from Muspelheim and spread them through Ginnungagap, creating stars and light for heaven and earth. The sons of Borr made men out of pieces of driftwood of trees; first a man named Ask and a woman named Embla. These first people were placed within the enclosure of Midgard, after which the gods built Asgard for themselves within that wall, which separated the people from the giants.