According to Norse mythology, the beginning of life was fire and ice, with the existence of only two worlds: Muspelheim and Niflheim. When the warm air of Muspelheim hit the cold ice of Niflheim, the jötunn Ymir and the icy cow Audhumla were created. Ymir’s foot bred a son and a man and a woman emerged from his armpits, making Ymir the progenitor of the Jotun. Whilst Ymir slept, the intense heat from Muspelheim made him sweat, and he sweated out Surtr, a jötunn of fire. Later Ymir woke and drank Audhumbla’s milk. Whilst he drank, the cow Audhumbla licked on a salt stone. On the first day after this a man’s hair appeared on the stone, on the second day a head and on the third day an entire man emerged from the stone. His name was Búri and with an unknown jötunn female he fathered Bor, the father of the three gods Odin, Vili and Ve.
When the gods felt strong enough they killed Ymir. His blood flooded the world and drowned all of the jötunn, except two. But jötnar grew again in numbers and soon there were as many as before Ymir’s death. Then the gods created seven more worlds using Ymir’s flesh for dirt, his blood for the Oceans, rivers and lakes, his bones for stone, his brain as the clouds, his skull for the heaven. Sparks from Muspelheim flew up and became stars.
One day when the gods were walking they found two tree trunks. They transformed them into the shape of humans. Odin gave them life, Vili gave them mind and Ve gave them the ability to hear, see, and speak. The gods named them Ask and Embla and built the kingdom of Middle-earth for them; and, to keep out the jötnar, the gods placed a gigantic fence made of Ymir’s eyelashes around Middle-earth.
The völva goes on to describe Yggdrasil and three norns, Urðr (Wyrd), Verðandi and Skuld. She then describes the war between the Aesir and Vanir and the murder of Baldr, Odin’s handsome son whom everyone but Loki loved. (The story is that everything in existence promised not to hurt him except mistletoe. Taking advantage of this weakness, Loki made a projectile of mistletoe and tricked Höðr, Odin’s blind son and Balder’s brother, into using it to kill Balder. Hel said she would revive him if everyone in the nine worlds wept. A female jötunn – Thokk, who may have been Loki in shape-shifted form – did not weep.) After that she turns her attention to the future.
Ragnarök refers to a series of major events, including a great battle foretold to ultimately result in the death of a number of major figures (including the gods Odin, Thor, Freya, Heimdall, and the jötunn Loki), the occurrence of various natural disasters, and the subsequent submersion of the world in water. Afterwards, the world resurfaces anew and fertile, the surviving gods meet, and the world is repopulated by two human survivors.