Odin is the All-Father. He is the oldest and most powerful of the Gods. Through the ages he has ruled all things. He created heaven and earth, and he made man and gave him a soul. But even the All-Father was not the very first.
In the beginning, there was no earth, no sea, no sky. Only the emptiness of Ginnungagap, waiting to be filled. In the south, the fiery realm of Muspell came into being, and in the north, the icy realm of Niflheim. Fire and ice played across the emptiness. And in the center of nothingness the air grew mild. Where the warm air from Muspell met the cold air from Niflheim, the ice began to thaw. As it dripped, it shaped itself into the form of a sleeping giant. His name was Ymir, and he was evil.
As Ymir slept, he began to sweat. There grew beneath his left arm a male and a female, and from his legs another male was created. These were the first frost giants, all of whom are descended from Ymir.
Then the ice-melt formed a cow, named Audhumla. Four rivers of milk flowed from her and fed Ymir. Audhumla nourished herself by licking the salty blocks of ice all around. By the end of her first day she had uncovered the hair of a head. By the end of her second day the whole head was exposed, and by the end of a third day there was a complete man, His name was Buri, and he was strong and handsome. Buri had a son named Bor, who married Bestla, the daughter of one of the frost giants. Bor and Bestla had three sons: Odin, Vili and Ve.
Odin and his brothers hated the brutal frost giant Ymir, and they slew him. So much blood flowed from the slaughtered giant that it drowned all the frost giants save Bergelmir and his wife, who escaped in a boat made from a hollowed tree trunk.
From Ymir's flesh, Odin and his brothers made the earth, and from his shattered bones and teeth, they made the rocks and stones. From Ymir's blood, they made the rivers and lakes, and they circled the earth with an ocean of blood.
Ymir's skull they made into the sky, secured at four points by four dwarfs named East, West, North and South. They flung sparks of fire from Muspell high into the sky to make the sun, the moon, and the stars. From Ymir's brains, they shaped the clouds.
The earth was made in the form of a circle and around the edge of it lay the great sea. Odin and his brothers gave one area, Jotunheim, to the giants. They also established the kingdom of Midgard, protecting it from the giants with fortifications made from Ymir's eyebrows.
One day, as they walked along the shore of the great sea, Odin and his brothers came across two logs. Odin gave them breath and life; Vili gave them brains and feelings; and Ve gave them hearing and sight. These were the first man, Ask, and the first woman, Embla, and Midgard was their home. From them, all the families of mankind are descended.
Below Midgard is the icy realm of death, Niflheim. Above it is the realm of the Gods, Asgard, where Odin sits on his throne and watches over all the worlds. Asgard and Midgard are linked by a rainbow bridge, Bifrost.
At the center of all the realms is a great ash tree, Yggdrasil, whose branches shade the world, and whose roots support it.