South of Ginnungagap lay the home of the fire giants, Muspelheim, and to the north the cold and frosty realm of Niflheim.
The creation of the world began when the warm air from Muspelheim met the cold ice of Niflheim. From this the giant Ymir and the cow Audhumbla came to life.
Ymir drank from Audhumblas milk while the cow licked a salt stone and this caused the the first man being born of the stone. He was called Bure and he later got a son Borr who together with the Jotun daughter Besla fathered the Æsir god Odin and his brothers Vile and Ve.
When grown-up Odin, Vile and Ve killed the giant Ymir and used his blood, bones and teeth to create the world. They created Midgard from his eyelashes and then picked two trees and created a man, Ask, and a woman, Embla, who became the first humans to live in Midgard and the ancestors of all mankind.
They also created Asgard, the home of the gods and Midgard and Asgard are connected by an amazing rainbow Bifrost.
Bifrost is guarded by the God Heimdall, who has senses so sharp that he can hear the grass grow and see all the way around the world.
All in all there is nine worlds - Midgard, Asgard, Vanaheim, Alfheim, Muspelheim, Niflheim, Jotunheim, Svartalfheim and Nidavellir - and they're all connected by the world tree Yggdrasil, the holiest of all places in both Asgard and Midgard.
Vanaheim, Alfheim and Asgard are resting in the branches and the trunk of the tree goes right through Midgard.
A wise eagle sits in the top and at the root the serpent Nidhogg gnaws on the roots.
The eagle and serpent constantly argue, but since they never leave their posts the squirrel Ratatosk runs forth and back between the two with their insults.
The three norns, Urd, Verdande and Skuld, sit at the roots of the tree and spins the life thread for every human born.
Each day and each night the wolves Skoll and Hati chase the sun and the moon over the sky.
The moment they catch and swallow the sun and the moon the final battle, Ragnarok, between Gods and Jotuns will begin.
The king of the Æsirs is Odin. He is a mighty god, the most terrifying of them all, a great warlord and god of wisdom, victory, poetry, magic and happiness.
Odin sacrificed himself and hung nine days and nine nights in a tree to gain the knowledge of the runes.
Furthermore he sacrificed his left eye at Mimers well in order to gain wisdom.
Odins two ravens, Hugin and Munin, meaning thought and memory, sit on his shoulders and fly out and report back to him what they see.
He rides an eight-legged horse called Sleipnir and by his throne resides two wolves, Geri and Freki.
Odin is married to the goddess Frigg.
She is the goddess of love, fertility, marriage and motherhood. She's also believed to have the power of prophecy although she doesn't like to reveal what she knows.
Odin has many sons, some with Frigg, some by other women, also giants and jotuns.
Thor is one of his sons and is the strongest of the gods after Odin.
He is married to Sif.
They live in Bilskirnir, a house with no less than 540 rooms. Thor is also the lucky owner of Mjolnir, a mighty hammer that always returns to his hand after he has thrown it.
When he rides his carriage with two goats across the sky it thunders in Midgard and once rowed out in a boat and caught the great Midgard serpent.
Tyr is another of Odins sons. He lost one of his hands when shackling the monstrous wolf Fenrir.
The gods had been trying to tie Fenrir down for long, but he kept breaking every chain. The gods then commissioned the crafty dwarfs from Svartalfheim to make an unbreakable chord. They made the magic chord Gleipnir out of the sound of a cats paws, a womans beard, the breath of a fish, the spittle of a bird, the roots of a mountain and the sinews of a bear.
The gods once more went to catch Fenrir and tempted the wolf to try and break the new chord. The wolf was suspicious of the chord that looked like a thin silk ribbon and suspected there was foul play involved, but he wanted to appear courageous, so he commanded that someone put their hand in his mouth as a token while they tested the Gleipnir on him. None of the gods liked the sound of that, but eventually Tyr put his hand into his mouth and so lost it when Fenrirs suspicions came true.
Odins son Baldur is the kind and beautiful god of light, joy and innocence, the god of seasons and the growth of the plants.
He has a dream of his own death and his mother Frigg tries to prevent it from coming true by making every object in the world swear they will never hurt him in any way. However she neglecs to ask the insignificant plant mistletoe. Unfortunately Loki, the cunning mischief-maker of the gods, finds out, and seeing how the gods now has much fun with silly games of throwing all kinds of things at Baldur without harming him, Loki hurries to make an arrow of the mistletoe and gives it to Hodur, Baldurs blind brother.
Hodur then fires it at Baldur in the belief that it will not hurt Baldur. But Lokis evil plan succeeds and Baldur is killed by his own brother.
Loki is the god of fire and the trouble-maker among the gods, always causing havoc and despised by the others.
He was also involved in helping the Jotun Tjasse stealing the goddess Idun and her magical apples.
The apples ensure eternal youth to the gods of Asgard and without them to eat they will soon age and get grey and old. Finding out he has been involved with her kidnapping the other gods forces Loki to get her back. He does so by borrowing Freyas cloak of falcon feathers to fly to Tjasses farm.
Loki has several monstrous children - the Fenrir wolf, Jörmungandr the Midgard serpent and Hel.
Hel is the ruler of the underworld of where those unfortunate who don't die a glorious dead and can be seated in Valhal go. The underworld is placed beneath the third root of Yggdrasil and is a cold and dark place surrounded by an ice cold river floating with knives and swords.
Hel herself is described as half human flesh and half blue-black, harsh and angry. Her bed is called disease, her knife famine and her dish hunger.
Among the goddesses is Freya, who belongs to the Vanirs and is daughter of Njord, the god of the sea.
Another ruler of the sea is the mighty Ægir and his wife Ran.
She catches dead fishermen in her net so she can take them down with her to her underwater caves.
Freya herself has a taste for death as well, as she is not only the goddess of fertility and beauty but also of battle and death and shares the amount of fallen warriors on the battlefield with Odin.
She is renowned for her beauty and her amazing necklace The Brisingaman, which was crafted to her by dwarfs from Nidavellir in exchange for each of them spending a night with her.
Freya is the one who leads the Valkyries out to collect the fallen warriors from the battle field to bring them to Valhal. The Valkyries ride on wolfs to the battlefield and takes the form of ravens to scavenge the battlefield for the most heroic among the fallen:
Those who has died a heroic death are taken to the great hall Valhal to feast forever on mjoed and pork served by the Valkyries.