Actually…let me revise that completely.
Once we were in harmony with all forms of life, living in a sacred land of ice and earth and stone, warmed by sun and fire. As the glaciers of AuÃ°umbla, thawed, her life bestowing, flowing waters danced over the skin of our original sanctuary, Ymer or Ymir, and we and all forms of life emerged from all that which was once frozen, seemingly-lifeless under the ice.
All of us together, two-leggeds, (giants, trolls, humans, birds) four-leggeds (mammals, lizards, amphibians), many-legged (insects and arachnids) and no-leggeds (fish, snakes, worms, plus the whole of the plant, fungal and bacterial kingdoms) stood or wriggled upon or rooted into or swam within Ymer’s primeval soils and waters, all of us equal, and each of our needs and gifts woven together in beautiful, cyclical balance.
But something eventually came to tip that balance, shattering the equality of all forms of life, and setting in motion a terrible unfolding of events.
The first humans to emerge from the mingling of Ymir’s earth and AuÃ°umbla’s waters were the people of BÃºri. Today we may still remember BÃºri as the first Germanic god, but also as a hemaphroditic god/goddess who sired his/her son Borr. But as myth changes over time, details are lost and compressed, and in mythic story-telling form, entire people may become identified by their leaders’ names alone. Thus we can attempt to decompress this piece of the mythology, and expand the idea of the hemaphroditic BÃºri into the tribe of BÃºri, an ancient group of people who lived with male and female, masculine and feminine principles in balance. But as time passed, the tribe of BÃºri gave way to the tribe of Borr.
In the form of the myth we know today, the god Borr took Bestla, the daughter of a frost Giant as his wife. Here we see the principles of masculine and feminine become unbalanced. The men of the tribe of Borr were not satisfied by following the old ways, and coveted things outside their natural domain. Borr shattered the original balance by rejecting the feminine element of his own tribe, and choosing instead to seize or possess a feminine element of nature. (So perhaps Willem, the story of “The first Murder” could also be considered as the story of the first abduction or first domestication?) Besta, torn from her native frostlands, became subservient to Borr, and became mother of VÃ© and Vili and Odin.
These three brothers (and the three tribes that came from their names) decided that having the masculine dominate both the feminine and nature as it existed then was not enough. Instead, man must now embody mastery over nature, and what better way to do that than to remodel wild nature into domesticated nature, and to remodel themselves as gods who would rule over that newly domesticated land.
So VÃ© and Vili and Odin slew the primeval Ymer, and a vast and terrible flood drowned the world. But because they were credited for the shape of and nature of the world that came after, their surviving tribes-people remembered them as gods.
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Thank you Willem for starting this conversation with your great post, The First Murder at http://www.mythic-cartography.org/2014/03/09/the-first-murder/ , and thank you to Elizabeth Wayland Barber and Paul T. Barber, authors of When They Severed Earth from Sky: How the Human Mind Shapes Myth, whose pointers on Myth interpretation and decoding were essential to my analysis of the Germanic creation myth as shown above.