Since ancient times, human beings have been concerned about unravelling the mysteries of the universe. Today, science provides solid facts for us, but in primitive times people were guided by something else; religion and what we call mythology.
With Norse mythology, you are plunged into a timeless void, where nothing exists, and even your senses leave you. There’s only one supreme ruler watching over this kingdom of nothingness, and that is Chaos. You are trapped between two opposing realms: Múspellsheimr, the realm of fire, and Niflheimr, the realm of ice and cold. The void also whispers you its name: Ginnungagap.
Yes, you are guessing right; this is the beginning of the universe according to the ancient nordic culture. Soon, these two opposing forces meet in the void of Ginnungagap and the result of this encounter is the first being to come into existence, the primordial giant Ymir. From his left armpit the first man and woman are born, while from his legs the frost giants (Jötnar) come into existence, making Ymir the father of the race of giants.
Everything seems peaceful and stable, but the first gods (or Æsir), Odin, Vili and Vé, are born and they kill Ymir and most of the Jötnar. From Ymir’s body they shape the world of humans: from his flesh they make the earth, from his blood the oceans, seas and lakes and from his bones and teeth the mountains and rocks. His skull is used for the sky and Odin finds two Jötnar, Sól and Máni, who take the role of the sun and moon. Thus the world is created and so is time, with the passage of days and nights due to the two giants being constantly chased by devouring wolves.
Now don’t get too used to this Norse world because Chaos has some other alternate worlds in store for you. This time, on the old Hellenic plains, Chaos itself is waiting for Nyx (night) and Erebus to join him. Complete darkness prevails over the universe until Eros (love) is born bringing forth Light and Gaia (earth) together with the beginning of order. Then Gaia gives birth to Uranus, the sky, and they later become husband and wife and from their union the universe is finally created, together with the first three races: the Titans, the Cyclops and the Hekatonkheires. This is the foundation of the Greek mythology, which is just as macabre as the Norse one, dealing again with one primordial god (Uranus) being disemboweled by his successor Cronus (Time), and thus life being created.
Let’s peek into the Indian mythic times now. You fall once more into a dreamy void, where you are about to meet the sole inhabitant of this place, the primeval cosmic being Purusha. There are many versions of how the Hindu universe is created but one version recounts that from Purusha a cosmic egg (Viraj) emerged and then Purusha was born again from the egg. That’s how life appears, together with the idea that creation is cyclical. Later, Purusha is also sacrificed by other gods, and from his body parts and his mind the world is created: the sky, the earth, the animals, and also the gods Indra and Angi.
While you got the chance to see creation take place, now it’s time to face destruction. You are taken back to the Norse mythological lands, right in the middle of the last war between the gods, where Odin, Thor and Loki are slain, and the world serpent, Jörmungandr finally eats its tail causing Ragnarök (or the end of the world) to happen. However, this is not really the end since all three cultures prove that existence is meant to repeat for eternity. The Greek world has already ended countless times, and history keeps going in circles. Time flows really fast, starting with the socalled Golden Age and followed by the Silver and Brass Ages and the Age of Heroes. When we reach the Iron Age, the worst one, the world is meant to be destroyed by Zeus. Then everything starts from scratch again. The Hindu world goes through the same sort of cycle, the four ages being called the four Yugas. The last, declining age is called Kali Yuga (or the age of conflict), after which the world is meant to end and then start all over again. As we can see, after destruction there is always revival and three different cultures convey the same concept of an eternal cycle of existence. This only proves how strongly connected every culture of our planet is.
«Chaos is found in greatest abundance wherever order is being sought. It always defeats order, because it is better organized.» (Terry Pratchett)