The Snorra Edda, or Prose Edda, was written by the Icelander Snorri Sturlasson circa 1220. In it Snorri described the creation and end of the world, religion and the old pagan gods. In three main parts, the first, Gylfaginning, introduces the old Norse myths to the reader. Much of the information about the myths Snorri gleaned from Voluspa (Sybil’s Prophency), a writing from earlier times. The second part of the Edda dealt with the origin of poetry and the ancient heroes and gods. The third part is the poem Hattal in 120 stanzas, showing the different kinds of poetic forms that Snorri knew. Creation started in the vast chasm of Ginnungagap with the frost giant Ymir and the cow Audumla. The cow licked man out of the ice and from this man descended his grandsons Odin, Vili and Ve. After many struggles with the giant the grandsons decided to kill it and from its body fashioned the nine worlds: Asgard, Vanaheim, Alfheim; Midgard, Jotunheim, Nidavellir, and Svartalfaheim; Hel and Niflheim (1) and Muspellheim. Ymir’s blood became the sea, his skull the sky, his bones the mountains, his brains the clouds and from his tissues an axis around which the universe turned. These worlds existed on three levels or realms. The uppermost realm was Asgard home of the Aesir or warrior gods and place of the great plains and shining palaces. It is there that Odin resided. Two ravens Huginn and Munin (thought and memory) sat on his shoulders and recounted all they had witnessed during their daily flights over Midgard. Freyja, though not an Aesir, was considered the goddess of love and beauty and also a warrior goddess with the wisdom and knowledge of magic which she taught to the Aesir. Her chariot was drawn by male cats. In Valholl or Valhalla, the great feasting hall, the chosen warriors that had died in brave battle were resurrected to feast every night, only to do battle and die again and again while awaiting the last battle Ragnarok, at the end of time. In this top realm the Vanir or fertility gods and the Elves also lived. The middle realm Midgard was fashioned from the eyebrows of Ymir and inhabited by men. It was surrounded by a vast ocean where Jormungand, a terrible serpent, lay. By the shore Odin and his brothers found two trees and breathed spirit into them. They became the first man and woman, Ask and Embla, and Midgard was to be their home. The giants world was thought to lie in Midgard but some believed it lay on the other side of the sea. Odin took a giant´s daughter, Night, and her son Day, and put them into horse-drawn chariots to ride around the world every two half days. Thor, god of thunder and son of Odin, was protector of Midgard. With his mighty hammer Mjollnir he defeated enemies and caused lightening to flash in the sky. In this middle realm was Nidavellir and Svartalfaheim, home of the dwarfs and black elves. Asgard and Midgard were connected by a flaming rainbow bridge called Bifrost that was guarded by Heimdallur. In the third or lowest level lay Niflheim, the world of the dead. In the bitter cold and unending night, Hel, Loki´s daughter, presided. Muspellheim was the land of fire ruled by Surt with the flaming sword. Surt will come and vanquish all the gods and burn the world at the end of time. The three realms were held together by Yggdrasill, the world Ash tree. Its branches spread over the whole world and all of heaven. It had three roots, one in each realm. The root in Asgard was at the Well of Urd where the three Norns Urdur, Skuld and Verdandi presided and predicted the destiny of all men and gods and where the gods met for council every day. The second root was at the spring Mimir, the source of wisdom. This is where Odin sacrificed an eye to drink the mead of poetry and gain the wisdom to become the father of all gods. The third root was at Hvelgelmir in Niflhem near to the serpent Nidhogg, who constantly gnawed at it. Deer hopped in Yggdrasill’s branches near the top and a squirrel ran up and down its length carrying insults from Nidhogg to the eagle at the top. Ragnarrok, or the end of time, will come after three hard winters in a row with no summer in between. Before that three years of war will come when everybody fights and people in the same families kill each other. Then it is said that the wolves Hati and Skoll, who have always snapped at and chased the sun and moon, will finally catch and swallow them. Then the stars will disappear from the sky and earthquakes will shake the world. Fenris the monster wolf will break free from its chains. There will be terrible floods so that the Midgardsormur will be able to crawl ashore and spew poison. The horrible ship, Naglfar, which is made of dead people's nails, will float. The sky will open and an army of evil creatures will enter into the world and make their way up into Asgard. Along with Fenris and Midgardsormur other monsters will be unleashed like Muspellssynir, the giants of fire, and Loki, the trickster. They will all fight the final battle against the Aesir and brave men. In the end everyone dies as is preordained and the earth sinks into the sea. But it will rise from the sea anew, more beautiful than ever and the golden age will begin. Text©Sólarfima ehf.