One would expect the star lore of the ancient Norse to be at least equally rich as that of the other ancient nations. And certainly, this must be the case, if anything, because this land had spawned the notorious seamen known as Vikings, who relied on stars for navigation. However, we know surprisingly little of this star lore nowadays. Some say that this is because the original astronomical terms gave way to the Greek and Latin since the early middle ages. The others claim that the oral tradition (written down only in the late middle ages) does not contain any references to the stars. But is this really the case? Perhaps the Nordic myths are simply not being read with proper understanding?
The story of Ymir
In Norse mythology, Ymir (read as E-mir, Ya-mir, Yo-mir) was the primordial being. Ymir was a giant from whose body gods created the universe. He was born from the venom that dripped from the icy rivers called Élivágar, in the grassless void called Ginnungagap. The Poetic Eda of the 13th century gives us a description of that world. There` was no sea, no heavens, nor earth when Ymir lived. Just a grassless yawning gap.
The Prose Edda, written down in the same period, adds that together with Ymir a primeval cow was born. Auðumbla was her name, and she fed Ymir with her milk. The Giant Ymir then created the first male and female from the pits of his arms. Their names were Ask and Embla, the Nordic equivalent of Adam and Eve. Audumbla also licked down the ice that entrapped Buri, the first god.
Ymir suckles from the cow Auðumbla while she licks the ice from Búri. A painting by Nicolai Abildgaard (1790) inspired by the Prose Edda narrative, Wikipedia Commons
The astral symbolics of this myth is clear. The great gaping void Ginnungagap represents the space. The icy rivers of Élivágar are the Milky Way, the Auðumbla cow is the constellation of Taurus. Ymir is Orion, and the couple that was born from his armpits is the constellation of Gemini. Here is an illustration of this picture in the stars:
Orion and Ymir
There is another giveaway that Ymir is Orion – it is from his body that gods fashioned the universe. The same is true for Orpheus, Dionysus, Osiris, and many other Indo-European deities, all representations of Orion. As Eda claims: his flesh formed the earth, and his blood created the ocean. His bones became the hills and his hair trees… Finally, the sons of men came to this new world.
Also, most of the Indo-European myths see Orion as a guide of souls. This is because Indo-European myths often see the Milky Way as a river or a road. It is the path through which the souls are traveling between the realms of the living and dead. This “road of the souls” was Helvegen to the Norse. And if this “road” was the Milky way, the role of Psychopomp (guide of the souls) relates to Ymir. It is Orion that stands at the “beginning” of the Milky Way.
But even though these parallels seem obvious, this is probably the only place where you can read about it. I cannot claim this for sure as I do not speak any of the Scandinavian languages. However, my Google search labeled “Orion – Ymir” yielded zero results. (?) I did learn that in some local dialects the name for Orion’s belt was ”Fiskikarlar” – fishermen. But this is the terminology of fishermen, not the Edda. At the same time, the Wikipedia article on Ymir mentions that scholars relate him to the god Tuisto. But since the word Tuesday comes from Tuisto, he is obviously (?) related to the planet Mars.
In any case, this was just an introduction to the more interesting things ahead. I was curious about the etymology of the name Ymir, but it seems that there is no official theory. This made me research on my own. And I found something very interesting in the most unexpected place – India!
Ymir and Vedic Yama
The Vedic god Yama, one of the gods of the earliest Vedic pantheon, had epithets Yamarāja, and Imra! It seems that I was not the first to draw the parallel Ymir-Imra. Wikipedia states:
W. Meid linked the names Yama (reconstructed in PIE as *yemos) and the name of the primeval Norse frost giant Ymir, reconstructed in Proto-Germanic as *jumijaz, possibly from PIE root yem “twin”. However, Ymir is not a twin, although he shares with Yama the characteristics of being primeval and mortal.
Well, sure, Ymir is not a twin… But he did create twins from his armpits! We also saw how the Gemini constellation looks as if it is spawning out of the armpit of Orion. Moreover, Yama is also the guardian of the dead. And both Yama and Ymir were primordial beings.
Besides, Yama has some clear parallels with Orion. He has two dogs with four legs and wide nostrils guarding the road to his abode (hellhounds). And he is riding a buffalo. Again, we see some clear astronomical images. “Buffalo” is Taurus. The two dogs are Canis Minor and Canis Major constellations – the faithful hounds of Orion the hunter.
As we see, there is so much more than the name that connects Yama and Ymir. To me at least, the connection is obvious. Even the word “Gemini” comes from the same Indo-European corpus since this is precisely what “Yama” means in Sanskrit.
I also believe that I can explain historically how this idea traveled from India to Scandinavia. But first, we need to know that Yama also exists in the Avesta, the ancient holy scripture of Zoroastrians. Whether the idea had followed the path Iran-India or India-Iran is difficult to say. What is certain is that this whole region was once inhabited by the people known as Aryans. Zoroastrian creation myth begins like this – The first beings that supreme deity Ahura Mazda created were Gayōmart, the living mortal, and a primordial bull Gavaevodata. The living dmortal and the primordial bull…Does it sound familiar?
The dating of the myth
Now, we can also use astronomy to date these myths. In my article ASTRONOMY WAS PRACTICED FOR MORE THAN 40000 YEARS – A DEFINITE PROOF I explained this in more detail. But here is a quick run through the facts: We are currently living in the age of Pisces, as this is the constellation in which the Sun rises on the spring equinox. However, from roughly 2,000BC to our era, the Sun was rising in Aries. From 4,000-2,000BC it was in Taurus, and from 6,000-4,000BC it was in Gemini.
These myths, centered around the bull relate to a period between 4,000-2,000BC. But they also include some of the layers of the previous star lore – when Sun was in Gemini. The creation of the world began with the divine twins (Adam and Eve) instead of the primordial bull. Perhaps the original layers of Yama myth come from here. And quite amazingly, we may still be using the original name of this constellation.
Star-lore of two consecutive ages is usually mixed up like this. In the more recent history – Moses, whose arrival marks the Aries era, talks about the Golden calf (Taurus). Also, Christianity (Pisces) included many symbols and saints of the Aries era. (Moses with ram’s horns)
But since one of our main characters is the bull, our timeframe for this story is 4,000-2,000BC. I believe that the later date is of more importance. This is the time when the Saraswati river dried out, and the great civilizations of that region had disappeared. Some tribes may have migrated towards the Mediterranean. In the process, they pushed other tribes from their homeland. These migrations resulted in the bronze age phenomenon of “sea peoples”.
By following this logic I will make another bold assumption. What if even the name of the great poet Homer, (2nd millennium BC), was a Greek version of Yomir – meaning Orion (or a twin)? Its Greek etymology is unknown. Also, Hesiod’s Chaos is nothing else but the Ginnungagap of the Norse, while the bull was a central figure of the Orphic rites of the Thracians.
But according to the myth, Orpheus had established a Dionysian cult. In this cult, the central animal was the ram (Aries). Since our Norse myth revolves around the bull, we must assume that it belongs to the oral tradition of a tribe that had migrated to Scandinavia before 2,000BC.
I am well aware that my theories may sound very exaggerated to some, but how else to explain all the similarities between the Norse and the Vedic religion?
To name a few Æsir, the most important group of Nordic gods relates to Sanskrit Asura, (hence also Assyria). The name of goddess Frigg (Freya, Friya) means “love” or “beloved one” while in Sanskrit priyā means “dear woman”. And even Edda sounds like Vedas. Also, there is no known etymology of the word “Scandinavia”, while in India Skanda is the god of war. This would be an appropriate name for the land ruled by the Aryan warrior cast?
Can we really attribute all these similarities to mere coincidences or banalize them to a common Indo-European heritage? Or can we try to explain where and when this heritage originated? Perhaps the genius of our ancestors encoded their history in the everlasting language of the stars, a language so easy to comprehend if only we were willing to listen carefully to the verses that they sang for us.
sounds legit !!
I’m glad individuals are piecing together information from around the world and painting a valid picture of our path through time, one that old non-inter-disciplinary historians would have a hard time painting..
DO you think the dual force principle of constructive force (ahuramazda) and destructive force (ahriman) can link zoroastrianism with the age of the gemini ?
The logic is definitely there, as the Gemini represent male and female, Sun and Moon, but I believe that the concept of dualisam is in fact way older than that.
Another wonderful entry! Thank you!
Hindu culture has been linked to Scandinavia by others by way of a common ancient proto-Indo-European origin, but the source of that origin has yet to be determined, whether Kurgan steppes invaders or other. Your idea of migration from East to West is intriguing.
I live in the US in the Great Lakes region, and the Native American peoples in this part of the world also have a tradition of seeing the constellation we call Orion as the guardian of the Path/Road of the Souls, the Milky Way. If one traces the migration of the first Americans back to the steppes of Asia then we may be looking at another branch of the same belief, or if one has a more mystical perspective, maybe multiple cultures arrived at the same belief because of their experience of reality and they are describing what happens.
Exactly, thank you for the input. The fact that the ancients saw very similar images among the stars, and even attached the similar symbolic to it clearly points out to the common origin in a really distant past, much older than 3-4000BC, which is the currently proposed dating for the beginnings of astronomy.
As for the migrations, I believe that it was in fact a chain reaction of a sort. It may have started from the Saraswati river but it also caused many tribes and nations on the way to migrate in the process. A similar scenario happened in a more recent history when Turkic tribes were pushed by the Huns, that were in turn pushed by the Mongols. There is no reason to assume that it was the first time it happened in history. I also believe that astronomy gives us a pretty good idea of when that migration could have happened, and it pretty much matches the historical and the archeological record.
Point made, definitely not the first displacement. As the first Americans arrived over 12,000 years ago it would certainly be a much older point of origin working backwards.
Thanks for being interesting.
The etymology of Scandinavia is clear if we look at the old name Skandza which today reads as skanse meaning barrier or buffer. (as of a a fortress) Scandinavia has been guarded by the waters.
Ymir as Orion seems highly likely. I have thought that his name is made out of the german word Immer meaning always, all time. It fits with Orion. Orion is the sphere of the eternal trinity and the life beyond death.
The islamic Ashura feast (where they whip themselves bloody) is one rough approach to this reality.
Ashura and Azur is probably linked form old, while Ymir and Emer is linked. And Emer is Emerald green.
Orion is always associated with Azur and Emerald.
This is a wonderful write up. And exactly, matches with the pattern migration of the old indo-europeans, who were giants. These people migrated to lot of places, and also, eventually went on to become the ancestors of indo-aryan people.
I think, now Indian government must shed it’s psuedo nationalist hindutva and all from hinduism nonsense, because, there were a group of people, who came here and conquered. Genetics data have already started to support this.
Everything is written in rig veda, about how these migrations have happened. The patterns of stars, positions of sun at each locations are described.
Not everyone in India is arya, only people, who had these ancestors were aryans.
You’re spot on… I got the exact same conclusions.
Notice that the “road” also could be the path of the sun at night/winter!?
“Fiskekarl” means fisherman in Danish (im from Denmark) which relate to pisces from where the sun is manifested out of the water (sunrise/spring equinox). Or the man in the “water” (heaven/night sky)generally?
Ymir is also Ymer (same name as we give to thick milk/creme fraise)
Veda is also Veta in Sweden (knowledge) and in Danish Vide/ved.
Thomas Bornholdt on Facebook (if you like to share ideas)