It’s important to consider endings.
Before the wails of Ymir and the silence of Surtr, there was a world that lived, broke and died. How do we know this? Because the earth is old and, in a mythic sense, that’s all part of Deeptime.
Deeptime: the place that is Before Human, that is unknowable to us, except as a story pieced together like a puzzle from a paucity of clues. Even in the modern day, we create convincing narratives but that’s all they are. Well-woven lies with bits of truth, enough to make a whole.
The House of Odin came upon a living world and made an end of it. And from that end, a beginning occurred. A hostile landscape was made safe for a new branch of humanity.
Some folks like to draw similarities between this and the Christ saga, or maybe Marduk’s defeat of Tiamat. After all, didn’t both feature saviors that pulled people from a chaotic past?
There’s a critical difference, though. Odin understood that his people would be living inside a dead body. There would be his family and the humans they carved from materials that would endure (trees). And there were maggots (the dwergar). There would also be ravenous invisible (and sometimes visible) forces tearing into it.
As long as his family kept everything in check, the warmth of the cooling corpse would protect them from the harshness of the universe outside. It would provide insulation and nourishment.
But this couldn’t last forever. One day, the vigilance of his family would fail. The full force of hunger (Fenris), rot (Jormungandr) and death itself (Hel) would emerge and take their home from them.
What then? What would happen after Ragnarok?
Do you know the answer? It was posed in a metaphor, a poetic image. Grass growing on the compost formed by the death of the World. New life, new people slowly emerging. Some were Vanir (the gardeners), some Aesir (the hunters).
Odin created a narrative that there is an end. There is always an end.
But there is a beginning, too. Always, always dream past the end. From death emerges life.
The faith of his family was coopted by men of ill will or faint imagination. Made palatable past its queer origins and grand vision into something which Christian scholars could digest.
Even then, the seeds were planted. A dare. Look at what crumbles around you. Look at the uncertain world.
And with that, still dream.