An Expanded Anglo-Saxon Creation Myth

Posted by Byron Pendason on April 27, 2023 CE, in , ,

This is an original myth, written by me. I have written an Anglo-Saxon creation myth before, but this is a much expanded myth. You will notice inspiration from others mythologies (mainly the Norse creation myth), but I also added my own UPG.

Athelstan was a Christian. His parents, too, had been raised Christian. His paternal grandfather, however, had been a Heathen priest who was killed for refusing to abandon the old religion when his king had converted to Christianity. Athelstan had always wondered about his grandfather’s faith, but his father had always refused to talk about it. So Athelstan had resolved to find out about it.

All the Anglo-Saxon kings had converted to Christianity by this time, save for one. It was the Isle of Wight that Athelstan had decided to visit in his quest.

The journey was an easy one, and he arrived at the small temple that served the island with little trouble. He sought out the priest, who introduced himself as Oswine.

“My grandfather was a priest to your gods, many years ago,” Athelstan began, “But was killed when his king converted to Christianity. I am a Christian, but I would like to learn about the religion that my grandfather chose to die for.”

“It is a shame that most of our kingdoms have turned from the faith of their fathers,” Oswine replied, “But you seeking to learn about our faith fills me with joy. Ask your questions, and I will do my best to answer them.”

Athelstan thought for a minute before answering, “From where did the world come?”

“Before anything else existed, there was only Gedwolma. It was a land filled with nothing but chaos. There was no life, no trees, no humans. But from the chaos emerged a giant named Gymm.”

“Is Gymm the first of the gods?” Athelstan asked.

“On the contrary, he is the father of the ettins,” replied Oswine.

“And how did Gymm nourish himself?” asked Athelstan.

“From the chaos also emerged a gigantic cow named Ecencuu. Gymm fed himself from her milk, and then fell into a deep sleep. As he slept, ettins came from his armpits and his thighs. Like Gymm, these ettins enjoyed the chaos.

“There was one of Gymm’s offspring named Tiw that despised the chaos. He had many children, and he taught them to despise the chaos also. He called his clan the Esa, and it is them that we worship as gods. They saw in the chaos what could be, but whenever they tried to bring order to the chaos, the ettins would destroy it. ‘This is not chaos,’ the ettins would tell them, ‘Only chaos can be in Gedwolma.’

“Tiw would often go visit Ecencuu. He enjoyed taking care of her, and grew to have a fondness for her. He soon noticed that the growing number of ettins feeding from her milk started taking a toll on her. So he tried warning the ettins that they needed to ration the milk, but they just laughed at him. One day, Gymm woke from his sleep and went to get some milk but she had been milked dry. In a fit of rage, he killed her. The gods took her body, and buried her. Soon, a sapling grew from where they had buried Ecencuu.

“Tiw watched as Gymm’s armpits and thighs produced an ever growing number of ettins whenever he slept. ‘If he continues to produce ettins like this, we shall soon be greatly outnumbered, and we will never be able to bring order to the chaos.’

“So Tiw, along with with his two eldest children Wōden and Ing, decided that Gymm had to die. They rose up and killed the father of the ettins. When the ettins discovered their father dead, they were enraged and they attacked the Ese. The Ese fought back, and the ettins were soon routed.

“Tiw formed the Geþing of the gods, to decide how to order the chaos. After some discussion, they decided that they should start with Gymm’s body. By this time, the sapling that had grown from Ecencuu’s body had become a great tree. So the gods took the body of Gymm, and formed the world from it in one of the central branches of the great tree. It is for this reason that we call the world Middangeard, or middle earth. Above Middangeard in the higher branches of the tree, they created their home Osgeard. Below Middangeard among the roots of the tree they created Hell, named after the goddess they placed in charge of it. All who die are sent to Hell, where they are reunited with their ancestors.”

“Is there no way for a man to avoid Hell?” Athelstan asked in horror.

Oswine smiled, and answered, “We do not view Hell the same as you Christians. It’s not a place of fire and brimstone. It’s a land where one is reunited with loved ones who have passed on before us. They feast and drink, sharing stories, watching over those they left behind, and sharing their wisdom with still living descendants.”

Athelstan was about to ask another question when Oswine held up his hand. “Let’s continue this later, shall we? It is time for the evening sacrifice.”