"Of old there was nothing
Nor sand, nor sea, nor cool waves
No earth, no heaven above.
Only the yawning chasm.
The sun knew not her dwelling,
Nor the moon his realm.
The stars had not their places."
This chasm didn't extend everywhere, although it was tremendous. To the far north was Niflheim, the realm of death. To the far south was Muspelheim, the land of fire. Twelve rivers flowed from Niflheim and poured into the chasm, freezing until it was filled with ice. Fiery clouds drifted from Muspelheim, turning the ice to mist. From this mist fell drops of water, creating the frost maidens and Ymir, the first Giant and the grandfather of Odin. From Ymir came Odin's father, who married a frost maiden that bore Odin and two other sons.
In time, Odin and his brothers killed Ymir. Of his body, the earth and sky were made, the sea from his blood, and the heavens from his skull. Sparks were taken from Muspelheim and were placed in the sky as the sun, moon, and stars. The earth was made round and encircled by the sea. The gods built a great wall of Ymir's eyebrows to defend the place where mankind was to live. This space within was called Midgard. The first man and woman were created from trees here, the man from an ash and the woman from an elm. These two were the parents of all mankind. Also in Midgard were dwarves- ugly creatures but masterful craftsmen that lived under the earth, and elves- beautiful sprites that tended the flowers and streams.
A wonderous ash-tree, Yggdrasil, supported the universe and struck its roots through the worlds.
"Three roots there are to Yggdrasil
Hel lives beneath the first.
Beneath the second the frost-giants,
And men beneath the third.
One of the roots also goes up to Asgard, the home of the gods. Beside this root was a well of white water. This is Urda's Well, a thing so holy that none might drink of it. It was guarded by the three Norns (the Norse version of the Fates of Greek and Roman mythology)
"Allot their lives to the sons of men,
And assign to them their fate."
The three Norns were Urda (the Past[Urd]), Verdandi (the Present[Belldandy]), and Skuld (the Future[Skuld]). To this well the Norns came every day, over the quivering Rainbow Bridge, to sit beside the well and pass judgement on the deeds of men.
This is the background for Ah! My Goddess!
As you probably noticed above, the Norse name for the goddess of the Present is Verdandi. This presents a problem for a Japanese speaking person, as the letter "V" does not exist in the Japanese alphabet. So some liberties were taken with the name. The "V" was switched to "B" and went from that point. Pronounced in Japanese the name phonetically sounds like BEH-RU-DAHN-DEE. Later, when the manga was translated into English, it was decided to call Verdandi Belldandy (I guess it sounded cute or looked better in print than Verdandi or Berdandi).
* This information was taken from the following source:
MYTHOLOGY by Edith Hamilton Illustrated by Steele Savage Published by Little, Brown and Company 1942 The portions of the text in quotation marks are from a text called "The Elder Edda."
Webmaster's note: This is an excellent resource for any Greek, Roman, or Norse mythological needs. It is, however and unfortunately, out of print. If you have a copy, guard it with your life! If you are trying to seek out a copy, go to you nearest second hand book store and search the shelves or try eBay or another auction site.
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