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The Jötnar (ON: "Devourers" or "Eaters"; pronounced "YOT-nar"; singular Jötunn, pronounced "YO-tun") are a race of primordial beings that inhabit the worlds of Niflheim, Muspellheim, and Jotunheim. The most well-known Jötnar are the Frost and Fire Giants. They personify wild, chaotic, primordial forces and often interact with the gods (both the Aesir and the Vanir tribes), usually in hostile ways, but there have been instances of intermarriage between these races.
Before the Norse world as we know it existed, there was only Ginnungagap: the primordial cosmic void. Surt was the first to emerge from this void, lighting the way with his flaming sword, Laevateinn. With his emergence followed Muspellheim, the realm of fire (which Surt both guards the entrance to and rules as king), and its opposite: Niflheim, the realm of ice. As the two worlds gradually drew closer together, sparks from Muspellheim and frost from Niflheim fell into the void, where they mixed. The resulting runoff was called eitr: the poisonous life-giving waters.
As more sparks and frost mixed, two more Jötunn were eventually born in the yawning abyss: Ymir, the hermaphroditic father of the Frost Giants, and Audumbla, the aurochs whose milk nourished Ymir. Ymir's children, born from the gathered sweat of his armpits and feet, ruled Nilfheim: World of Ice. Ymir was eventually slain by Odin and his brothers and his body was used to form Midgard: the realm of humans. Ymir's flesh became the earth, his blood became the sea, his bones became the mountains, his hair the grass and vegetation, and his teeth became the rocks and cliffs. Finally, Ymir's skull became the sky protecting Midgard from above.
The appearances of Jötnar vary. They are natural shapeshifters, able to change appearance and size as naturally as breathing. Some of them may look more human, while others may be of gigantic proportions. They may have varying degrees of non-human features – claws, fangs, misshapen faces, extra heads, etc. – or have a completely non-humanoid shape (such Jörmungandr and Fenrir, children of Loki). However, many of the Jötnar can also be indistinguishable from mortals, the Aesir, or Vanir. Some of them are incredibly tall, others may regulate their height, or be the size of a human.
- Ymir - Primordial Frost Giant and Father of the Frost Giants.
- Surt - Primordial Fire Giant who is the Lord of Muspellheim. Sometimes categorized as the oldest conscious entity, being responsible for Ymir's birth.
- Utgard-Loki - King of the Mountain Giants.
- Geirrod - Father of Gjalp and Greip.
- Mimir - Ally to the Aesir, sometimes categorized as one of the oldest jotnar.
- Gerd - Wife of Frey.
- Loki - Trickster and the Father of Evil. Blood-brother to Odin, and a former member of the Aesir.
- Fenris Wolf - Son of Loki whose unshackling is the harbinger of Ragnarök.
- Jormungand - Son of Loki, the World Serpent that encircles Midgard's oceans.
- Hel - Daughter of Loki, ruler of Helheim.
- Angrboda - Loki's mistress, and mother of the Fenris Wolf, Jormungand, and Hel.
- Laufey - Mother of Loki.
- Farbautí - Father of Loki.
- Bestla - Mother of Odin.
- Jord - Mother of Thor.
- Aegir - Lord of the Seas, husband of Ran.