In Norse mythology, the unfathomable gap between Niflheim (the region of eternal cold, mist, and darkness) and Muspellsheim (the realm of fire)—the void before the creation. Cold winds from the abyss changed the streams into blocks of ice, which fell into the void with the sound of thunder, the legends say. Sparks from Muspellsheim turned the ice into streams, forming layers of frost that filled the gap. The inchoate mass became animate, taking the form of the primeval giant Ymir. Ymir was slain by Odin, Villi, and Ve, who threw his body into the chasm, where his blood became the sea, his flesh the earth, his bones the mountains and rocks, his skull the sky, and his brains the clouds.
During the eleventh century, the sea between Greenland and America was named Ginnungagap.
The name was also used by author James Webb as the title of the first chapter of his book The Occult Establishment (1976) to denote the political and economic chaos in Western Europe after World War I, from which arose occult and political cults and their leaders, profoundly influencing modern society.