Why are beings born from the armpit in mythology?

I’ve read about it in both Norse and Native American myths. Is there something special about the armpit? Is it considered to be close to the heart, or just weird?

Athena wasn’t born from no armpit.

As far as I know there’s only one instance of beings born from the armpit in Norse mythology, offspring formed from the armpit sweat from the Ur-Giant Ymir. But Ymir also has descendants through his two legs having a son. And his intestinal parasites became the Dwarfs. So I think in Norse mythology at least we can safely say it’s about weirdness.

The world itself is constructed from Ymir’s body, so those events are part of pre-creation cosmology in the Norse myths, were creatures either have a presumed eternal existence before they play their part, or arise through weird events like appearing as a cow licks the rocks for salt.

And Dionysus was born from his thigh

… At least it beats Chrysaor and Pegasus, who were born from Medusa’s neck – after she had been decapitated


Can’t believe I’m the first to mention Pele transporting her unborn sibling on a boat voyage.

“Hi’iaka is the sister of Pele, born in the shape of an egg. Her name is often given as Hi’iaka i ka poli o Pele , translated literally as “Hi’iaka in the armpit of Pele,” and figuratively (by the missionaries) as “Hi’iaka in the bosom of Pele,” which has turned into the idea that Hi’iaka was the youngest and favorite sister of Pele among a group of eight.”

However, the same website continues:

" “Armpit,” by the way, was a euphemism for another part of the body, so Hi’iaka may actually have been the daughter of Pele. "


I think the poets were using analogies that their listeners would understand.

The dwarves spontaneously emerged from his flesh, like maggots.

Other beings spontaneously emerged from his armpits, like ticks.

I was also thinking of this one:Native American Legend : Creation Story.

To amplify: Ymir was the ancestor of the evil things in the world. Giants. Trolls. ( Dwarves were not necessarily evil, but were often antagonists.) His progeny were the predators and parasites who made life miserable. So the analogies with maggots and ticks was something that the poet’s audience could readily visualize.

That’s what I was thinking. “Armpit” isn’t so far removed from “legpit”.

I messed up the url in my post above. This link should work.


There’s the ethnic joke about some foreign country. A country bumpkin couple get married. After the first vigorous encounter of the wedding night, the bride stretches her arms and the groom sees the fluffy armpits and says “Oh boy! Two more!”