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Yggdrasil of the North - Sacred Tree of Life



 

Yggdrasil, the huge ash, is the Sacred World Tree in Norse myth, created by Allfather to be the Tree of Life of Time and the Universe. Its branches and roots fill the immense world of Beauty and stretch into the nine realms of infinite shade and light.
 

Guild Wars 2 - Call of the Raven



 


"The conception of the tree rising through a number of worlds is found in northern Eurasia and forms part of the shamanic lore shared by many peoples of this region. This seems to be a very ancient conception, perhaps based on the Pole Star, the centre of the heavens, and the image of the central tree in Scandinavia may have been influenced by it. Among Siberian shamans, a central tree may be used as a ladder to ascend the heavens."

- Hilda Ellis Davidson (Fostering by Giants in Old Norse Sagas)
 


The three great roots of Nature's splendour attained such heights into heavenly brilliance that the topmost bough was given the honourable name Lćrađr (peace-giver). An eagle made its home on the bough and between his eyes sits Veđrfölnir, the falcon, who with his piercing eyes glances to Heaven, Earth and Niflheim.



 

Yggdrasil is ever-green and serves as fertile pasture for Heiđrún, Odin’s goat, who supplies the heavenly mead, the magical drink for the Gods and also for the sacred stags; Dáinn, Dvalinn, Duneyrr and Duraţrór whose horns drip honeydew into the Earth and make the rivers of the world sweet and fresh.



 


An ash I know there stands,
Yggdrasill is its name,
a tall tree, showered with shining loam.
From there come the dews
that drop in the valleys.
It stands forever green over Urđr's well.

- Stanza 19 (Völva)
 



 

Deep in the Earth, within the malign cauldron, Hvergelmir, the great dragon Níđhöggr continually gnaws at Yggdrasil’s roots in order to kill the tree, as he knows that to do so would bring about the destruction of the Gods.

 


Through all our life a tempter prowls malignant,
The cruel Nidhug from the world below.
He hates that asa-light whose rays benignant
On th’ hero’s brow and glitt’ring sword bright glow.

- R. B. Anderson (Viking Tales of the North)
 


The squirrel named Ratatoskr (branch-borer) who is a busy-body, continually scampers between the heavenly eagle and dragon, trading tales between them in order to stir up strife.



 

Mímisbrunnr (Mimir's Well) is located next to Yggdrasil in Midgard. Odin came to visit the sacrosanct pool of Knowledge to obtain great wisdom, and swapped the fruits from the magical spring in exchange for one of his eyes. As further memorial of the experience, he broke a branch from sacred Yggdrasil and fashioned Gungnir, his beloved spear from the holy wood.



 


A dauntless god
Drew for drink to its gleam,
Where he left in endless
Payment the light of an eye.
From the world-ash
Ere Wotan went he broke a bough;
For a spear the staff
He split with strength from the stem.

- Wagner’s Dusk of the Gods
(Forman’s translation)

 



 

Odin also hung for nine days and nine nights from Yggdrasil in order to learn wisdom, and gazing down into the depths of Niflheim, in deep thought and self-wounded by Gungnir, he received the Knowledge he sought. In the Tarot, card XII , The Hanged Man is a testament to Odin’s bravery and self-sacrifice.



 


I know that I hung
On a wind-rocked tree
Nine whole nights,
With a spear wounded,
And to Odin offered
Myself to myself;
On that tree
Of which no one knows
From what root it springs.

- Odin’s Rune Song
(Thorpe’s translation)

 


Odin cut magical runes upon the objects that were sacred to him, gaining the eloquence of poetry and divination. Ygg is one of Odin’s names and drasill means horse, therefore Yggdrasil translates as ‘Odin’s horse’, the bearer of his Soul and his eternal Spirit.


Flow Chart Source: Mythology of the Norse Gods (Arthur Cotterell)



 

Trees of Life (Michael Tsarion)

Yew Shamanism (Michael Dunning)

 

         
 

 

 

 

© Pyreaus