revolves around an ever green ash tree of prodigious dimensions,
on which the universe is supported, Yggdrasil. It is the axis
of the world, the mighty ash, the giver of life and immortality,
though there is no myth which described the creation of Yggdrasil.
Yggdrasil probably means Horse of Ygg, one of Odin's names.
He was said to have hung in agony from the tree, to gain power
over the runes, which brought knowledge to those who could interpret
ash tree held together the three planes that made up the world.
On the first layer were the worlds Asgard, Vanaheim and Alfheim.
On the second layer were Midgard, Jotunheim, Nidavellir and
Svartalfheim. On the third and bottomost layer were Hel and
Nifelheim. The tree passed from the depths of the underworld
through the world of men and into the sky, overshadowing the
halls of Valahalla.
root which penetrated Niflhel, the underworld, gushed forth
the fountain Hvergelmir, the source of the primitive rivers
where time was measured in its laughter. The second root plunged
into the land of giants, covered with frost and ice. There flowed
the fountain Mimir, the source of hidden wisdom. The third and
last root overhung the fountain of the wisest of the Norns,
Urd. Each day, Urd drew water from the well, and sprinkled the
ash tree with its water so the tree would not wither.
In the highest
branches dwelled the golden cock, representing vigilance, surveying
the horizon, warning the gods whenever their ancient enemies,
the Giants, prepared to attack them. On the bough was the eagle
and serpent, who represented light and dark in perpetual conflict,
which created the phenomenon of night and day, with light usurping
darkness, but falling to it all the same. The nimble squirrel
Ratatoskr, the mischief-maker, constantly created strife between
the two powers.
branches of the great ash tree, the horn of the god Heimdall
was hidden. One day this trumpet would sound to announce the
final battle of the Aesir against all those who wished to cause
their downfall. Near the trunk was the place where the gods
met daily to render justice, and in its branches, Heidrum, the
goat browsed. She gave Odin's warriors not milk, but mead, from
which they were nourished.
demons constantly schemed to destroy Yggdrasil. The serpent
Nidhogg, lurked under the third root and gnawed at it ceaselessly.
Four stags wandered among its foliage and chewed off all the
buds, later becoming the fall winds, creating winds upon earthly
lands. Their efforts to remove the buds were never fast enough
as new ones would grow at each moment, thanks to the care and
attention of the Norns.
symbolized the battle between light and dark. It was the subject
of constant decay and renewal. It was in its extensive foliage
the immortal beasts enacted their cyclic routine, and was the
stage for universal notions such as life, time and destiny.