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A chart detailing Yggdrasil.

The ash tree known as the World Tree in Norse mythology. Yggdrasil is an immense ash tree that is central and considered very holy.

The most satisfactory translation of the name Yggdrasil is ‘Odin’s Horse’. Ygg is another name for Odin, and drasill means ‘horse’. However, drasill also means ‘walker’, or ‘pioneer’. Some scholars would argue that the name means ‘Odinwalker’. In some parts of the manuscript, Yggdrasil and Odin seem to be one and the same.

The gods go to Yggdrasil daily to assemble at their things. The branches of Yggdrasil extend far into the heavens, and the tree is supported by three roots that extend far away into other locations; one to the well Urðarbrunnr in the heavens, one to the spring Hvergelmir, and another to the well Mímisbrunnr.

Creatures live within Yggdrasil, including the wyrm (dragon) Nidhoggr, an unnamed eagle, and the stags Dáinn, Dvalinn, Duneyrr and Duraþrór. Its branches cover the entire earth, its trunk pierces the sky and holds up several worlds, including Alfheim, the abode of the Light Elves. Its three roots stretch into Jotumheim and Asgard. It is said that it will live through Ragnarök.

Yggdrasil was involved in Odin's quest for knowledge and power. When Odin hung, speared, for nine days on the World Tree, he uttered the words that he had ‘sacrificed himself onto himself’. This stanza gives a description of the unity existing between the Godhead and the Tree in the myths. To emphasise this connection, it is old English the word treow, which means both tree and truth. Etymologically, then, truth and tree grow out of the same root.

Subsequently, in the Norse creation myth, man and woman originated from trees. Humans from Norse times are all the sons and daughters of the Ash and Elm tree: the first man was called Ask, born from the Ash, and the first woman Embla, born from the Elm. Their oxygen offers us the primordial conditions for life. Ask and Embla sprouted from Yggdrasil’s acorns, and so it is that every human being springs from the fruit of Yggdrasil, then to be collected by two storks, who bring them to their longing mothers-to-be.

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