Yggdrasil: Meaning of the Tree of Life
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Yggdrasil, The World Tree of Norse Mythology
Yggdrasil is in Norse Mythology and among the Vikings, the Tree of the World.
His name literally means "steed of the God Odin"
The meaning of the Tree of Life
Yggdrasil is represented as a huge ash tree with three roots connecting three different worlds (Ásgard, Midgard and Niflheim).
- The first root comes from the Hvergelmir spring, located in Niflheim. A dragon, Nídhögg, jealously guards this source and gnaws at the root.
- The second is born in the Mímir fountain, located in Jötunheim. This fountain is supposed to contain the source of all wisdom. It is guarded by a giant and shelters the head of the god Mímir who holds the secrets of the universe.
- The third root comes from the well of Urd, in Asgard, this well is guarded by the three Norns, very wise Goddesses and feared by the Gods, because weaving destiny, to which even the Gods are subjected.
Tree of Life, Organization
With the exception of Midgard (the world of men) which represents balance, the other eight kingdoms can be grouped into pairs of opposing principles.
- Muspellheim = fire/heat and Nifelheim = Ice/cold.
- Asgard = war death and Helheim = profane death.
- Vanaheim = Creation/Order and Jötunheim = Destruction/Chaos.
- Álfheim = celestial/Light and Svartalfheim = Terrestrial/Dark.
The Number Nine in for the vikings
The number nine is the mark of a new cycle. After completing an entire time cycle represented by the number 8, the number 9 opens a new sequence and thus makes it possible to "close the loop" of the big wheel of cycles.
The linguistic approximation of the number 9 and the notion of "new" is found in more than one European language:
- French: 9 (neuf) and neuf (new)
- German: 9 (neun) and Neu (new)
- English: 9 (nine) and New (new)
- Italian: 9 (new) and Nove (new)
- Spanish: 9 (new) and Nuevo (new)
- Norwegian: 9 (ni) and Ny (new)
- Breton: 9 (nav) and Nevez (new)
The Number Nine is found in many facts of Norse Mythology
- The God Odin is hanged for 9 days and 9 nights from the cosmic tree Yggdrasil. (this is where he learns to know the secret of the Runes)
- Every 9 years the Swedes gathered at the pagan temple in Uppsala for a celebration that lasted 9 days.
- In the Skírnismál, the God Frey has to wait 9 days before he can consume his union with the Goddess Gerd.
- During the Ragnarök, after fighting against the snake Jörmungandr, the God Thor took 9 steps backwards before collapsing.
- According to Trollkyrka's poem, the sacrificial fire was lit with 9 different woods.
- From Odin's ring, Draupnir, appear every 9th night, eight new rings.
- The God Heimdall is the son of 9 mothers.
- The God Hermod rides 9 nights in order to free the God Balder from Hel's kingdom, the goddess of the dead.
- The divine couple Njörd and Skadi decided to live 9 nights at sea and 9 nights in the mountains.
This non-exhaustive list shows how important the symbolism of the number 9 is in Viking traditions.
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