1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Yggdrasil
|←Yezo||1911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 28
|See also Yggdrasil on Wikipedia, and our 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica disclaimer.|
YGGDRASIL, in Scandinavian mythology, the mystical ash tree which symbolizes existence, and binds together earth, heaven and hell. It is the tree of life, of knowledge, of fate, of time and of space. Its three roots go down into the three great realms—(1) of death, where, in the well Hvergelmer, the dragon Nidhug (Niðhöggr) and his brood are ever gnawing it; (2) of the giants, where, in the fountain of Mimer, is the source of wisdom; (3) of the gods, Asgard, where, at the sacred fountain of Urd, is the divine tribunal, and the dwelling of the Fates. The stem of Yggdrasil upholds the earth, while its branches overshadow the world and reach up beyond the heavens. On its topmost bough sits an eagle, between whom and Nidhug the squirrel Ratatöskr runs to and fro trying to provoke strife. Honey-dew falls from the tree, and on it Odin hung nine nights, offering himself to himself. G. Vigfusson and York Powell (Corpus Poeticum Boreale, Oxford, 1883) see in Yggdrasil not a primitive Norse idea, but one due to early contact with Christianity, and a fanciful adaptation of the cross.