Norse Mythology

Yggdrasil: The tree of life

Yggdrasil in Norse Mythology

Yggdrasil: The Tree of Life

In the middle of Asgard, where the gods lives, is Yggdrasil. Yggdrasil is the tree of life. It is an eternal green Ash tree; the branches stretches out over all of the nine worlds, and extend up and above the heavens. Yggdrasil is carried by three enormous roots. The first root from Yggdrasil is in Asgard, the home of the gods. By this root is a well named Urd’s well. This is where the gods held daily meetings. The second root from Yggdrasil goes down to Jotunheim, the land of the giants, by this root is Mimir's well.


An 1847 depiction of the Norse Yggdrasil as described in the Icelandic Prose Edda.
By Oluf Olufsen Bagge

The third root from Yggdrasil goes down to Niflheim, close to the well Hvergelmir. It is here the dragon Nidhug gnawed on one of Yggdrasils roots. Nidhug is also known to suck the blood out of the dead bodies. At the very top of Yggdrasil there lives an eagle. And down by the roots of the tree lives a dragon named Nidhug. The eagle and the dragon are bitter enemies. They truly despise each other. A squirrel named Ratatosk, is spending a lot of time each day, running up and down the tree. Ratatosk does whatever he can, to keep the hatred between the eagle and Nidhug alive. Every time Nidhug says a curse or an insult about the eagle, Ratatosk will run up to the top of the tree, and inform the eagle what Nidhug just said. The eagle is equally rude in his comments about Nidhug. Ratatosk just loves to gossip which is the reason why the eagle and the dragon remains constant foes.

The three Norns

There are three Norns who lives at the well Urd. Their names are Urd “past”, Verdani “present” and Skuld “future” The three Norns are the goddesses of fate. They spend most of their time spinning the threads of life, deciding the fate of every human, animal and every god. Whenever a child is born, the Norns spins the fate of the child in their threads. The three Norns will every morning start the day by placing a rooster at the top of Yggdrasil.

The bragging of the rooster is a wakeup call for all humans and gods. Every day the Norns will also carry water from Urd’s well, and pour it over Yggdrasil. The water from the well is of vital importance to keep the tree green and healthy. The Norns was very respected in Viking times, it was quite common to serve a woman who had just given birth to a child some porridge, they called this porridge for “Norn porridge” The Vikings believed the Norns were always nearby whenever a child was born. The porridge was considered an offering to the Norns. They hoped the porridge would please the Norns and secure good health for the mother and the child.


The Norns of fate

Author of page content Martin Højbjerg