Thor’s Day Alert #8: Yggdrasil
Happy Thor’s Day, everybody!
Last week I listed the Nine Worlds of Norse mythology and closed by mentioning the great ash tree, Yggdrasil. I mentioned that this tree was the one thing linking all realms and thus all beings, from dwarf to man to giant to god.
And it outlived them all. A tree, it seems, proved stronger than Thor and Odin and their collective bad-assedness.
Put that in your longhouse and smoke it.
So, good hammer-wearers, perhaps we should consider adding a tree pendant to whatever other charms hang about our necks; Yggdrasil did, after all, save the human race at Ragnarok when even the Norse gods and their many warriors — the Einherjar — could not.
Here’s what happened, quick-hits style:
In the Ragnarok battle, the good guys (Norse gods) fight the bad guys (Loki and giants) to a deadly draw. Midgard (Earth) is incinerated by flames thrown from the sword of the Fire Giant, Surt. Any life — gods, man, animals — that survived the firestorm dies when water from melting glaciers and snow drowns the world.
So floods quench the fires. In Midgard, all is still.
But when the waters recede, one living thing remains unscathed by fire or flood. That thing? Yggdrasil, of course, The World Tree — reaching strong as ever to the ruins of Asgard and running deep as death to the corpse-littered shores of Nastrond in Niflheim.
In the realm of the once living, the sun shines anew and life is restored, for from The World Tree’s sheltering boughs springs all manner of bird and beast — and man. Man and woman, to be exact. Their names?
Lif and Lifthrasir.
It is from this pair — whose names mean Life and Life-Yearner — that the earth is repeopled. For the second time. (If you’re interested, you can read about Odin and the first humans here.)
And that’s how Yggdrasil saved humans when the Norse gods could not.
The only problem with my tree-is-greater-than-god argument is that for every Ragnarok there are a million smaller skirmishes which, for warriors, threaten the same result: death.
And in battle I’ll wager the odds of Thor coming to your aid, Mjollnir in hand and calling thunder down upon your enemy, are a heckuva lot better than a great ash plucking you from a flood at world’s end.