Viking Symbol: Yggdrasil Tree of Life

We might hear about Yggdrasil the Great Tree of Life that holds the Nine Worlds in the cosmos within its branch. Nobody knows about the time Yggdrasil came into being. It just stood in the middle of the cosmos from the beginning. For what Yggdrasil did for the cosmos, the Vikings respected the Great Tree so much. The Viking Yggdrasil stands for eternity, wisdom, justice, and suffering.

Viking Yggdrasil as the symbol of eternity

As mentioned above, there was no exact birthday of Yggdrasil and also no death date. The eternity of Yggdrasil was attested during Ragnarok the Doom of Norse gods. When the sky broke in pieces, giants crashing the rainbow Bridge to come to Asgard, the final battle between Norse Gods and the giants officially took place. In such a catastrophic event, Yggdrasil trembled but it never uprooted. The Great Tree remained stable when the storm passed. Yggdrasil provided the shelter for the two human survivors who carried the mission of repopulating the world. Clearly, there is a link among Yggdrasil, eternity, and life.

Image of Viking Yggdrasil
Viking Yggdrasil

Viking Yggdrasil as the symbol of wisdom

Odin, the supreme God, made his sacrifice to gain wisdom right in the branch of Yggdrasil. He hung himself for nine days and nights without food or drink. The reward for this deed was the ability to decipher Runes the magical letters that carried the fates of all beings in the cosmos. When Odin managed to sacrifice, Yggdrasil spelt out the runes to Odin from which he learnt the meanings of it.

Viking Yggdrasil as the symbol of justice

This was a minor detail in Norse mythology that could prove this point. There were three holy wells under the roots of Yggdrasil Tree, one of which was Urðarbrunnr Well. Besides being the home of three Norns who wove the fates of all creatures, Urðarbrunnr was the place where Norse gods would assemble to hold their court of justice. During the court, they would decide and make their judgements to many figures and events happening.

Image of Viking Yggdrasil Tree of Life
Viking Tree of Life

Viking Yggdrasil as the symbol suffering

Odin said that Yggdrasil “suffered agony more than man knew”. How come? A male deer bit the leaves on the top branches, four stag chewed the leaves on the sides, and the dragon Nidhogg bit from beneath to make the Tree collapse. Hardly did people know the suffering Yggdrasil was through for they only looked superficially as the Tree of Life whose roots extended to every realm.

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