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Yggdrasil and Irminsul

A tree ornament from Torshov, Akershus, NorwayTrees play huge role in Norse cults. In order to understand how great this role is, we should remember that, according to Norse mythology, the first man was made of an ash, and a woman of a willow (Ask and Embla). It is also interesting to notice that the soul (which, in fact, makes man a man) was given to first people by Odin, who is also associated with the World Tree.

The tree Yggdrasil is a symbol of the World axis (Axis mundi), that links the worlds between each other and connects the sky with the underground. Sacred places were usually enclosed, and in the centre raised a tree or a post. 

Such places were called 'gardens of posts' (Old Norse «stavgardar»), and played the role of sacrificial groves. Entering into such a grove, a man supposedly entered a mythological space and time, where the gods lived. Nordic sacred trees symbolized paganism, and for this reason, Christians were against them. In the year 772, Charlemagne cut Irminsul in Westphalia. The subsequent determination to spread Christianity in Central Europe led to the bloody war that killed thousands of the Saxons.The stone from Ockelbo Yggdrasil

Irminsul and Yggdrasil are different names of the same symbol in northern paganism. Irminsul, which means 'great post', was dedicated to the god of the Saxons, Irmin, and was a pillar of wood, probably in the form of statue. The Saxons saw in Irminsul the picture of the world ash Yggdrasil. One Irminsul was situated in the sacred grove in Arnsberg, Westphalia, the other on the river Unshtrut , in Thuringia.

From the time of ancient Germanic there remained the cult of worship of sacred trees, possibly related to Yggdrasil. Examples include Thor`s oak, sacred grove, sacred tree at Uppsala and a wooden post Irminsul.

IrminsulThe eponymous hero, whom the Saxons offered sacrifices after their victory over the Thuringians, was an ancient patriarchal God, known as Hirmin, Irmin or Irminus. Teutonic God Irmin held the throne of power among the Saxon tribes. Giant wooden posts decorated with sophisticated carvings rose in his glory and honor.  These posts over time have been stylized in a symbolic form of what our ancestors called the Holy Post Irminsul. Irminsul is the cosmic post that holds all things (Cosmo-axis). It is very likely that Irmin is another name for the heavenly God Týr among the Saxons. The rune associated with Týr is Teywaz, - vertical directed arrow indicating the polar star or the leading star, top of the World Axis, straight line that keeps the space forces in polarized manner.

It is a symbol of the Aryan race – the Eagle, sitting on top of the tree and its wings raising in heaven, this is the essence of unity with the solar rhythm, a man - creator, the essence of Ar-man, Ir-min.

Symbolically the World Tree is associated with columns, obelisks, thrones, ladders, and chains, all that is used to describe the parameters of the world. The column of Irminsul indicates a 'winged' power of the Ancient Sun, Black Sun of the ancients. The wings are the symbol of the victory of spirit, beyond the spatial and the time rhythms, the solar cosmic pulse. This is Aryan Eternity.

We suggest you evaluate the mastery of the artisans of the Studio 'Viking-workshop” and take a look at Yggdrasil Pendant, created by them. 

The legend

Yggrasil. Islandic manuscript. 17 centuryYggdrasil in Scandinavian mythology  is the World tree, the giant ash tree that represents the structural base of the world, the tree of life and destiny. Yggdrasil determines “the vertical projection” of the spatial model of the world in Norse mythology, connecting different worlds (Earth, heaven and the underworld). Characteristic of Yggdrassil appears in 'the Elder Edda' («The Sayings of Grimnir”), as well as in 'the Younger Edda', where Velva calls Yggdrasil'miotvib maeranl' (famous, great tree). She says about the nine worlds and the nine 'iviui'. The word is translated variously: 'wooden accessories», «forest», «roots”. In fact, the word means the Foundation, wood support of all nine worlds.

Numerologicaly, number nine is the number of the absolute, the symbol of perfection. Also, it is the number of eternal life and renewal. The image of Yggdrassil demonstrates the continued cycle, permanent destruction and rebirth.

The most accurate picture of the object was presented by Snorri Sturluson (Icelandic scald,  historian, writer, historiographer and politician).  The primary source for him was the poem 'Voluspa,' folded shortly before the sunset of the era of pagans. According to legend, at first there was only an abyss. Usual to the East cosmogony image can also be found in other texts.

The scald emphasizes that there is a vast country of cold and darkness in the North - the kingdom of the dead, Niflheim, in which the source streamed that fed eleven rivers.

In the South there was Muspelheim - the complete opposite of Niflhejm, the kingdom of light and heat. Nifl`hejm was under the constant vigil of a giant Surtr. Between these two worlds, in the moment of the connection of ice and heat, the anthropomorphic creature Ymir was born, which gave life to the first man and woman, and which gave birth to the son of the six-headed giant Trudgelmir (ancestor of the Hrimthursen kind). The cow, which was born from Frost and fed Imir, licked from ice Búri, who was married to the daughter of one of the later Giants and raised three sons - Odin, Vili and Ve, who decided to kill the Imir. The blood that rushed from his wounds, swallowed up all the Giants, and only one of them managed to escape retribution. 

The brothers took Imir`s body into the abyss and sliced it into parts, creating the world out of them: the Earth was created from the flesh, the Sea- from the blood, the mountains – from the bones, the clouds - from hair, and the skull served as the basis for the creation of Heaven.

This cosmogony, based on the murder and mutilation of anthropomorphic creature intersects with the myths of Tiamat, Purusha and Pangu. The principle of creation of the world as the result of sacrifice is of great antiquity and is a common religious idea, which provides a justification of human sacrifice among the Germans and other nations. Such sacrifice, being the repetition of the Eternal Divine Act, was intended to restore the World, to renew and revive the life.

Continuing their cosmogonic work, the brothers created heavenly bodies and stars from the sparks of Muspellâ (fiery country), sorting them, moving on the sky. There appeared the circadian cycle and the change of seasons.

The boundless Ocean surrounded on all sides the disk-shaped Earth. On the banks of the Earth the gods determined the scope of the Giants. Deep in the Mainland was built Mirgard ('Middle enclosure'), fenced  by the wall of Imir`s lashes - abode of people.

The wooden church in Urnes (Norway)Illustration to antiquities

The Worlds of Yggdrasil 

In legends and myths, the Tree of Life is brought to the reader not only as the Origin of the Worlds, but also as the Altar of the Universe, where one of the gods sacrifices himself to bring salvation to those worlds with his wisdom.

Spiritual background of the mythology allows us to see the symbolic structure of human beings. And if in Slavic mythology the three worlds are the components of human nature (Jav` — the body; Nav` - the soul; Prav`- the spirit), the Scandinavian system, with its nine worlds, is somewhat more complicated:

  • Midgard- is the Body, Ego;
  • Muspelhejm - Fiery Energy;
  • Niflhejm - The Energy Of Ice;
  • Asgard - Consciousness, Creation; 
  • Hel - Unconscious, Destruction;
  • Vanaheim - Peace, Balance;
  • Jotunheim - Movement, Activity;
  • Svartalfheim -Emotions;
  • Liossalfheim - Feelings.


It should be noted that Midgard is the world of expressed forms. In the structure of Yggdrassil it is situated in its core, being a result of the interaction of other factors.

Rune expression of the worlds of Tree of Life. Features of the worlds in the context of human development

We said above that the nine worlds of Yggdrassil are not only the abode of mythical characters, they are also the aspects of being and of human consciousness. 

Hel (the Rune of Hagalaz),- the force that is able to transform and power of destruction, the lowest of the World Tree Yggdrasil, the Kingdom of the dead, the cold, the darkness and the stillness. Through this world the relationship between a man and his Kind is established, as well as with his past incarnations and intuition. This world is associated with the understanding of one’s goal in life.

Hel is destructive side of femininity, the secret fourth hypostasis of the Moon, half-alive daughter of Loki, half-black, half-white, invisible entities. Hel was considered the Nordic hell, the world of hidden secrets. Hel is the conclusion. This is not the place of suffering, but the area in which you can gain full knowledge that is hidden.

A bit above is Svartalfahejm (the Eyvaz Rune (Ihwaz or Eihwaz), a symbol of the central axis) - world of dark alfars, dwarfs, dvergs.  The dark alfars are the alfars of Dungeon. Dwarves and Svarts are the working spirits. Gnomes are connoisseurs of magic, knowledge of which was never shared. Their talent is the artistic skill that allows them to create amazing things - the ability no one obtains. Their path are blacksmithing and jewel crafting, - area of creation magical artifacts. This world is associated with cash flow, with the small business and the ability to earn and make money. 

The inhabitants of Svartalfhejm symbolize the formative force, something that creates a form, 'hamr”. The bright alfars are the intellect, the dark alfars are the feelings.

  • Niflhejm (the rune Isa-ice Rune) - Kingdom of snow, the Land of Mists. There is never the clear weather. Niflhejm is the world of passive energy. It is very dangerous to “stuck” in this world for a long time, the abode of the Cold can 'suck' the heat from the traveler. In this world the work with karma and Dharma is getting done.
  • Midgard (the Rune Yera), deals with the elements of the Earth. Its main property is the 'rotation' of time, because this force controls the change of seasons. It is change and development, clearly pointing to the true goal of our earthly life – it is the period for the development of all aspects of our holistic beings for the sake of perfection of the spirit) - double of the usual world, the world of people, mid city, which is located on the central axis of the tree.  Midgard symbolizes the physical body. The world of Midgard is responsible for the spiritual and material values, obedience to the will of the gods, an ability to understand the beauty.
  • Jotunheim (the Rune Nauthiz - the Rune of needs and changes)- the edge of the Earth, the abode of demons and Giants. This world lives by its own rules and doesn`t follow the world order, established by Odin, Vili and Ve. In this world there is a development of levels of thinking.
  • Vanaheimr (the Rune Inguz, the energy of conception and organic growth, fertility) - the world of Vanir, a race of gods and spirits, focused on agriculture. They are patrons of fertility and are closely connected with the cult of nature and the Earth. In Vanahejm is the most pleasant climate and the weather is always excellent. It is a real breadbasket of the Nine worlds. Vanaheimr is the world of sexuality. Vanir`s god Freyr is often depicted with a huge phallus. Freyr and Freyja are united in “hieros gamos”, sacred sexual interaction and marriage. Vanaheimr is the center of Fyulgya. Fyulgya is a totem animal and female guardian spirit of every person. At this level the ability to manage people and big business is created.
  • Muspelhejm (the Rune Dagaz, the power of change and transformation) - Fiery Kingdom, the country of fire giants, one of the most extreme poles of space forces. Muspelhejm is the Canal that connects man with Cosmos. Muspelhejm is the plasma and pure energy. It is responsible for managing emotions and the ability to communicate with other people.
  • Alfahejm (Soule, thinking (air) - birthplace of light alfars. The world of light, spirits and wonderful Elves. The kingdom located above the world of people. The illusions here are the natural part of reality: this is game, an art of working with forms and fundamental part of the nature of this world and its inhabitants. The time here flows very unevenly, and the cycle of seasons varies depending on territory. This world is responsible for materialization of fantasies.
  • Asgard (the Rune Gebo) - the heavenly city, abode of the æsir, the Golden Kingdom. It has twelve locks; no one can get in this world without an invitation. Asgard is the focus of the 'Ond', the spirit that gives life. This is the best place to stay among all nine worlds. Asgard - is the possibility of finding God in yourself.

The meaning of the talisman

Eyvaz is the Rune, which most precisely expresses the value of the world tree Yggdrasil.

Traditionally the meaning of the rune is associated with the Tree of Life, which Odin was chained to. To get the sky with the branches Yggdrasil had to sneak back into the underworld of the dead. Before the caterpillar becomes a butterfly, it has to pass the pupal stage; before the seed passes into a new state, it should be in the ground for some time. Everything in nature has certain cycles. The natural process of internal development leads to recovery.

In addition to the symbol of the World Tree, the Rune Eyvaz also resembles a spine – the support of the whole body. Eyvaz is the spiritual equivalent of the spine; just like Yggdrasil, which supports the entire Universe, can be called the spine of the universe. The human spine consists of twenty-four vertebrae, - that is associated with twenty-four runes of German futark.

 It is not easy to determine what element Eyvaz is related to, because Yggdrasil unites all the elemental particles. Its roots go back to Earth, and its branches extend into heaven, so the main elements of the Eyvaz rune, should be considered the Air and the Earth.

Being tested, we find the strength to overcome the obstacles and avoid defeat. At the same time, we develop a distaste for behavior, which creates difficult situations. It seems there are obstacles in our way, but the delay could be even favorable. This is not a time or a situation when you can feel your influence. An advise of this sign is patience. It requires foresight and perseverance. Prevent the expected difficulties with the help of right action. We are not so much those who do, we are those who choose. When our decision is pure, the action is effortless, because it is supported and enhanced by the Universe.

Thus, the Rune works as a Rune of protection, or even like the Rune of active defense. We are fundamentally changing the threat to something useful (the enemy is beaten by his weapon). The minus sign becomes the plus sign. In the same way, an obstacle may be something to help you further.

You can find the jewel Yggdrasil Pendant in the collection of the amulets of the Studio 'Viking-workshop”. Norse talisman aims to support its owner on the way to spiritual development, avoiding deception and illusion, helping to make the right decision. The talisman protects from negative influences, chaos and disorder; increases paranormal abilities; makes possible to conclude the undertaking, ensures the victory in any sense of the word, gives the hope in any situation. You will gain more energy, which will help in any type of work.