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The World Tree - was it real?


Guest fizzyclare1
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Was it a real tree? and also I've been doing a bit of reading on it and most books say that it was an ash tree but I have found one book which says it wasn't because it was described as having needles and therefore it was likely to have been a yew tree.

 

any thoughts?

 

fizz

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If you mean Yggdrasil, I incline to the Yew tree theory. Kevin Crossly-Holland mentions it as a "needle-ash" (i.e. a yew). The whole business of translating tree types is fraught with problems, specifically the translation problem known as "false friends". There is a great deal of argument over which Ogham tree is which, based on the old Irish names.

 

Yew fits it with me, because in Ogham, the Yew is the tree of eternity. That's why they have them in graveyards. Yews go into a kind of suspended animation, where they look dead, but can spring back into life again, after period of decades, or longer. With most trees you can tell how old they are after they are cut down, simply by counting the rings. With yews, you have to compare the ring-shapes with as many old trees as you can. Some Yews in England have been found to be four thousand years old. My neighbour decided his yew tree was dead, and had it cut down. It wouldn't have made any difference to him if he thought it was alive. A good many Yew trees perished in Victorian times because the Vicars in charge of the graveyards wanted the places tidied up.

 

Ash tree is the tree of sea-power. Rowan is thre tree of quickening. You'll find these three trees occur and recur in the Norse legends.

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Ooh, here's my source of confusion: according to crossley Holland (penguin,norse myths, gods of the vikings) it says:

 

"The powerful conception of the world tree at the heart of the universe recursin many mythologies and is fully discussed in the introduction. Ygg means 'the terrible one' and drasill means horse, and it is now generally accepted that this compund noun must mean 'odin's horse'. The image of Odin riding the ash is appropriate, for Old norse poets often spoke of a gallows tree as a horse."

 

fizz

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It's not unlikely that two or more legends are being conflated. One legend, although I think it's an Irish one, has the tree bearing berries. That would certainly make it a Yew. But it's whatever you want it to be. It's unique, so asking what "type" of tree is, in that sense, the wrong question.

 

I like the one about Sleipnir, the eight-legged horse, being a reference to pall-bearers at a funeral - assuming there to be four men.

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from wiki:

 

Yggdrasil

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

 

"The Ash Yggdrasil" (1886) by Friedrich Wilhelm Heine.In Norse mythology, Yggdrasil (from Old Norse Yggdrasill IPA: [ˈyɡːˌdrasilː]; generally considered to mean "Ygg's (Odin's) horse") is the world tree. Yggdrasil is central in Norse cosmology, and around it exists Nine Worlds.

 

Yggdrasil is attested in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources; and the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson. In both sources, Yggdrasil is an immense ash tree that is central and considered very holy. The Æsir go to Yggdrasil daily to hold their courts. The branches of Yggdrasil extend far into the heavens, and the tree is supported by three roots that extend far away into other locations; one to the well Urðarbrunnr in the heavens, one to the spring Hvergelmir, and another to the well Mímisbrunnr. Creatures live within Yggdrasil, including the harts Dáinn, Dvalinn, Duneyrr and Duraþrór, and an unnamed eagle, and the wyrm Níðhöggr.

 

Scholarly theories have been proposed about the etymology of the name Yggdrasill, the relation to tree and Eurasian shamanic lore, the potential relation to the trees Mímameiðr and Læraðr, and the sacred tree at Uppsala.

 

[edit] Etymology

 

Yggdrasil (1895) by Lorenz Frølich.Scholarly opinions regarding the precise meaning of the name Yggdrasill vary, particularly on the issue of whether Yggdrasill is the name of the tree itself, or if only the full term askr Yggdrasil refers specifically to the tree. Yggdrasill means "Ygg's horse," "Yggr" is one of Odin's many names, and according to this, askr Yggdrasils would be viewed as the world-tree upon which the "horse of the highest god is bound."[1]

 

The generally accepted etymology of the name is that Yggdrasill means "Odin's horse," which means "tree," and that the reason behind the name "Odin's horse" lies in the notion of gallows as "the horse of the hanged," and, according to this notion, the tree would then be the gallows in which Odin hanged during his self-sacrifice described in the Poetic Edda poem Hávamál. Both of these etymologies rely on a presumed but unattested *Yggsdrasill.[1]

 

A third interpretation by F. Detter is that the name Yggdrasill refers to the word Yggr ("terror"), yet not in reference to the Odinic name, and so Yggdrasill would then mean "tree of terror, gallows." F. R. Schröder has proposed a fourth etymology where yggdrasill means "yew pillar," deriving yggia from *igwja (meaning "yew-tree"), and drasill from *dher- (meaning "support").[1]

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I know very little about this having not studied it as you clearly are starting to Fizz but I know the general stories and myths. Aaaanyhoo, I've been reading with interest and something struck me about the berries/fruit you were talking about and you also mentioned (and I think I read or saw an image somewhere of it as a hanging tree) hanging. Could the berries be people? Ever heard the song Strange Fruit by Billie Holiday? I know its a bit of a left field thought, and probably just a coincidence that I was downloading the track yesterday...but since the horse could be pall-bearers, could the berries (being as most berries in trees "hang" ) be "strange fruit"?

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Was it a real tree?

329664[/snapback]

 

My interpretation of this is that it's a metaphore for the connection of different realities, much in the same way that the tree of life is. The fact that it exsists in several different mythologies and traditions suggests that it's not an actual tree, and could also be a different kind of tree depending on the mythological situation.

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Trees are generally very important in Icelandic mythology (any kind) because there aren't very many tall trees in Iceland. Wood for ships (and other things) was largely imported from Norway and Sweden (kind of a 10Cth IKEA).

 

Icelandic joke - what do you do if you get lost in an Icelandic forest? Stand up! (Most trees are only about 2 foot tall due to previaling winds and soil).

 

The significance of Yggdrasil to people who aren't accustomed to large trees is very different to other parts of Europe. It's seen as a huge manifestation of power and is very fundamental. Sorry not expressing myself very well - loses something in translation.

 

Frey

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My interpretation of this is that it's a metaphore for the connection of different realities, much in the same way that the tree of life is. The fact that it exsists in several different mythologies and traditions suggests that it's not an actual tree, and could also be a different kind of tree depending on the mythological situation.

329793[/snapback]

 

I have a Turkish Kilim of the Tree of Life. I have always wondered why it was such an important icon for them to weave into fabric. I suppose it could be inspired by OT scripture. It looks particularly un-Islamic to me.

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