Askr Yggdrasils – The Ash Tree Yggdrasil
|There stands an ash called Yggdrasils,
A mighty tree showered in white hail.
From there come the dews that fall in the valleys.
It stands evergreen above Urd’s Well. From there come maidens, very wise,
Three from the lake that stands beneath the pole.
One is called Urd, another Verdandi,
Skuld the third; they carve into the tree
The lives and destinies of children. – Völuspá – “The Insight of the Seeress” – Poetic Edda
The generally accepted meaning of Old Norse Yggdrasill is “Odin‘s horse”, meaning “gallows”. This interpretation comes about because drasill means “horse” and Ygg(r) is one of Odin’s many names. The Poetic Edda poem Hávamál describes how Odin sacrificed himself by hanging from a tree, making this tree Odin’s gallows. This tree may have been Yggdrasil. Gallows can be called “the horse of the hanged” and therefore Odin’s gallows may have developed into the expression “Odin’s horse”, which then became the name of the tree.
I know that I hung on a wind-rocked tree,nine whole nights, with a spear wounded, and to Odin offered, myself to myself; on that tree, of which no one knowsfrom what root it springs. Bread no one gave me, nor a horn of drink, downward I peered,to runes applied myself, wailing learnt them, then fell down thence. – Hávamál (Old Norse ‘Sayings of the High One’)