"An ash I know, / Yggdrasill its name,
With water white / is the great tree wet;
Thence come the dews / that fall in the dales,
Green by Urth's Well / does it ever grow."
Völuspá Stanza 19
Odin created the mighty tree Yggdrasill, the center of the Norse spiritual cosmos. Its name can be broken into two parts: Yggr ("terrible", one of Odin's many, countless names) and drasill ("horse"); Yggdrasill therefore means "Horse of Odin", a reference to his having hung from its boughs with his side pierced by his own spear for nine days and nine nights, thus having discovered the runes.
The Nine Realms are arrayed around and held together by Yggdrasill's branches and roots. At these roots lies the dragon Nidhogg and many lesser serpents, gnawing at then. An unnamed eagle - with a raven sitting between its eyes - perches its top-most branches; and Ratasokr ("drill-tooth") is the busy-body squirrel scurrying up and down the trunk, relaying insults from the eagle to Nidhogg and back. The Aesir too hold their assemblies daily around the tree, travelling by means of the Bifrost, save for Thor who fears his heavy tread would shatter the bridge and flies using his hammer instead.
One day, Nidhogg's endless gnawing will cause Yggdrasill's steady form to shudder, sending tremors up its trunk and through the Nine Realms; and this shall be one of the signs that Ragnarök is come.
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