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The Mundane Tree

Cosmic map, scanned from Bishop Percy's Mallet's Northern Antiquities:
(with incidental notices respecting our Saxon ancestors)
ed I.A.Blackwell, London 1847

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"This illustration ... originally copied from the Eddalæren of Finn Magnusson, pictures the earth (Midgård) as a disc floating in the ocean, and completely encircled by Jörmungand, the great Midgård serpent.
The circumjacent shores are the craggy mountains at Jötunheim, or Utgård, 'the outermost parts of the earth'.
Of the three stems of the tree, the main (infernal) springs from Nifelhem, the abode of Hel, and the realm of the dead; another (the terrestrial) issues from Mimer's Well in the North; the third (supernal) from the Urdar fountain in the South.
The main stem penetrates the earth and its central Olympian mountain, Asgård, home of the Asir (the gods), which latter is again connected by Bifröst, the rainbow, with the earth at its Southern boundary, and with the fount of Urda.
The branches of these three stems, uniting above, overshadow the whole earth. Nidhögg, the dragon of the nether world, with his countless serpents, eternally gnaws the root of Yggdrasil; but the norns continually sprinkle the tree with living waters, and keep it in everlasting verdure.
An all-observing eagle perches upon its branches.
A squirrel, Ratatösk, is running up and down it continually.
Four harts, Dain, Dvalin, Duneyr and Durathor, with bent necks bite its green leaves.
Yggdrasil is the tree of existence, and typifies the life of man. Its three roots symbolize Spirit, Organisation and Matter."

The above comments, which don't appear fully to match the illustration, are from Clement B.Shaw's translation of Frithiof's Saga, by Esaias Tegnér, published by Rock Island Augustana Book Concern 1908. The picture is a fanciful, latter-day construct.

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