The drawing above is a representation of the Norse conception of the universe as an enormous tree around which is the Earth. At the root of the tree are the world of the Dead, that of the gods, and that of the giants.
Bifrost, the rainbow, was the bridge leading from the Earth, called Midgard
, to Asgard, the home of the gods. Only
the gods could cross this bridge. Mortals and giants were prevented from reaching Asgard by the god Heimdall.
In Norse mythology, the world was represented as a gigantic tree, possibly an ash, whose roots stretched in three parts reaching three different worlds. The first was the land of the giants, Jotunnheim, the second was Godheim (heaven), the site of the city of Asgard (where the gods lived). The lowest world was Niflheim, the underworld
where the dragon Nidhoggr gnawed corpses at the root of the tree.
The Earth, named Midgard, was around the tree in an upper level. Bifrost has been also
associated by some scholars with the Milky Way.
It was believed that during a great battle, called Ragnarok, all the gods and living things perished. Lead by Loki, the monsters fought the gods for control. Bifrost was shattered by the weight of the monsters. Eventually, everything was destroyed by a great flood. However, the Earth rose from the waters, and life began once again.
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