Detail of a memorial stone, dated from about A.D. 500, found during the restoration of a church at Sanda in Gotland. The tree at the center of it symbolizes the Viking concept of the universe.
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Image reproduced by courtesy of Gotlands Fornsal, Visby.


Midgard is the realm where human beings live. Midgard, the Earth, was created from the flesh of the primeval giant Ymir. The supreme god Odin and his brothers Vili and Ve slayed the giant and formed the ocean with his blood and sweat, the mountains and stones with his bones and teeth, the sky with his skull -supported by four dwarfs- and finally the clouds with his brain. The primeval woman and man were created from the Ymir's left armpit.

In Norse mythology, the world was conceived as a gigantic tree, called the World Tree or Yggdrasil, around which existed nine realms at different levels. The roots supported the tree and its branches shaded the world. The roots of the World Tree reached the lowest realm Niflheim, the underworld, Jotunnheim, the land of the giants, and Asgard, the home of the gods. Midgard was around the World Tree in an upper level surrounded by the ocean where lived the terrible World Serpent, Jormungand.

Asgard, the home of the gods was joined with Midgard by the bridge Bifrost, the rainbow. On the top of the tree was the seat of the supreme god, Odin who could see all the realms at once.

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