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.
Click on image for full size
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
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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