Yggdrasil: Tree of Life, Portal to Nine Worlds

Yggdrasil, Tree of Life in Norse mythology, is an appealing topic. Several years ago, I was part of a panel discussing this tree of life.

During this panel, any people had emotional stories to tell. Stories about how they have beautiful, inspiring dreams about trees, that connect them with nature. Stories about how mad they are that we screw up nature like we do.

Today I will share a book review about Yggdrasil, based on an analysis made by Maria Kvilhaug. Maria has a master degree in Old Norse mythology and initiation rituals.

The Seed of Yggdrasil. Deciphering the hidden messages in Old Norse Myths
by Maria Kvilhaug
Whyte Tracks 2013
Hardcover $77.99, Kindle Edition $43.03
ISBN 13: 978-8792632289
ISBN 10: 8792632289
Reviewed by Susanne van Doorn

 

 

Yggdrasil
Buy the book using this link and support the good work of Mindfunda

Yggdrasil and Comparative Mythology

It is so natural for me to compare mythologies worldwide. People have the same challenges everywhere. The same problems to solve. So one naturally assumes people have myths about similar problems.

But since the star from Joseph Campbell has faded, so has the trust in comparative mythology. You know that I am a big fan of Campbell, but I agree that not every story is a hero story.

Campbell was known to have “cherry picked” myths, so he could build the mono myth theory.

Maria Kvilhaug uses the same comparative mythology in her book. And I must say, just like Campbell’s books are nice to read, so is hers.

She is a “Pantheist”: “there is an ultimate unity behind the many gods, and that they are united in a single source” (page 635).

Yggdrasil and Edda

In 1643, the Edda, composed of several stories, was given to Bishop Svensson. He immediately recognised the value of those papers. Verses written by Snorri Sturluson in 1243.

At this time, Snorri was afraid that the young people would forget their rituals.

Yggdrasil

“Snorri had a clear and outspoken agenda with his work. He realised people were beginning to forget the myths of their ancestors” (page 21).

But the pagan gods, initiations and rituals are being described as devilish, satanic. Maria explains how the verses are written with respect (or fear?) for the church.

Yggdrasil as parable

A parable is a usually short fictitious story that illustrates a moral attitude or a religious principle.

Maria invites us to interpret the Edda as if it is an illustration of possible behaviours within the world.

Yggdrasil
Artwork: Welcome Images

 

In this way, Yggdrasil becomes a symbol of the human body. A representation of the tree-shaped nervous system, or the vascular system in our body.

Yggdrasil and The Eagle

At the top of the Yggdrasil, there is an eagle “and he knows much” (p 163). At the bottom of the Yggdrasil, there is a serpent coiled by the roots, eating them away.

 

Yggdrasil

 

Maria suggests that the eagle is a symbol for the all-knowing observer. Being a spiritual atheist, I am not so inclined towards a god/goddess who observes all.

But being a diabetic, I know from periods were I have suffered a low blood sugar level, that there is something in me that tells me that there is something wrong. My inner eagle. It tells me to go look for food/sugar when I notice that I start to see things unclear.

YGGDRASIL AND the snake

My old friend snake (read more about it in Amazing Animal) is a symbol of our connection to the earth. Remember how in Genesis Eve is being tempted by a snake?

Yggdrasil
Snakes in Prague, photo by Susanne van Doorn

 

If our human psyche is wired to seek its own way, not ruled by laws and prescriptions from God(s), there might be a psychic need to embrace the snake as part of our personality.

Remember how in the Matrix agent Smith compares humans to a virus?

“You move to an area and you multiply and multiply until every natural resource is consumed and the only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet. You’re a plague and we are the cure” (The Matrix 1999).

Maybe that is the snake eating at the roots of our Yggdrasil. I always thought it was an excellent summary of the Catholic concept of the original sin. We humans are bad. It eats us. We try to cure it but destruction of the world seems unstoppable.

Yggdrasil and Odin

Norse god Odin is important to me. I met an Odin-like one-eyed wander in a dream once. I bought him some good food, because I assumed he was alcoholic. When I got outside I looked under his big hat and became scared to death. He only had one eye! His missing eye was uncovered…

Maria interprets Odin as “The Universal Spirit”. A shared unconscious, like Jung‘s collective unconscious. It reminds me so much of the religious concept I embraced when I was a child. I used to think that god was the sum of all the good in all the people on the earth.

Yggdrasil
Georg von Rosen
Odin, the Wanderer

 

Odin his name means Poetry, Spirit or Frenzy. “Obviously, we have all qualities within us. The Spirit is that what gives us breath and inspiration, which is exactly  what Odin is said to have given to men and women alike. The Poetry is equivalent of the mind, that within us which creates the stories that are our lives, and the Frenzy is our passion, our desire, that with drives us forward and makes us seek, rebelling against everything that limits the fullness of being” (page 643).

Yggdrasil and the Goddess

In the seventies there was a rumour that we once had lived in a matriarchal society. A society ruled by women. This was never the case. But femininity, and the importance of females for the survival of any community is clearly embraced in this book.

“To the initiate of the Mysteries of Isis, the myth is a parable of the quest for salvation” (page 39).

Yggdrasil

Did you know there is a maiden that sleeps at the roots under Yggdrasil? She dreams up the world. This made me think about Anne Baring her assumption that the Cosmos itself is dreaming.

Conclusion

PRO

  • So much information about Norse Mythology. Information about Odin and his origin, about the number nine and the number three. Information about Freya, wife of Odin and all the other famous gods.
  • So much information about history. Because mythologies of different countries are compared you get a view good history lessons too.
  • The difficult poetry of Edda is made so much more understandable by Maria. Even if you do not agree with her interpretation, you are going to learn so much about mythology and its place in the current world.
  • If you like witches this book will have some intriguing chapters about “The Witch Before Time” and “The Way of the Wand Witch”. Women were important in the Viking age, even though they were not supposed to be warriors.
  • The female/Goddess is honoured in this book. You will find out much about

CON

  • The contents page is not right, at least not in my print of 2013. From paragraph 2.2 pages have started to shift. This means that paragraphs or chapters you are looking for are one or even two pages further in the book. This is a sloppy mistake which is uncalled for in such a marvellous book.
  • The font used is extremely small, which makes it less attractive to read.
  • It is a huge book that contains 677 pages. You will have to take your time to read it.
  • The price is for some people a bit high: $77.99. But if you are infatuated with Norse Mythology it is definitely worth your while.
  • There is a biography but not a subject index at the end of the book. Being a book-addict I know which book contains what information but I refuse to bother my brain with the memory of page numbers. So I am a big fan of subject indexes to easily look up things in the multitude of books that have gathered in my house.

Mindfunda verdict:
8/10

Here is an link to buy on Amazon if you enjoyed this review,
and like to support our work. We appreciate your help!

 


THIS CONTENT IS CREATED BY SUSANNE VAN DOORN, AUTHOR AND OWNER OF MINDFUNDA; MAKING THE FUNDAMENTALS OF PSYCHOLOGY, MYTHOLOGY AND SPIRITUALITY EASY TO USE IN YOUR PERSONAL LIFE!

What is Mindfunda about?

My name is Susanne van Doorn, I am a Dutch psychologist, blogger and author. I have been working with psychology, dreams and mythology ever since I finished my study in psychology at Tilburg University. I made this independant site to share insights, and recent scientific articles about the brain, dreams, and mythology for use in your personal life.

This posting is categorised as Mythofunda:
“Myths are public dreams, dreams are private myths” Joseph Campbell used to say. This part of Mindfunda shows you how your personal mythology can create peace in your life.

Read more about Mindfunda here, or visit our Courses Page.


(Ready for more free Mindfunda content on ‘#MYTHOLOGY‘?

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Comments or suggestions? Share your thoughts:

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The Amazing Animal: The Animal in Mythology

The Animal in mythology. What role does it play? What does this tell us about ourselves?

 

“Myths are about the human struggle to deal with the great passages of time and life – birth, death, marriage, the transitions from childhood to adulthood to old age”

–  Michael Shermer, Publisher of Skeptic magazine.

Do you want to understand more about yourself, your dreams and the struggles of your life? Join our online course Mindfunda Mythology now.

This is the second of a six part blog about the course Mindfunda Mythology:

The Creation myth: Genesis and The Big Bang
The Amazing Animal: The Animal in Mythology
Mythology of Men 
Mythology of Women
Mythology of the Trickster
Mythology of the Grail, Pulling Out the Sword

Animal as a symbol of inner force

This lesson of the mythology course focuses on animals.  The first one is the bear. If there is one representative of dreaming, this is the one. I have used the film “The Bear” from Jean-Jacques Annaud as an example to discuss the features of its force. There are questions that will make it easy to recognise the bear power in your own life. The bear is in my eyes a representative of the anima or the female power in the human soul. Bears usually live solitary lives, so the second animal I discuss in this online course is the horse.

animal
Film poster The Bear

The horse is a social animal, the group leaders are the females. The horse, like the bear were among the first animals to be worshiped in ancient societies. What are mythological stories about horses and what can we learn from them?

Animal as representative of human’s helper

The dog, representative of the wolf family, is one of the oldest friends of Homo sapiens. Dogs and hounds are guardians of the way between: a path we all sometimes secretly walk. So many times we feel that we hear, see or feel more than other people do. We know this way between, but we hardly dare to discuss it with others, afraid to be called names that not do us, or our powers justice.

The last animal to be discussed is the Snake.
Once a sacred companion of the Goddess, now despised by many people. You will discover that there is a biological reason for our almost innate resentment of this animal. And you will get to appreciate the Snake and the symbolism it represents.

animal

 

I hope to greet you soon as a participant of this wonderful course. You will learn so much about your life, about your dreams and about your own innate wisdom.

All Excited? Mindfunda Mythology is designed to make the journey of your life easier. You will get:

  • Knowledge about the Sefiroth, the Cabalistic Tree of Life;
  • You will be introduced to the two main categories of myth so you can (re)connect with the strength of your inner animal;
  • You will have access to al the 24 possible ways of behaviour of male and female archetypes;
  • You will be able to tap into the power of the Trickster whenever you feel reluctant to follow the call of your own path;
  • All these methods and techniques will enable you to enlighten your inner fire, your personal Grail;
  • You will get 44 exercises during the course, an average 6 – 10 exercises per lesson to help you master the knowledge.

Have a look at the Course page

 

 

MINDFUNDA FREEBIE:
If you want to sleep well and remember more dreams, here is a FREE eBook
for you with ten easy tips to quickly increase your dream memory.

 



THIS CONTENT IS CREATED BY SUSANNE VAN DOORN, AUTHOR AND OWNER OF MINDFUNDA; MAKING THE FUNDAMENTALS OF PSYCHOLOGY, MYTHOLOGY AND SPIRITUALITY EASY TO USE IN YOUR PERSONAL LIFE!

What is Mindfunda about?

My name is Susanne van Doorn, I am a Dutch psychologist, blogger and author. I have been working with psychology, dreams and mythology ever since I finished my study in psychology at Tilburg University. I made this independant site to share insights, and recent scientific articles about the brain, dreams, and mythology for use in your personal life.

This posting is categorised as Mythofunda:
“Myths are public dreams, dreams are private myths” Joseph Campbell used to say. This part of Mindfunda shows you how your personal mythology can create peace in your life.

Read more about Mindfunda here, or visit our Courses Page.


(Ready for more free Mindfunda content on ‘#MYTHOLOGY‘?

Start of Spring: An Invitation to Dream an Ode to Freya

Let's celebrate the start of spring together! I want to invite you to join me on Mindfunda for a spring dream time celebration. This celebration is a part of my ...
Read More

Joseph Campbell: 5 Secrets to Yield Your own Yoda

This is a Mindfunda book review about "The Mythic Dimension", a compilation of essays written by Joseph Campbell, dusted off and reprinted in a paperback. It will help you unleash ...
Read More

Trickster Gods: Tricky Ways to Discover the Self

Do you want to understand more about yourself, your dreams and the struggles of your life? Today I like to tell you more about our online course Mindfunda Mythology. This is the fifth ...
Read More

The 5 Finest Fundamental Female Ways to Become Authentic

Do you want to understand more about yourself, your dreams and the struggles of your life? Today I like to tell you more about our online course Mindfunda Mythology. This is the third ...
Read More

Yggdrasil: Tree of Life, Portal to Nine Worlds

Yggdrasil, Tree of Life in Norse mythology, is an appealing topic. Several years ago, I was part of a panel discussing this tree of life. During this panel, any people had ...
Read More

4 Secrets about Male Mythology: What you Should Know Before You Get One

Do you want to understand more about yourself, your dreams and the struggles of your life? Join our online course Mindfunda Mythology now. This is the third of a six part blog about ...
Read More

The Amazing Animal: The Animal in Mythology

The Animal in mythology. What role does it play? What does this tell us about ourselves? "Myths are about the human struggle to deal with the great passages of time ...
Read More

From Genesis to Big Bang: a Mythological View on Creation Myths

Myths are about the human struggle to deal with the great passages of time and life - birth, death, marriage, the transitions from childhood to adulthood to old age. Michael ...
Read More

Mythological Themes and Modern Movies

I have recently launched Mindfunda Movies; Four film interpretations that help you apply the mythological themes to your own life. Mindfunda Movie will give you a new perspective on: Pan's Labyrinth ...
Read More

Film Feature: Four Stories about Gender

I want to thank Jungian Author Susan Scott, artist Brenda Ferrimani and Psychoanalyst Lou Hagood for their advice on Mindfunda Movie. It is the season to watch a film. Days are ...
Read More

Comments or suggestions? Share your thoughts:

We hate Spam as much as you do, your information is safe with us and we will not provide your data to others. To authenticate you are human, you are kindly asked to opt-in on periodic updates as the Mindfunda Monthly.

Please check the appropriate boxes below.

keep me posted on newsno mail please


st. Patrick’s day, three reasons to join the fun

st. patrick’s day

st. Patrick’s day… The Irish people remember st Patrick on the day he allegedly died. March 17. Who was this guy and what did he do with snakes? Why is everything green on  st. Patrick’s day? And why should we care about this folklore event? Read on to find out. Continue reading st. Patrick’s day, three reasons to join the fun

Chinese New Year

The Chinese New Year begins today, February 8th 2016. The Chinese calender is a lunar one, the New Year starts at the second new moon after the Winter Solstice. 2016 is the year of the Monkey. Continue reading Chinese New Year

Shekinah, or how snakes sometimes are successful spirit guides

I interviewed Anne Baring yesterday (I will try to publish the interview tomorrow). She is the writer of Dream of the cosmos and she talked about the Shekinah. The Shekinah is an ancient Goddess, refered to in Judaism as the “dwelling particle of God”. The holy spirit in the Catholic church. The vision of Shekinah came to her in a dream. A life changing dream that took several decades to show its meaning. Anne told me that “This was not only a dream for me, but a dream for everybody in the cosmos”. A Big Dream.

Maybe, just like me, you can grasp Shekinah intuitively. I always thought of God as the goodness of all living things on earth, combined into one energy. It makes sense to me to call this energy Shekenah. In early Judaism she was known as the Wisdom Goddess, later also known as Sophia.

Shekinah
The cosmic Shekinah

Because I am a curious person, I bought myself one of the best books about Shekinah: the cosmic Shekinah. A dove is on the book cover: there is a special relationship between Shekina and the dove. Here is the writer David Rankine explaining this himself. The Dove used to be a bird of wisdom. Remember how Noah sent out a dove to check if the waters had lowered enough?

In this exciting book Sorita D’Este and David Rankine show how Shekinah is related to Isis the Egyptian mother Goddess, to Inanna the Sumerian Goddess that had to decent to hell to find life and to Astarte, the goddess of fertility in Canaan.

The snake we all know from the bible as the bad guy who seduced Eve to eat from the forbidden fruit, is the companion of Shekinah. But as a symbol of healing. The snake is the symbol of life after death and resurrection. Sometimes in churches, Mother Mary (the most modern expression of the ancient Mother Goddess) stands on a snake. The snake as a symbol of power.

I can recommend this book to you if you want to know more about the divine feminine. And Anne Baring re-defined femininity. It is not about women, not about power. It is about fertility. It is about growth. About nurturing. About the inner light. In both males and females.

Do you like this post? Share it with your friends

I will be uploading two very interesting interviews on my YouTube channel soon. Ralph Metzner, author Well of remembrance and one with Jean Raffa author of Healing the sacred divide be sure to sign up!

Grab yourself a free e-book and learn all about mutual dreaming using this link

Don’t forget to join me on twitter: @susannevandoorn