"Ygg's Horse." The great ash tree that stands at the center of the universe and unites it. The völva in Völuspá says:

I know an ash standing
Yggdrasil hight,
a lofty tree, laved
with limpid water:
thence come the dews
into the dales that fall
ever stands it green over
Urd's fountain.

She further says that the aged tree shall tremble at Ragnarök. More information is found in the eddic poem Grímnismál. The Æsir go to the ash each day to judge, and it is described as the "best of trees." Five stanzas of the poem are about the ash itself:

31. Three roots stand
on three ways
under Yggdrasil's ash:
Hel under one abides,
under the second the Hrimthursar,
under the third mankind.
32. Ratatösk is the squirrel named,
which has to run
in Yggdrasil's ash;
he from above
the eagle's words must carry,
and beneath to Nidhögg repeat.
33. Harts there are also four,
which from its summits,
arch-necked, gnaw.
Dain and Dvalin,
Duneyr and Durathror.
34. More serpents lie
under Yggdrasil's ash,
than any one would think
of witless mortals:
Goin and Moin
they are Grafvitnir's sons
Grabak and Grafvöllud,
Ofnir and Svafnir,
will, I ween,
the branches of that tree
ever lacerate.
35. Yggdrasil's ash
hardship suffers
greater than men know of;
a hart bites it above,
and in its side it rots,
Nidhögg beneath tears it.

The fullest description of Yggdrasil is given by Snorri Sturluson in Gylfaginning, which is based on Völuspá and Grímnismál. Gangleri asks where the chief abode or holy place of the gods is, and Hárr replies:

"That is at the Ash of Yggdrasill; there the gods must give judgment everyday. [...] The Ash is greatest of all trees and best: its limbs spread out over all the world and stand above heaven. Three roots of the tree uphold it and stand exceeding broad: one is among the Æsir; another among the Rime-Giants, in that place where aforetime was the Yawning Void; the third stands over Niflheim, and under that root is Hvergelmir, and Nídhöggr gnaws the root from below. But under that root which turns toward the Rime-Giants is Mímir's Well, wherein wisdom and understanding are stored; [...] The third root of the Ash stands in heaven; and under that root is the well which is very holy, that is called the Well of Urdr; there the gods hold their tribunal."

Gangleri then asks what more wonders are to be told of the tree, and Hárr says:

"An eagle sits in the limbs of the Ash, and he has understanding of many a thing; and between his eyes sits the hawk that is called Vedrfölnir. The squirrel called Ratatöskr runs up and down the length of the Ash, bearing envious words between the eagle and Nídhöggr; and four harts run in the limbs of the Ash and bite the leaves. They are called thus: Dáinn, Dvalinn, Duneyrr, Durathrór. Moreover, so many serpents are in Hvergelmir with Nídhöggr, that no tongue can tell them..."

The Norns, who dwell by the Urðarbrunnr, take water of the well every day, and with it that clay which lies about the well, and sprinkle it over the ash, so that its limbs shall not wither nor rot.

In Hávamál, stanza 140, Odin says that he hung on a wind-rocked tree for nine whole nights to acquire wisdom. This tree is generally thought to have been Yggdrasil; Yggr is an Odin name and drasill means "horse," so "Odin's horse," i.e. "gallows." It is interesting to note that the first man, Askr, was shaped from an ash by Odin and his companions.

See also Glasir, Læraðr, Mímameiðr, and Hoddmímir's holt.



  • Grímnismál, 29-31, 44.
  • Gylfaginning, 15, 16.
  • Hrafnagaldr Óðins, 6.
  • Hávamál, 140.
  • Völuspá, 19.