Yggdrasil Yggdrasil (Norse) Y ggdrasil is the Norse name of the World Tree, the cosmic tree that links three realms in Norse mythology.
Said to be a gigantic ash tree, its name literally means “Ygg’s horse.” Ygg, which means “terrible” or “dreadful,” is one of the names of the chief Norse god, Odin, who hung from the tree for nine days as a willing self-sacriﬁce to gain the wisdom of the runes.
Three roots support Yggdrasil’s mighty trunk.
Each root passes through a different world so that Yggdrasil’s branches spread out over all worlds.
In one version of the myth, the three worlds are Asgard, home of the gods; Midgard, home of the humans; and Hel, the underworld.
Another version of the myth describes the three roots as passing through Asgard; Jotenheim, the world of the frost giants; and Niﬂheim, the world of the dwarves.
Beneath one of the roots, usually mentioned in texts as the Asgard root, lies the sacred Urdarbrunnr, the well of fate.
It is here that the three Norns, or Nornor, live.
These are the three Fates of Norse mythology.
The Norns hold the destinies of all that live, and not even the gods have power over them.
The Norns water the tree every day to keep its bark white and its leaves green.
Beneath the two other roots lie Mimisbrunnr, the well of wisdom, guarded by the giant Mimir, and the Hvergelmir, or roaring kettle, which is said to be the source of many of the Midgard rivers.
Near the Hvergelmir, the great serpent Nidhogg gnaws at one of Yggdrasil’s roots.
An eagle sits in Yggdrasil’s branches, and between its eyes a falcon perches.
The beat of the eagle’s powerful wings stirs the Midgard winds.
The goat Heidrun lives up there, too, and eats Yggdrasil’s leaves, while four stags, Dain, Duneyr, Durathror, and Dvalin, feed on Yggdrasil’s bark.
A squirrel, Ratatosk, scurries up and down Yggdrasil’s trunk.
It carries messages back and forth between the eagle and the serpent Nidhogg.
The myths state that someday, when the ﬁnal battle of Ragnarok arrives, Nidhogg will ﬁnish its gnawing and bring down Yggdrasil.
Then Yggdrasil will then expire in ﬂames set by the giants.
See also: Norse Mythology; Odin/Odhinn; World Tree.
Sources Yggdrasil was the Norse version of the world tree, a widespread motif representing the center of the world.
This intricate carving, which shows Yggdrasil being gnawed on by a deer, can be found on the side of a historic church in Umes, Norway. (© Werner Forman/Art Resource, NY) Davidson, H.R.
Gods and Myths of Northern Europe.
New York: Penguin, 1964.
Norse Mythology: A Guide to the Gods, Heroes, Rituals and Beliefs.
New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.
New York: Everyman’s Library, 1995. (c) 2011 M.E.
All Rights Reserved. Yoruban Stor ytelling 517 Ymir (Norse) I — here was once a very learned man in the north country who knew all the languages under the Sun, and who was acquainted with all the mysteries of creation.
He had one big book bound in black calfskin and clasped with iron, and with iron corners, and chained to a table that was made fast to the ﬂoor.
When he read out of this book, he unlocked it with an iron key, and none but he read from it, for it contained all the secrets of the spiritual world.
The book told how many angels there were in heaven, and how they marched in their ranks, and sang in their choirs, and what were their several functions, and what was the name of each great angel of might.
And it told of the demons, how many of them there were, and what were their several powers, and their labors, and their names, and how they might be summoned, and how tasks might be imposed on them, and how they might be chained to be as slaves to man.
Now, the master had a pupil who was but a foolish lad.
He acted as servant to the great master, but never was he suffered to look into the black book, hardly to enter the private room.
One day, the master was out.
Then, the lad, as curious as could be, hurried to the chamber where his master kept his wondrous apparatus for changing copper into gold, and lead into 561 silver, and where he kept his mirror in which he could see all that was passing in the world, and where he stored the shell which when held to the ear whispered all the words that were being spoken by anyone the master desired to know about.
The lad tried in vain with the crucibles to turn copper and lead into gold and silver.
He looked long and vainly into the mirror; smoke and clouds passed over it, but he saw nothing plain.
And the shell to his ear produced only indistinct murmurings, like the breaking of distant seas on an unknown shore. “I can do nothing,” he said, “as I don’t know the right words to utter, and they are locked up in yon book.” He looked round, and, see! The book was unfastened; the master had forgotten to lock it before he went out.
The boy rushed to it and opened the volume.
It was written with red and black ink, and much of it he could not understand; but he put his ﬁnger on a line and spelled it out.
At once, the room was darkened, and the house trembled; a clap of thunder rolled through the passage and the old room, and there stood before him a horrible, horrible form, breathing ﬁre, and with eyes like burning lamps.
It was the demon Beelzebub, whom he had called up to serve him. (c) 2011 M.E.
All Rights Reserved. 562 Retellings the words by which to send him away, and still the demon fetched water.
It rose to the boy’s knees, and still more water was poured.
It mounted to his waist, and Beelzebub still kept on bringing barrels full.
It rose to his armpits, and he scrambled to the tabletop.
And now, the water in the room stood up to the window and washed against the glass, and swirled around his feet on the table.
It still rose; it reached his breast.
In vain, the boy cried; the evil spirit would not be dismissed, and, to this day, he would have been pouring water, and would have drowned all Yorkshire.
But the master remembered on his journey that he had not locked his book, and therefore returned.
At the moment when the water was bubbling about the pupil’s chin, the master rushed into the room and spoke the words that cast Beelzebub back into his ﬁery home. “Set me a task!” said he, with a voice like the roaring of an iron furnace.
The boy only trembled, and his hair stood up. “Set me a task, or I shall strangle thee!” But the lad could not speak.
Then the evil spirit stepped toward him, and putting forth his hands touched his throat.
The ﬁngers burned his ﬂesh. “Set me a task!” “Water yon ﬂower,” cried the boy in despair, pointing to a geranium that stood in a pot on the ﬂoor.
Instantly, the spirit left the room, but in another instant, he returned with a barrel on his back, and poured its contents over the ﬂower.
Again and again, he went and came, and poured more and more water, till the water on the ﬂoor of the room was ankle deep. “Enough; enough!” gasped the lad, but the demon heeded him not; the lad didn’t know (c) 2011 M.E.
All Rights Reserved. Tom Thumb’s Adventures A Medieval English Folktale The folktale of Tom Thumb first appeared in print in the seventeenth century in both England and in a French version by the writer Charles Perrault.
But the original story goes back in less complete form to at least the sixteenth century. I t is said that in the days of the famed Prince Arthur, who was king of Britain in the year 516, there lived a great magician, called Merlin, the most learned and skillful enchanter in the world at that time.
This great magician, who could assume any form he pleased, was traveling in the disguise of a poor beggar.
Being very much fatigued, he stopped at the cottage of an honest plowman to rest himself, and asked for some refreshment.
The countryman gave the magician a hearty welcome.
His wife, who was a very goodhearted, hospitable woman, soon brought him some milk in a wooden bowl and some coarse brown bread on a platter.
Merlin was much pleased with this homely repast and the kindness of the plowman and his wife, but he could not help seeing that though everything was neat and comfortable in the cottage, they seemed to be sad and much cast down.
He therefore questioned them on the cause of their sadness and learned they were miserable because they had no children.
The poor woman declared, with tears in her eyes, that she should be the happiest creature in the world if she had a son.
Even if he was no bigger than her husband’s thumb, she would be satisﬁed.
Merlin was so much amused with the idea of a boy no bigger than a man’s thumb that he made up his mind to pay a visit to the queen of the fairies and ask her to grant the poor woman’s wish.
The droll fancy of such a little person among the human race pleased the 563 fairy queen, too, and she promised Merlin that the wish would be granted.
A short time afterward, the plowman’s wife had a son, who, wonderful to relate, was no bigger than his father’s thumb.
The fairy queen, wishing to see the little fellow thus born into the world, came in at the window while the mother was sitting up in bed admiring him.
The queen kissed the child, and, giving him the name of Tom Thumb, sent for some of the fairies, who dressed her little favorite as she bade them.
An oak-leaf hat he had for his crown; His shirt of web by spiders spun; With jacket wove of thistle’s down; His trousers were of feathers done.
His stockings, of apple-rind they tie With eyelash from his mother’s eye: His shoes were made of mouse’s skin Tann’d with the downy hair within.
It is remarkable that Tom never grew any larger than his father’s thumb, which was only of an ordinary size; but as he got older, he became very cunning and full of tricks.
When he was old enough to play with the boys, and had lost all his own cherrystones, he used to creep into the bags of his playfellows, ﬁll his pockets, and, getting out unseen, again join in the game.
One day, however, as he was coming out of a bag of cherrystones, where he had been pilfering as usual, the boy to whom it belonged chanced to see him. “Aha, my little Tommy,” (c) 2011 M.E.
All Rights Reserved. — Heroes and heroines (continued) in Russian mythology, 1:71, 80, 118; 2:234 –235, 248–249, 267–270; 3:491, 506 in Scottish mythology, 2:423 sleeping, 2:422–424; 3:594 in Spanish mythology, 1:15–16, 135, 148 in Sumerian mythology, 1:27–28, 78–79, 138, 201–203; 2:289–290; 3:521–522 in Swedish mythology, 2:422 in Swiss mythology, 3:504 –506, 505 in Tibetan mythology, 3:603–606 in Welsh mythology, 1:63, 199 women, 3:512 working class, 2:255–256 See also Culture heroes; speciﬁc heroes and heroines Heroides (Ovid), 2:353 Herrick, Douglas, 2:250 Herrick, Robert, 2:341 Hervarar Saga, 2:222–223 Hervor, 2:223 Herwig, King, 1:211 Herzog Ernst, 1:145 Hesiod, 1:28, 147, 161 Hesperia, 2:406 Hesperides, 1:30, 41, 125 Hestia, 3:520 Hetel, King, 1:210–211 Heyoka, 1:172 Hiawatha, 1:103; 2:247 Hibakusha-active, 2:254 High John the Conqueror, 3:462 Highway 23 ghost, 1:193 Hi’iaka, 2:223–224, 359, 360 Hi’iaka sisters, 2:223 “Hild, Queen of the Elves,” 3:444 Hilda.
See Hilde (Hilda; wife of Hagen) Hilde (daughter of Hagen), 1:210 Hilde (Hilda; wife of Hagen), 1:210 Hildebrand, 1:145 Hildebrandslied (Lay of Hildebrand), 1:145 Hildegarde of Bingen, 3:476 Hildesheim, monk of, 2:421 Hildr, 3:484 Hillary, Edmund, 3:515 Himinbjorg (Cliffs of Heaven), 2:219 Hina (Maui’s mother), 2:301 Hina of the Sea (Maui’s sister), 2:301 Hindu mythology birds, 1:185, 185–186; 2:364 demons, 2:380 dogs, 1:119 doomsday, 2:324 dragons, 1:127 (c) 2011 M.E.
All Rights Reserved. Index Hormisdas, 2:296 Horned Toad, in American Indian mythology, 3:628 Horror genre, 2:227–228 See also speciﬁc stories Horses in Eastern European folktales, 3:486 in German mythology, 2:390, 391 in Greek mythology, 2:232, 358–359 in Norse mythology, 2:342, 390, 399, 424 in Persian mythology, 2:397 in Russian mythology, 2:249 in Scottish mythology, 2:280 in Tibetan mythology, 3:605 white horses of England, 3:502–503 wooden, in Trojan War, 2:232, 286, 343; 3:466, 466–467 in world mythology, 1:130; 2:297 Horseshoes, as good luck charm, 2:228 Horus, 2:228–229, 229 exploits, 1:186; 2:328, 383, 408; 3:454 family, 2:248 origin, 2:221 role, 2:294 works on, 1:98–100, 186; 2:248 Horus-on-the-Horizon (Horemakhet), 2:229 Horus-son-of-Paneshe, 2:410 Horus-the-son-of-the-Nubianwoman, 2:410 Hostius, 1:148 Hottentot people.
See Khoikhoi people Houdini, Harry, 1:194 –195 Hound of the Baskervilles, The (Doyle), 1:67, 119 Hounds of Annwn (Cwn Annwn), 1:119 “House Carpenter, The” (ballad), 1:53 “House of the Rising Sun, The (song), 1:53 Household Tales (Brothers Grimm).
See Kinder – und Hausmärchen (Children’s and Household Tales) Houses, haunted, 1:193–194 “How Jack Beat the Devil,” 1:112–113 How to Tell Stories (Iwaya), 2:252 How-and-why (pourquoi) tales, 1:xx; 3:518 Hrafnsmal (anonymous), 3:498 Hrist, 3:484 Hrodland, Count of the Marches of Brittany, 2:428 Hrothgar, king of Denmark, 1:63, 65 Hruntung, 2:441 Hsien, 2:242 Huang Di, emperor of China, 3:477–478 Hubbard, Mother, 1:89 Hudson, Henry, 2:307 Hug-Dietrich, 1:146 Hughes, Howard, 1:197 Hughes, Langston, 2:230 Huginn, 2:220, 342, 381 Hugo, Victor, 1:145; 2:348 Hugues Capet, 1:144 Huhi, 2:434 Huitzilopochtli, 1:44; 2:315–316 Hula, 2:359, 360 Huld, 2:329 Human beings, origin of in African mythology, 1:2, 15; 3:501, 502 in Australian Aboriginal mythology, 1:4 in Aztec mythology, 1:46 in Babylonian mythology, 1:102–103, 169; 3:455 in Chinese mythology, 1:127 in Filipino mythology, 1:165 in Greek mythology, 2:368 in Incan mythology, 2:238 in Mayan mythology, 2:366 in Sumerian mythology, 1:101–102; 3:455 Human sacriﬁce.
See Sacriﬁces, human Humbaba, 1:138, 158, 202; 3:481 Humperdinck, Engelbert, 2:216, 291 Hunahpu, 2:366 Hunding, 2:388 Hundred Days, The (O’Brian), 3:478 Hungary folktales, 1:xxi, 92 mythology demons, 2:285–286 shape-shifters, 2:285 vampires, 3:485 Huntington College, Alabama, ghost stories, 1:189 Huon de Bordeaux, 1:144 Huon of Bordeaux, 1:89 Hupasiayas of Zigaratta, 2:237 Hurlers of Saint Cleer, 2:433 Hurston, John, 2:229 Hurston, Lucy Potts, 2:229 Hurston, Zora Neale, 2:229–230 Husbands missing, quest for, 2:376–377 snake, 2:425–426 Husheng, king of Persia, 3:534 Huve (Huwe), 1:13 Huwawa, 1:201 Huwe.
See Huve I-27 Huysmans, Joris-Karl, 2:303 Hvergelmir (roaring kettle), 3:516 Hweonhwa, 2:212 Hyacinthus, 1:30 Hydra, 1:125; 2:425 Hyel (Hyel-Taku), 3:501 Hyel-Taku.
See Hyel Hyenas, 2:230 Hyfaidd Hen, 2:386 Hygelac, king of the Geats, 1:63–64, 64, 65 Hylas, 2:305 Hymir, 3:453, 634 – 635 I I, Reynard (Moi, Renart; cartoon), 2:385 I brogen og i tjaernet (In the Well and the Pond; Moe), 1:38 I Was a Teenage Werewolf (1957 ﬁlm), 3:499 Ibla (Ablah), 2:396 Ibn al-Athir, 1:117 Ibo mythology, 2:315; 3:501–502 Ibon, 1:57 Icarus, 2:309 Iceland folktales, 1:67–69; 3:575 literature, 3:498 mythology, 1:77; 2:329 Idavoll, 1:38 Idiots, 1:174 See also Fools Id-surangal, 2:235 Idun, 2:336 Iduna, 1:31 Idylls of the King (Tennyson), 2:273, 300 Ieimakids, 2:339 Igor, Prince, 2:427–428 Igraine, Duchess of Cornwall, 2:272, 274, 314; 3:510 Igwe, 3:501–502 Ikkyu Sojun, 1:173 Ikoro, 3:502 Ikpa Ison, 1:2 Il Pentamerone.
See Pentamerone, Il Ilazki, 1:56 Iliad (Homer), 1:146; 2:231–232, 232 Aeneid, 1:10 author of, 2:225–226 characters in, 1:16–17; 2:219, 367 events in, 1:29; 3:467 hero of, 1:6–7 Latin translations, 1:147–148 performance of, 1:xviii, xx related works, 1:12 translations, 2:281 (c) 2011 M.E.
All Rights Reserved. I-28 Ilion Persis (Sack of Troy; Arctinus of Miletus), 1:147; 2:232–233 Illalei (Wak), 1:153 Illuyankas, 1:125; 2:233, 237; 3:450 Ilmarinen, 2:233–234, 263, 283, 399; 3:482–483 Ilmatar, 2:234; 3:482, 611 Ilya, Saint, 3:522 Ilya Murometz (Ilya of Murom), 2:234 –235 Ilya of Murom.
See Ilya Murometz Imbaluri, 3:479 Imgarra, Mount, 3:474 Imhotep, 2:369 Imilozi (whistlers), 3:523 Imi-ut, 1:26 Imiut fetish, 1:26 Immortality granting of in Chinese mythology, 2:258 in European folktales, 2:308 in Greek mythology, 2:278 in Sumerian and Babylonian mythology, 1:20, 116, 169, 203 loss of in African mythology, 3:523 in Egyptian mythology, 1:111 in Greek mythology, 1:7, 115 in Sumerian and Babylonian mythology, 1:169–170, 203 quest for, in Sumerian and Babylonian mythology, 1:138, 152–153, 203; 2:377 Imo Miri, 3:502 Implied Spider, The (Doniger), 2:309 Imposters, dragon-slayers, 1:130 Imsety, 2:229 In the Well and the Pond (I brogen og i tjaernet; Moe), 1:38 Inanna (Ishtar), 2:235–237 exploits, 1:78–79, 131–132, 141, 201, 202; 2:290, 377; 3:474, 623, 638–640 family, 1:21, 139, 140; 3:481 related goddesses, 1:28 Inanna and Dumuzi, 1:131–132; 2:236–237; 3:638–640 Inaras, 2:233, 237 Inaros, 2:409 Incantation, The (Goya), 2:296 Incantations, 2:296–297 Incas mythology, 1:73; 2:237–239 giants, 2:238 gods and goddesses, 2:238 origin of fruits and vegetables, 2:238 origin of human beings, 2:238 underworld, 2:238–239 scapegoats, 2:402 Index Incest in Finnish mythology, 2:276 in Greek mythology, 2:346 Incredible Hulk, 3:499 Incredible Shrinking Man, The (1957 and 2008 ﬁlms), 3:459 Incredible Shrinking Woman, The (1981 and 1994 ﬁlms), 3:459 India ceremonies and rituals, 2:239 culture heroes, 1:103 mythology birds, 1:185, 185–186; 2:382; 3:529 demons, 2:380; 3:527–533 divine counselors, 3:507–508 fairies and fairy-like creatures, 2:361 folktales, 1:xxii, 22, 122–123; 2:412; 3:443, 469, 557 frogs and toads in, 1:179 gods and goddesses, 2:239, 324 heroes, 1:103; 3:527–533 literature, 1:114, 156, 158–159; 2:297–299, 298, 356–357; 3:527–533 magic and magicians, 1:105; 3:527, 528, 530, 532 monkeys, 3:529 owls, 2:354 ox-eared boy, 1:134 shape-shifters, 2:411 snakes and serpents, 1:158–159, 185, 185–186; 2:425 spirits, 1:191; 3:461 sunken cities, 2:438 tricksters, 2:239 twins, 3:532 unicorns, 3:474 – 476 wise men, 2:298; 3:529, 532 storytelling in, 1:xviii; 2:239–241 string ﬁgure tradition, 2:434 See also Hindu mythology Indian Ministry of Culture, 2:239 Indika (Megasthenes), 3:475 Indo-European mythology, wolves, 3:497–498 Indonesia folktales, 1:22, 86; 3:443, 469 music, 1:183 mythology birds, 1:186 creation myths, 2:315 gods and goddesses, 2:315 owls, 2:354 spirits, 1:192 puppetry, 2:370, 371; 3:494 – 495, 495 tongue twisters, 3:460 Indra, 1:119, 127 Indrajit, 3:532 Inferno (Dante), 1:70, 87 Infrasound, and ghost phenomena, 1:197 Inhabitants of the High (Aiomum Kondi), 1:14 –15 Inklings, the, 3:457 Inkosazana, 3:523 Inktomi the Spider, 1:174; 3:462, 464 Inma.
See Tjuringa “Inna and Bilulu” (anonymous), 1:132 Insects, 2:242–244 in American Indian mythology, 2:243; 3:632 in Greek mythology, 1:61; 2:242, 243 in Jewish mythology, 3:595–597 origin myths American Indian, 2:243 Roman, 2:242 in Roman mythology, 2:242 Instructions of Shuruppak, The, 3:521–522 International Folklore Congress, 3:452 International String Figure Association, 2:436 Internet, satire on, 2:401 Internet lore (netlore), 2:244 –245 Interpretation of Dreams, The (Freud), 2:321 Inti, 2:238 Introduction to a Science of Mythology (Lévi-Strauss), 2:321 Inuit string ﬁgure tradition, 2:435 superstitions, 2:214 Invincibility, in Greek mythology, 1:7 Invisibility in Arab mythology, 1:117 in British mythology, 1:76 in European mythology, 2:213–214 in German mythology, 1:124; 2:388, 389 in Greek mythology, 3:625 in Jewish mythology, 1:205 in Russian mythology, 1:121 Io, 2:221 Iobates, King, 1:62 Iphigenia, 2:277 Iran folktales, 2:361 hand gestures, meaning of, 2:214 See also Persia Iraq, mythology, 1:28 Ireland folktales, 1:xxi, xxii, xxiii, 168, 200; 2:319–320; 3:580–582, 583–584, 585–587 (c) 2011 M.E.
All Rights Reserved. Index
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