There stands an ash called Yggdrasil,
A mighty tree showered in white hail.
From there come the dews that fall in the valleys.
It stands evergreen above Urd’s Well.
-The Insight of the Seeress
When dealing with mythologies and religion, care must be taken. If you translate a bible, or an ancient text literally you will end up sounding like a complete maniac. Even using google translate on an instruction manual can have hilarious…yet disastrous results. The same goes for Yggdrasil’s history. The history however, is only what initiated a journey to Norway a few years ago, and spurred one on recently.
The journey’s reason was personal, but the main goal was ultimately tapping into the live-giving properties of this sacred tree. Some believe Yggdrasil to exist in a spiritual form, never taking on physical properties. This might be the case too, the tree’s reach extending beyond just a physical realm. I was interested in this tree’s physical location however. After much research a couple years ago, I had managed to pinpoint a few locations that this tree might exist. After a few botched journeys I had found it. Much like those who search for the Garden of Eden, I might have seemed a bit crazy. To be fair, Yggdrasil and the Garden of Eden seem to ‘riff’ off each other in lore. They might even be the same thing.
The tree had changed me in many ways I cannot even describe. A waning of the connection between me and this sacred place required me to make another journey. This time, I brought company. Joe Jackson my media specialist (@) came with me this round, and I was grateful for the company. No matter how dark it was, Joe was there with his upbeat yet slightly strange comments to keep me laughing.
The first leg of our journey was a miscommunication on when the plane was leaving. Once we got that sorted we were off. Joe was unable to control his man-crush on the plane, even finding out what type it was. If anyone was wondering it is a Piper PA-46, or so I was told a few times by a very enthusiastic Joe.
The plane journey was mostly uneventful. We played “Have we seen that cloud before?” and “Sleep for five seconds before turbulence wakes us”. I was however beginning to feel the effects and need for the tree again. I had been ill for a few weeks, injuries taking longer to heal and a lethargy that wasn’t conducive to working in a fast paced journalism field.
Joe seemed to be fairing a bit better than I was. I’m pretty sure he was thinking about the plane most of the way though. I think I saw him lovingly stroking the leather seats at one point, but somehow he managed to get a few good shots in anyway.
The village that was near the runway was very picturesque, like a fairy tale (although not Bruges). There was a light dusting of snow as we were very far north but it wasn’t too cold. Joe took a few pictures of the church and cemetery as we planned our trip out for the next day.
We gave the taxi service a ring and soon were headed out to the forest where I first saw the sacred tree. It wasn’t a particularly long drive, but the snow had begun to make visibility a bit of an issue.
At long last we arrived on a lonely stretch of road that bordered an old treeline of a forest full with incredibly tall trees. There was a small path that signaled our way and we let the taxi driver know when to come get us. We walked for quite a while, although I had been there before so it wasn’t so much ‘searching’ as it was just getting back to where I first saw the tree. The hike was pleasant, warming up the further in we got. Soon, the trees became more sparse and an opened up into a small and circular field with one lone tree in the middle that towered over every other tree in the glade.
We had found her, Yggdrasil: giver of life. Seeing the tree again was like coming home after a long day. Just being near made the trek seem like seconds, and time an abstract concept. I walked up to the large burgeoning trunk. The bark of this old tree seemed new, and the branches held a canopy of leaves that covered over us like a circus tent. She hadn’t changed a bit.
I grew excited, circling the tree by foot and looking up for the best place to climb. I had of course come here for a reason. After lumping myself over the lowest branch I could find I began to shimmy to the end of it, or at least however far I could go without worrying about my weight cracking it. I then broke a tiny twig of new growth off the very tip of one of the subservient branches and placed it in a container that was soon to go in my pocket. I dropped down from the branch and noticed an iridescent sort of…phosphorescent goo of green on my fingers, much like I had remembered.
I rubbed some across Joe’s face, American Football player style as he seemed quite distracted by the big tree. We decided to stay for the evening instead of by the road because the large tree was a warming shelter and we just did not want to leave anytime too soon. The next morning we started our journey back to the road, taking a reverse set of turns as we made our way through the old forest. The taxi-man had come at just the right time, apparently being punctual was the company motto so we were in luck.
Our taxi took us back to the village and we retrieved our pilot who was to take us back to London, the remainder of the journey. Luckily it’s only a few hours and we were able to reflect on Yggdrasil on the way back. I had retrieved a small twig, something I will be encasing in Pyrex and wearing as a pendant to hopefully alleviate some of the ailments I had been having and put me to rights. I’m not completely sure this will work for the long term, but one can hope.
The tree of life might be a metaphor. Maybe Yggdrasil does effect us all daily and we just don’t know it. Maybe the physical location I found wasn’t exactly Yggdrasil but some other tree instead, full of magic and life. I think that even if it isn’t, it works in the same way. It might be the pathway to nine places, or maybe they’re states of being. I know that it did have the ability to effect my physically. Maybe some don’t even need the journey and can just connect with this force from wherever they are. I have many unanswered questions about this old yet familiar magic, but until I find out the answers…I will be appreciative that it exists.
Wynn Gwynn is an Illustrator, Editor and Writer of Tuppenny Dreadful, a media company in Darkside of Ealdwic London- Shades District.
And a special thanks to another Tuppenny Dreadful employee
Tuppeny Dreadful Accountant/Video: Joe Jackson @