The Cross of Christ As The Yggdrasil of History

While I’m on the subject of Asatru. I couln’t help but note that one of the artworks hosted on the Assembly of The Elder Troth website was an image of Yggdrasil, the world tree that connects the cosmos in Norse mythology.

So this seems an appropriate moment to suggest that an exercise you might like to try sometime is meditating on the cross of Christ as the Yggdrasil of history.

It is worth noting a few things in preparation.

Firstly, the world tree motif we find represented in Yggdrasil is a common myth to many cultures. It is also related to the Axis Mundi, Omphalos and Mount Meru legends and there is reason to believe this is an archetypal motif deeply embedded in the collective unconscious.

Secondly, as Wikipedia notes, “the most commonly accepted etymology of the name is ygg “terrible” + drasil “steed”. Yggr is taken to be an epithet of Odin, giving a meaning of “Odin’s steed”, taken to refer to the nine nights Odin is said to have spent hanging from the tree in order find the runes.” Athropologists have long noted that many shamanic societies employ ‘sacred steed’ and ‘world tree’ motifs to enter into altered states of consciousness and that the Yggdrasil-Odin story has strong overtones of visionary journeying.

Thirdly, again as noted by Wikipedia, “Many people have discussed the parallels between Odin’s self-sacrifice in search of knowledge and the Crucifixion, particularly as Odin, like Jesus, was pierced with a spear before death.”

Where am I going with this? Well I simply note that the world tree motif makes a number of appearances in the Christian story as well. Most significantly, in Revelation 22 the seer of Revelation is shown the tree of life standing in the centre of the New Jerusalem (itself an axis mundi archetype) with the implication being that with the coming of Christ the access to the tree of life will be restored. What was made inaccessible in Genesis 3:22 is now offered freely because of the loving sacrifice of Christ on the cross.

The obvious difference here between Odin and Jesus is that the death of Christ is a historically verifiable event. What we are faced with here is a deep motif from the depths of our psyche finding historical actualisation in this pivital moment.

warwick-saxby-tree-of-lifeWith that in mind I thought I would post this image of Jesus as the tree of life.

It’s a photo of a Netsuke scrulpture created by Warwick Saxby, an amazingly creative associate of ours who is currently based in Tasmania, Australia.


4 thoughts on “The Cross of Christ As The Yggdrasil of History

  1. I seem to recall an article or chapter in a CS Lewis book making the same sort of point about the Odin myth. Lewis, like Tolkien was very attracted to the Germanic myths, I seem to recall …


  2. Ah! How could I neglect to mention Lewis and Tolkien! Two of our most accomplished mythologists. Thanks for prompting me Andii. I found this early reference from his pre-Christian days but nothing from later yet. If you remember where Lewis continued his thoughts on Odin on into his Christian life I’d appreciate it.


  3. This archetype is very interesting to me and I want to know what all the things mean. The relationship between this tree and “the world” confuses me. If I’m ever really able to devote much time to such studies again, I will take this one on.


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