Norse mythology: Yggdrasil, the cosmic tree and its nine worlds

Norse mythology is rich in symbols and mythical characters. One of the most famous is undoubtedly the cosmic Yggdrasil tree, which represents the structure of the Norse universe and links the different worlds. In this article, we'll explore the importance of Yggdrasil in Norse mythology, its description, and the nine worlds associated with it.

Yggdrasil, the cosmic tree

Yggdrasil is an immense tree that links the different worlds of Norse mythology. According to legend, its roots plunge into the subterranean worlds, its branches reach into the sky, and its trunk is located at center of the Nordic universe.

The tree is also described as having three roots, one going to the world of the giants, the other to the world of the dead and the last to the world of the gods. The tree's branches are also inhabited by various creatures, such as eagles, snakes and owls.

In Norse mythology, Yggdrasil is considered a symbol of life, death and regeneration. Its image is often depicted in Nordic art, particularly in sculptures and paintings, where it is often featured in mythological scenes.

The nine Nordic worlds

The nine worlds associated with Yggdrasil are distinct universes, each with its own function and characteristic. Here is a list of the nine Nordic worlds, presented in hierarchical order:

1. Ásgard, the world of the gods

The world of the gods is home to the Norse gods, including Odin, Thor and Loki. It is also home to Valhalla and the Ice Palace, bridges linking the worlds, as well as the Well of Mimir, source of wisdom.

2. Vanaheim, the world of the Vanes gods

Vanaheim is the world of the Vanes gods, including Freyr and Freya, associated with fertility, marriage and love. This world is often considered to be half of life, while Ásgard represents the other half.

3. Alfheim, the world of the elves

Alfheim is the world of the elves of light, where peace and beauty reign. These elves are known for their talents as healers and creators of charms, as well as for their friendship with the gods.

4. Midgard, the world of humans

Midgard is the world of humans, where Earth is located and mortals live. The Norse gods created the first human beings, Ask and Embla, from a tree, according to mythology.

5. Jötunheim, the world of the giants

Jötunheim is the world of the giants, powerful and hostile creatures who often oppose the Nordic gods. However, there are also friendly giants, such as Skrymir and Thrym, who often feature in Nordic tales.

6. Svartalfheim, the world of the dwarves

Svartalfheim is the world of the dwarves, small underground creatures known for their blacksmithing skills. These beings are often associated with magic and are renowned for their skill in crafting magical objects.

7. Helheim, the world of the dead

Helheim is the world of the dead, where the souls of those who have died of disease or old age reside. Hel is the goddess who reigns over this world and is often regarded as a dark and sinister place.

8. Niflheim, the world of ice and mist

Niflheim is a world of darkness and mist, ruled by the dragon Nidhogg. This region is considered a hostile and cold place, where the souls of the dead who have not found their way to Helheim reside.

9. Muspellheim, the world of fire

Muspellheim is the world of fire, ruled by Surt, the fire giant. This region is associated with the end of the world and is considered to be the origin of most natural disasters such as volcanic eruptions and firestorms.

Yggdrasil's role in the structure of the Nordic universe

In Nordic mythology, Yggdrasil is considered to be the element that links all worlds together. It is also associated with regeneration and life, as it is considered to be the tree of life which nourishes all worlds.

Furthermore, Yggdrasil is considered to be the guardian of the boundaries of each world, as the tree's roots extend into the subterranean worlds and its branches rise into the celestial worlds. Thus, the cosmic tree is considered to be the element that maintains order in the Nordic universe, as well as the guardian of the paths that lead the gods from one world to another.

Interpretations and influences

The Yggdrasil cosmic tree and its nine worlds continue to have an influence in Nordic culture and literature, as well as in modern popular culture .

The symbols and characters of Nordic mythology have also inspired many writers and artists, notably J.R.R. Tolkien in his creation of Middle-earth. The Tree of Life is very present in contemporary art, particularly in tattoos.


The Yggdrasil cosmic tree and its nine worlds are an important symbol of Norse mythology. As the element that connects all worlds, it is considered the guardian of order in the Nordic universe. Its rich symbolism and importance in culture and literature have inspired generations of writers and artists, as well as thousands of people around the world. Explore the symbols and meanings of this mythical tree, and discover even more about the fascinating Nordic culture.