Over the last two days, in addition to the valknot and the Mjolnir, I’ve seen Yggdrasil (the world tree) being discussed quite a bit. It is one of the most fundamental parts of our cosmology, and in this, we are not too different from many other Indo-European religions that have cosmologies revolving (literally) around some sort of axis mundi or world tree. We don’t know from our lore when the World Tree came into being, or how, or why. We do know that it sustains and supports the nine worlds, including the human world of Midgard. It is the scaffolding upon which all creation is arranged and ordered. It has mysteries that not even the Gods fully know, something hinted at strongly in the Runatal section of the Havamal.
The Tree is a terrifying place too, a liminal place of initiation, magic, and transformation. Its name means steed of the Terrible One, i.e. Odin because Odin chose to hang Himself for nine nights and days in personal ordeal, seeking power. That is one of the His most sacred mysteries, and indeed, one of the deepest mysteries of our tradition. Yggdrasil is connected to wyrd – causality and consequence, fate, ancestral debt, and the sacred law of memory-being-choice and obligation that governs our lives. There is nothing more sacred, more holy in Heathenry than Yggdrasil, the Well of memory, and the wyrd that is laid by the Nornir therein.
For me as an Odin’s woman, the Tree is a place of deep, deep reverence and mystery. It’s the site of my God’s most self-defining moment, the place of His most significant sacrifice. I often feel as though everything I have been taught by the Gods and spirits, everything that I need to know, every tool or technique that I have been given, every mystery I hold in some way rests in its gnarled and knotted boughs. There is no escaping the World Tree for me, nor, I think, for any Heathen. It is quite literally at the heart of our cosmology, our tradition, and the work we do as devotees of the Gods. As the Tree sustains all creation, we are called through our devotion and piety, to sustain and nourish the Tree. In doing so, we instantiate the sacred order of all the worlds, we reify the very act of creation that brought us all into being and we do that again and again with each prayer spoken, each offering given, each moment of contemplation wherein we reach out to our Gods. That is the heart and soul of our traditions. It is from those acts of devotion, from devotion cultivated deep in the heart, mind, and spirit of every Heathen, that our traditions grow. It is devotion and mindfulness that nourishes the Tree and we in turn are sustained by it – a very simple equation with far, far reaching consequences.
The Tree echoes throughout our cosmology in our anthropology too. The first human beings were created from trees found on the shore – a liminal place, a threshold, a place of possibility and magic. An elm was crafted into the shape and likeness of a woman, an ash into that of a man. Then our three creator Gods, Odin, Hoenir, and Loður gave soul, cognition, sense and warmth and color. The Gods bestowed names on these beings and taught them the arts of civilization. We are not, therefore, separate from the natural world, but created from it, part of it, because at our core, we are part of Yggdrasil too.
That is a profound yet humbling thing. So the Tree remains for us a touchstone of what it means to move in a world designed, created, and carefully brought into being by our Gods, to live in the span of divine breath, to live piously and mindfully. It shapes us and is the shadow lurking behind all our lore. The Tree connects the worlds, and as such it defines our ability to communicate with our Gods, our ancestors, and numerous other Holy Powers. It is a conduit of all that is holy. It is alive and sentient as all holy things are sentient. There is a passage in part of the Lore (I forget precisely where and I am too tired to look it up) that refers to Freya as Blotgyðia of the Gods. To Whom do They pray? To Whom do the Gods make offerings? In writing this, I find myself wondering if it isn’t to the Tree, ancient and eternal, that sustains us all.
Makers, crafters and DIYers I have been spotlighting in my Yuletide Shopping Guide resources to help you create items related to polytheistic religious traditions. So far that has included cookie cutters, craft molds, and fabric related to Mesoamerica, Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece and Ancient Northern Europe. I’ve shared machine embroidery design files, and today I’ve got needlepoint in the form of cross-stitch and embroidery patterns.
- Tree of Life
- Yggdrasil and the Nine Worlds
- Yggdrasil with deer, squirrel and birds
- Futhark with Yggdrasil
- Runes (Elder Futhark)
- Helm of Awe with Futhark
- Helm of Awe
- Odin’s Ravens (Hugin & Munin)
- Odin’s Ravens (Hugin & Munin)
- Mjolnir Sampler (runes, troll cross, and other symbols)
- Goddess Fortuna (Roman)
- Brigid Blessing (Celtic)
- Huitzilopochtli (Aztec, the listing is misidentified as Tlaloc)
Please let me know if there are any errors, with all the copy/pasting it is easy to make a mistake. If there’s something you think I should spotlight in the yuletide shopping guide, please contact me and let me know. So concludes our fabric resources, but there will be more resources to come! Stay tuned.
The Yuletide Shopping Guide was created to spotlight items that support our religious devotions and practices, help artists who are struggling in this pandemic year, and to help some of the artisans in our religious communities too. I’ve started early to share resources for cookie cutters, craft molds, and fabric related to Mesoamerica, Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece and Ancient Northern Europe. In hopes this early start will allow the makers time to get ahold of materials if they intend to make something for this holiday season.
Next up, is needlework (cross-stitch, embroidery, crochet and knitting). Before we tackle hand wrought patterns, I decided to go ahead and spotlight machine embroidery designs first. These are downloadable files that work with embroidery machines. Most of these design will make Northern Tradition polytheists happy, but there are a few designs with Celtic connections, or that might appeal to the Kemetics, or the Hellenics.
- Viking Collar, Wolf Motif
- Helm of Awe
- Triple Horns
- Vegvisir with Futhark
- Odin’s Ravens
- Not All Who Wander Are Lost (Yggdrasil, Valknut, Vegvisir & ravens)
- Celtic Cats
- Greek Key Border
- Eye of Horus
- Egyptian Eyes (left and right)
- Bastet (a different design)
Please let me know if there are any errors, with all the copy/pasting it is easy to make a mistake. If there’s something you think I should spotlight in the yuletide shopping guide, please contact me and let me know. Stay tuned for more!