Hanging from the World Tree

4 Us iconIt’s my day to blog on Romance Books ‘4’ Us and I’m talkin’ Cupid and there’s more in that quiver than arrows of love.  I’ll be there on and off all day for questions and comments. Come see!

yggdrasil_2In the Old Norse eddic poem Hávamál (Translated: the sayings of the high one), the story goes that Odin sacrificed himself for knowledge by hanging from the world tree, Yggdrasil:

I know that I hung On the wind-blasted tree All of nights nine, Pierced by my spear And given to Odin, Myself sacrificed to myself On that pole Of which none know Where its roots run. No aid I received, Not even a sip from the horn. Peering down, I took up the runes – Screaming I grasped them – Then I fell back from there.

Before I continue, it’s important to note just what the world tree represents. Cultures all around the world have a symbolic tree. The tree is generally said to support the heavens. Among shamans, the tree can be climbed to ascend there. To the ancient Norse, Yggdrasil is a symbol of the realms of existence — nine to be exact — the roots in the lower realms, the crown in the upper realms, and the trunk where life as we know it exists. To go after the knowledge flowing through the tree is quite the quest.

So to do this, the god prepared himself for this ordeal by fasting and thirsting for nine days. Odin often speared himself or starved himself, for no sacrifice is too great for knowledge. He even plucked out his own eye in exchange for water that held the wisdom of the ages. On this occasion he hung himself and, according to the edda written above, made a sacrifice of himself to himself.


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In this agonizing hanging, Odin grew mindless and thirsty. It was made worse by the fact the Well of Urd lay below the tree — the same well he eventually gave up his eye to drink from. In his debilitated state, Odin began to see repeating symbols where twigs crossed in the branches. Before long their meanings became clear. He had found the runes.

That’s the story. Mythology aside, the runes are very similar to old italic alphabets found throughout the Mediterranean such as Greek, Etruscan, and Roman. Like other peoples, the Norse didn’t stay put. They were as shifting as the knowledge they gleaned from their travels. Able seamen, the Norse went everywhere. They were also big on destiny. They believed the runes were an extremely potent means of redirecting one’s charted course.

runes1Each rune has esoteric meanings and properties associated with it. And being an alphabet, runes also have phonetic values. For divination, each represents the forces of nature and the mind. With slight variations, the oldest form of the runic alphabet is the Elder Futhark that was used by the Germanic tribes of Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Northern Germany. The name futhark is derived from the first 6 letters in the runic sequence: F, U, Th, A, R and K. Just like we refer to our alphabet as the ABC’s.

Just for fun:
Write your name in runes.

Tomorrow ~ more symbols


Another 100 Things Blogging Challenge! For 100 days, I’ll post something from my chosen topic: Words on the Verge of Extinction. There are 64 entries to come.

Here’s one for today:

Rhodologist (noun 1911-1924)

one who studies and classifies roses

tickle us tuesday

New today on the Exquisite Quills blog! In 300 words or less taken from the pages of their novels, authors gather to share a snippet that will bring you a smile, incite a giggle, or make you laugh out loud.

Tickle us today!


91cb7-bee1It’s Tuesday and I’m taking part in Tantalizing Tuesday again. I had fun with it last week. The idea is to take a personal picture prompt write a 200 word teaser for it. It’s up on my satellite blog. Come see. http://calliopeswritingtablet.blogspot.com/


4 Us iconThe February contest is up and running on Romance Books ‘4’ Us and it’s all about Cupid. Find the little cherub hidden here and there across the site to win. This month’s contest will have 2 winners who’ll each receive a $50 gift card for Amazon/B&N, then split the remaining prizes (randomly chosen by RB4U). Be sure to check all our pages for news about authors and their books, publishers and their books, and industry representatives.

≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈≈b1e43-eqpicSeveral promotional opportunities for romance authors can be found on my Exquisite Quills group blogs. Meet the founding authors and our guests.
Exquisite Quills Yahoo Group

Wash Line Monday ~ share your descriptions of clothing in your novel.
Tickle Us Tuesday ~ Share fun and funny snippets from your novel.
First Kiss Wednesday ~ share your best 300 word kiss.

Set the Scene in Six~ share your backdrop or lead-up on Sundays.
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Author Interviews ~
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A new place for your old stars to shine 😀


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Coming soon~



About ~RoseAnderson

Rose Anderson is an award-winning author and dilettante who loves great conversation and delights in discovering interesting things to weave into stories. Rose also writes under the pen name Madeline Archer.
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4 Responses to Hanging from the World Tree

  1. Hi Rose, The runes are such a magical alphabet! I’ve always loved the northern mythology, and hope to visit Iceland someday. Odin’s journey to enlightenment is reminiscent of the human journey through trial and error, pain and suffering, to wisdom. Thanks for sharing!

  2. melissakeir says:

    I would love to know more about the runes and their fortune-telling properties. 🙂

    • My friend the rune mage always gives detailed explanations. It’s all very interesting. Books by Edred Thorsson are said to be good, but I think they’re for the experienced person. In my opinion there is another book out there that offers easier info — Rune Power by Kenneth Meadows. I’m no rune expert but I found that book easy to digest. I looked it up on half.com and found several copies going for $1.40

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