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date: 25 February 2021


Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase & Fable
Susie Dent


The world tree of Scandinavian mythology that, with its roots and branches, binds together heaven, earth and hell. It is an ash, but it is evergreen, and at its root is mimir’s fountain of wonderful virtues. In the tree, which drops honey, sit an eagle, a squirrel and four stags. It is the tree of time and space, life and knowledge, and odin is said to have hanged himself from its branches in order to learn the secret of the runes. Close to its roots live the three sisters, the norns, who, representing past, present and future, brought time from the land of the Giants and so ended the great age of the gods.

Its name probably means ‘Uggr’s horse’, from Old Norse Uggr, a name of Odin (from uggr, ‘frightful’), and drasill, ‘horse’.