Y is for Yggdrasil

Have you ever appropriated elements of the worlds’ mythologies without researching them first? When I was younger, usually one image was enough to inspire something in me, and so I would roll with it, without considering things like the origin myths (and how they might help me or make me further avoid the road I was heading down).

I’m going to assume that most of the readers on here have heard of Yggdrasil before, or have at least seen images of it. The giant ash tree that holds together the world. The tree that Odin called “noblest of all trees” before sacrificing himself upon it.

I didn’t. The very first picture of Yggdrasil that I ran across didn’t even look like a tree:

yggdrasil

The graph has inspired me several times for many stories (which is unfortunate, because when I play favorites on a theme, I really play favorites. Case in point: In 2013, 80% of my short stories dealt with death in some way).

I won’t go super into detail about everything its inspired me for, but it’s a good example among many. I borrow a lot of elements from non-European sources these days, mainly because I think elements of central European and Christian stories are overdone in fiction, but Yggdrasil is an interesting point for me.

I recently have decided I want to get up to speed on all of the Greek, Roman, and Norse mythologies that I skipped out on learning as a teenager (mainly because one of my favorite authors is writing a bunch of LGBT works in the Greek world of gods and goddesses and I have no idea what’s going on), so I looked up Yggdrasil.

Independently of the image above, I made a tree central to my plot in the stories influenced by the graph. Not only that, but I have the main, tragic antagonist run around with one eye missing. Sound familiar?

The_Sacrifice_of_Odin_by_Frølich_(vector).svg
Odin says: AAAAARGH.

It’s kinda cool, now that I think about it. It seems that there really are some tropes that are just ingrained into us, no matter what culture we come from.

If you’ve incorporated mythology into your work, what would you say surprised you, or helped you most from the experience?

Tomorrow: Z is Zephyr !

16 thoughts on “Y is for Yggdrasil

  1. Love your post. I contemplated writing about the YGGDRASILL which is mentioned in Michael Scott’s The Alchemyst from his series The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel. (It’s a tree in the Shadow Realm.) I haven’t incorporated mythology into my work (yet) but I love reading stories where it is.

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    1. Thank you so much! I haven’t heard of that series yet. Would you recommend it?

      Mythology is really fun to incorporate, it just makes things pretty complex sometimes (almost too complicated, in some cases).

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  2. The only reference I’d seen to Yggdrasil until recently was in Zelazny’s Amber series (small mention, but the name always stuck with me). Cool to know there’s much more to it. I might have to do some research to see if it would fit in a 5 book elemental series I’m planning.
    Marlene at On Writing and Riding

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    1. I’m right in the middle of reading the Amber series (on the Merlin Chronicles) and I’m sort of pulling my own teeth to finish it, but I did like it’s mention in the first series with Corwin. It’s a pretty common mention in other media, now that I think about it.

      Your series sounds fun! I have an elemental-type of series planned too, probably YA, and I’m looking forward to hearing more about yours on your blog!

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  3. This is really cool. (And I’d never heard of the Yggdrasil. I learn something new from your blog all the time!) My knowledge of Norse mythology is sketchy at best, but as you know, I’ve been incorporating Greek mythology into my astronomy haiku poetry lately.

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    1. Yay! I taught a something. 😀 Yes, I’ve been adoring your astronomy haiku. They’re amazing. Hoping I eventually can say I’m well-versed in Western Civilizations’ mythos, but that’s a hard thing to strive for! At least I have another 30-60 years to get it done. 😉

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  4. The World Tree plays a part in House. It’s just an example in House, but it will play a bigger role in future books. (I think)
    There’s a troll, also, in House, and, initially, it was just supposed to be the one troll. However, when I was researching trolls (as far back as I could go, not just going with current pop culture trolls), I found out some… interesting things, especially about female trolls, and that changed my story. A lot, actually.
    So, yeah, I’m all for research.
    And Norse mythology is fascinating in a way that other mythologies are not. You should do a little research about Loki.

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    1. That’s pretty cool to hear. I have done some research since my initial appropriation. My dad is actually obsessed with Norse mythology (he wrote an entire musical album on them), so I learned from him and all the books lying around the house. It was just that initial “Hey, this is neat.” and then all the coincidences later.

      Yay, research!

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  5. I’ve never heard of Yggdrasil. However, your upcoming post for Z we have the same one. Great minds…

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