The universe is an organism.
This is embodied in a symbol common to countless peoples and cultures throughout world history – the Tree of Life.
In Norse mythology the World Tree is a mighty evergreen.
Yggdrasil is its name.
South of the tree is a great roaring inferno, and to the north lies a vast region of ice and darkness. The heat from the distant inferno causes the borders of the ice domain to thaw, and give forth immense torrents of water, and great clouds of vapour rise from that region, from which the great rains fall. The waters of life form a bottomless well deep, deep within the space between ice and fire, where the air is as pleasant as a spring day.
Here grows Yggdrasil, so tall that its highest branches sit above the clouds, snow-capped like a mountain peak.
The World Tree draws its power from three springs which feed its three giant root-systems.
One of the root-systems drinks from a great hot spring known to the ancient Norse as Hvergelmir – the ’bubbling cauldron’, and from it flow many rivers which run through all the universe. The spring is filled with dragons and serpents, writhing and twisting in constant struggle, and in their midst is Nidhogg, the most terrible dragon of them all, gnawing away at the roots of the World Tree. His sworn enemy is the Great Eagle that sits perched atop the highest branch of the Tree. Ratatosk the red squirrel mediates messages and insults between the two foes.
One must wonder if the Squirrel ever twists the message?
Another of these root-systems feeds from the well of wisdom, watched over by the wise head of Mimir, mentor to Odin. Long ago, Odin sacrificed one of his eyes to the well in order to drink but a single draught of its waters. There his eye lies to this day.
The central root system of the World Tree feeds from the great bottomless aquifer in the space between ice and fire. To the Norse these were the waters of Urd, though this force is known better by its Old English name:
This is the well of memory, the eternal record of all that has ever happened.
This is the well of necessity, constantly feeding and regenerating the tree.
This is the well of becoming, driving the tree ever upwards towards the light.
It is beside these waters that the Gods themselves gather in council to discuss the affairs of all the worlds.
And by the waters of the well, there dwell three cosmic seeresses. These Primordial Giantesses are among the wisest and most powerful entities in all the mythology.
They are the Norns, the Sisters of Fate, the Wyrd Sisters.
There at the uttermost depths of the tree, they sit beside the waters of Wyrd, weaving their threads of fate, recording all that has been, watching all that is, and seeing all possible ways in which things could be.
And so Yggdrasil stands – mightiest of all trees, the organism of existence, a root in mortal death, another in immortal wisdom, and, in their union, ‘becoming’.