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6 7 In Old Norse tradition, the ash tree Yggdrasil, Cosmic Tree of Life, stands at the still point of the turning world supporting the universe. Its branches overhang all the worlds and reach far into the heavens. The three great roots at the base of the tree descend into a tripartite underworldone twisting towards the frost giants, another reaching the judgement seats of the Aesir, and the third standing over Niflheim where Hel reigns. Underneath Hels domain dwells the dragon Nidhogg The Dread Biter, gnawing at the root from below, attempting to destroy the universe. While Nidhogg is the evil threatening the universe, the Midgard or Jornungand Worm is the bane afflicting the earth, lying in the seas encircling the land with its tail in its mouth, creating and regurgitating the oceans of the world. The legend tells that if its tail is ever wrenched out of its mouth, then calamity will befall the earth. In the legend the hottempered, redheaded, weatherGod Thor decides to smite Midgards worm with his fearsome hammer. He persuades the giant Hymir to take him fishing and, by baiting his strong fishing line with a succulent ox head, succeeds in hooking his prey. I can tell you this for certain nobody ever saw a more bloodfreezing sight than Thor did, as his eyes goggled down at the serpent and the great worm from below blew a cloud of poison. At that, they say the giant Hymir blenched, then turned yellow in his terror what with the sea swishing into the boat and out of the boat But Thor grabbed his hammer and flung it above his head just as Hymir fumbled for the knife he used for chopping bait and hacked Thors fishing rod overboard The serpent sank down into the depths of the sea. Snorri Sturluson 11781241. Thor, mortified at his failure, thumps Hymir, upending him into the sea. Later on, Thor and Midgards Worm eventually kill each other at Ragnarok, the Doom of the Gods. YggdrasIls dragons The Tree of Life with the Midgard worm circling the earth. Frontispiece of Northern Antiques 1847.
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