I am a crafter, and I am a Heathen, and often the two combine. Right now, it’s also holiday season, with Yule coming up, and Christmas ALL OVER the craft stores (well, all over since like September. Crafters, we are a couple of months ahead of all holidays because we need the time to get stuff made.
This year, I made a Nine Worlds light up tree – this will likely wind up being a permanent fixture in my home/altars. This is a fun project to help you get to know the 9 Worlds, to teach your children, or simply as a devotional practice to have a focal piece for your altar.
This is a project I’ve actually always wanted to do and saw all the pieces I needed on sale dirt cheap. First, you need a base. Both AC Moore and Michaels sell 2 ft tall wooden trees with holes drilled in them for lights:
I found mine at AC Moore for $5. The one I chose, unlike this photo pulled from the internet, is much wider all over.
I laid on a couple of layers of white paint on the front, back and base, and then used a pencil to outline where I wanted the boundaries of each world, then did the base colours for each world. Finally, the details. This one….has a lot of glitter. I’m not sorry.
It is not *quite* finished – I would like to get an eagle to sit on top of it, a squirrel for the side, and 4 stags to complete the tree, but I haven’t found the right pieces yet. (I could have sworn I had a miniature squirrel somewhere in my craft room, but that hasn’t panned out.)
Above is the currently completed tree, with no lights. Unfortunately, I do not yet have a strand of lights that fits. I had bought a set of 20 lights, which is the exact amount of spaces, but they don’t quite reach to all of them.
Next, I’d like to give a brief overview of the Worlds and what images I chose for them.
Asgard: At the top of the world tree, we have Shining Asgard. Asgard is the home of the Aesir family of Deities, and some of the most well known: Thor, Frigga, Skadi, and of course, Odin, leader of the As. The Valknut is Odin’s symbol, who’s Hall of the Slain is roofed with golden shields. Gold, too, are the apples of Immortality which Idunna grows and guards for the gods, and that is why I associate gold strongly with Asgard. The Rainbow Bridge links Asgard to Midgard and is guarded by Heimdall.
I had debated using the highest light space for Thor’s hammer rather than a star, but as a Heathen who’s practice includes many Jotun’s, and who is jotun blooded, I don’t feel comfortable using hammers in my practice. For another practitioner, however, that may be a more appropriate symbol to use decorating their tree.
I chose the rune Ansuz because it is one that is associated with Odin and the Aesir.
Vanaheim: Next, we have Vanaheim, home of the Vanir family of Gods – Freya and Frey, Njord, Nerthus. The Van are Gods of fertility and agriculture, and the mysteries of death and rebirth, which is why I chose the rune Ingwaz here, which is Frey’s rune. The pictographic interpretation of Ingwaz is the bound wheat shaft, waiting to be cut down, as Frey is cut down each year and yet reborn, and I painted little wheat plants to flank it. I used gold for the details here as Frey is known as the Golden One
The runes chosen, Fehu (wealth) and Jera (Harvest) were chosen to reflect a bountiful harvest, which the Vanir can grant us. Fehu is also associated with Freya.
Alfheim: Alfheim was was hardest for me, because Alfs/Elves are very foreign to me. I don’t know them well, don’t want to, and feel they have the same opinion of me, which. We are all fine with that. Everyone I asked and the sources I checked associate Wunjo with Alfheim, hence its inclusion here. Alfs have a liking for very, very pretty well-made things, so I used silver, gold and pearl to decorate and created the best flower I could.
Midgard – Midgard, depending on your cosmology, is either our world that we currently live in, or the sister-realm to ours. Midgard is encircled within the Great Snake, Jormungandr, Angrboda and Loki’s youngest child; the Serpent is associated with the rune Ior, included on the left.
Mannaz is the centrepiece of this world because Mannaz is the rune of humanity, community, marriage, etc. The pictograph is two people standing with their hands joined, as in a handfasting. Also included is the Eihwaz rune, the yew staff a farmer would use to defend his home and land.
Jotunheim: One of the 3 realms home to the Jotunkind, Jotunheim is large, full of mountains and dark forests. Pictured on the right is a representation of a wood, the Ironwood where Angrboda dwells, represented with the Ac rune.Also included areUruz, the rune of physical strength and endurance (also note – Ac is a rune of Angrboda, but it is also a rune associated with emotional/psychic strength and endurance) Thurisaz -clearly one associated with the Jotunkind, also called Thurses. I find this rune a fascinating symbol for Jotuns because it is also emblematic of Fire and Ice – it is made of Isa, the Ice rune, and Kano, the Torch. The universe was created by the meeting of fire and ice in the great void. It is not for no reason that the Thurz rune is so potent.
Getting more personal, the heart is there because I strongly associate the heart with Angrboda, my fulltrui, and inside of is Othala, because I see Jotunheim as my home, and where some of my ancestry is from.
Svartalfheim & Nidavellir – home of the Duergar (Dwarves) and the Dark Alfs. Some traditions consider the svartalfs and duergar to be the same beings – dwarves. My tradition sees them as distinct separate races and communities.Moreso than Alfheim, this was another extremely hard world for me. The Dark Alfs are even more remote to me than the Light Alfs. I used silver-grey for this world to contrast the brightness of Alfheim. The Dark Alfs live on the surface of this world, the dwarves preferring to stay underground.
Moreso than Alfheim, this was another extremely hard world for me. The Dark Alfs are even more remote to me than the Light Alfs. I used silver-grey for this world to contrast the brightness of Alfheim. The Dark Alfs live on the surface of this world, the dwarves preferring to stay underground.
The only symbol commonly associated with the Dark Alfs that I could find was the dagger. For the Duergar, the hammer would again be an appropriate symbol, as the hammer is used in smithing, and they were the creators of Thor’s famous hammer, but I opted to include a compass to represent the hall of the four directions, the Duergar temple to the creatures that take the form of dwarves to hold up the sky -Norðri, Suðri, Austri and Vestri (North, South, East, and West).
The next two worlds are Niflheim and Muspellheim, the worlds of Ice and Fire. The purple bordering them is to represent Ginunngungap, the primordial chaos from which the world originated.
Niflheim is the world of Ice, represented by Haglaz, one of the two Ice runes (the other being Isa, which is included as well but not as the primary focus). Haglaz is the ice seed – a hail stone and can be as dangerous as a hailstorm.
Muspellheim is the world of Fire, and its focal rune is Cweorth, the fire twirl, one of the oldest methods of making fire, and is associated with the funeral pyre. The Kano fire run is included as well.
Helheim, finally, is at the bottom of the world tree, and is painted black and has silver accents – the Keys represent the keys to Helheim, which only a few mortals have access to (nb – I am not one of them). To the right is Niddhog, the dragon who gnaws the roots of the world tree and who is in a battle of insults with the eagle at the top of the tree – Ratasok the squirrel ferries the insults between them.The apple is for Hel, who I strongly associate with apples. I’ve been told that there are several fine apple orchards in Hel.
The central rune here is Ear, the Rune of the Grave. Its pictograph is of the pole and yoke or tree from which an animal was hung when it was butchered, and is an apt metaphor/symbol of Hela.
So, there you have it! A DIY Yggdrasil of your very own. If you already have paints, this project is easily under $10 for the wooden tree and lights to light it up.
I will post an update once I have further pictures with lights!
The next craft will be Rune Ornaments for your real life Yule tree!