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MessaggioOggetto: Axis mundi   Gio 19 Nov 2009 - 13:24

Axis mundi
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


The axis mundi (also cosmic axis, world axis, world pillar, columna cerului, center of the world) is a ubiquitous symbol that crosses human cultures. The image expresses a point of connection between sky and earth where the four compass directions meet. At this point travel and correspondence is made between higher and lower realms.[1] Communication from lower realms may ascend to higher ones and blessings from higher realms may descend to lower ones and be disseminated to all.[2] The spot functions as the omphalos (navel), the world's point of beginning.[3][4]
The axis mundi image appears in every region of the world and takes many forms. The image is both feminine (an umbilical providing nourishment) and masculine (a phallus providing insemination into a uterus). It may have the form of a natural object (a mountain, a tree, a vine, a stalk, a column of smoke or fire) or a product of human manufacture (a staff, a tower, a ladder, a staircase, a maypole, a cross, a steeple, a rope, a totem pole, a pillar, a spire). Its proximity to heaven may carry implications that are chiefly religious (pagoda, temple mount, church) or secular (obelisk, minaret, lighthouse, rocket, skyscraper). The image appears in religious and secular contexts.[5] The axis mundi symbol may be found in cultures utilizing shamanic practices or animist belief systems, in major world religions, and in technologically advanced "urban centers." As Mircea Eliade observed: "Every Microcosm, every inhabited region, has a Centre; that is to say, a place that is sacred above all."[6]

The symbol originates in a natural and universal psychological perception: that the spot one occupies stands at "the center of the world." This space serves as a microcosm of order because it is known and settled. Outside the boundaries of the microcosm lie foreign realms that, because they are unfamiliar or not ordered, represent chaos, death or night.[7] From the center one may still venture in any of the four cardinal directions, make discoveries, and establish new centers as new realms become known and settled. The name of China, "Middle Kingdom," is often interpreted as an expression of an ancient perception that the Chinese polity (or group of polities) occupied the center of the world, with other lands lying in various directions relative to it.[5]
Within the central known universe a specific locale–often a mountain or other elevated place, a spot where earth and sky come closest–gains status as center of the center, the axis mundi. High mountains are typically regarded as sacred by peoples living near them. Shrines are often erected at the summit or base.[8] Japan's highest mountain, Mount Fuji, has long symbolized the world axis in Japanese culture. Mount Kun-Lun fills a similar role in China. For the ancient Hebrews Mount Zion expressed the symbol. Sioux beliefs take the Black Hills as the axis mundi. Mount Kailash is holy to hinduism and several religions in Tibet. The Pitjantjatjara people in central Australia consider Uluru to be central to both their world and culture. In ancient Mesopotamia the cultures of ancient Sumer and Babylon erected artificial mountains, or ziggurats, on the flat river plain. These supported staircases leading to temples at the top. The Hindu temples in India are often situated on high mountains.E.g. Amarnath,Tirupati,Vaishno Devi etc.The pre-Columbian residents of Teotihuacán in Mexico erected huge pyramids featuring staircases leading to heaven. Jacob's Ladder is an axis mundi image, as is the Temple Mount. For Christians the Cross on Mount Calvary expresses the symbol.[9] The Middle Kingdom, China, had a central mountain, Kun-Lun, known in Taoist literature as "the mountain at the middle of the world." To "go into the mountains" meant to dedicate oneself to a spiritual life.[10] Monasteries of all faiths tend, like shrines, to be placed at elevated spots. Wise religious teachers are typically depicted in literature and art as bringing their revelations at world centers: mountains, trees, temples.
Because the axis mundi is an idea that unites a number of concrete images, no contradiction exists in regarding multiple spots as "the center of the world." The symbol can operate in a number of locales at once.[6] The ancient Greeks regarded several sites as places of earth's omphalos (navel) stone, notably the oracle at Delphi, while still maintaining a belief in a cosmic world tree and in Mount Olympus as the abode of the gods. Judaism has the Temple Mount and Mount Sinai, Christianity has the Mount of Olives and Calvary, Islam has Mecca, said to be the place on earth that was created first, and the Temple Mount (Dome of the Rock). In addition to Kun-Lun the ancient Chinese recognized four mountains as pillars of the world.[11]
Sacred places constitute world centers (omphalos) with the altar or place of prayer as the axis. Altars, incense sticks, candles and torches form the axis by sending a column of smoke, and prayer, toward heaven. The architecture of sacred places often reflects this role. "Every temple or palace--and by extension, every sacred city or royal residence--is a Sacred Mountain, thus becoming a Centre."[12] The stupa of Hinduism, and later Buddhism, reflects Mount Meru. Cathedrals are laid out in the form of a cross, with the vertical bar representing the union of earth and heaven as the horizontal bars represent union of people to one another, with the altar at the intersection. Pagoda structures in Asian temples take the form of a stairway linking earth and heaven. A steeple in a church or a minaret in a mosque also serve as connections of earth and heaven. Structures such as the maypole, derived from the Saxons' Irminsul, and the totem pole among indigenous peoples of the Americas also represent world axes. The calumet, or sacred pipe, represents a column of smoke (the soul) rising form a world center.[13] A mandala creates a world center within the boundaries of its two-dimensional space analogous to that created in three-dimensional space by a shrine.[14]

Plants often serve as images of the axis mundi. The image of the Cosmic Tree provides an axis symbol that unites three planes: sky (branches), earth (trunk) and underworld (roots).[15] In some Pacific island cultures the banyan tree, of which the Bodhi tree is of the Sacred Fig variety, is the abode of ancestor spirits.In Hindu religion, the banyan tree is considered sacred and is called "Ashwath Vriksha" ("I am Banyan tree among trees" - Bhagavad Gita). It represents eternal life because of its seemingly ever-expanding branches. The Bodhi Tree is also the name given to the tree under which Gautama Siddhartha, the historical Buddha, sat on the night he attained enlightenment. The Yggdrasil, or World Ash, functions in much the same way in Norse mythology; it is the site where Odin found enlightenment. Other examples include Jievaras in Lithuanian mythology and Thor's Oak in the myths of the pre-Christian Germanic peoples. The Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil in Genesis present two aspects of the same image. Each is said to stand at the center of the Paradise garden from which four rivers flow to nourish the whole world. Each tree confers a boon. Bamboo, the plant from which Asian calligraphy pens are made, represents knowledge and is regularly found on Asian college campuses. The Christmas tree, which can be traced in its origins back to pre-Christian European beliefs, represents an axis mundi.[16] Entheogens (psychoactive substances) are often regarded as world axes, such as the Fly Agaric mushroom among the Evenks of Russia.
Human figure
The human body can express the symbol of world axis.[17] Some of the more abstract Tree of Life representations, such as the Sefirot in Kabbalism and in the Chakra system recognized by Hinduism and Buddhism, merge with the concept of the human body as a pillar between heaven and earth. Disciplines such as Yoga and Tai Chi begin from the premise of the human body as axis mundi. The Buddha represents a world centre in human form.[18] Large statues of a meditating figure unite the human figure with the symbolism of temple and tower. Astrology in all its forms assumes a connection between human health and affairs and the orientation of these with celestial bodies. World religions regard the body itself as a temple and prayer as a column uniting earth to heaven. The ancient Colossus of Rhodes combined the role of human figure with those of portal and skyscraper. The Renaissance image known as the Vitruvian Man represented a symbolic and mathematical exploration of the human form as world axis.[16]
Homes can represent world centers. The symbolism for their residents is the same as for inhabitants of palaces and other sacred mountains.[12] The hearth participates in the symbolism of the altar and a central garden participates in the symbolism of primordial paradise. In Asian cultures houses were traditionally laid out in the form of a square oriented toward the four compass directions. A traditional Asian home was oriented toward the sky through Feng shui, a system of geomancy, just as a palace would be. Traditional Arab houses are also laid out as a square surrounding a central fountain that evokes a primordial garden paradise. Mircea Eliade noted that "the symbolism of the pillar in [European] peasant houses likewise derives from the 'symbolic field' of the acxis mundi. In many archaic dwellings the central pillar does in fact serve as a means of communication with the heavens, with the sky."[19] The nomadic peoples of Mongolia and the Americas more often lived in circular structures. The central pole of the tent still operated as an axis but a fixed reference to the four compass points was avoided.[20]

Shamanic function
A common shamanic concept, and a universally told story, is that of the healer traversing the axis mundi to bring back knowledge from the other world. It may be seen in the stories from Odin and the World Ash Tree to the Garden of Eden and Jacob's Ladder to Jack and the Beanstalk and Rapunzel. It is the essence of the journey described in The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri. The epic poem relates its hero's descent and ascent through a series of spiral structures that take him from through the core of the earth, from the depths of Hell to celestial Paradise. It is also a central tenet in the Southeastern Ceremonial Complex.[21]
Anyone or anything suspended on the axis between heaven and earth becomes a repository of potential knowledge. A special status accrues to the thing suspended: a serpent, a victim of crucifixion or hanging, a rod, a fruit, mistletoe. Derivations of this idea find form in the Rod of Asclepius, an emblem of the medical profession, and in the caduceus, an emblem of correspondence and commercial professions. The staff in these emblems represents the axis mundi while the serpents act as guardians of, or guides to, knowledge.[22]
Traditional Expressions
• Bodhi tree, especially where Gautama Buddha found Enlightenment
• Pagoda
• Stupa (Buddhism, Hinduism)
• Mount Meru in Hinduism
• Mount Fuji (Japan)
• Mount Kailash regarded by hinduism and several religions in Tibet, e.g. Bön
• Jambudweep in Hinduism and Jainism which is regarded as the actual navel of the universe (which is human in form)
• Kailasa (India), the abode of Shiva
• Mandara (India)
• Kun-Lun (China), residence of the Immortals and the site of a peach tree offering immortality
• Human figure (yoga, tai chi, Buddha in meditation, sacred images)
• Central courtyard in traditional home
• Bamboo stalk, associated with knowledge and learning
Middle East
• Garden of Eden with four rivers
• Tree of Life and Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil
• Mt. Ararat landing place of Noah's ark and court of the Armenian gods
• Ziggurat, or Tower of Babel
• Jacob's Ladder
• Jerusalem, specifically, the Temple
• Cross of crucifixion
• Steeple
• Mecca, specifically, the Ka'aba; focus of Muslim prayer and where Adam descended from heaven
• Dome of the Rock where Muhammad ascended to heaven
• Minaret
• Dilmun
• Land of Punt
• Paschal candle
• Garizim (Samaria)
• Alborj (Persia)
• Meskel bonfire
• Stelae of the Aksumite Empire
• Pyramids of Egypt
• Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove of Nigeria
• Jebel Barkal of Sudan
• Idafe of prehispanic La Palma
• Yggdrasil (World Ash Tree)
• Irminsul (World Pillar)
• Mount Olympus in Greece, court of the gods
• Delphi home of the Oracle of Delphi
• Colossus of Rhodes
• Maypole
• Christmas tree
• Jack's Beanstalk
• Rapunzel's Tower
• Hearth
• Central pillar of peasant homes
• Altar
• Vitruvian Man
• St. Peter's Basilica
The Americas
• Teotihuacán Pyramids
• Totem Pole
• Tent
• Black Hills (Sioux)
• Calumet (sacred pipe)
• Bamboo (Hopi)
• Southeastern Ceremonial Complex
• Medicine wheels of the northern Great Plains
Modern Expressions

Taipei 101 (Taiwan)
This article or section may contain previously unpublished synthesis of published material that conveys ideas not attributable to the original sources. See the talk page for details. (November 2008)

Axis mundi symbolism continues to be evoked in modern societies. The idea has proven especially consequential in the realm of architecture. Capitol buildings, as the direct descendents of palaces, fill this role, as do commemorative structures such as the Washington Monument in the United States. A skyscraper, as the term itself suggests, suggests the connection of earth and sky, as do spire structures of all sorts. Such buildings come to be regarded as "centers" of an inhabited area, or even the world, and serve as icons of its ideals.[23] The first skyscraper of modern times, the Eiffel Tower, exemplifies this role. The structure was erected in 1889 in Paris, France, to serve as the centerpiece for the Exposition Universelle, making it a symbolic world center from the planning stages. It has served as an iconic image for the city and the nation ever since.[24] Landmark skyscrapers often take names that clearly identify them as centers.[25]
Designers of skyscrapers today routinely evoke the axis mundi symbolism inherent in ancient precedents. Taipei 101 in Taiwan, completed in 2004, evokes the staircase, bamboo stalk, pagoda, pillar and torch. The design of the Burj Dubai (United Arab Emirates) evokes both desert plants and traditional Arab spires. William F, Smith, one of the designers, states that "the goal of the Burj Dubai is not simply to be the world's tallest building--it is to embody the world's highest aspirations."[26] Twin towers, such as the Petronas Towers (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) and the former World Trade Center (Manhattan), maintain the axis symbolism even as they more obviously assume the role of pillars. Some structures pierce the sky, implying movement or flight (Chicago Spire, CN Tower in Toronto, the Space Needle in Seattle). Some structures highlight the more lateral elements of the symbol in implying portals (Tuntex Sky Tower in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, The Gateway Arch in Saint Louis).[27][28]
Ancient traditions continue in modern structures. The Peace Pagodas built since the 1947 unite religious and secular purposes in one symbol drawn from Buddhism. The influence of the pagoda tradition may be seen in modern Asian skyscrapers (Taipei 101, Petronas Towers). The ancient ziggurat has likewise reappeared in modern form, including the headquarters of the National Geographic Society in Washington, DC and The Ziggurat housing the California Department of General Services. Architect Frank Lloyd Wright conceived the Guggenheim Museum in New York as an inverted ziggurat. The Washington Monument is a modern obelisk.[29]
Artistic representations of the world axis abound. Prominent among these is the Colonne sans fin (The Endless Column, 1938) an abstract sculpture by Romanian Constantin Brâncuşi. The column takes the form of a "sky pillar" (columna cerului) upholding the heavens even as its rhythmically repeating segments invite climb and suggest the possibility of ascension.[30]
The association of the cosmic pillar with knowledge gives it a prominent role in the world of scholarship. University campuses typically assign a prominent axis role to a campus structure, such as a clock tower, library tower or bell tower. The building serves as the symbolic center of the settlement represented by the campus and serves as an emblem of its ideals. The image of the "ivory tower," a colloquial metaphor for academia, sustains the metaphor.[28]
The image still takes natural forms as well, as in the American tradition of the Liberty Tree located at town centers. Individual homes continue to act as world axes, especially where Feng shui and other geomantic practices continue to be observed.
Axis mundi symbolism may be seen in much of the romance surrounding space travel. A rocket on the pad takes on all the symbolism of a tower and the astronaut enacts a mythic story.[31] Each embarks on a perilous journey into the heavens and, if successful, returns with a boon for dissemination. The Apollo 13 insignia stated it succinctly: Ex luna scientia ("From the Moon, knowledge").[32]
Modern Storytelling
The axis mundi continues to appear in fiction as well as in real-world structures. Appearances of the ancient image in the tales and myths of more recent times include these:
• The ash tree growing in Hunding's living room, in Act 1 of Die Walküre (The Valkyrie), is one of many appearances of the image in the operas of Richard Wagner. Hunding's tree recalls the World Ash visited by Wotan, a central character in the Ring cycle of which this opera forms a part (1848-1874).
• The sphinx in the science fiction novel The Time Machine (1895) by H. G. Wells serves as center for the world of the far distant future. The time traveller's explorations begin there and the structure unites the planes of future human society.
• The Emerald City in the land of Oz, depicted in the popular book by L. Frank Baum (1900) and the subsequent MGM film (1939), stands at the center of the four compass directions.
• The Dark Tower, serves as the axis of all the universes in the novels of Stephen King
• Orodruin, location of the creation and destruction of the One Ring, is one of many representations of the symbol in The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien (1937-1949).
• Two Trees of Valinor in Tolkien's tellingly named Middle-earth produce the light of the Supreme God (1937-1949).
• The wardrobe and lamppost in The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis (1949-1954) mark the spot where children travel between this world and the next as well as the place where the world ends.
• The wooded hilltop and ascending and descending staircases in The Midsummer Marriage, an opera by English composer Michael Tippett (1955), explore Jungian aspects of the symbol.
• The pillar of fire rising to heaven from the ark of the covenant is recalled in the climax of Steven Spielberg's film Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981).
• A huge sheltering tree on a hilltop near the end of Stealing Beauty, a 1996 film by Bernardo Bertolucci, crowns a series of images evoking the primordial Paradise garden.
• Filmmakers have placed axis mundi symbols in Bobe Kane's Gotham City. In Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins (2005) the city's symbolic centre is a skyscraper built Bruce Wayne's father. The same role is filled by a fantastic cathedral in an earlier film by Tim Burton (1989). Burton's cathedral unites the images of steeple, skyscraper, staircase, ladder and rope.
• The maypole and related images appear in a number of popular songs. "The Wheel and the Maypole" by XTC explicitly riffs on the axis mundi idea.
Lists of miscellaneous information should be avoided. Please relocate any relevant information into appropriate sections or articles. (October 2009)
• The title of Jimi Hendrix' second studio album with The Experience is "Axis: Bold As Love". There is speculation[citation needed] that he may have been referring to the Axis Mundi.
• In an episode of Seinfeld titled The Maid, Kramer finds himself at the corner of "1st and 1st...the Nexus of the Universe".
• In the 2000AD serial "Zenith Phase III", "Axis Mundi" appears as the proper name of a locale.
• The modern experimental funk band Spacebeard[1] has a song titled "Axis Mundi".
See also
• Alchemy
• Astrology
• Cathedral
• Crucifix
• Feng shui
• Fleur de lis
• Hyperborea
• Jacob's Ladder
• Maypole
• Omphalos
• Pagoda
• Palmette
• Phurba
• Skyscraper
• Taiji
• Temple
• Totem Pole
• Tree of Life
• World Tree
• Yoga
• Ziggurat

This article lacks ISBNs for the books listed in it. Please make it easier to conduct research by listing ISBNs. If the {{Cite book}} or {{citation}} templates are in use, you may add ISBNs automatically, or discuss this issue on the talk page. (October 2009)

1. ^ [Mircea Eliade (tr. Philip Mairet). 'Symbolism of the Centre' in Images and Symbols." Princeton, 1991. p.48-51]
2. ^ [Mircea Eliade (tr. Philip Mairet). 'Symbolism of the Centre' in Images and Symbols." Princeton, 1991. p.40]
3. ^ [J. C. Cooper. An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Traditional Symbols. Thames and Hudson: New York, 1978.]
4. ^ [Mircea Eliade (tr. Willard Trask). 'Archetypes and Repetition' in The Myth of the Eternal Return." Princeton, 1971. p.16]
5. ^ a b [Jean Chevalier and Alain Gheerbrandt. The Penguin Dictionary of Symbols. Editions Robert Lafont S. A. et Editions Jupiter: Paris, 1982. Penguin Books: London, 1996. pp.61-63, 173-175]
6. ^ a b [Mircea Eliade (tr. Philip Mairet). 'Symbolism of the Centre' in Images and Symbols." Princeton, 1991. p.39]
7. ^ [Mircea Eliade (tr. Philip Mairet). 'Symbolism of the Centre' in Images and Symbols." Princeton, 1991. p.37-39]
8. ^ [Mircea Eliade (tr. Philip Mairet). 'Symbolism of the Centre' in Images and Symbols." Princeton, 1991. p.41-43]
9. ^ [Jean Chevalier and Alain Gheerbrandt. The Penguin Dictionary of Symbols. Editions Robert Lafont S. A. et Editions Jupiter: Paris, 1982. Penguin Books: London, 1996. pp.680-685]
10. ^ [Jean Chevalier and Alain Gheerbrandt. The Penguin Dictionary of Symbols. Editions Robert Lafont S. A. et Editions Jupiter: Paris, 1982. Penguin Books: London, 1996. pp.681]
11. ^ [Jean Chevalier and Alain Gheerbrandt. The Penguin Dictionary of Symbols. Editions Robert Lafont S. A. et Editions Jupiter: Paris, 1982. Penguin Books: London, 1996. p.681]
12. ^ a b [Mircea Eliade (tr. Willard Trask). 'Archetypes and Repetition' in The Myth of the Eternal Return." Princeton, 1971. p.12]
13. ^ [Jean Chevalier and Alain Gheerbrandt. The Penguin Dictionary of Symbols. Editions Robert Lafont S. A. et Editions Jupiter: Paris, 1982. Penguin Books: London, 1996. pp.148-149]
14. ^ [Mircea Eliade (tr. Philip Mairet). 'Symbolism of the Centre' in Images and Symbols." Princeton, 1991. p.52-54]
15. ^ [Mircea Eliade (tr. Philip Mairet). 'Symbolism of the Centre' in Images and Symbols." Princeton, 1991. p.42-45]
16. ^ a b Chevalier, Jean and Gheerbrandt, Alain. The Penguin Dictionary of Symbols. Editions Robert Lafont S. A. et Editions Jupiter: Paris, 1982. Penguin Books: London, 1996. pp.1025-1033
17. ^ [Mircea Eliade (tr. Philip Mairet). 'Symbolism of the Centre' in Images and Symbols." Princeton, 1991. p.54]
18. ^ [Mircea Eliade (tr. Philip Mairet). 'Indian Symbolisms of Time and Eternity' in Images and Symbols." Princeton, 1991. p.76]
19. ^ [Mircea Eliade. 'Brâncuşi and Mythology' in Symbolism, the Sacred, and the Arts." Continuum, 1992. p. 100]
20. ^ [Jean Chevalier and Alain Gheerbrandt. The Penguin Dictionary of Symbols. Editions Robert Lafont S. A. et Editions Jupiter: Paris, 1982. Penguin Books: London, 1996. pp.529-531]
21. ^ Townsend, Richard F. (2004). Hero, Hawk, and Open Hand. Yale University Press. ISBN 0300106017.
22. ^ [Jean Chevalier and Alain Gheerbrandt. The Penguin Dictionary of Symbols. Editions Robert Lafont S. A. et Editions Jupiter: Paris, 1982. Penguin Books: London, 1996. pp.142-145]
23. ^ [Judith Dupré. 'Skyscrapers: A History of the World's Most Extraordinary Buildings.' Black Dog & Leventhal, 1998/2008. p.137]
24. ^ [Judith Dupré. 'Skyscrapers: A History of the World's Most Extraordinary Buildings.' Black Dog & Leventhal, 1998/2008. p. 19]
25. ^ [Judith Dupré. 'Skyscrapers: A History of the World's Most Extraordinary Buildings.' Black Dog & Leventhal, 1998/2008. pp. 45, 69, 81, 91, 97,135, 136, 143]
26. ^ [Judith Dupré. 'Skyscrapers: A History of the World's Most Extraordinary Buildings.' Black Dog & Leventhal, 1998/2008. p.136-7]
27. ^ [Judith Dupré. 'Skyscrapers: A History of the World's Most Extraordinary Buildings.' Black Dog & Leventhal, 1998/2008]
28. ^ a b [Jean Chevalier and Alain Gheerbrandt. The Penguin Dictionary of Symbols. Editions Robert Lafont S. A. et Editions Jupiter: Paris, 1982. Penguin Books: London, 1996. pp.1020-1022]
29. ^ [Judith Dupré. 'Skyscrapers: A History of the World's Most Extraordinary Buildings.' Black Dog & Leventhal, 1998/2008. p.15]
30. ^ [Mircea Eliade. 'Brâncuşi and Mythology' in Symbolism, the Sacred, and the Arts." Continuum, 1992. p.99-100]
31. ^ [Jean Chevalier and Alain Gheerbrandt. The Penguin Dictionary of Symbols. Editions Robert Lafont S. A. et Editions Jupiter: Paris, 1982. Penguin Books: London, 1996. pp. 18, 1020-1022]
32. ^ Nasa Apollo Mission: Apollo 13. 2007-08-25
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MessaggioOggetto: Re: Axis mundi   Mar 8 Giu 2010 - 14:06


Yggdrasil, ricostruzione moderna dell'albero del Mondo norreno

Albero del Mondo
Da Wikipedia, l'enciclopedia libera.
L'Albero del Mondo (o Albero sefirotico, Albero del Centro, Albero di vita a seconda delle diverse tradizioni) è un elemento ricorrente in numerose religioni e mitologia, in particolare nelle religioni indoeuropee. L'albero del mondo viene rappresentato come un albero di dimensioni colossali che sostiene i cieli e li collega, attraverso rami e radici, con la terra e il sottosuolo. Possiede una forte correlazione con l'Albero della vita[1].

L'albero del mondo è presente nella mitologia ungherese, nella mitologia norrena (con i nomi di Yggdrasil[2] o Irminsul), in quella slava e finlandese come una quercia, e nell'induismo con il nome di Ashvastha o fico sacro.

Le popolazioni indoeuropee hanno associato all'Albero del Mondo vari animali: le api, per via della loro abitudine di stabilirsi nelle cavità degli alberi, sono diventate l'intermediario privilegiato fra i tre mondi. Inoltre, venivano associati all'albero quattro cervi, un'aquila che nidificava tra i suoi rami e dei serpenti che avvolgevano le sue radici.

Tale concetto è presente anche in altre popolazioni, come quelle della Siberia[3] e dell'America del Nord; ciò fa pensare a una probabile presenza di sciamani tra le prime popolazioni indo-europee.
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MessaggioOggetto: Re: Axis mundi   Lun 27 Feb 2012 - 8:47

Riporto altre tradizioni riferite all'albero del mondo...


World tree (Hungarian)
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The world tree (Hungarian: világfa), is a typical element of Hungarian folk art and folk tales and a distinct folk tale type. In Hungarian it has several other descriptive names like "Égig érő fa" (the tree reaching into the sky), "tetejetlen fa" (tree without a top), "életfa" (life tree).

Several of these tales have versions in the Transylvanian, German, Romanian, Roma, Serbian, Croatian, Bulgarian, Turkish and other cultures in Asia, but the origin of the Hungarian tales goes back to the táltos traditions of Hungarians. The táltosok are the humans who are entitled to climb up the égig érő fa and wander in the seven or nine layers of the sky.

One version of these tales is about the "small swineherd" (in Hungarian kiskondás) who climbs up the tree to save the princess who is held captive by a dragon (Világhírű Szép Miklós tale). The tree is a frequent element of funny tales, in which for example a gypsy climbs up into the heaven and then down into the hell.

The world tree often grows out of a reindeer or a horse. It often carries among its branches the Sun and the Moon. This latter concept is typical of Uralic and Siberian peoples. The tree often stands on the world mountain, with its top in the sky and roots in the hell, where snakes and toads live. In the tales often birds sit on the tree, like eagles, hawks or the mythical Hungarian bird, the turul.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

An Irminsul (Old Saxon, probably "great/mighty pillar" or "arising pillar") was a kind of pillar which is attested as playing an important role in the Germanic paganism of the Saxon people. The oldest chronicle describing an Irminsul refers to it as a tree trunk erected in the open air.[1] The purpose of the Irminsuls and the implications thereof have been the subject of considerable scholarly discourse and speculation for hundreds of years.


A Germanic god Irmin, inferred from the name Irminsul and the tribal name Irminones, is sometimes presumed to have been the national god or demi-god of the Saxons.[2] It has been suggested that Irmin was more probably an aspect or epithet of some other deity – most likely Wodan (Odin). Irmin might also have been an epithet of the god Ziu (Tyr) in early Germanic times, only later transferred to Odin, as certain scholars ascribe to the idea that Odin replaced Tyr as the chief Germanic deity at the onset of the Migration Period. This was the favored view of early 20th century Nordicist writers,[3] but it is not generally considered likely in modern times.[4]

The Old Norse form of Irmin is Jörmunr, which just like Yggr was one of the names of Odin. Yggdrasil ("Yggr's horse") was the yew or ash tree from which Odin sacrificed himself, and which connected the nine worlds. Jakob Grimm connects the name Irmin with Old Norse terms like iörmungrund ("great ground", i.e. the Earth) or iörmungandr ("great snake", i.e. the Midgard serpent).[5]


Royal Frankish Annals

According to the Royal Frankish Annals (772AD), during the Saxon wars, Charlemagne is repeatedly described as ordering the destruction of the chief seat of their religion, an Irminsul.[6] The Irminsul is described as not being far from Heresburg (now Obermarsberg), Germany.[6] Jacob Grimm states that "strong reasons" point to the actual location of the Irminsul as being approximately 15 miles (24 km) away, in the Teutoburg Forest and states that the original name for the region "Osning" may have meant "Holy Wood."[6]

De miraculis sancti Alexandri

The Benedictine monk Rudolf of Fulda (AD 865) provides a description of an Irminsul in chapter 3 of his Latin work De miraculis sancti Alexandri. Rudolf's description states that the Irminsul was a great wooden pillar erected and worshipped beneath the open sky and that its name, Irminsul, signifies universal all-sustaining pillar.[6]


Under Louis the Pious in the 9th century, a stone column was dug up at Obermarsberg[7] in Westphalia, Germany and relocated to the Hildesheim cathedral in Hildesheim, Lower Saxony, Germany. The column was reportedly then used as a candelabrum until at least the late 19th century.[8]> In the 13th century, the destruction of the Irminsul by Charlemagne was recorded as having still been commemorated at Hildesheim on the Saturday after Laetare Sunday.[1]

The commemoration was reportedly done by planting two poles six feet high, each surmounted by a wooden object one foot in height shaped like a pyramid or a cone on the cathedral square.[1] The youth then used sticks and stones in an attempt to knock over the object.[1] This custom is described as existing elsewhere in Germany, particularly in Halberstadt where it was enacted on the day of Laetare Sunday by the Canons themselves.[1]


Awareness of the significance of the concept seems to have persisted well into Christian times. For example, in the twelfth-century Kaiserchronik an Irminsul is mentioned in three instances:

Concerning the origin of the Wednesday:

ûf ainer irmensiule / stuont ain abgot ungehiure, / daz hiezen si ir choufman.[9]
"On an Irminsul / stands an enormous idol / which they call their merchant"

Concerning Julius Caesar:

Rômâre in ungetrûwelîche sluogen / sîn gebaine si ûf ain irmensûl begruoben[10]
"The Romans slew him treacherously / and buried his bones on an Irminsul"

Concerning Nero:

ûf ain irmensûl er staich / daz lantfolch im allez naich.[11]
"He climbed upon an Irminsul / the peasants all bowed before him"


A number of theories surround the subject of the Irminsul.


In Tacitus' Germania, the author mentions rumors of what he describes as "Pillars of Hercules" in land inhabited by the Frisii that had yet to be explored.[12] Tacitus adds that these pillars exist either because Hercules actually did go there or because the Romans have agreed to ascribe all marvels anywhere to Hercules' credit. Tacitus states that while Drusus Germanicus was daring in his campaigns against the Germanic tribes, he was unable to reach this region, and that subsequently no one had yet made the attempt.[13] Connections have been proposed between these "Pillars of Hercules" and later accounts of the Irminsuls.[1] Hercules was likely frequently identified with Thor by the Romans due to the practice of interpretatio romana.[14]

Externsteine relief and site

According to one particularly well-known suggestion, an Irminsul was situated at or near the Externsteine, a famous rock formation near Detmold, Germany. A Christian relief on the Externsteine (see photo above) depicts what has been described as a bent tree-like design at the feet of Nicodemus. This artwork, variously dated to the early ninth to early twelfth century AD, is popularly believed to represent the bent or fallen Irminsul beneath a triumphant Christianity.

While both the artwork and the Irminsul were known to scholars for centuries - Goethe for example discussed the relief in detail[15] -, they were not connected until the 1929 interpretation[16] of lay archaeologist Wilhelm Teudt.[17] In 1934 to 1935, the Ahnenerbe undertook extensive fieldwork in an attempt to uncover material evidence of the use of the Externsteine as a place of Germanic paganism worship, yet no such evidence was found.

Few modern scholars[18] consider it anything but an outright invention of Teudt, who did not provide evidence to back his claims.

Today it is generally accepted by historians that there is no historic attestation connecting the design in the Externsteine relief to the Irminsul. Certainly, the Eresburg was only about 45 kilometers (c.28 miles) from the Externsteine, and insofar there indeed was an Irminsul "near the Externsteine" but extensive archaeological studies of the Externsteine have failed to yield any material evidence for their use as a sacred site between Mesolithic and pre-Christian times. Thermoluminescence dating of firesites suggests that the site was occasionally used as a rock shelter in Saxon times, but apparently not to the extent one would expect from a major place of worship.[19]

Jupiter Columns

Comparisons have been made between the Irminsul and the Jupiter Columns that were erected along the Rhine in Germania around CE 2 and 3. Scholarly comparisons were once made between the Irminsul and the Jupiter Columns, however, Rudolf Simek states that the columns were of Gallo-Roman religious monuments, and that the reported location of the Irminsul in Eresburg does not fall within the area of the Jupiter Column archaeological finds.[20]


A depiction of an Irminsul based on the Externsteine relief (shaped back into a vertical position) is used in some currents of Germanic Neopaganism.


^ a b c d e f d'Alviella (1891), p. 112
^ Robinson (1917): p.389
^ E.g. Meyer (1910): p.192
^ E.g. Farwerck (1970): p.33
^ Grimm (1835)
^ a b c d Stallybrass (1882): 116-118).
^ According to the Royal Frankish Annals (Anonymus ([790]): chapter 772):

Et inde perrexit partibus Saxoniae prima vice, Eresburgum castrum coepit, ad Ermensul usque pervenit et ipsum fanum destruxit et aurum vel argentum, quod ibi repperit, abstulit. Et fuit siccitas magna, ita ut aqua deficeret in supradicto loco, ubi Ermensul stabat; et dum voluit ibi duos aut tres praedictus gloriosus rex stare dies fanum ipsum ad perdestruendum et aquam non haberent, tunc subito divina largiente gratia media die cuncto exercitu quiescente in quodam torrente omnibus hominibus ignorantibus aquae effusae sunt largissimae, ita ut cunctus exercitus sufficienter haberet.

^ d'Alviella (1891), pp. 106-107
^ Schröder (1892): p.81, lines 129-131
^ Schröder (1892): p.92, lines 601-602
^ Schröder (1892): p.158, lines 4213-4214
^ Tacitus ([98]): chapter 34
^ Birley (1999:55).
^ Rives (1999:160).
^ von Goethe (1824)
^ Teudt (1929): p.27-28
^ Halle (2002)
^ See e.g. Matthes & Speckner (1997) for some who accept Teudt's proposal, but note that their work has several serious flaws. For example, they ignore the lack of archaeological evidence for Iron Age use of the Externsteine as a sacred site. Also, their claim that the figure of Nicodemus standing on the design represents the subjugation of the pagan faith (p.191) has been claimed as being based on a mistranslation of Nikodemos (Νικόδημος, "Victory of the people") as "Victory over the [Saxon] people".
^ Schmidt & Halle (1999)
^ Simek (2007:175-176).


Adam of Bremen ([1070s]): [Religious beliefs of the Swedes]. In: Gesta Hammaburgensis ecclesiae pontificum. [In Latin]
Anonymus ([790]): Annales regni Francorum [Royal Frankish Annals]. [In Latin] HTML fulltext.
Birley, Anthony Richard (Trans.) (1999). Agricola and Germany. Oxford University Press ISBN 0-19-283300-6
Farwerck, F.E. (1970): Noord-Europese Mysteriën ["Northern European mystery cults"]. [In Dutch]
d'Alviella, Eugène Goblet (1891). The Migration of Symbols. A. Constable and Co.
Halle, Uta (2002): Die Externsteine sind bis auf weiteres germanisch! - Prähistorische Archäologie im Dritten Reich ["Until further notice, the Externsteine are Germanic! - Prehistoric archaeology in the Third Reich"]. [In German] Verlag für Regionalgeschichte, Bielefeld.
Matthes, Walther & Speckner, Rolf (1997): Das Relief an den Externsteinen. Ein karolingisches Kunstwerk und sein spiritueller Hintergrund ["The Externsteine relief. A Carolingian artwork and its spiritual background"]. [In German] edition tertium, Ostfildern vor Stuttgart.
Meyer, Richard Moritz (1910): Altgermanische Religionsgeschichte ["Ancient Germanic Religious History"]. [In German]
Rives, J.B. (Trans.) (1999). Germania: Germania. Oxford University Press ISBN 0-19-815050-4
Robinson, Charles Henry (1917): The Conversion of Europe. Longmans, Green, and Co., London, New York, Bombay and Calcutta.
Simek, Rudolf (2007) translated by Angela Hall. Dictionary of Northern Mythology. D.S. Brewer 0859915131
Schmidt, Martin & Halle, Uta (1999): On the folklore of the Externsteine - Or a centre for Germanomaniacs. In: Gazin-Schwartz, Amy & Holtorf, Cornelius: Archaeology and Folklore: 153-169. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-20144-6 Partial text at Google Books
Schoppe, Karl (1947): Die Irminsul, Forschungen über ihren Standort ["The Irminsul. Research concerning its location"]. [In German] Paderborn.
Schröder, Edward (1892): Die Kaiserchronik eines Regensburger Geistlichen ["The Kaiserchronik of a Regensburg cleric"]. [In German] Hahnsche Buchhandlung, Hannover. HTML fulltext
Stallybrass, James Steven (1882). (Trans.) J. Grimm's Teutonic Mythology, volume I.
Tacitus, Publius Cornelius ([98]): De Origine et situ Germanorum ["About the origin and location of the Germanic peoples"]. [In Latin] HTML fulltext at Wikisource
Teudt, Wilhelm (1929): Germanische Heiligtümer. Beiträge zur Aufdeckung der Vorgeschichte, ausgehend von den Externsteinen, den Lippequellen und der Teutoburg ["Germanic sacred sites. Contributions to the discovery of prehistory, based upon the Externsteine, the Lippe springs and the Teutoburg"]. [In German] Eugen Diederichs Verlag, Jena.
von Goethe, Johann Wolfgang (1824): Die Externsteine [The Externsteine]. Kunst und Altertum 5: 130-139 [Article in German].
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