Since childhood many of us have heard great stories about dragons, how powerful they are, magical, mysterious, they can be both friendly or terrible fows! Stories that still gives us inspiration and we continue to dream on as if we were flying on the backs of these great wyrms… and so in this post i will write about the most famous dragon in the Norse myths, the thirty-foot wingless earth-dragon Nidhogg!
The great world tree, Yggdrasil, has its longer roots in the lowest worls of Niflheim and Helheim, on of those roots is at the great well Hvergelmir in Niflheim and all the rivers of the nine realms flow from its depths. Near the well lies the third root of the great world tree, so huge that goes over the boundaries of Niflheim and Helheim like a wall, as if it was a small mountain. Nidhogg the great wingless earth-dragon goes to and fro over the wall to gnaw at the great root. When Nidhogg is not sleeping or just in a watchful rest in the lowest root, he crosses the wall into Helheim and visits the shore of the dead. This specific place is where the sun never shines, or at least throughout the year it it is seldom seen in this shore, at last no one has ever been there in anytime that the sun could possible been seen, so the waters of Helheim’s ocean are very dark. Corpses and shed skins of serpents decorate the shore. Nidhogg comes down periodically in her task ( yes Nidhogg is female ) as carrion-remover and eats the corpses. It’s natural for many to be afraid of her because of her job, but like all natural things, there must be a cycle and a natural balance, and Nidhoog is an important part of a cycle. Nidhogg is the representation of the natural cycle when something dies and rots to feed other beings or the earth it self, nutrients and minerals of the dead will give life again. We are used to be disgusted when we see worms and insects that live by eating rotten things or the wastes of the body, we tend to clean that from our memories and from society and build a beautiful picture of the natural world, but we have to understand that theses creatures live in a natural cycle of life and nature, that is how nature works, for all the wastes of the world will be turned into rich soils that will give life, where plants will grow again to feed animals and animals will give birth to others and nourish them with the same fertile soil, and yet again those same animals will be the food of others and what is left behind, both skin, fur, bones or what comes from the body wastes, will be put into the earth again and the same cycle begins. This is what Nidhogg shows us, that this natural cycle of life led her to have a terrible fame because in the human society, these things we put aside, in shame, disgust, trying to ignore the existance of such things because we don’t understand how it works and it is actually a very magical part of nature, when death gives life.
When someone sees Nidhogg by this shore, she is sometimes with her brood of serpent-children, among them are the famous Goin, Moin, Grafvollud, Ofnir and Svafnir. They are usualy at Nastrond, the Hall of Serpents, but they will not attack anyone outside the wall, by Hela’s orders, but they might come to you, so do not show any signs of fear, act as if they were human, be calm and courteous, be polite.
It is interesting to see that the great world tree and a dragon at its base isn’t just a myth from the Norse cosmology, but also from other different cultures around the world. Often people ask why is Nidhogg gnaws the roots of the great tree, it is simple, the world tree cannot exist or perform all its natural functions without the natural cycle of nature, and Nidhogg once again performs the same important job as i have written before, she gnaws on the tree to remove the dead wood to stimulate the new growth, gnawing away the dying parts of the tree, so new branches and leaves might grow in the rest of the tree. This shows us that we must appreciate and give creadit to all of the creatures who do the same job in the natural world, for they too are a part of a great cycle in which we all take our place. Also we seem to forget the importance of those ( speaking of us humans ) whose job is cleaning up the environment and all the waste we leave behind, those whom society likes to hid.