I've chosen to play with Lisa's title, "Roots Beneath the Layers" to explore the shamanistic beliefs of my European ancestors. I've chosen Yggdrasil - the World Tree - as my focus for this round. I first learned about this cosmological structure in Brian Bate's "The Real Middle Earth".
My pages fold up into a nice neat signature of 12 pieces (see above illustration). 3 is a universally magic number and Yggdrasil comprises of 3 parts. I want to concentrate on each part separately, so with some witchery stitchery, I have constructed a 3 part layout to my segment of pages.
The first part is the upperworld - Asgard - where light, elvish beings, the gods, goddesses and the deities reside. If this sounds reminiscent of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, you'd be correct. Tolkien was fascinated by Saxon mythology and drew his inspiration from their cosmological and mythological constructs.
The book unfolds to reveal the rest of the tree...the underworld (the lower part of the tree is hinted at with the quote above - this is not stuck down yet; nor are these white pages finished...much more layering to do...).
The middle part of Yggdrasil is revealed. Midgard is the real middle earth, the spiritual world of living beings, such as animals, plants and human beings. I will be using the pages to the left of the tree to illustrate these realms as I am describing them here.
Finally, Yggdrasil is revealed in its entirety - Niflheim (Hel) are the roots of the tree. Here is the Underworld, where Nidhogg the dragon sleeps and the dead reside. Hel (Christian root word for Hell- scuse the pun) is the powerhouse of the subconscious; inhabited by underworld entities that we may fear but where we may also obtain our greatest source of potency.