Two survivors to Ragnarök: Life and Life-greedy  (Líf ok Lífþrasir)

and a detour by C. G. Jung

(French version at )


In a stanza of Vafþrúðnismál, Óðinn asks Vafþrúðnir which human will survive Ragnarök. He point at them using the words  fírar (human persons) and maðr (human, here in the plural genitive: manna).   Óðinn deliberately points at human beings and not at gods.  Vafþrúðnir answers him that two human will survive, Líf (‘life’) and Lífþrasir  (adjective þrási means ‘greedy’  so that Lífþrasir means ‘Life-greedy’). These two will be hidden in Hoddmímir’s bush (or wood) where hodd means a treasure, here Mímir’s wisdom. Here they will find morning-dew as food, and they will geenrate the people lines (to come).

Inversely, Völuspá is hardly interested in humankinf. It sends masses of human ones to Helheim as told by stanza 52: “humankind walks on the road of Hel", with no more details. On the other hand, it describes two or, in my opinion, three times Yggdrasill’s destruction: the sacred tree is on fire (S. 46 enn miötuðr kyndiz = him ruler of measure ignites); it then shakes and moans, although it  still stands upright, in s. 47. Lastly, according to my interpretation, it is consumed until its top in stanza 57. To understand why, go to ‘völuspá’ on my site and read the detailed discussion of stanza 57.  


In conclusion, Vafþrúðnismál and Völuspá put togeher tell  us well that the line of the Æsir gods will be destroyed by Nature wild powers, though humankind will not disappear. There exists at Yggdrasill’s foot in the bushes around Mímir’s well a ‘safety zone’ where will be preserved after Ragnarök human life and wisdom (and thus magic in an Old Norse context!) .


Note how each one of these two myths, one appart from the other, can be claimed to have received a Christian influence whereas, together, they illustrate a brazen paganism.



A discussion of the exact location where the two persons hid.

Stanza 45 third line tells that they hide “i holti Hoddmímis.” I above provided  the two possible meanings of ‘holt’: ¶wood wood or bush, but the ‘wood’ here is not ‘wood’ as a substance, but a small forest, a copse. This is why I preferred ‘bush’ which is less ambiguous. It nevertheless seems that the tradition holds to preserve the ambiguity of ‘wood’ in order to state that ‘Hoddmímir’s wood’  is Yggdrasill, which mistranslates the word ‘holt’.

This has annoying consequences. For example, one randomly gathered in my readings, is given by Carl Gustav Jung in his fundamental work “Symbols of transformation,” section 367. He   declares: “In the wood of the world-ash Yggdrasill  a human pair hide themselves at the end of the world… the tree-ash becomes the guardian mother, the tree pregnant with death and life.” Thus disappears ‘Mimir-wisdom copse', the true pregnant mother-guardian of which Jung speaks. 

 A genius receiving false information will do genius mistakes: humankind’s  regression due to Ragnarök is actually deeper than the loss of Yggdrasill, an interesting glimpse at ancient Norse’s libido: Remember that Freyr and Gerðr have been playing together, as children, in such a copse.