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The World Tree's "Eagle" actually a Rooster?


Amateur Rambler / Proud Ergi
Premium Member
HEAVY amounts of UPG to follow!

So, I was doing a bit of wiki-research to see if I could find any Norse/Germanic analogue to the Phoenix, a wight I've always had a very strong connection to but who has ultimate origins in Greece.

This is important to me, largely because I try to be realistically optimistic and so am very drawn to the figure of the Bird who dies in fire and is reborn from the ashes. It also means a lot to me because it's a perfect image for dinosaurs, creatures I've always loved since childhood, and who didn't all die after all; birds are surviving dinosaurs.

Anyway, wikipedia only lists the "Russian Firebird" as the only Northern European analogue to the Phoenix, so I did some digging of my own to see if we had one for ourselves. Naturally, my first thought went to the unnamed Eagle that's said to sit on top of the World Tree, attested in the Prose Edda and in the Poetic Edda story Grímnismál.

Since there's nothing much about said Eagle except that there's a Hawk inexplicibly between its eyes (according to the Prose Edda), I looked into "birds of Norse mythology" to see if I could find anything else.

I found something rather... interesting.

...the long version of which I spent half an hour typing out before Safari (on an ipad) decided to crash on me while trying to double-check one of my sources, erasing what I'd typed out. So, here's me attempting to explain again.

Another Poetic Edda poem, Fjölsvinnsmál, speaks of a golden Rooster sitting atop Mimameiðr, "Mimi's Tree", named Viðófnir ("wide-open" or "wind-weaver"). An uncited paragraph on this figure's wikipedia page says that it is a Dawn figure. Despite the lack of a citation, it does make sense that a Rooster would be a Dawn figure since, even today, we depict Dawn audially with that iconic "cock-a-doodle-do".

When I checked for the Phoenix's traditional descriptions, it turned out that Pliny the Elder described it as having a "crest of feathers", which, according to the source that crashed on me, was described by Alexandrian playwrite, Ezekiel the Dramaticist, as being like a Rooster. Very likely a coincidence, but it's still a pretty interesting one: a Bird associated with Sun and who's story is all about rebirth being compared to a Rooster, inadvertently creating an analogy to a figure from the Lore of people living much further North.

But then, why does one Edda poem describe an Eagle, while another describes a Rooster? I'd bet the answer lies in Snorri's Hawk.

This is pure conjecture, but what-if a skald, perhaps even Snorri himself, had always heard that it was an Eagle atop the World Tree, but then came across a visual depiction that showed the Rooster; not realizing that the thing on its head is supposed to be its comb, this skald may have decided that it's a Hawk?

Of course, me being me, I also wondered about a potential English name for this golden Rooster. Sadly, because of modern slang, the rather obvious "Goldcock" probably wouldn't work too well. LOL

Either way, I'm rather glad I found this. May not be the traditional Phoenix that our overculture is most familiar with, but it's still a close enough analogue that it could work for me, personally.
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Does fit the Phoenix....always made me picture the distelfink