Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion

2020 Edition
| Editors: David A. Leeming

Axis Mundi

  • David A. LeemingEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-24348-7_63

The axis mundi or world center is embodied for many cultures in such objects as world trees or centering towers (ziggurats, temple mounts, etc.) or mandala centers. In Native American pueblo cultures, the axis mundi is the place of the people’s emergence into this world, symbolized by the small hole or sipapu in the center of the religious space, usually underground, known as the kiva. For Norse culture, the axis mundi is Yggdrasill, the great tree that in the creation myths links the various segments of creation – the lower world, the middle world, and the upper world. Axle trees such as this exist in many cultures. In Korea, it was believed that a sacred tree connected the three worlds of existence. For ancient Tartars in Central Asia, a giant pine tree grew out of the earth’s navel and reached to the home of the supreme god in the heavens. For Christians, the cross is a kind of world tree on the world center hill of Golgotha. A city or town can be the world center, as in the case...

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of ConnecticutStorrsUSA
  2. 2.Blanton-Peale InstituteNew YorkUSA