In Norse mythology, Líf and Lífþrasir are supposed to survive Ragnarök and repopulate the world by hiding in Hoddmímis holt. How is it that Hoddmímis holt is able to survive the destruction of the world and even shelter Lif and Lífþrasir? And is there a reason why there wouldn't be more humans hiding in it?
In the 45th stanza of the Poetic Edda, it is told that
Lif and Lifthrasir survived Ragnarok by hiding “in Hoddmimir’s forest” (í holti Hoddmímis) and consuming the morning dew for their food. When the cataclysm passed and the cosmos began to reemerge, the couple went on to repopulate the world.
The Poetic Edda. Vafþrúðnismál, stanza 45.
The expression Hoddmimis holt, is commonly interpreted to mean the World-Tree, based on a similar expression in Fjölsvinnsmál 20, which calls Yggdrassil, Mimameiðr, "Mimir's Tree".
But, the prefix hodd- means “hoard” or “treasure” and Mimir is well-known as a collector of treasures.
Mimir is well-known to own a well that feeds Yggdrasil. Since he lives beneath it, the Tree can be called his.
Therefore, metaphorically speaking, Lif and Lifthrasir, are precious treasures, gathered together and hidden underground like a seed which lies dormant through the winter waiting for spring.
- Lif and Lifthrasir
in the grove of Hoard-Mimir;
the morning dews
they shall have as meat,
from them generations will spring.
The word "lie hidden" can also be interpreted as "buried" .
Hence the entirety will be
When the great fimbul-winter has passed, Lif and Lifthriasir will emerge from their hiding place and become the parents of a new race of men, without the need for a second act of creation.
This type of metaphor is not unique in Germanic poetry.
Therefore, since the holt "hid" or "buried" the two, they were able to survive.
The Poetic Edda, at several times, mentions Lif and Lifthrasir as the
only surviving seeds of humanity. Meaning, the rest of humanity were wiped out, leaving only the two as the sole survivors.
I just spent a little time on the online etymology dictionary: https://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=holt
Hoard means a safe place to hide. Mimis' is a god of wisdom and is connected with the world tree and others. a Holt is a coppice, a stand of trees routinely cut to the ground to spring back anew. This keeps the tree living a long time and ensures that the wood harvested is straight and strong. I teach ecological design and we use coppice. Much of the Norse myths describe management plans for land care.