Mark Neumayer

author of the Valda & the Valkyries series

Tag: gods and goddesses

Loki’s Wives

Amazing artwork by Hellanim on DeviantArt

Amazing artwork by Hellanim on DeviantArt

I know that the Thor and Avengers movies, aided by the undeniable charm of Tom Hiddleston, have driven the popularity of Loki to gigantic heights.  I hope I’m not breaking any hearts, however,  when I tell you that Loki is married and had been married more than once. How many wives did Loki have? That gets a little tricky.

His latest wife and the one that stood beside him during his punishment is Sigyn. The Eddas list her as one of the Aesir, specifically calling her Asenjyur which is the goddess form of the Aesir. (The simplest way I have heard of describing the difference between the two groups of Norse gods is that the Aesir tended towards the power/war side of the spectrum and the Vanir tended towards the nature/fertility side.) The sagas also tell us that she is married to Loki. The language is quite clear “Sigyn, Loki’s wife…”She is the faithful wife who catches the poison that drips down from a serpent before the venom can harm her husband. Unfortunately, when the bowl she is using to catch the venom is full she must step away to empty it and Loki suffers incredible torment during those times. This story was fairly widespread and the skaldic poem Haustlong even uses “the burden of Sigyn’s arms” as a kenning for Loki.

Now it gets a little murkier. We know that Loki had three children with Angrboda but she is NOT mentioned as his wife in any references I could find. It is possible they were married at an earlier time period – marriage was not a “til death do us part” thing for the Norse but they also could have just been fooling around with each other. Like the gods of Greece and Rome, the Norse gods had some very human characteristics and were not always the most faithful of mates. Until I see some good research indicating otherwise I am going to operate under the assumption that they were fooling around.

H.A. Guerber made it even more confusing when he wrote “Loki’s third marriage was with Sigyn, who proved a most loving and devoted wife.” The loving and devoted wife part is fine, the part that has me scratching my head is “third marriage.” Especially since Guerber never mentions who the first or second wife were. I even did a word search on Loki and wife and could find no mention of either earlier mate.

While I wish that we had a clearer picture of the women in Loki’s life, a part of me imagines the Trickster himself would be quite pleased at the confusing state of this subject matter.

Three Famous Ships From the Norse Myths

Today we have a bit of a continuation from last week when I posted some artwork of the figurehead of a drekar or dragon-boat. There aren’t that many named ships in the Eddas, but these three are pretty memorable.

Skidbladnir
We are going to start with this ship because the Elder Eddas tell us it is… “without doubt the best and most artfully constructed of any (ship.)” The ship belongs to the god Frey and was constructed by the sons of Ivaldi – the Dwarven master craftsmen who also created Odin’s spear Gungnir and the golden hair of Sif. The ship is quite large and has enough room to hold all of the Aesir gods and goddesses and their weapons and war supplies as well. As soon as the sail is raised a favorable breeze springs up and leads the ship wherever you wish to go. To top it all off, the ship is so artfully constructed and so many cunning spells were used in her construction that you can actually fold the ship up like a piece of cloth until it is small enough to fit into your pocket.

Naglfar
When Ragnarok, the doom of the gods comes around, the ship Naglfar will finally be ready to set sail. When we were told that Skidbladnir was the best ship we were also informed that Naglfar was the biggest. The creepiest thing about Naglfar is that it is not made of wood, rather it is being built from the toenails and fingernails of all who have died. In Gylfaginning we are told to take great care not to die with untrimmed nails, for the longer your nails are the sooner the ship will be done. Loki is fated to be the helmsman on that dark day, using the ship to bring the enemies of the gods to the scene of the battle between good and evil.

Hringhorn
This was the ship of Balder. Sadly we only read about it at his funereal. At that time we are told it “passed for the largest in the world.” Now we had been told that Naglfar was biggest. Maybe the discrenpancy has something to do with the fact that Naglfar is still under construction. Hringhorn is so big that the gods can not push it out to sea and have to send for a giantess to push the ship for them.

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