Mark Neumayer

author of the Valda & the Valkyries series

Tag: Loki

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.

5 Cool Creatures from Norse Myths

This entry is part 4 of 8 in the series Norse Mythology Quick Hits

Sleipnir, the best of horses

One of the things I love about mythology is the richness of the worlds. Everywhere you look there are strange and wonderful things. Norse mythology is no exception. This week we’re going to be highlighting some of the coolest creatures to be found in the sagas.

This is a horse, not just any horse, but the “best of all horses.” It has eight legs and can run like the wind. Whenever Odin needs to get somewhere quickly, Sleipnir is the horse that gets him there. He has loaned it out to other Asgardians on occassion, most notably when Hermod rode the horse down into Hel to try tobuy back the soul of the god Baldur.

First off, I really dig the name of this one, it just kind of rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it? Ratatoskr is a squirrel. He serves as a messenger, traveling up and down Yggdrasil, the World Tree, taking messages in-between the wyrm Nidhögg at the roots and an unnamed eagle at the top of the tree. A couple of things make this interesting to me. 1) This is a squirrel, usually a pretty insignificant animal in the grand scheme of things, yet he is running from one end of the World Tree to the other. Yggdrasil is called the World Tree because it stretches from the bottom to the top of the Nine Worlds, essentially the Norse universe. A squirrel runs that distance all the time. 2) We are specifically told that the messages he brings back and forth are “slanderous gossip” that provokes the eagle and the wyrm. So this tiny creature is running incredible distances to carry trash-talk. The furry little guy makes a brief appearance in my book.

Tanngrisnir and Tanngnjóstr
We have a dual-selection here with the goats belonging to Thor. Their names mean Tooth-barer and Tooth-gnasher. They pull Thor’s chariot at incredible speed, moving so fast that they shatter the mountains and set the earth on fire. They aren’t just useful in getting Thor where he wanted to go. Once he arrived, Thor could cook up the beasts. As long as he carefully gathered all of their bones and placed them on the goatskins, he was able to use his magic hammer to bring the goats back to life in the morning. Pretty handy trick although we never hear what the goats think about that.

We have another goat (What can I say, the Norse were fond of their goats.) It is possible that you would be fond of this one, too. Normal goats were a source of milk for Norse. Heidrún was not a normal goat. She fed on a tree that grew in Asgard and instead of giving milk, she gave mead – high-quality mead. Enough of it so that every single one of the warriors assembled in Valhalla could drink their fill every single night.

Jörmungandr is a serpent, but this is not your garden-variety snake. This is the Midgard Serpent, the snake so big that it can circle the entire world and grab its own tail in its mouth. The serpent is one of the children of Loki (Hela and the wolf Fenrir are the other two.) Thor has run into the Midgard Serpent twice so far. Once a king of the giants disguised the serpent as a giant cat and challenged Thor to lift it off the ground. Even his incredible strength couldn’t accomplish a task like that. Another time Thor was fishing with the giant Hymir. Thor used an entire ox-head as bait. He didn’t catch a fish – he caught the Midgard Serpent! When Thor finally pulled the serpent to the surface he grabbed his hammer to kill it. Unfortunately Hymir cut the line and allowed the serpent to escape. Thor is fated to meet the serpent for the final time at Ragnarok.

I know I left out some of the creatures. Which ones did I miss that you love?

I hope you’re enjoying this series on Norse mythology. If there’s any subject you’d like to hear about, let me know and I’ll see what I can do. You can also check out the other entries in this series.

Five Ways Dwarves Get No Respect

Five Magical Weapons from Norse Mythology

Loki’s Five Biggest Tricks

Loki’s Top 5 Biggest Tricks

This entry is part 3 of 8 in the series Norse Mythology Quick Hits

Loki stamp by Anker Eli Petersen

In Norse Mythology Loki is called the Trickster God but what exactly did Loki do to earn that title? Here, in ascending order of impact, are some of his biggest tricks. We won’t call them his best tricks because some of them were more than a little mean.

5. Ruining the feast
One day the sea god Aegir gave a feast. His two servants, Fimafeng and Eldir, welcomed all of the guests. making sure that they heaped tons of praise on every one of them. This annoyed Loki, so he killed Fimafeng. The gods were angry and drove him away. Loki comes back after a bit and brings up an oath he swore with Odin that they would drink together. The gods are forced to let him back in. Loki is grateful and contrite. No, he’s not! He proceeds to start trash-talking almost everyone else at the feast, calling them cowards, whores, unmanly, and everything else he can think of. Loki even goes so far as to insult Odin. The thing that finally gets him to shut up and leave is the sudden appearance of Thor who threatens to knock Loki’s head clean off his shoulders.

4. Loki cuts off Sif’s hair.
One day Loki was walking along when he happened to spy the goddess Sif lying asleep on the ground. Seeing this as the perfect opportunity to make some mischief, he cut off all of her hair. We’re never told any more of his motivation, that’s just apparently the way Loki works. Of course, he was caught. Sif is the wife of Thor, so you can imagine the Thunder god was not happy when he found out what happened. Once again Loki is about to be killed and swears an oath to make everything right. He eventually had the Dwarves make new magical hair for Sif, forged from a piece of gold.

3. Loki transforms himself into a female horse.
A builder was promised the sun, the moon and the goddess Freyja if he could build the walls of Asgard within a specific period of time. With the help of his magic stallion, the builder was dangerously close to completing this job. Loki transformed himself into a beautiful female horse and lured the stallion away. Without the horse’s help the man realized the only way to complete the job was by assuming his true identity – that of a mountain giant. Unfortunately, giants and Thor do not mix. The Thunder God used his hammer to smash in the giant’s skull. As a bonus, Loki then gave birth to Sleipnir, the eight-legged horse.

2. Messing with Mjolnir
This is a bit of a double-whammy since Loki pulled this trick in the process of making up for #4. Loki had the Dwarves create magical hair out of gold to replace the hair he had cut off of Sif’s head. While he was there he had them make some gifts for the other gods as well, including Odin’s spear Gungnir which always hits its target. Then, because he is the Trickster God, he brings these magical items to a different set of Dwarves. He bets them that they can’t make anything better. He is so sure of this that he bets his own head. These Dwarves are working on some wonderful things. Loki starts to worry and turns himself into a fly. He starts biting the Dwarf on the arm to distract him. The first item comes out of the forge and it is fine. While the Dwarf works on the second item fly-Loki bites him on the neck twice as hard. The Dwarf soldiers on and the second item is fine. While working on the third item fly-Loki bites the Dwarf on the eyelid drawing blood and making the Dwarf stop working for a minute. As a result of this the third item, Mjolnir, has a short handle and can only be used with one hand.

1. The death of Baldur
Baldur the Good was having terrible dreams that his life was in danger. His mother Frigga, being a goddess, “exacted an oath from fire and water, from iron, and all other metals, as well as from stones, earths, diseases, beasts, birds, poisons, and creeping things, that none of them would do any harm to Baldur.” Pretty impressive achievement, huh? Loki thought so and it made him mad. He put on a disguise and went to Frigga. There he learned that she had not extracted an oath from Mistletoe, thinking it was too young and feeble to harm her son. Loki runs off and makes a dart out of Mistletoe. He gives the dart to Baldur’s brother Hodur. Since Hodur is blind, Loki is even helpful enough to point him in the right direction. Hodur throws the dart, striking and killing Baldur.

What do you think? Did Loki earn the title of Trickster? Have I left out any tricks that you love? Chime in and let me know.

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