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1. How Loki turned into a mare and gave birth to a foal

Scandinavian myths: Loki in the guise of a mare seduces Svagidfari
Loki in the form of a mare seduces Svadilfari. Painting by Dorothy Hardy, 1909. Image: Wikimedia Commons

Long ago, at the dawn of the world, the gods (the northerners called them aces) built home for your loved ones. It was Asgard, a magnificent city.

But after the construction was completed, a problem arose. How to protect your home from unfriendly frost giants? They sharpened a tooth on the gods for the murder of their father Ymir.

As usual, security issues were taken care of only after the final finishing of the project.

Suddenly, a stern man of gigantic appearance appeared before the puzzled gods. He himself preferred not to introduce himself, but told the aces the name of his horse – Svadilfari. He also stated that with his help, in a short time (two summers and one winter), Asgard would be surrounded by powerful fortress walls, which no living (or not quite living) creature could overcome.

As a payment for his services, the mason asked for a mere smallness – the sun and the moon to warm and decorate Jotunheim, his homeland. And Freya, the most beautiful goddess of the Aesir.

The aces began to doubt, and Freya opposed this idea altogether. Marriage, of course, still all right, but the sun and the moon – this is no longer climbing into any gates.

But the god of deceit and deceit Loki promised to settle the issue with the giant. He took an oath from the stranger that he would work only with his horse and manage to build a wall in one winter. And if even one stone is missing in it, he will not see a reward. The builder immediately agreed. Here the gods should have been wary, but no. The contract was drawn up, and the stonemason set to work.

Asam Loki declared that everything was under control. This smart guy will build a lot there alone, or what?

When a contractor fails to meet the deadline, the god of deceit continued, he will not receive payment. And then you can finish the unfinished wall yourself.

However, the magnificent plan cracked at the seams when it turned out that the builder was literally tireless, and his horse dragged blocks the size of Everest in one go. Winter was coming to an end, the wall was growing literally before our eyes. And it became clear that the bricklayer would easily finish it by the summer, and there would still be time to go on vacation.

Watching how quickly and efficiently the fortifications were being built, Freya wept. She didn’t want to get married at all. The gods were also upset, but they were more worried about the possible loss of the sun and moon. They said that Loki dragged them into this scam, he had to deal with it. Otherwise, they will kill him, so that it would be disrespectful.

Scandinavian myths: Odin on the eight-legged Sleipnir
One on the eight-legged Sleipnir. Illustration by W. G. Collingwood, 1908. Image: Wikimedia Commons

Loki solved the problem in a very non-standard way. He turned into a beautiful mare and seduced Svadilfari. The horse decided that if he rested a little and took care of the arrangement of his personal life, it would not be worse for anyone. While the stallion was away, the builder had to carry the materials alone, and he did not have time to put one stone on the wall.

The gods hastened to please the builder with the news that they would not pay. He flared up and said that now the aces would not be good. The gods called for help Thor, the son of Odin.

Thor asked the stonemason if he was a giant, and smashed his head with the hammer Mjolnir, just in case.

They examined the body and understood – yes, jotun. I just disguised myself well and pasted a fake mustache.

Loki, having got rid of Svadilfari, returned to Asgard and safely gave birth to a foal. He preferred not to answer the questions of the aces, he did not react to ridicule and was generally rather silent.

The foal was named Sleipnir and given to Odin. He waved into a huge eight-legged horse, fast as the wind. God was very pleased with them.

Morality: in order not to pay the contractor, some are ready to do the most unexpected things.

2. How the aces made the giantess Skadi laugh

Scandinavian myths: the giantess Skadi and the god of the sea Njord
The giantess Skadi and the god of the sea Njord. Illustration by Friedrich Wilhelm Heine, 1882. Image: Wikimedia Commons

Once the gods of Asgard quarreled with the jotun Tjazzi – nothing special, he just stole rejuvenating apples from them. They killed him and then turned his eyes into stars. But Thiazzi had a daughter, giantess Skadi, lover of skiing and winter hunting. And she decided to take revenge.

Skadi was very strong and dangerous, the aesir could not do anything to her. And they offered a ransom for the murdered father. The giantess agreed, but set her own terms. First, the most beautiful god was to be given to her as a husband. Secondly, the aces were supposed to make her laugh. Otherwise, she will kill everyone.

And since Skadi was a very stern girl, no one ever managed to make her laugh.

But the gods managed to add one strange condition. They allowed Skadi to marry any of them, however, she had to choose her husband, looking only at his legs.

The giantess, apparently, planned to become the wife of the most beautiful of the aesir, Baldur. But his ankles were mediocre, and Skadi was mistaken in choosing Njord, a sea god with strong legs, instead. They were immediately married, but she did not like her husband. Seagulls screamed loudly in his dwelling near the sea, Skadi could not sleep and soon left Njord, deciding that she did not really want to.

The second point of the deal was to cheer up Skadi. The gods told jokes for a day, invented funny stories – in general, they tried their best. The giantess, however, had no sense of humor and looked at the grimacing aces as if they were idiots. The gods despaired and called for help from Loki. He sighed, but answered the call.

Loki tied the goat’s beard to his scrotum and began to play tug of war with him. It’s not a joke.

Seeing this disgrace, Skadi burst out laughing. And then, to celebrate, she married the supreme ace Odin and bore him many sons. The gods sighed calmly. In general, everyone was happy. Except for Loki.

Morality: When you choose your life partner (or partner), look not only at your feet. And be careful with goat beards.

3. How Frigga cheated on her husband, Odin

Norse Myths: Frigg Weaves Clouds
Frigg weaves clouds. Painting by John Doullman, 1909. Image: Wikimedia Commons

Skadi is not the only and certainly not the most famous wife of Odin. Another, more mentioned companion of his was Frigga – the goddess who patronized marriage, the hearth, peace and order.

In general, for the most part, she was quite a faithful wife, but sometimes there were various incidents. For example, once Odin went on business to distant lands. His journey was delayed, and the gods decided that he must have disappeared completely.

Upon learning that her husband was dead, Frigga grieved a little, and then went to Odin’s two brothers, Willa and Ve, and cheated on him … with both of them. In addition, she gave Villa and Ve all the property of Odin, acquired by overwork and robbery.

A little later, Odin did return and, as the legend says, “again took possession of his wife.” He did not express any complaints to his wife, and to his brothers too. That’s the whole story.

True, there is one inconsistency here.

Frigga, according to the northerners, is the world’s greatest seer, who knows the future thoroughly until the end of the world, and possibly beyond.

So she could not help but foresee that her husband was alive and would soon return to her.

Morality: if you’re a Scandinavian sailor and you’re going to sail for a few months, don’t ask your wife too many questions.

4. How Thor was given in marriage

Norse myths: Loki dressed as a maid dressing Thor
Loki dressed as a maid dressing Thor. Illustration by Carl Larsson and Gunnar Forsell, 1893. Image: Wikimedia Commons

Thor, son of Odin, was the strongest of all gods. His hammer Mjolnir had fantastic properties and always returned to the owner after the throw. Therefore, Thor was very fond of his weapons.

Once he went to visit his fiancee, Järnsaksa. On the way, I decided to take a nap under a tree, and put Mjolnir next to me. After several hours of sound sleep, accompanied by heroic snoring, Thor woke up, but the hammer was not in place.

Spoiler: It was stolen by a giant Jotun named Thrym. I was walking by, I saw that there was a good thing, and I grabbed it.

Either the Scandinavians did not know that only the worthy could lift Thor’s weapon, or the Hold was worthy of it, but one way or another he dragged him away.

Thor was very upset and decided to ask Loki for help. The latter, by the way, is not his brother, as in Marvel, but simply not the most pleasant acquaintance. Loki borrowed Freya’s falcon feather dress from Freya and flew off to inspect the world for what was stolen. Soon he discovered Thrym with a hammer in the country of the Jotuns.

Loki asked to return Mjolnir, and the kidnapper willingly agreed on one condition: the goddess of beauty, Freya, would be given to marry him (apparently, she is the most valuable thing in Asgard).

The Ases gathered a council and began to decide what to do. Freya categorically did not want to get married. The solution was found, oddly enough, not by Loki, but by ace Heimdall, the guardian of Asgard. He offered to put Freya’s dress and necklace on Thor and pass it off as her, so that God would get to the giant – and then they would sort it out themselves.

“An effeminate husband” was a rather serious insult among the Scandinavians. And the Thunderer, of course, did not want such a nickname stuck to him.

In general, Thor was strongly opposed, but Loki vigorously supported the idea.

He put on Thor a beautiful dress that Freya donated, as well as her necklace, and helped to make a make-up. He disguised himself as a maid and took Thor to the wedding.

All the gods and jotuns gathered in Thrym’s house. Tables were bursting with food. Thor, succumbing to the habit of seizing stress, ate a whole bull, eight salmon and three barrels of honey. Thrym noticed that the bride was eating too much, but the maid Loki reassured him. Like, Freya was so hungry for love that she didn’t take poppy dew in her mouth for eight days.

Thrym was impressed by such an appetite and crawled under the veil to kiss the bride, but there he saw Thor’s eyes burning with rage. He asked Loki what this meant, and he replied: it was just that the lady fell in love with the jotun so much that she did not sleep for eight nights in a row, and her eyes turned red. From tears of love, yes.

Thrym kisses Thor
Thrym kisses Thor. Illustration by W. G. Collingwood, 1908. Image: Wikimedia Commons

Hold was finally convinced of the devotion of his future wife. He ordered the hammer Mjolnir to be placed in his lap to bless the union. As soon as the weapon was in front of Thor, he grabbed it and killed Thrym. The guests, who were at least a little like a jotun, also got it. Then he tore off his bloody dress and necklace, gave it to the dumbfounded Freya, and silently left.

Morality: taking someone else’s is not good.

5. How Loki said too much and paid for it

Loki insults Bragi
Loki insults Bragi. Illustration by W. G. Collingwood, 1908. Image: Wikimedia Commons

Once Jotun Egir decided to stop the war with the Ases. He brewed beer and invited the gods to a grand party. Naturally, they immediately forgot past disagreements and began to drink and have fun.

Aegir had two servants, Eldir and Fimafeng. And so they served the aces well, delivering soft drinks, that everyone praised them very much. Except for Loki.

Loki did not like it terribly when someone else admires him, and therefore freaked out and killed Fimafeng.

The aces were indignant, shouted at Loki and drove him into the forest, while they themselves continued to have fun.

Loki sat in the forest, sobered up and got even angrier. He returned and reminded Odin of how they once became brothers. Then they swore on blood that Odin would not drink if they did not treat Loki.

One, reluctantly, allowed the god of deceit to sit down at the table again. Loki drank for courage and began to vilify everyone present.

He called Ases cowards, helpless in battle, cuckolds and “wife-like men”, and asiny – libertines who cheated on spouses (most often with Loki himself). The insults lasted a very long time and ended with the wish for the giant Aegir, the hospitable host of the party, to burn down along with all his property in a fire.

Loki then left and hid in the Franangr Fjord, turning into a salmon. Deeply wounded by the nasty things they heard, the gods caught him with a net and tied him to a rock. And his son Narvi was turned into a poisonous snake and hung over Loki, so that the poison dripped onto his head.

Norse Myths: Loki's Punishment
Loki’s punishment. Painting by Louis Huard, 1900. Wikimedia Commons

Loki’s faithful wife, Sigyn, trying to alleviate her husband’s suffering, stood over him and placed a bowl under the poison. So, as the Scandinavians believed, she would stand over the doomed Loki until the end of the world. But periodically, Sigyn has to move away to empty the bowl, and then the poison drips onto Loki. He convulses, and this supposedly causes earthquakes.

When Ragnarok, the day of the death of the gods, comes, Loki will break out and take revenge.

Morality: drunkenness and foul language are fraught with unpleasant consequences.

If you know other interesting myths behind the authorship of the northerners, share them in the comments.