Birth of Loki – Trickster God
Loki, the son of the giant Farbauti and the goddess Lauvayu, was a real scary thing. Relationships between gods and giants were forbidden, but several gods took giants as wives. This was the first terrible omen – the birth of Loki from a deity and a giant, a child of the forbidden. Later, Loki mixed his blood with Odin’s and the two became blood brothers, and so Loki became one of the Aesir gods.
With his birth, Loki brought evil into the world, and his temper was terrible. The children of the women who gave him heirs are all monsters; the children of the ice giant Angrboda: the eldest son, the ferocious wolf Fenrir; the snake Jormungandr; the terrible witch Hel. In the beginning, the children lived with their mother in Jotunheim. The gods of Asgard foresaw that Loki’s children could cause great misfortune, but since they could not kill them, one night, on Odin’s orders, they tied up Angrboda, shut her mouth, and abducted her children.
After Odin’s whim to keep an eye on the bloodthirsty wolf Fenrir in Asgard, unrest reigned in the kingdom. The gods were not very comfortable with such a beast in the kingdom, and only Thor dared to feed him, a true daredevil – he was still the son of a giant. But Fenrir did not stop growing. The beast became too powerful and the gods began to fear him, so they devised a way to chain him without him realizing it – they offered him a bet. If he has enough strength to break the chains he will be the winner of the bet. Fenrir agreed, chained he broke chains, but the gods offered a second time with a stronger chain – and again broke them. Odin sent Frey’s servant, Skirnir, to the elves of darkness to forge the strongest chain for the wolf. The elements of the chain were the most wonderful: they forged shackles from the sound of cat footsteps, a woman’s beard, the roots of a mountain, bear veins, the smell of fish and bird saliva. They called the chain Gleipnir, and it was as fine to the touch as silk. They offered the wolf to go to the island of Lyungvi in Lake Amsvartnir to tie him to Gleipnir, but the wolf was not stupid – he realized that the chain was special.
He agreed, but on the condition that one of the gods put a hand on his snout. This would show the good will of the Aesir. The gods agreed and tied Fenrir, and only Thor placed a hand on his snout, but the gods then refused to untie the chain, and Fenrir furious tore off Thor’s hand. As furious as Fenrir was, he had to wait for Ragnarok, the end of the world, to be free again.
Odin had to do something against Jormungandr as well – he knew that in the last battle of Ragnarok, Thor would die from the venom of the serpent in a fierce battle, so he sent the little snake into the sea. There he began to grow, and grew so large that his body circled all over Midgard and bit his tail. No one dared to fish or steam to Jormungandr’s habitat, except Thor, who was catched the huge monster with a bull’s head on a hook.
Jormungandr and Thor stared at each other with hatred, but in the end the giant Humir cut the fiber and Jormungandr sank back into the sea.
Loki’s third child from Angrboda – the witch Hel – Odin exiled to Nifelheim – the kingdom of Ice. There she became the mistress of the Underworld – neither alive nor dead. Not the fallen from the wars and battle were for her kingdom, but the others – from illness, adversity, old age; as well as all monsters, animals, giants and dwarves. Her utensils were extremely eloquent about the kingdom and its role in the worlds: the plate from which it ate was Hungr – Hunger; her knife Sult – Famine; her bed Cor – Sick-Bed, and the bed cover – Blikyandabol – Gleaming-bale. It was her black-and-red rooster that would sing the last song – the crowing with which Ragnarok – The End would be announced.
For Loki’s worst deeds, his daughter, the witch Hel, willingly helped. Their numbers led to the deaths of two of Odin’s sons, and Hel kept them in her kingdom until the battle of Ragnarok, holding them tightly in the embrace of darkness.
The death of Odin’s children, the saddest moment in the history of the gods, because the all-father was a clairvoyant and could not prevent their death. He was well aware of the inevitability as well as the destruction of the world, and there was nothing he could do to stop it. That was the wisdom — even he, the great Odin, was helpless in the face of fate.