The Norse Mythology is both puzzling as well as entertaining. It gave us great figures like Odin, Loki, and Thor that are today synonymous with superheroes, thanks to Marvel! Norse Mythology is much different than Roman or Greek mythology, as the gods are more flawed than humans and value a warrior’s prowess more than humanity. Unlike other mythologies, Norse mythology does not punish or teach humans instead the gods take part in all sorts of adventures with them. In short, they learn together, and that’s what makes it super fascinating!
Perhaps one of the most famous and scandalous figures of Norse Mythology is Loki. Loki is considered a trickster god according to the myth. Unlike the Marvel comics, in real myth, Loki is the son of Fárbauti (a jötunn) and Laufey. He is happily married to Sigyn and together has a son named Narfi. But apart from his official family, Loki was involved in an affair with the witch Angerboda, with whom he bore three children. These children are not the children of men, they are monstrous kids who are formless and possess powers enough to destroy Asgard.
Loki’s monstrous Children- Fenrir, Jörmungand and Hel.
When Odin learned about Loki’s affair and his three children, he summoned Thor and Tyr, his greatest warriors to bring those kids to him. Thus the two warriors went to Jotunheim to capture Loki’s secret children. Upon arriving, they were first encountered with Loki’s firstborn Jörmungand, who showed itself as a giant Serpent. Thor with ease fought with the snake-let and tied him to a pine tree.
Their second encounter was with Loki’s second child Hel, who was a beautiful young woman from the right side but a decaying corpse from the left side. She was the most frightening as her greed was for the withering of all life. But unlike her appearance, she silently agreed to go with her captors. Their final encounter was with Loki’s third child Fenrir, a small wolf who was harmless at that age. Tyr put him inside his pocket and returned to Asgard.
At Asgard, the prisoners were presented to the king, when God saw them, he was affrighted. He was determined to dispose of them before they grow up to become the darkest nightmare for Asgard. The first one to be banished was Jörmungand, Thor threw the serpent into the deep ocean at the edge of the world. Hel was hurled down the deeps below the world where she would join her fellow corpses. She was casted to Niflheim. While for the little cub Fenrir was presented with a challenge. Odin let him grow and supervised his activities. Within a few months, the small cub turned into a wolf to a beast who could speak the language of the Gods.
All the other workers feared supervising him or bringing any food to him, thus Tyr took up the responsibility of caring for the wolf’s lair. Every day he would bring food for Fenrir and feed him in his huge provisions. Though Tyr was developing a good bond with Fenrir, the other Gods including Odin were terrorized by the growing wolf. Odin decided that the wolf must be bound. He himself forged a huge and heavy chain called Laeding, its weight was greater than that of Thor’s hammer.
Odin presented the chains to Fenrir with a challenge. He would bind the wolf with these chains to test whether his strength could break them. The wolf willingly accepted and splintered the chain as old wood. Odin was dismayed but not willing to give up, he took more iron and crafted a chain that no soul could lift alone. He brought these chains once again to the wolf but to his terror, Fenrir broke the chain into thousands of pieces.
By this time Odin realized that no meager chain could bound the monstrous wolf and thus he turned towards the skilled makers of all ‘The Dwarves’. The Dwarfs accepted the request and forged a chain made of the roots of stones, breath of a fish, sinews of bears, the beard of women, and spittle of a bird. These rarest ingredients made up Gleipnir, a silken smooth string strong enough to bound the monstrous beast.
Odin once again presented the strings to Fenrir who laughed seeing them. But as he examined the thread closely, he doubted Odin’s intentions. But the giant was not willing to give up and thus struck a deal, he would only accept the challenge if any one of them was willing to put their hand inside his mouth throughout. Odin was confused, but his brave warrior Tyr accepted the challenge. He agreed to put his hand inside Fenrir’s mouth. The skilled swordsman presented his left hand but Fenrir asked for the right one as it was the hand dearest to the warrior, Tyr agreed.
The threads were placed on the wolf and as he strained Gleipnir only became tighter. He strained to his monstrous size but was unable to break free. Fenrir realized the agony of betrayal and so with fury, he snapped his jaws upon the hand of Tyr ripping it off. Fenrir vowed to destroy Odin and Asgard. Watching Asgard’s darkest nightmares come true, Odin took Tyr’s sword and drove it into Fenrir’s underjaw. The mighty foam flowed down his jaws forming a river later called Von, the river of Fury. The beast was bound and imprisoned.
As Odin celebrated his victory, he failed to realize that he has sealed his own doom. As Jörmungand deep into the ocean grew so huge that he encircled the whole world and became known as Midgard Serpent. His sister Hel grew her power over the nine regions and became the queen of the underworld. While for Fenrir, he restrained the thread little by little every day until the day of Ragnarok when he was finally freed.