Svipdagr and Menglǫð – The Initiation of a Hero

…hon hér rædr ok rikir hefir                                         she is the lord here, and has in her dominion

eign ok audsǫlum.[1]                                                       lands and rich halls.

 

The poem Gróagalðr begins with “the son” (sonr) standing by the gates of death invoking his long dead mother Gróa (“to grow, thrive”)[2] who had told him to wake her up if in need (see app. VIII).  The “son” explains his mission: his stepmother has sent him on the “unknown way” (er kvæmtki veit) to meet Menglǫð.[3] Gróa declares that the way is long and heavy, and that the soul will have to yearn for a long time, but if he obtains the goal of his quest, luck will follow.[4] The son asks his dead mother to chant good galðr (charms) for him, to save her child (bjarg thu, modir! megi;) for he fears that he will never come back from the quest, being too young.[5]

 

Gróa, then, chants nine charms for him. If he feels that he is carrying a heavy burden on his shoulders, he shall shake it off, himself leading himself (sjalfr leid thu sjálfan thik). If he feels insecure and unsafe, Urðr, the oldest norn, shall lead the evil away from his paths. If he encounters fatally dangerous rivers, they shall turn away from his path towards Hel, and he shall walk on dry land. If he meets enemies on his way, their minds shall be turned towards friendship. If he is fettered and bound, Gróa´s “release-galðr” shall open up any lock and loosen every knot. If he encounters a storm at sea, the winds and waves shall calm down for him. Cold shall not bite him. A dead “Christian” woman on the misty, dark roads shall not harm him. Eventually, when he encounters the great, spear-strong giant, the son shall have wit and eloquence enough in his heart and his mouth to face the giant. In the end, Gróa advises him to never himself seek bad luck, for then harm will not find him, and to remember the words of his mother – if he pays attention to her words, honor and luck will follow.[6]

 

Gróagalðr ends there, and we have to turn to Fjǫlsvinnsmál for the continuation.[7] The boy has, mysteriously, arrived at the “outer settlements” (utan garda) of the giants and thurses. Suddenly someone asks him what kind of troll he is, standing in the outer courts, moving back and forth around the “fatally dangerous fire”(hættan loga). The one who asks is the giant Fjǫlsvidr  “Very Wise” or “Much Knowing” – undoubtedly the “wise giant” Gróa mentioned in her last charm. (Fjǫl also indicates “magically versed”).[8] Very Wise is not particularly hospitable, telling the boy to return along the “slippery roads” (urgar brautir).

 

The boy, however, declares that he is eager to meet again the pleasure of his eyes, and that he believes he will enjoy staying in the golden hall (gullna sali). Very Wise asks him who he is, and the boy replies that his name is Wind-Cold, son of Spring-Cold, son of Many-Cold. Both coolness and the wind are symbols of death. Wind-Cold asks who the lord is who has in his dominion the lands and precious halls: Very Wise declares that it is the maiden Menglǫð who is the lord, as quoted above.[9]

 

Now follows a long dialogue between our hero Wind-Cold and the giant Very Wise. Wind-Cold asks and Very Wise answers, but Wind-Cold has to know how to question. During this conversation, we learn about Menglǫð, her realm, and the trials that Wind-Cold has to overcome to be reunited with the Maiden.  After realizing that the trials may not be overcome at all, Wind-Cold asks if there is anyone so blessed that he may sleep in Menglǫð´s arms. Very-Wise answers that only Svípdag may be so blessed: “The Suddenly Dawning Day”.[10] This is when Wind-Cold reveals his true name: he is Svípdag  - and is allowed to enter the hall of Menglǫð as her long lost husband. He is welcomed with a speech about the long years of yearning caused by his absence, which he explains: He was kept away by the words of Urðr – fate – and by the winds that led him along cold roads. The allusions to fate, winds and cold roads again bring death to mind. Menglǫð gives Svípdag the “kiss of welcome” and declares that they will be together for all eternity.

 

5.5: The Structural Elements of “Svípdagsmál”

The vision quest theme is represented in the first stanza of Gróagalðr, as Svípdag, described as the “son”, invokes his mother at the doors of death (daudra dura). The invocation bears some resemblance to the invocation Freyia uses to wake up the sleeping giantess in the underworld.[11] We could imagine that the “doors of death” where he performs the invocation are by the wise woman´s burial mound. This idea is strengthened by the fact that Gróa declares that she is standing on an “earth-fastened stone” while she sings her charms. Sitting on a burial mound was in fact a known practice in Norse society, a part of the practice of utiseta and a means of obtaining secret knowledge from the beyond (see Ch. 3.1).

 

The vision theme manifests itself as the long dead woman rises from her grave and speaks to her son. The waking of a dead woman is known from another Eddic poem, namely the Baldrs draumar, where Óðinn, using “charms of the Chosen Dead” (valgalðr), wakes up a dead vǫlva buried to the east of the gates of Hel. The vǫlva then reveals the meaning of Baldr´s dreams of bad omens. One could imagine that a similar scene took place before the ancient vǫlva´s chanting of her prophecies in the Vǫluspá, since the Vǫlva in that case is said to “sink” at the end of her speeCh. Similarly, the vǫlva of Baldrs draumar wishes to “sleep”. There is indeed some similarity to Hyndla, who also is woken as she sleeps in the center of the realm of the dead, and who also states a wish to go back to sleep. Hyndla is considered a giantess, yet parts of her speech is counted as the “short Vǫluspá” and are indeed quite similar to the “real” Vǫluspá. Hyndla could be said to be both a giant representative of Hel, and a dead or sleeping vǫlva.  Gróa´s joint giant- and vǫlva- identity is strengthened by an account of Snorri´s in the Gylfaginningr, where a vǫlva called Gróa chants galðr to heal Thorr´s leg. This vǫlva is the wife of a giant. It is perhaps more than a ghost that Svípdag is approaching. It is possible that Svípdag´s “mother” is a vǫlva of mythical, giant origin. It is possible that she represents a mythic figure of many names who has been largely ignored by scholars. I am suggesting the existence in the Norse cosmology of a sleeping giantess-vǫlva who encompassed many more characters than just Gróa:  such as Hyndla, Hyrrokkin, Hel and the vǫlva who was raised among giants before the beginning of time, as revealed in the Vǫluspá. Even if my idea of Gróa should be proven wrong, we may maintain that the vision theme is present when a creature from beyond the grave, a supernatural creature with knowledge of charms and of the way to reach Menglǫð, manifests herself and speaks to the living.

 

The descending theme is present both in the Gróagalðr and in the Fjǫlsvinnsmál.  Standing at the doors of death and speaking to the dead is in itself a feat of “descent” to the world of the dead. In the Fjǫlsvinnsmál, Svípdag is discovered in the “outer settlements” (utan garda), which indicates the giant world (such as far-away Utgardr) and, more specifically, the realm of the dead, as we shall argue in the following chapter.

 

The trial theme is described in more detail in the “Svípdagsmál” than in any of the other poems. In the Gróagalðr, we learn that Svípdag´s main aim is to reach Menglǫð, just as we learned, in the Hyndlulióð, that Óttarr´s main aim is to reach Valhǫll. In both cases, an old wise woman of the world of the dead is approached for the purpose of seeking teaching and help. Svípdag expresses fear, anguish and doubt, he is too young, it is too far, the stepmother who forced him onto the quest was “harm-wise” (lævisa). (In fact, the stepmother theme was subtly present also in the Skírnismál, where the prose introduction declares that it was Skaði, Freyr´s stepmother, who made Skírnir approach Freyr in order to help him. Skaði could be said to be “harm-wise”, since her name itself means “harm”.[12]) Gróa agrees with Svípdag that the way is long and difficult and that he will have to yearn for a long time –quite like Freyr, who yearned for his beloved during nine insufferable nights.  But Gróa´s nine charms will help Svípdag on his way. Nine charms were also “given” to Óðinn by his maternal uncle before the drinking of the precious mead in Hávamál St. Gróa´s charms, which she “gives” to the lad, could, as Motz suggests, be describing an initiation ritual. As we saw above, the charms do indicate obstacles on the way and how, both through cunning and magic, to conquer them. The charms make him ready for the big trial, namely the meeting with the giant warden and the impenetrable walls of the Maiden. During the conversation with the giant, we learn so much about the realm of the Maiden that there is not space to discuss it in detail within this study. As Eldar Heide has argued, the poem provides crucial information about the Norse cosmos.[13] Svípdag learns about these important secrets and about how to enter Menglǫð´s hall. It turns out, through a long dialogue, that it is downright impossible, no matter what he tries to do. It is only when it occurs to the young man to ask who is so blessed that he may sleep in Menglǫð´s soft embrace that the solution reveals itself. It is only the right one, the one that had already been married to the “great maiden” (tjodmæra),[14] the one whose name is Svípdag, who may be so blessed. Once Svípdag remembers his true identity as Menglǫð´s husband and calls himself by his true name, the Maiden herself lets open the doors and receives her long lost beloved with a kiss. I use the word “remember” because, until then, the poems themselves do not reveal his real name. Only after having studied the realm of the Maiden, where the Mimameidr – “tree of memory” – is situated, Wind-Cold declares himself to be Svípdag, long “lost” on slippery roads. In St. 5, Wind-Cold declares that he would like to see “again” the halls of Menglǫð, meaning that he obviously remembers them from before. Yet in the beginning of the Gróagalðr, the boy shows no signs at all of remembering that he has actually been married to the Menglǫð whom he is about the seek. An important part of Svípdag´s trial, it seems, is to remember his true identity – the husband of the Great Maiden.

 

The Maiden theme is revealed through the marriage and love between Svípdag and Menglǫð. The offering of a drink could be present in Menglǫð´s name, if we should choose to follow Jacobsdottir´s interpretation of the name as “Invitation to a Drink”. Moreover, as we will argue in the following chapter, Menglǫð is sitting at the foot of the world tree, where the three wells of the world are situated. The tree is called Mimameidr here, the “Tree of Remembering”, and alludes to the giant Mimir, who drinks from the well that contains intelligence and memory about all the worlds, that Óðinn coveted so muCh.

 

5.6: The Realm of the Dead in Fjǫlsvinnsmál

The realm that Svípdag is visiting is described in great detail, and we only have room to discuss the most essential features that may identify the realm of the dead. Menglǫð´s hall is surrounded by a terrible-looking fence with a horrific gate. The gate is called Thrymgjǫll – “the Loud Resounding One”[15] – a name which immediately brings to mind the Resounding bridge and river on the way to Hel.[16] Every traveller who tries to move it will be stuck to it. The image of being stuck to something in the giants´ realm is common: In the Gylfaginning, Loki is stuck the the walls of the hall of the giant Geirrǫd, caught and put into a cheSt. In the poem Haustlong, cited in the Skáldskaparmál, Loki finds himself stuck to the giant in eagle´s disguise after trying to hit him. In both cases, Loki is faced with certain death. As we argued in Ch. 4.4, the giant in eagle´s disguise is a representative of death. Menglǫð´s gate is made by “the three sons of Sólblindi” – the “Sunblind” – as we know, the sun is not seen in Niflheimr.[17]The symbol of death is present in the nature of that gate:  a world that one gets stuck in forever when once entered, a world where there is no way out.

 

The fence is called Gastropnir, which according to Heide means “Guest-Strangler”.[18] According to Simek, the – ropnir part of the word could really be – rofnir – to be torn asunder. Both meanings make sense: any “guest” in the realm of the dead may expect to die. That fence is made of the limbs of Leirbrimir, who could be identified with Ymir from whose limbs the gods fashioned the world itself.[19]  If this is the case, it may follow that the fence is the fashioned, divinely ordered word itself, or at least made of the same substance. In Baldrs draumar, a point is made of how Óðinn  avoids the gates of Hel. In the story of Hermóðrr in the Skáldskaparmál, a similar point is made of how Hermóðrr´s horse Sleipnir jumps over the gates of Hel without touching them.

 

The image of the death-realm is completed by the fact that two ferocious, barking dogs are guarding the gate. We recall from Ch. 4.10 that barking, blood strained dogs were a feature of Hel´s and of the giantess Gerðr. The dogs names are Gifr and Geri, both names meaning “Greedy”.[20] Although they are dogs, their names are those of wolves and giantesses, a combination often found in connection with death.[21] These two dogs will, as long as the world last, guard the eilifu -the “eternal ones”. [22]

Menglǫð´s grandfather is Svafrthorinn, from svafr – which is derived from sofa – to sleep, and thorinn, which means courageous, brave. [23] I find this family relation important because the valkyriur, as we shall see in the chapter 6, are connected to similar names or family relations with names indicating sleep, which, ultimately, indicates death.

 

Finally, during the dialogue between Svípdag and the wise giant, we learn that one woman keeps the weapon that will make it possible to enter Menglǫð´s hall. Her name is Sinmara, the “pale mare” (as in nightmare)[24], and she is the consort of Surtr (“Acidous”) who will one day be the death of Freyr. The old“pale giantess” keeps the Lævateinn locked with nine iron locks. As Heide has suggested, Sinmara and Hel are the same.[25]

 

5.7: The Realm of the Giants in the Fjǫlsvinnsmál

Inside the forbidding and well-guarded fence, there is a great tree, spreading out over the land. It is called the Mimameidr, “the tree of Mimir”. Mimir is the giant under the world tree who drinks from the well of memory and wisdom with the Resounding Horn. If we remember Suttungr´s association both with the realm of death and with the giant Mimir in Ch. 4.4, this location of Mimir´s tree is quite interesting. The tree is described in stanza 20 in a way that makes it possible to identify it with Yggdrasill -the world tree itself. Few know from what roots it has sprung, and what is eating it up slowly. The same kind of description is found in the Grimnismál 34 and 35, about the Yggdrasill. The Mimameidr has a special attribute: its seeds may be thrown on a fire, to relieve women sick during pregnancy, and in order to see what has been hidden. It is generally acknowledged that Mimameidr is another name for Yggdrasill.[26] In the top of the Mimameidr, a rooster is seated, all glowing with gold – in the top of Yggdrasill the bird is an eagle. In Norse poetry, there is nothing unusual about calling one thing by a different name, and the eagle in particular is a bird often named by other kinds of birds.[27]  The allusion to Mimir is very interesting. According to Snorri, the World Tree has three different roots, each reaching into a well. One is situated in Hel´s  realm, a well infested with serpents, the origin of the rivers of the world. Another is situated in the realm of giants, where the well is guarded by the giant Mimir. In that well intelligence, wisdom and memory of all the worlds is contained. The third root is situated in the realm of the gods. The well at the third root is called after its guardian, Urðr, the oldest of the norns. From this well, the Urdarbrunnr, Urðr waters the tree so that it may stay eternally green. From this well, ultimately, the dew that falls into the valleys of the world is derived. By this root and this well, the maidens Urðr, Verdandi and Skuld, the three original norns, shape the lives of the living. The gods and goddesses hold court and counsel by the well of the norns, and the rainbow bridge between the worlds leads there. The water has an obvious healing, rejuvenating, renewing and transformative function: it keeps the World Tree from rot and decay, and it is “so holy that all things that come into that well go out as white as the membrane called the skin that lies round the inside of an eggshell”.[28] There are many more norns, who have their origin first in Urðr, then in the trio of Urðr, Verdandi and Skuld. These norns visit everybody who is born, follow them through their lives and shape their fate.[29]

 

In the Fjǫlsvinnsmál, we are subtly presented to each of the three realms (with their attached roots and wells with different functions), only they are not separated from each other in the manner Snorri describes. They seem to be aspects of each other. We have pointed out the features of Hel and the features of the giant world through the situation in utan garda, its giant warden and the tree of Mimir. Now we must turn to the world beyond the ferocious fences, where the ferocious dogs will guard the “eternal ones” for ever, the world below the tree of Mimir.

 

5.8: The Realm of the Maidens

In the Fjǫlsvinnsmál  9 and 11, the maiden´s realm is said to be “sown with the gods” (med godum sáat).[30]What is interesting about this is that we have already learned that we are in the Outer Settlements – the giants´ realms. This does not seem to affect the divinity of the realm. Menglǫð is described as “sun-bright” and named as a “great maiden” (tjodmæra). She is surrounded by nine maidens at the foot of the great tree. There she sits, completely still, in utter silence.[31] Her brightness is in accordance with that of the other maidens: Gunnlǫð´s golden throne, Gerð´sgold and arms that shine across the world, Freyia´s fiery necklace and golden tears, and as we shall soon see, the immense rays and shine that unfailingly accompany the valkyriur. Luminiscence, brightness and goldenness may have be common ways of describing women in a flattering manner, yet it is also very much a part of the structure of the “Maiden-mythology” and should not be overlooked. The placing of Menglǫð and her maidens at the foot of the World Tree is important:  norns, goddesses of fate, are situated at the foot of the world tree Yggdrasil.

 

Menglǫð´s hall is golden, situated within the Gastropnir fence, and is surrounded by flames. Its name is Hyrr – “The Shining One”,[32] shivering on the tips of swords and knifes. About its beauty people may only know through its fame – indicating how unusual it is to go there – and live to tell of it. 

 

There is a hill there called the Lyfjaberg – “the Mountain of Medicine”, and there, Menglǫð sits.[33]  The Mountain of Medicine may be climbed by any sick woman, and she will be healed from life-long sorrows. By the knees of the dreaming lady, nine maidens sit together, and their names are Hlif (Life) and Hlifthrasa (Life-Seeker), Thjodvarta, Bjǫrt (Bright), Blid (Amiable), Blidr again, Frid (Peace), Eir (otherwise known as a goddess of healing and medicine) and Ǫrboda.[34]These maidens will save anyone in need, only they sacrifice to them.

 

As I was arguing in the previous section, Fjǫlsvinnsmál presents us to each of the three worlds. The world of the maidens and the Great Maiden by whose knees they sit is divine. It is placed at the top of a mountain, and at the same time at the foot of the World Tree. It is a place of healing, love and help. It is situated in the midst of the world of the dead, which is situated in the midst of the world of the giants. At the same time, it offers bright and loving promises. Näsström has argued that the norn Urðr is identifiable with Freyia. Ström identifies Urðr with Hel, and Hel with Freyia.[35]Hyrr could be a representation of Freyia´s beautiful after-death realm, her “Field of People” and “Hall of Friendship”. That places Hyrr in the ninth of the divine realms. However, if Hyrr is rather, or at the same time, a presentation of the norns´ realm, then it is situated in the center and court of Ásgarðr, the divine realm.

 

In the story of Menglǫð, we, for the first time in this study, see a collective of maidens surrounding one “great Maiden”. The group could represent the brúdkonur – the women accompanying the bride while she awaits the groom, and thus an emphasis on the marriage motif in the story. Yet I find in the image a striking resemblance to the valkyriur who travel in troops led by one who is more splendid than all the others. This is a link to the next chapter, where we shall discuss the valkyriur. It is also worthwhile, here, to recall the theories of Ström and Näsström of a “Great Dís” emerging from a collective of dísir, a dís identified, ultimately, as the “Lady”, the Great Goddess Freyia.

 

5.9: Summary and Conclusions to Ch. 5

….at thu ert komin, mǫgr! til minna sala.[36]                  That you have returned, man, to my halls!

 

In this chapter, I have argued that Freyia and Menglǫð are identical with each other and moreover that, through their functions and the structure of their stories, they may be identified with the giantesses Gerðr and Gunnlǫð as represented in Ch. 4.

 

The structure of each myth is similar to each other. It is possible to detect a pattern of themes such as 1) the Vision Quest Theme, 2), the Vision Theme, 3) a Descending Theme, 4) Trial Theme, and 5) a Maiden Theme. Each theme in each myth resembles the other themes of the other myths on a fundamental level.

 

The Maidens are placed in a protected spot within a realm that is identifiable as Niflhel. However, the Maidens represent an alternative to the bone-sucking monsters of Hel´s extinguishing realm. The alternative is represented by how Óðinn with the help of Gunnlǫð dug his way out of the mountain of the giants and returned to the divine realm with the precious mead inside himself, taking upon himself the features of death, eagle and serpent, and using them to escape, flying, to freedom. It is present in the choice to which Gerðr is presented, either to be a wife of the gods in possession of their most sacred treasures, or to be an ogress gaping behind the gates of Hel. It is also alluded to in the grove that the winds do not reach – the winds, as we know, originate in the realm of the dead, with the all-devouring eagle Corpse Swallower.  It is present in the contrast between Hyndla, who offers poison and forgetfulness, and Freyia, who offers love and memory which may lead the hero to the heavenly afterlife in Valhǫll. Finally, it is present in the contrast between Menglǫð´s eternal love on the Mountain of Medicine and in the pale giantess Sinmara, who keeps the only weapon that could make it possible to get past the ferocious guard dogs, locked behind nine iron locks.

 

Each poem is different, but, as I see it, complementary. Each fills in gaps of information about the “Myth of the Maiden with the Mead”.  Fjǫlsvinnsmál adds very much to our understanding of the Norse cosmos. I argue that the three roots and the three wells of the World Tree may be seen as three aspects of the same reality. This alludes to my argument in Ch. 4.5: namely that Óðinn learns by all the three wells simultaneously. The same appears to be the case with Svípdag.

 

The poems also reveal a kind of “love and loss story” within the myth. It could appear that Óðinn was the first to approach the Maiden, who was then a giantess and who, after the marriage and Óðinn´s betrayal, was left behind in the giant´s realm. Gunnlǫð´s weeping for Óðinn is reflected in Freyias weeping for Ódr and in Menglǫð´s longing for her long lost husband. Óðinn appears to regret his treatment of Gunnlǫð, Freyr longs himself sick for Gerðr, and Menglǫð´s returning husband declares that she was not the only one to suffer, that they have been separated by cold winds and slippery, dark paths, all symbols that may belong to the realm of death. There are several indications that Svípdag, through the workings of the mortal realms, has forgotten his original relationship to Menglǫð. A theme of original union and subsequent loss and forgetfulness seems to be present in the myth of the Maiden. Óttarr faces the danger of forgetting everything he learned in the Underworld unless Freyia and all the gods help him. In Fjǫlsvinnsmál, the World Tree is called the Tree of Remembering, and Svípdag acts as if he only has a vague memory of the golden halls in the beginning, recognizing both the Maiden and himself only at the end of the poem. The climax of his lessons may be this fact: that the he and the Maiden have always been united in their souls. We are reminded of the image of the reincarnated hero and the valkyria who is either reincarnated or only sleeps until her re-born hero finds her and wakes her up – a theme we shall discuss in the next chapter.



[1] Gróagaldr St. 7-8

[2] Simek, 1996, p. 120

[3] It is the “stepmother”-theme which has been the strongest argument for understanding “Svipdagsmál” as a “fairy-tale”. However, the theme only exists in the Gróagaldr, which means that, read separately, the Fjǫlsvinnsmál has no stepmother-theme at all. Even if read together, the stepmother theme is also to be found in the Skirnismál, a poem most accepted as a rendering of true myth.

[4] Gróagaldr St. 1-4. Menglǫd being mentioned in the poem makes the link to Fjǫlsvinnsmál quite obvious.

[5] Gróagaldr St. 5

[6] Gróagaldr, St. 6-16

[7] This is if we understand the Fjǫlsvinnsmál as a continuation of the Gróagaldr, as a “Svípdagsmál”

[8]  Simek, 1996, p. 84, Heide, 1997, p. 8. Ström, 1954, and most others, translated fjǫl in the Reginsmál as “trollkunnig” –versed in magic, sorcery.

[9] Translations of name in Heide, 1997, p. 8, and in Norrøn Ordbok

[10] Simek, 1996, p. 307. Heide, 1997, points out theories of other possible origins of the name on p. 26-27, particularly a link to Svipall, one of Ódinn´s names. In fact, the revelation of Wind-Cold´s real name in the poem comes only in St. 47

[11] See appendix VII and VIII

[12] Norrøn Ordbok

[13] Heide, 1997

[14] Fjǫlsvinnsmál, St. 35

[15] Simek, 1996, p. 330. From thrymr, m. “loud noise”, and gjǫll, f., “Resounding noise”

[16] See Ch. 4.10

[17] Voluspá St. 41

[18] Heide, 1997, p. 8

[19]Leir- means clay or something made out of clay. The concept of a leirjǫtunn – “Clay-Giant”- existed in the Norse vocabulary. Brimir probably comes from brim, n.,(or brimi, n.)  which means the movement of waves against land, although brimi, m., means “fire” (Simek, 1996, p. ) Brimir is an alternative name for Ymir in the Voluspá stanzas 9 and 37; as we know, the world itself was fashioned out of the limbs of Ymir.  Yet, Snorri in the Gylfaginning claims that Brimir is the name for the room where the gods hold a drinking feaSt. Simek, however, believes that Snorri has misinterpreted and that Brimir is the name of the giant who owns the hall where the gods drink (ibid, p.)  The hall is explicitly said to be a bjórsal –an “ale-hall”, in the Voluspá 37. If Brimir is identical with Ymir, there is to my view no contradiction in his identity also with the great drinking hall – it is not diffiucult to imagine the world itself as a great banquet for the gods.

 

[20] Simek, 1996, p. 108, 106

[21]Such as the giantess riding a wolf who pushes Balder´s funeral ship out to sea, another giantess riding a wolf who signals the death of Helgi Hiǫrvardsson, or the giantess who gives birth to wolves that will destroy the world in the Voluspá. Einar Sveinsson (1975, p. 29-37) pointed out the fact that the dog-names belonged to wolves and giantesses.

[22] Actually, the text says ellifu, which could only mean “eleven”. Bugge (1867), p. 345, suggests that it must really be a form of eilifr, which means “eternal”. Mortensen Egnund (1993), p. 217, translates into “møyane” – the “maidens”.

[23] Simek, 1996, p. 305: Simek believes that the meaning of svafr as “sleep” hardly makes sense and that it really should be Svefnthorn, “sleeping thorn”. In my opinion the name as it is makes sense if understood as “Courageous Sleep(er)” insofar as sleep may be understood as “death”. This will be discussed in Ch. 6.

[24] Simek, 1996, p. 285

[25] Heide, 1997, p. 173-174

[26] Ström, 1993, p. 97, Simek, 1996, p. 216.

[27] Skáldskaparmál (Faulkes, 1987, p. 137)

[28] Faulkes, 1987, p.19

[29] See Ch. 3.1

[30] Fjǫlsvinnsmál St. 9

[31] thruma in St. 35 is usually translated as “dreaming”, that is, Menglǫd is dreaming. But the word actually means “to remain quiet or silent on one spot”, as Heide, 1997, p. 121 points out.

[32] Simek, 1996, p. 170

[33] Hyfjaberg is recognized as a mistake for Lyfjaberg, “Mountain of Medicines”, usually translated in Norwegian as “Lækjedomsberget” (Mountain of Healing) since, as Heide, 1997, p. 10, points out, the actual meaning of medicine in Norwegian makes it sound like it is a farmacy.

[34] Translation taken from Norrøn Ordbok and Simek, 1996

[35] Ström, 1954

[36] Fjǫlsvinnsmál, St. 49

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