Loki’s Children

Loki’s Children

The story of how Loki, the Trickster, fathered three monstrous children, the wolf Fenrir, the World Serpent Jormungund, and the girl Hel. Hear how Odin rallied the gods to kidnap these children and banish them to the corners of the worlds, only to give them time to grow until their father will call them to battle against the gods at Ragnarok. 

Among the Aesir there lived one named Loki, the trickster, shape-shifter and mischief-monger of the gods. Spawn of the giants, he was the father of lies, creator of illusions, and master of trickery. By the gods, he was given Sigyn, a beautiful and faithful wife, with whom he had the handsome boy, Nari.

However, this wife and child could not satisfy the petulant god and he often strode to Jotunheim, the land of his birth, to make merry with the giantess Angrboda.  By her, Loki fathered three monstrous children. Fenrir was the eldest, a wolf large and strong. Jormungund was second, a serpent larger than any found in the nine worlds. The last was a daughter, Hel, completely lovely from the waist to her head, but her legs and feet were black and green, decaying, her expression always grim and dark.

When word of these children reached the gods, they feared greatly and assembled to discuss what should be done.

“Heed my words,” said Freyr, guardian of the rain and the sun.  “Great evil will come of these born with a giant for a mother.”

“Worse yet is their father,” said Thor, the strong patron of men.

Odin listened and then left to take councils of the Norns, those beings who direct and ordain men’s lives. At their well, he spoke to them, Urd, Verdandi, and Skald – past, present, and future – and they told him ill omens, of pain and of killing and of how these children would destroy the gods in the great battle of Ragnarok, the end of all things. Odin needed no further warnings to spur him to action.

The gods came together and in the dead of night stole into Jotunheim, entered the hall of the giantess Angrboda and bound her. Before she could blink her eyes, the gods had left with her children in their keep. She wept and mourned, for naught else could she do.

When they returned to Asgard, Odin had no doubts about what to do with the serpent, Jormungund. He took the serpent by the tail and cast him into the great sea around Midgard. There the serpent thrived and grew until he became so great that his body circled the world and his head bit his tail. To this day, he is called the World Serpent.

Hel, also, Odin took and threw. He flung her into the darkness of Niflheim and called after her that henceforth she would be given all the dead to keep and house. She was given power in the nine worlds to take into her halls those who died of disease and age. She made herself a great hall, Eljudnir, home of the dead. Her plate was Hunger, her knife Famine. She laid to rest on the bed Disease, and her bed-hangings were Misfortune.  And so Hel watched and cared for the dead until the end of all things.

Finally, Odin’s eye came to rest on Fenrir, the wolf. It was determined that the gods themselves would watch over this one, for he seemed no different from an ordinary wolf. What harm might befall letting him roam the plains of Asgard? Even so, only Tyr the valiant-one would dare approach the beast and give him meat to eat.

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