The Marriage of Njord and Skadi

“Njord and Skadi on the Way to Nóatún” by Wilhelm Wägner (1882)

This tale begins where The Kidnapping of Idun ends.

While the gods were celebrating their slaying of the giant Thjazi and the return of the youth-giving goddess Idun to their halls, an unannounced visitor stormed into their merrymaking.

This was the giantess Skadi, who had arrived with armor and weapons to avenge the death of Thjazi, her father. The gods were patient with her, and convinced her to accept reparations instead of seeking vengeance.

These reparations came in three parts. First, Odin took Thjazi’s eyes and ceremoniously cast them into the night sky, where they became two stars.

Second, the gods were to make Skadi laugh. After many feats were tried, none succeeded in bringing a smile to the grim face of the giantess. At last, Loki tied one end of a rope to a goat and the other end around his testicles and began a game of tug of war with the goat. Each screeched and howled in turn, until at last Loki fell over into Skadi’s lap. The giantess couldn’t help but chuckle.

Third, Skadi was to be given a god of her choosing in marriage, but she was to select him by the sight of his legs and feet alone. She picked the fairest pair of legs she could see, thinking them to be those of Baldur. However, as it turned out, they were those of the sea-god Njord.

After Skadi and Njord’s magnificent wedding, it came time for the couple to decide where to live. Njord’s home was Noatun (“The Place of Ships”), a bright, warm place on the beach. Skadi’s home couldn’t have been more different: it was Thrymheim (“Thunder-Home”), a dark, foreboding place in the highest mountain peaks where the snow never melts.

The pair first spent nine nights in Thrymheim. When this time had passed and they made their way down from the mountains, Njord declared that, although brief, his time in Thrymheim had been loathsome. He had been particularly dismayed by the sounds of the wolves, to which he overwhelmingly preferred the songs of the swans to which he was accustomed.

After the two had slept for nine nights in Noatun, Skadi had similar opinions to express regarding the sunny home of Njord. The cries of the seabirds had been unbearably abrasive to her ears, and she had found it impossible to sleep. So she departed for the mountains, and the two parted ways.[1][2]

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[1] Snorri Sturluson. The Prose Edda. Skáldskaparmál 3.

[2] Snorri Sturluson. The Prose Edda. Gylfaginning 23.

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