Thurs Discussion: Skadi

Skadi is one of the Jotun that is known as being aligned with the Aesir. This is likely from the fact that she married into the Aesir as part of atonement to her for the killing of her father, Thiassi. We are told in Skaldskaparmal that after her father was killed, she “took helmet and mail-coat and all weapons of war and went to Asgard to avenge her father”. But once she got there the Aesir offered to make atonement instead of fighting. Skadi’s atonement was that she could pick a husband from among the Aesir. Though she hoped she could take Baldur as her husband, she was told she had to pick the husband based only on his feet. And with the As gods all behind a curtain, she picked the most beautiful feet assuming they belonged to the beautiful god, Baldur. However, they were the feet of Njord, and this was who she had to marry.
Skadi also stipulated that part of the atonement be that they make her laugh. This was her stipulation because she thought it was something no one could possibly achieve. But, Loki tying a rope from his testicles to a goat for a game of tug of war apparently did the trick, and Skadi did laugh. As I can only assume the others probably did as well. Once the atonement was paid, Skadi and her new husband Njord did try to make it work. Njord wanted to live at his home by the sea, and Skadi wanted to live back at her father’s home in the mountains. So the two agreed to spend 9 nights at one place and then 9 nights at the other. However, neither of them could stand the mere nine nights at the other partner’s home so they agreed to live separately from then on. We do know, however, that Skadi did still associate with the Aesir and go back and forth as needed between them and her home. One of the times we know she was hanging out with the Aesir was at Aegir’s feast, seen in Lokasenna. This is where we see a bitter but somewhat insightful exchange between Skadi and Loki. After Loki has spouted off and multiple deities at the feast, Skadi speaks up against him. She tells him that he wouldn’t remain free for long because the gods were going to tie him to a rock’s point with the entrails of his ice-cold son. Loki says, if they are going to bind me in that way, then you should know “that first and foremost I was at the slaying, when we assailed Thiassi”. Skadi then tells Loki that if what he says is true, then he will never get anything but cold treatment from her and any homes and fields she rules over. But that’s when Loki shoots back and spills her secrets and says that her speech toward him was much kinder when she was begging him to go to bed with her. It doesn’t tell us if he did or did not accept that offer to bed, but the point was made either way that she had at least invited him to. And after this, at Loki’s binding, it is Skadi that places the snake above Loki so that it drips the burning venom down on him. But of all this, what does it tell us about who Skadi is?

Many attribute Skadi to being a goddess of winter and ice and snow. The myths do say that she generally travels on skis. But, one could also say that traveling on skis would make sense for anyone that lived in the mountains of the cold north and traveling on foot.  Especially in a land that was more wintery than not. Also consider that in Grimnismal, Skadi is referred to as the “bright bride of the gods”. It isn’t exactly common for a winter deity to be called a “bright bride”. So  the winter kenning could be due to her cold nature, thinking no one could make her laugh, the vengeance she seeks, and the like. Her father Thiassi, was also a mountain giant who took the form of an eagle and could create great winds. That too could be a factor in this wintery kenning. In regard to this, one thing that always stands out to me about Skadi is the determination she has for avenging her father. We know that the death of Thiassi, despite being blamed on Loki, was in fact started by Thiassi himself and his own sceams. And yet, Skadi took off to Asgard prepared to go to war with the Aesir, on her own, to exact revenge. Though I can’t say I entirely agree, I have to admire the loyalty it takes to be willing to stand alone against all those who harmed her kin. I also wonder if this idea of loyalty may be part of why she goes so against Loki even after the atonement was made. Is that because she felt Thiassi’s death was more of a betrayal coming from a fellow Jotun? Then again, is it vengeance because of whatever happened the night Loki had mentioned in Lokasenna when she had invited him to bed? And then consider that she is the one that told Loki how he was going to be bound by the gods in the middle of him talking at the feast. Was this binding her idea she came up with right there on the spot and the Aesir just agreed to follow along? The way she said that the gods were the ones who would do it (instead of specifically), and her and saying “not long” until it would happen, was it something already planned and she just let it out of the bag in her anger? Who’s to really say? Skadi is one Jotun that we know more about than we do many others, yet still remains a bit of a mystery. Aside from “ski-goddess” and “bright bride of the gods”, much of her is left up to interpretation and UPG. I must admit, because of my connections to Loki, I have struggled to look much into Skadi or to even approach her. But, after reading and studying, and now doing this blog entry, I have discovered there is much more I like about her than I had first thought. For me, Skadi is a strong feminine deity. She is stern, determined, focused, and free-willed. But she can also compromise like she did when agreeing to atonement instead of her planned one-woman war. Even with the issue of where to live with Njord, she did at least try to find a compromise instead of just shoving him off and doing it her way right off the bat. And again, she is fiercely loyal to those she loves. That is something I can definitely appreciate. So, what are your thoughts on Skadi? What does she represent to you? Feel free to comment and discuss. ….  That’s all for the moment. See you soon.

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