The Wedding of Thor

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The Wedding of Thor

Post by John T Mainer on Thu May 07, 2009 1:16 am

In the days before the forging of Mjollner, Thor was renowned as a
slayer of Jottun, unmatched by Vanir, Ettin or troll in battle or in
duel. He was ever alone. While Odin had sweet Frigga for his own, and
Loki the seducer had two wives and many mistresses, Thor himself had
found no goddess, elf, or mortal to win his heart. In those days none
was more travelled than Loki, for he alone ranged at will in places
held by god or Jottuns both. When Thor sat in his hall brooding over
his troubles, Loki teased him, seeking to learn his troubles.

“What gives you the black look, red-beard?” Loki asked

“Your
brow gets any lower it will be lost in your beard” When Loki’s jibes
got no answer, he sat upon the bench with his kinsmen and asked in
seriousness

“Come thunderer, what trouble has left you so quiet?”

In a rush Thor spoke of his failure to find a wife who would fill his
heart with joy, his hall with strong sons and proud daughters. When he
was finished, Thor looked hard at Loki, as if daring him to laugh.

After a few moments, Loki seemed to have a thought. He began to speak
of a maiden in far of Jottunheim, named Sif. Daughter of a mighty
father, and a wise-woman mother, she was of the ancient Jottun blood
but fair beyond all words. Loki spoke of her hair soft as corn silk,
golden as summer wheat that fell in braids like streams of honey. Loki
spoke of her snowlike skin, her ice blue eyes, and her proud yet gentle
bearing, and as he wove his word-spell the fire lit within the eyes of
the thunderer, until his eyes blazed like his beard.

With a
shout he was off around his hall Bilskirnir, shouting for his servants
to ready his cart and his mighty goats. In his finest raiment, filling
a chest with the finest of his treasures as guest gifts and promise of
richer bride tokens, Thor set out at once for Jottunheim.

At
the hall of Sif, Thor found that he was not alone in wooing her, for
Utgard-Loki also sought her fair hand. When Thor offered to fight for
her, Sif said that her kinsmen had been driven from the fertile fields
and into the rocky mountain fastness by endless battle, that she could
not be won by more of the same. Sif demanded that each suitor prove his
worth and commitment by a contest. In a voice soft and calm as the wind
in the tall grain, she spoke thus to her suitors:

“I am a maiden
alone, without household. As my mother taught me to cook for my mighty
father, I have prepared a feast. To no lesser god or ettin could I wed
myself, so to he who can eat my fathers portion, and drain my fathers
cup, shall have me to wife”

Utgard-Loki towerd above Thor, his
massive thews coiled with golden arm rings, his cloak of seamless soft
fur thrown back to reveal a chest the size of a bear. He laughed at the
test and boasted:

“I am best of Jottun, rich chieftain of famed
table. All the nine worlds know that my feasts know no equal. You will
find me a mighter man at the table than this red bearded stripling”

Thor scowled, ill pleased he could not settle this with hard strokes, but in no way willing to be bested by any ettin.

“Second to no ettin, god or wight at table or battle both, I will win thee for my own fair Sif!” he vowed.

In the central firepit hung two roasting giant auroch, easily seven
feet at the shoulder. The sweet smell of their sizzling fat hung heavy
in the hall, and with a right good will did Utgard-Loki step up and
seize the first. Biting with his bearsized jaws, he swore as his strong
teeth failed.

“Too long we waited for this boasting Aesir to
come, this meat has gone tough as old bone!” He through the auroch
aside and laughed

“In my hall you will never cook, for I have full hundred thralls”

Sifs
eyes looked coldly upon the discarded auroch, and upon the smirking
Jottun. She turned to Thor to see how he would respond.

“In
Bilskirnir hall right gladly will I eat any fare from your hand, and at
your call will be servants of better mettle than his whipped thralls”
answered Thor as he stepped to his auroch.

With his matchless
arms he raised his auroch, although it weighed more than a ship. With
iron jaws he chewed the auroch, although for so fair a maiden and so
famed a cook, the meat was hard as stone! Bite after bite did Thor
chew, gnawing here and there upon the beast until he could eat no more.
For all that Thor staggered backwards with the beast only showing a few
meagre holes, Sif smiled full fair upon him.

Sif held forth a great horn, almost an amphora.
“This is my father’s mead horn, and he who drains it dry shall find my favour”

Utgard-Loki
again seized first chance, and raised the cup in his two great hands
and began to guzzle. With a startled oath he spat on the floor crying
“Too salty!”
“In my hall have I sisters thrice who brew fine mead that never will you have to drink such a bitter cup!”

Utgard-Loki’s boasts again left Sif unmoved. Sif turned to Thor as if
daring him to do better. With a right good will the Stormbringer raised
the cup to his beard and manfully drew deep. In truth it was bitter
with salt, but with her soft eyes upon him the Aesirman would not yield
and swallowed full until his blood hammered in his ears like the
breaking surf, and he could no more wait for breath. With a gasp he
handed back the horn, and lay panting upon the floor of the great hall.

Utgard-Loki laughed to see the Jottun-bane laid low, and demanded since
each suitor had failed the tests that she find another way to choose
between them.

Sif’s blue eyes blazed like lightning in a summer storm and her voice rang hard and bold as a sword upon a shield boss:
“Not so,” she proclaimed
“For
the auoch each were given were the mountains my Jottun kinsmen have
been driven into. Thor alone had the will to chew great fjords to bring
my people safe harbours, swift travel, and bountiful catches. For this
gift he has found my favour.”

Utgard-Loki scowled as he saw the
son of Jord swell with rising hope. The Jottun sought to win back the
favour he had lost by a matching offer.

“My halls overflow with gold, and were you mine would I send great ships of wealth to your kinsmen’s harbours.”

Sif was unmoved by this offer and she replied.
“My
kinsmen are no beggars, and no one can feast on gold. While you found
the horn I brought too bitter, Thor alone had the will to drink deep
until he could hold no more. This horn holds not beer or mead but Ran’s
own ocean. Where Thor has drained the seas do my kinsmen find rich
lands now fertile that in the summer will hang heavy with golden grain.
For this he will find my favour, and my hand”

With right good
will did Thor and Sif make their pledges, and no Aesir, Vanir or Jottun
could claim aught but that his bride gifts were rich and fair, and that
his oaths to Sif were so fairly pledged and firmly held that ages later
would bride-grooms place a hammer in their bride’s lap as a token that
they would be as true as Thor. For all that Loki was not always welcome
in the halls of his kinsmen, ever would Sif treat him fair as the one
who sent her bridegroom to her.

Utgard-Loki neither forgot nor
forgave Thor's winning of the fair Sif, and indeed there would come a
time when he would seek to challenge the matchless Aesir to another
battle of wits, but that is a story for another day.

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Re: The Wedding of Thor

Post by John T Mainer on Thu May 07, 2009 1:17 am

Many scholars have focused on the kennings of Sif's hair, and the
famous story of its cutting and seen in the wedding of Sif and Thor a
symbolic marriage of the sky and the earth. It is to be remembered that
in later years Thor was often seen as the patron of farmers, for it is
as much the weather as the soil that determines the harvests bounty.

The
reason that I have always liked the story of the challenges Sif gave to
Thor was it showed two very real and important things. Thor is seen
here using his great powers and strength not for destruction, or even
protection, but rather as a provider. Sif in her challenges is not
choosing the richer, or even the stronger of her suitors, she is
seeking the mate that will provide most richly for those of her folk
who depend upon her bounty. Just as the earth needs the sun and the
rains in their turn to bring forth life, so does a woman or even a
goddess need a man to bring forth life.

While Thor is most often
remembered as a giant slayer, even a giantess slayer, he too springs
from a giant mother, and in his wedding to Sif he is renewing that bond
with the primal power of the Jottun. Thor is more than just a brawler
with a sledgehammer, or lightning tossing giant killer. Thor is patron
of farmers and husbands, invoked often for the protection of women and
children.

The most primal of the Aesir, where Odin or Loki
triumph by their wits and lore, Thor triumphs because of his virtues.
Where some would scheme, Thor simply makes his boasts, and then sticks
to them. Often the but of jokes, Thor is so highly reguarded because he
is so straightforward. Thor will do what is right, because it is right,
not because he judges it will work best.

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"Let justice be done, though the heavens fall."
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Posts : 1004
Join date : 2009-04-01
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