Heathens of Yorkshire
Deity of the Month - Skadi
-by Toni Wilson
Hey Heathens! As the weather is getting colder and the nights are drawing in Thoughts turn to the personification of winter, Skadi. I have therefore reposted a piece I did a while ago about our beloved frosty maiden. Skadi (Skaði) is a goddess, Jötunn and warrior associated with winter, hunting, archery and skiing.
Some etymologists believe that Scandinavia is named after her, although this is disputed. Others believe her name comes from the old High German word scato which means shadow. Skaði Literally means harm or death in Old Norse so this is thought to be another possible origin.
Her hall is Thrymheim (Þrymheimr) which she inherited from her father Thiazi (Þjazi) after his death at the hands of the Gods.
Skadi arrived at Asgard, fully armoured and brandishing weapons, in order to avenge her father. To appease her, the gods allowed her to choose a husband from among them (A highly unusual arrangement considering how the gods usually deal with hostile Jötunn). As always with these types of arrangement, there was a catch, the potential husbands stood behind a sheet so only their feet were visible.
Skadi naturally wanted to marry Balder but ended up choosing Njord (Njörðr) who, as he is associated with the sea, has exceptionally clean feet. Skadi at this point she was furious. Loki persuaded her to agree to a wager, if he could make her laugh, she would accept the situation and marry Njord. Loki then proceeded to tie goats on ropes to each of his testicles. According to Snorri Sturluson, “The goat and Loki started pulling back and forth, each squealing loudly” (you don’t say?). Loki then fell into Skadi’s lap which of course resulted in laughter.
This story is particularly bitter sweet when reminded that it was Skadi who placed the poisonous serpent over Loki during the events that proceeded (will proceed?) Ragnarock. Odin, as compensation for the killing of her father, also cast Thiazi’s eyes into the night sky, where they became stars.
The marriage didn’t last long as Njord hated the mountains and Skadi hated the sea. They both agreed to stay nine nights in Thrymheim and the next three nights at Noatun (Njord’s hall). When returning from the mountains Njord said:
"Hateful for me are the mountains, I was not long there, only nine nights. The howling of the wolves sounded ugly to me after the song of the swans."
"Sleep I could not on the sea beds for the screeching of the bird. That gull wakes me when from the wide sea he comes each morning."
After this Skadi returned to Thrymheim to hunt and ski. She later married Odin and had a large number of sons together. One of which was Sæmingr, who was an ancestor of Jarl Hákon, an important Norwegian ruler.
Sources: The Prose Edda – Snorri Sturlson The Norse Myths – Carolyne Larrington Norse Mythology – John Lindow
I feel a strong connection to Skadi as I love snow and prefer winter over other seasons. I feel drawn to forests and nature which I feel Skadi is intrinsically linked with. Skadi is brave, strong and determined, characteristics I hope to achieve, but also possibly has a short temper and is a little grumpy, definitely qualities I already have. I feel that she has a sense of humour highlighted by the goat story. This reminds me to not Take things so seriously sometimes.