Change: The Myth of the Giant Maiden

By Hervor OR
First published in ORB 208, Spring 2258

Once upon a far and distant time, when the Gods were young – ere the First War was fought, or a wall built round Asgard – when we all lived in the forest and nobody lived anywhere else, the lad, Thor, sat on a shining summit of the Sacred Mountain, and looked out over the Earth.

Wide she spread before his eyes – the high and wooded hills of Giant-Home, fair with towering trees and silent, hidden hallows. Girded round by Giant-Home lay clearings in the trees, sweet and smiling, deep meadows rich with herbs where cattle grazed, and fields of ripening corn.  Orchards laden with fruit were there, and gardens of plenty where yet were room for blooming flowers, and the nests of birds. And groves of trees between the fields, and rushing streams of purest water.

Here were the homes of the humankind, the garths of Odin’s children, and here they worked and played and feared no enemies. There were no kings in those days, nor cruel lords, or greed.  None feared to greet his neighbour.  No-one bowed to any master, save in respect for greater skills, or wisdom, or the lore of passing years.  And women in the homes and gardens sang amidst their children, and men in the fields and smithies sang as they worked.  The songs they sang were full of praise and love; for the Earth, Our Mother, and the Gods of Nature and the Aesir.

There were no evil Runes in Midgard then, the great Ur-Smiths walked the Earth with honour, and taught the ways of bronze and iron and the use of fire.  And Loki walked among them, feigning truth though false at heart.  The evil he would do was still unknown and far away in some deep future time.

Thor swung his Hammer above the waving fields of corn.  His lightning flickered, ripening the grain; and men looked up and saw him there and laughed with joy and raised their hands in greeting.

Then he looked out into the hills, and saw a work of men –  the swing of axes and the crash of falling trees.  They cleared new land to put beneath the plough, and Thor was troubled somewhat, for the land they cleared lay close beside the sacred fastnesses of Giant-Home, where dwelled his kindred.  And as he watched, a Giant maid-child playing there, observed the working men with glee, and reaching down took one of them and ran to show her mother this new toy – that danced upon her palm in indignation.

But her mother smiled (although her eyes were sad) and took the angry mite with gentleness between her fingers and restored him to his fellows.

“Meddle not with human-kind,” she said “For they are mighty though  they seem so small.  Long have we lived within these woods and mountains, yet a time will come when we must leave and find new homes, and all this land of Giant-Home will be their dwelling place.”

The young Thor heard her words, and strange new fears and visions filled his mind.  Puzzled sore he sought his wise old mother, the living spirit of the Earth, and told her of the words the Giantess had spoken.  And sitting there upon the grass beside her, his ruddy head against her knee, he listened to her speak.

“All things change, my son,” she said.  “The passing years see burgeoning Spring and fruitful Summer dwindle down to falling leaves and deeps of Winter snow. Yet after Winter, Spring returns anew.  You see the lives of men, their spring and summer, time of harvest, and the sleep of death – yet all will be reborn to some new life and future time.

“So it is with great and small alike – the Earth herself, will change and change again, the Ages pass like greater years.  Men shall advance, the Giants retreat, the Golden Age give way to that of Iron.  The land itself will change, will rise and fall and oceans roll where now the trees are green.

“A time of dark will come, evil and greed will walk with iron heels upon the stricken land, and war and fire consume us all.  The Hammer of creation that you bear, the tool of fruitfulness, will be re-forged. Miolnir the Storm-Hammer will it be called, a weapon strong to fight against our foes.  Great will the War be – mighty the conflict – a roar of fire and a crushing dark – the crashing end will seem oblivion.

“Yet shall the surging Will of the Aesir and Odin’s Folk win through the darkness.  All will be born anew.  The Earth will blossom fair again in some far distant Golden Age, and men and women walk again in meadows green.  The Giants will return and Men and Gods will dance again the spiral dance of Life and Death.”

And the boy, Thor went home to Asgard, light at heart, for these dark things were far away, in some lost and misty future time.