By Einar Randall AOR
In this myth we are given a folkloric version regarding crop harvesting, the importance of cutting down the old stocks which is necessary to make way for the next planting. The connection to this idea stems form the fact that Sif, Thor’s wife is the goddess of vegetation, farming, harvest and ripened grains- her long golden silk hair was sheered off completely (the symbolic harvesting of the crops) by the malignant Loki.
Loki as the force of illusion brings chaos and destruction, his actions perpetrated outside the law causing pain and anguish as well as irrationality upon the Theod as a whole.
However, out of pain, grief and even chaos healing, evolution and growth can occur. Take for instance how farmers don’t plant their entire fields all at once but divide the fields into sections and use them about every three to four years, rotating the fields for planting. At the end of one harvest, the remaining stalks are cut down then the field is set ablaze. The following year it is ploughed under and remains fallow, restoring vital earth energies so that in 3 – 4 years time, the field will be nutrient ready again. Trees and tall grasses are generally burned down as well in other areas of the world in order to spark growth and new life. Basically from death shall spring new life which is similar to our belief regarding the after-life and reincarnation.
Loki’s actions (or overcoming them) is symbolic of how from pain and destruction, new as well as renewed life can emerge and blossom.
Thor, as protector of the Theod, wards against intruders, chaotic forces and destruction. He main-tains the health, well being and holiness of the community by thwarting or destroying these entities or energies which threaten to desecrate those things necessary for living and growing.
While Thor creates the hallowed space utilising his strength, protection and power; Sif hallows all that is within this sacred place, helping maintain it’s holiness and power by keeping the integrity of the spirit. Sif’s hair is the symbolic outward manifestation of her inner power and strength which is cut and grown anew with the turning of the seasons.
Loki obviously disturbed the sanctity of Thor’s stead and through his strength, power and regeneration (thunder, lightning and rain respectively) he forces Loki to atone for his desecration of Sif’s hair (fields of grain) ensuring that accountability and restorative justice is achieved. This is accomplished through Loki’s enlisting of the dwarves for help in creating six magical gifts which will or are capable of manifesting order and spiritual growth.
The dwarves themselves are beings of magic and great craftmanship’ their labour and creativity represents that which is needed to achieve growth and enlightenment through resurrection. From nothing shall come nothing, but from something, comes everything. Initially, Loki entices Sindri to make golden hair for Sif just as glorious as her own but then through greed and beguilement, he convinced the dwarf to make two additional gifts for the other two gods whose power extends far into the supernatural and other worlds. These gifts are:
Sif’s hair which is made from gold and is symbolic of the corn or wheat fields swaying in the breeze.
Frey’s ship, Skidbladnir, which is made from wood and is symbolic of wealth, plenty and a vehicle for traversing the spiritual realms.
Odin’s Spear, Gungnir, which is made from wood and iron and is symbolic of leadership and inspiring the creative fires of life and death as well as ferocity.
While these are marvellous magical gifts, Loki’s greed lead him and the two other dwarves; Brokk and Eitri. He decided to stir strife between the sons of Ivaldi. They made a wager; his head if they can make gifts as good as Sindri’s. The malicious Loki knew he would have to block any attempt made by the two dwarves; he would shape shift into a gadfly and sting the smithies, preventing them from completing their task. The unenlightened egos of the dwarves agreed to the wager and they began to make three magical gifts of their own which were:
Frey’s Boar, Gullinborsti, which was made from gold and is associated with fertility, strength and inner shining spirit.
Odin’s arm ring, Draupnir which is made from gold and is a symbol of allegiance, sovereignty and renewal.
Thor’s Hammer, Miolnir, which is made from iron and is a symbol of troth, protection and resurrection.
While the dwarves were making these three magical gifts, Loki as a gadfly who is a representation of outside negative influences, created chaos and destruction through the infliction of pain (biting the dwarf) but he was actually unable to fully prevent the dwarves from accomplishing their task, being that he himself refuses to walk the path of enlightenment. Upon completion, Loki and Eitri brought the six magical gifts to Asgarth for judgement by the holy tribunal of Odin, Frey and Thor.
I wish to point out that each god receives one gift made of gold and one from iron or wood. It should be pointed out that these three gods have an underlying connection with the dead; be it resurrection, after-life or conversing with the other worldly beings.
- To the god Frey, Skidbladnir and Gullinborsti was bestowed, both are mobile vehicles capable of traversing air, land and sea, all elements within the ruler-ship of this Vanir God.
- To Odin went Gungnir and Draupnir, both symbols of supreme leadership, wealth and battle which are well within the All Father’s ruler-ship.
- Thor was given Sif’s hair and his own hammer, both are symbols of renewal and survival, all within Thor’s governorship.
Based on the greater importance which the Hammer symbol signifies; being that it incites and provokes a deep rooted connection to folk and faith, not to mention it being a weapon capable of stopping all outside negative influences of harm and destruction, the hammer was determined to be the greatest gift of all which meant that Loki lost his wager with Eitri.
Loki came up with a loop hole preventing the dwarf from claiming his prize, which was Loki’s head, so instead the dwarf had to settle with sewing Loki’s lips shut, although the effects were only temporary. The significance of Loki’s lips being pierced and sewn shut is symbolic of an attempt to stop his ability to manipulate and destroy the spiritual, emotional and physical well being of the Theod.
Overall this myth reveals to our minds a deeper truth wherein we find the power of the collective will to survive and thrive is achievable even in times of difficulties and strife. There will always be forces of negativity which will threaten to overtake us, but it is only with a realisation that through chaos and death that renewal , growth and spiritual enlightenment can be achieved. The Gods and their gifts are aspects which we ourselves carry within us; therefore we too have the power, strength and capability to overcome. Birth, death and rebirth are all part of the journey of everything; be it vegetable, mineral or animal; it is only by remaining forever steadfast and true to the collective whole, allowing our higher selves to see the primal truths within our myths and other literature that will allow us to once again sync up with our ancestors and mighty Gods; awakening our spirits to the glorious Odinic path.