Eikthyrnir and Heidrun: The Stag and the Goat that Dwelled in Asgard
Yggdrasil the Tree of Life was the home of many creatures. We learn of the squirrel Ratatoskr who loved gossips or the dragon Nidhogg living deep under the root of the ash tree. In this blog post, we discuss Eikthyrnir and Heidrun other two creatures dwelling on the top branch of Yggdrasil.
Eithyrnir means "Oak-Thorny". He was a male deer standing on the top of Valhalla He appeared in the Grímnismál "Song of Grimir" in Poetic Edda. Eikthyrnir was the source of water and he draw strength from Yggdrasil Tree.
"Eikthyrnir is the hart’s name
who stands of Father of Hosts’ hall
and grazes Lærad’s branches;
and from his horns liquid drips into Hvergelmir,
from thence all waters have their flowing...."
Heidrun was a goat and she also lived on the top of Valhalla where she ate the leaves of Læraðr tree. Heidrun was the one that produced the mead for the fallen warriors who dwelled in the Valhalla the Great Hall of Odin.
"Heithrún, the goat
on the hall that stands,
eating off Læráth's limbs
the crocks she fills
with the clearest mead,
will that drink not
e'er be drained"
From two of these obscure animal figures in Norse mythology, we can see the close connection among Norse people, deer, and goat. God Freyr had a weapon made from an antler when he lost his magical sword. Or God Thor also had his chariot pulled a pair of goats.
Heidrun the Goat
In Norse mythology, the stag and the goat provided the warriors with water, mead, and even sustenance. The warriors would never lack of food and drink to live on.
In Viking society, these animals were also the main source of milk, food, and even fur for the Vikings. Accordingly, it's fair to say that it was a way that the Vikings honoured their animals that provided them with a source of living.