Love Story in Norse myth: When Love Transcends Race and Faith
The more we toss and turn upon every single detail of Norse mythology, the more we learn that Norse mythology isn't simply the collection of fairy tales. It consists within itself a great number of lessons that can be the sail getting us through the waves of troubles and hardships in life. This blog post is to discuss love stories in Norse mythology where love transcends the religious and racial barrier.
When Love transcends race and faith
Getting straight to the point, what we mean here is the love affair between gods and giants. In Norse mythology, the hatred between gods and giants existed at the beginning of the worlds. Ever since the giants annoyed gods so much that Odin and his brothers decided to slay the primaeval giant Ymir, the hatred began. But it seems that hatred is also an exciting form of bonding. Love can make people miss and care about the others, so can hatred.
But which gods in Norse mythology had the love affairs with the giants?
Odin gained the most popularity whenever it came to the love affairs with the giants. Indeed, Odin fathered some famous Norse gods namely Thor and Heimdall. Odin himself was a product of the love affair between the giant and god. But probably the hatred between the two tribes (god vs giant) in the times of Odin's parents hadn't existed yet.
The story of Odin and Thor's mother the earth giant Jord was little mentioned though
Heimdall the Guardsman of Asgard was the son of Odin and nine mothers
The love affair between Odin and Heimdall's mothers was much clear in Norse mythology. Yes, it was Heimdall's mothers, the plural. One day, Odin was walking on the seaside where he met the Nine Sea Maidens for the first time. The same situation happened right after the creation of the cosmos when Odin was walking along the shore and he came across two logs which he carved and created the human. And this time, when he came across the beautiful sea maidens along the shore, someone extraordinary was to come into being. Unable to resist the beauty of the nine maidens, Odin decided to marry all of them on the spot. Together they delivered a half-giant half-god (but we still call him a god). His name was Heimdall who later became the watchman of Asgard stronghold.
The gods whose parents were god and giant shared one thing in common: they were extraordinarily powerful. The strength of Thor didn't need many words to explain. Heimdall, like his half-brother, possessed special abilities: his sharp eyesight, his acute hearing, etc.
It might come at the expense of death. But it is the one that you love, any sacrifice is worth it.
Among the love stories in Norse mythology, the one between Freyr and Gerd might be the most famous and somewhat tragic. Freyr was the god of summer and sunlight. At first, he wasn't the Aesir god tribe (the tribe that Odin ruled over). He was from the Vanir god tribe and he came to live with the Aesir gods in Asgard as the hostage after the conflict between two tribes.
One day, when Odin was away, Freyr sat on the High Throne Hlithskjalf of Odin to observe the world. When he looked at Jotunheim the land of the giant, his heart was stolen by the look at a beautiful giantess whose name later he knew was Gerd. Despite his burning desire to have her, he didn't say it to anyone. He was afraid that no one would ever accept the love affair between a giant and a god. No one would ever wish them to be together:
From Gymir's house I behold forth
A maiden dear to me;
Her arms glittered, and from their gleam
Shone all the sea and sky.
To me more dear than in days of old
Was ever maiden to man;
But no one of gods or elves will grant
That we be together should be
But his sickness was so great that he couldn't help wanting to win her heart. A servant of Freyr whose name was Skirnir asked his master to give him a horse and the powerful sword of Freyr and he would help Freyr to propose the giantess. Skirnir travelled to the land of Jotunheim and met Gerd. Though he had to talk to her many times to set a date for his master, he finally managed to do it. The date was set and Freyr, after waiting for nine days, succeeded in winning himself a wife. This also meant Freyr lost his magic sword and he would have to face a lot of danger without the sword. Many scholars theorized that if Freyr still had had the sword in his hands, he would have survived the final battle in Ragnarok. But we bet Freyr didn't regret his sacrifice for the one he loved even if that sacrifice finally resulted in his death.
The love affair between Freyr and Gerd became popular in the Viking age. It was so famous that the Vikings created the Small Amulet depicting a couple holding each other presumably Freyr and Gerd.
Love knows no limits
There is a saying that Love can transcend all, it sees no color, race, discrimination, age, faults, or even the national hatred. Love just sees one person and one person through a wonderful experience that we will never ever forget in life. The stories in Norse mythology, especially the tale between Freyr and Gerd, were a golden example of this. When love comes, you are vulnerable. It makes you feel terrible when the one isn't by your side. Freyr once felt the same thing when he didn't know how to handle his feeling with Gerd. The hatred between the two tribes (god and giant) was too much that he could barely dare to raise his voice about his feeling. But once love is finally in your hand, it never fails you. Once Gerd granted Freyr the delight of love, he thought nothing could ever compare to this even if he gotta ventured his magic sword.
We ever doubt whether Freyr regretted a second giving away his sword to win a giantess's heart when he was in a battle against the giant. But it seemed he never regretted it. After all, he sacrificed and did the best for the things he wanted the most. In the end, it might be the thread of fates between the pair that the Norns wove it in the beginning.