The Mead of Poetry

Posted by Ms Elly on

The Mead of Poetry

In Norse mythology, the Mead of Poetry was a powerful beverage and people believed that whoever drank the Mead would become a scholar and could answer any questions in the cosmos. The Mead of Poetry was a way of a metaphor for poetic inspiration which was commonly associated with Odin the Allfather.

The Origin of the Mead

As the War of Norse gods came to an end, they decided to create a peace treaty that would guarantee their peace. The gods assembled and chewed the berries together only to spit it into a big vessel. The liquid in the vessel then was fermented and became the wisest creature in Norse mythology. His name was Kvasir.

Image of Kvasir death Mead of Poetry

Kvasir chose the life of a wanderer who traveled the Nine Worlds and dispersed his knowledge to those who needed it. One day, Kvasir came across a home of two dwarves, Fjalar (“Deceiver”) and Galar (“Screamer”). These two dwarves killed Kvasir and brew the Mead with his blood and honey. The mead was known as the Mead of Poetry and whoever drank it would become a scholar who could answer any question and could persuade anyone with their words. Not seeing Kvasir come back, the gods questioned the dwarves. The two came up with the answer of Kvasir being died of knowledge overload.

From the dwarves to the giants

One day, Fjalar and Galar killed the giant Gilling for sport on the ocean. The weeping sounds of the giant’s wife annoyed them so decided to kill her. They violently dropped a big stone onto her head when she crossed the doorway of their house.

The son of the giant couple, Suttung, knew of the murder of his parents so he set off to seize the dwarves to pay for it. The dwarves were too afraid of Suttung’s threat to kill them so they gave Suttung the Mead in order to secure their lives. Suttung held the Mead deep in the cave in a mountain. And he let his daughter, Gunlodd, to guard the Mead.

The Theft of Odin

The nonstop seeker of knowledge and wisdom, Odin, learned of the position of keeper of the Mead of Poetry so he conspired to take it because after all, the Mead belonged to the gods. Odin shapeshifted himself into a giant wandering into the farmland of Baugi, the brother of Suttung. There Odin found the way to became the worker for Baugi to earn his payment which he demanded trying the Mead of Poetry. However, after finishing the work that Baugi offered, Odin could not take his payment because Baugi was refused by the temporary owner of the Mead, Suttung. Odin and Baugi decided to come to the mountain where Baugi knew his brother was hiding the Mead. As Baugi was drilling a hole into the mountain, Odin shapeshifted himself into a snake and sneaked into the chamber. Once inside, he took up the appearance of a tall handsome giant and successfully impressed the guardian of the Mead, Gunlodd. Odin entertained Gunlodd the giant three nights to get the permission to try the Mead. After the last night, Odin was offered three vats of the Mead and he consumed them all.

Image of Gunlodd offered Odin the Mead of Poetry

Gunlodd offered Odin the Mead of Poetry

He changed his appearance again and this time into an eagle to fly to Asgard. As Suttung knew Odin tried to steal his Mead, he turned himself into an eagle as well to chase after Odin. But as he nearly entered Asgard, the fire wall that gods had created burnt him to ashes.

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