There were many times that Thor, Odin, and Loki were the best company travelling around the Nine Worlds. But this time, only Thor and Loki embarked on the journey. The Allfather was nowhere to be found in this journey to Jotunheim. But the journey of Thor and Loki was worth remembering though.
THOR AND HIS COMPANIONS WERE EMBARKING ON A JOURNEY
When Thor and Loki were drawing the chariot pulled by Thor's goats, the night fell and they had to find somewhere to rest. Then a family in Midgard host them for one night.
Thor who was very generous killed his two goats for the meal. In fact, Thor could resurrect his goats in the following morning with his Mjolnir hammer so killing them was not a big deal. But he could resurrect the goats back to life as long as the bones were not missing. Thor instructed the family to place the bones after they finished the meal.
The family had a son and a daughter named Thjalfi and Roksva respectively. Despite Thor's instructions, the son broke the leg of the goat and finished the marrow inside before placing the bones back.
In the following morning, Thor woke up to resurrect his goats to continue this journey. Very soon he realized that one goat had a lame leg. God of thunder was so angry that he was about to kill the whole family. If the parents had not given their children as the servants of Gods, Thor would have killed them all.
Then the new fellowship of Thor carried on the journey. They arrived at Jotunheim the land of the Giant (enemies of Gods). And the night was falling there, they had to find somewhere to rest. The company found an empty hall and chose it to be their next shelter. An earthquake woke up the whole company. Thor was so annoyed with this that he grabbed his Mjolnir ready to smash some skulls. And he found out a Giant outside the hall. The Giant quickly woke up and introduced himself as Skymir. The Giant realized whom he was talking to: It was Thor of Asgard. Skymir wanted to join the company of Thor and got the agreement from Thor.
Off they went on the journey.
And the night fell again, the company decided to rest under the oak tree. Skymir fell asleep on the spot, leaving Thor to open the food bag but Thor couldn't. He was so frustrated and the company went to sleep without eating anything. Three times during the night that Thor wanted to kill the Giant. But every time he wielded the Mjolnir hammer, if it was not a leaf falling on the head of Skymir, it was an acorn. Thor was so angry that he could probably eat someone alive.
In the morning, Skymir parted with the company to go North. Thor's fellowship now had four including himself. On their carried only to travel at the castle Utgard.
No one was at the gate to open the door. But Thor and his companions managed to get in through the big keyhole. There they found out a hall where the Giants were feasting. In the middle of the Giants was Utgard-Loki (Loki of Utgard) who was the King of Utgard. They realized the Gods and started to insult them with their small size.
Loki who was so eager to prove himself stated that no one in the hall could eat faster than him. Then Utgard-Loki challenged Loki to take up the eating challenge with Logi a Giant in the hall. In Old Norse, Logi meant "fire".
A trough of meat was set before them with Loki at one end and Logi the other. Whoever reached the middle first won the contest. They met in the middle of the trough. Loki finished the meat between the end and the middle while Logi finished meat and bones. Obviously, Logi won.
Thjalfi the son of a Midgard farmer could swim very well. He took part in a swimming contest with the Giant Hugi meaning "Thought". But the Midgard son lost the contest to the Giant. They raced three times, three times Hugi finished it easily.
Thor then challenged anyone in the castle to take up the drinking battle with him. Maybe in Norse mythology, the only skill of Thor that could rival his skill of wielding hammer was his drinking skill.
Then Utgard-Loki ordered to fetch a drinking horn with water. The King informed that whoever could finish the drink with one drink was the best drinker in Nine Worlds, two drinks a fair drinker, but three drinks meant a poor drinker.
Thor took up the drinking horn to prove himself. He mightily drank the water from the horn. But with one drink, the water inside the horn merely lowered. Then he tried the second time. This time, the water lowered impressively but he had to stop again to take a breath. And the third time didn't help him to finish the water in the drinking horn. Thor quit. He couldn't finish the water inside the drinking horn.
Then Utgard-Loki dared Thor to lift the cat above his head. But again, Thor could not finish the challenge of the Giant.
Thor was so angry that he challenged anyone in the hall to step out and do wrestling combat with him. Then stepped out from the crowd was Elli an old woman. And surprisingly, Thor lost the wrestling combat. No more combat should there be in the castle, the Giants decided. The company spent three nights inside the castle and they quickly parted with Jotunheim.
On the last day, Utgard-Loki showed them the way out of the kingdom. This King finally confessed that the food bag that Thor had tried to open was made of iron. Three times Thor tried to hit Skymir (who was Utgard-Loki) three times Thor hit the mountains and created the valleys into the mountains. If Thor had wielded his Mjolnir hammer onto Skymir's face, he would have been killed.
And all competitions in the hall of Utgard-Loki were just a trick.
Loki competed for the eating contest with Logi which presented the fire. Whoever could eat thing as clearly and quickly as fire? Thjalfi joined a swimming contest with Hugi ("Thought"). And whoever could travel faster than thought?
The drinking horn from which Thor drank the water connected with the ocean water. Thor couldn't drink the whole ocean water but he managed to finish half of it. The Giants were worried that Thor would drink the whole of ocean water.
The cat the Thor lifted was actually Jormungand which was destined to be Thor's sworn enemy. Following this chapter was the occasion when Thor went on fishing Jormungand.
And finally, the woman that Thor wrestled with was Elli who was the embodiment of "Old Age". And whoever could win age when it knocked at the door? Gods could keep their beauty and youth thanks to the fruits of youth of Idunn the guardian of youth in Asgard.
Thor hit the ceiling when learning that he was fooled by the Giant. The ego never allowed a Giant to insult him like this. Reaching for the Mjolnir hammer, Thor was about to smash the skull of Utgard-Loki but the Giant disappeared and so did the whole landscape of Utgard-Loki kingdom.
WHAT CAN BE THE LESSON FROM THIS TALE?
The simplest interpretation that I think of when I read this story revolves around reality. We assume what we see, feel, smell, etc. is real. But we cannot tell why it is real. Everything is temporary and nothing is real. Things are as elusive as what Thor and Loki saw during their trip to land of Jotunheim. They saw it and thought it was real. But after all, it didn’t turn out to be like what they had thought. But even the holy Gods were trapped within the illusion, how could human with naked eyes realize it?We are allowed to get into illusion. But we are not allowed to become the prey all the time. What I get from the tale is to become more realistic and take things into consideration more carefully. This is also a big lesson that Odin can teach us. Odin traded his eye for a sip of holy water. He accepted to lose one of his sources of external information (eye) and take a source of internal wisdom (water of wisdom). And coincidentally, Odin was absent from the journey to the land of Jotunheim. And without the mind of careful consideration and wisdom of Odin, we easily become the prey for illusion and traps in life.