One more ouroboros, and then I’ll be taking a holiday break.
Jormungandr is a dragon of Norse legend, sometimes known as the World Serpent or Midgard Serpent. Like Hydra, who I covered during the fall, Jormungandr is part of a larger monstrous family. His siblings are Fenrir, the giant wolf, and the death goddess, Hel. All three are offspring of the frost giantess Angrboda and the wicked god Loki.
Because they were so horrific, the children were seized by Odin, king of the gods, to be neutralized in some way. Hel and Fenrir have their own legends; Jormungandr was thrown into the sea. He continued to grow until he was so large that his tail stretched all the way around the earth. Norse lore held that storms at sea happened because Jormungandr had bitten his own tail and was writhing in pain. This might sound bad, but the stories also said if he ever let go of his tail, the world would end.
Jormungandr had a special enmity with Thor, son of Odin. Here is a story from Norse mythology.
Thor planned a fishing trip along with a giant named Hymir. Hymir said he didn’t have any bait, so Thor cut off the head of Hymir’s ox and they used that. Hymir (who didn’t seem to mind having his ox killed) took Thor out to his favorite fishing spot.
Hymir caught two whales and was ready to head back, but Thor hadn’t caught anything yet. Ignoring Hymir’s warnings, he rowed the boat farther out to sea. Using the ox head as bait, he cast his line. Guess who bit the hook? Yep, Jormungandr! After a terrific struggle, Thor pulled the serpent up, while Hymir cowered in the bottom of the boat. Jormungander spat poison and blood, but Thor was fearless. He raised his hammer to strike!
Maybe Hymir had been paying attention when the skalds said Jormungander’s death meant the end of the world. At the last second, he ran out and cut the line. The sea dragon fled back into the depths, but he hated Thor ever afterward.
Thanks for following my blog through 2012. I’ll see you in 2013!