With the changing of seasons, to spring here in the south and winter in the north, the winds that swirl about the tropics remind us of the influential god, Njord – Norse god of the sea and the winds.
While relatively little is known of Njord, the story of his untimely marriage has survived the ages.
When the goddess of youth, Idun, was kidnapped by the jotnar (giants), the gods and goddesses led a rally into the realms to recover her. A battle ensued, in which the giant, Thjazi, was cut down. Idun was eventually rescued and returned home.
While celebrating their victory, the gods were interrupted by an unannounced visitor, the solemn giantess Skadi. She was fully armoured and stormed in bearing weapons and her fury, ready to avenge the killing of her father, Thjazi. According to Norse mythology, the gods exercised kindness with the grief-stricken giant – or perhaps it was patronizing – and convinced her to accept their reparations in lieu of her revenge.
First, Odin took Thjazi's eyes and threw them – ceremoniously - into the skies, igniting them into two magnificent stars. Secondly, the gods were to give Skadi the gift of laughter which was finally achieved – rather unceremoniously – with a tug-of-war between a goat and Loki's testicles.
And finally, Skadi would be given the honour of marriage to any god of her choosing, as long as she chose by looking only at their feet and ankles. Lining up the suitors, Skadi selected a fair, strong pair of feet, believing it to be the beautiful god Baldur, son of Odin. Much to her dismay, however, Skadi found herself betrothed to Njord, the god of sea and wind.
As Viking legends go, Skadi and Njord couldn't have been a worse match, and the marriage was shortlived – eighteen days, to be precise, if some myths are to be believed, although other accounts claim it was one full year. It's said that the ill-suited couple spent nine days in Thrymheim (Thunder Realm), in Skadi's home. The dark, foreboding mountains with its howling wolves were unsettling for the coastal-dwelling god, who finally insisted that they try his home instead.
The two then spent nine days in Noatun, in Njord's balmy beach-side abode, where the cries of seagulls and the constant crashing waves of the ocean drove Skadi all but insane. Peacefully declaring the marriage a failure, the two parted ways, with Skadi returning to her mountainous home base, and Njord remaining at the coast.
Njord was believed to have fathered two children, with his sister, Nerthus, a powerful and beautiful goddess. The children were Freyr (son), and Freya (daughter). All three were of the Vanir tribe, the gods and goddesses of which remained some of the most venerated Norse deities right into the 19th Century. The Vanir and Njord himself were associated with wealth, safe voyages and good fortune, especially at sea, and so a great deal of Viking affluence and power was credited to Njord and his powers.
Although considered a fairly benign god, and benevolent in nature, very few are aware that Njord offered himself as a hostage in the once-raging Aesir/Vanir war, to negotiate an end to the bloodshed that had ravaged both tribes during combat. Njord's legacy was eventually overshadowed by his children. His son, Freyr, became a ruler of peace, fertility, rain and sunshine. Freya, Njord's daughter, was the goddess of love and beauty, sex and fertility, gold, and war and death. A powerful combination, which gave Freya high esteem with the worshipers of Norse religion.
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