Of the many Norse tales that echoed the ancient halls of Vikings, perhaps one of the most bizarre is the account of Thor, god of thunder and Thursdays, dressing himself in bridal attire and heading off to a wedding... as the blushing bride.
Thor's legendary hammer is stolen
According to Norse mythology, Thor slept so deeply one night, that while he slumbered, his powerful hammer, Mjolnir, was stolen from his bedside. You can imagine his horror, for not only was the loss of Mjollnir a personal devastation to Thor, but in the wrong hands, the mighty hammer would wreak havoc on the realms, and could bring the gods and goddesses of Asgard to their knees.
Mjolnir was indeed in the wrong hands, as Thor was soon to discover. In a rage, he searched and searched, but the hammer was nowhere to be found. Thor sought out Loki, and the two of them rushed to Freyja, wife of Odin, and step-mother to Thor, adoptive mother to Loki.
Amongst Freyja's fine possessions, she owned enchanted falcon feathers, which could give one the ability to shape-shift into the form of a falcon. Loki, already a shape-shifter by nature, offered to don the falcon feathers and go in search of Thor's missing hammer. Already suspecting that the treasured weapon had been stolen by one of the giants, Loki flew to Jotunheim.
Sweeping through Jotunheim's towering and unforgiving mountaintops, Loki located the chief of the giants, Thrym. When questioned about Thor's hammer, Thrym proudly claimed that he had indeed had the weapon stolen and buried eight miles beneath Jotunheim's icy ground. He added that Mjolnir would remain his ransom until the lovely goddess Freyja was delivered to him as a bride.
Loki took flight once again and returned to Asgard, conveying Thrym's demands to the gods there. Thor and Freyja were equally furious, and so they sat in counsel with some of the wisest of Asgard. Heimdall, who was admired not only for wisdom but for also as an eye into the realms and the future, put forward the suggestion that Thor go to Jotunheim disguised as Freyja. Once there, he would be able to claim back Mjolnir, and then punish the thieves that stole it.
Thor was outraged by the suggestion, saying that it was a dishonourable thing for a man to do, let alone a god, and that he would be the subject of mockery for all eternity. It was perhaps Loki's love of drama and his wicked sense of humour that compelled him to step forward and laughingly point out that if Thor could not – or would not – retrieve his hammer, the realm of Asgard would fall victim to the brutality of the giants. Acknowledging this, Thor finally agreed to the scandalous plot.
Heading: A Blushing Bride is delivered to Jotunheim
Dressed extravagantly as a bride, the warrior god of thunder was ready for his most unusual battle. Loki was loathe to miss out on what would undoubtedly be an entertaining mission, and so, shape-shifting into a lovely maiden, he offered to accompany Thor as a maidservant.
The two arrived at Jotunheim and were greeted by the smug giant, Thrym, who boasted noisily that the gods had surrendered to him his lovely bride, Frejya. A wedding feast was prepared and celebrations began.
As Norse mythology would have it, Thor was a poor pretender and single-handedly ate an entire ox, eight salmon, and all of the sweet treats that had been prepared for the women. This apparently made him thirsty, and it's said that he also drank many barrels of mead. Alarmed by his bride’s hefty appetite, Thrym became suspicious, declaring loudly that he'd never seen a woman eat so greedily. Loki was quick to respond, saying that the lovely Frejya had been so lovesick for Thrym that she had not been able to eat for a week. Thrym was a conceited giant, and some would say stupid, and so he accepted the response only too gladly.
In fact, he was moved by Loki's response – so much so, that he was overcome with a desire to kiss his bride. He lurched forward and lifted the veil that concealed Thor's face. Although exposed for all to see, Thor's eyes burned bright with rage and intent, and Thrym dropped the veil with trembling hands, saying, “Never before have I been so pierced by the glare of a maiden!” It was once again Loki who put the giant's suspicions to rest, pointing out that Freyja, longing to be by Thrym's side, had not slept in a week either.
As the celebrations wore on, the time came for the marriage ceremony to begin. Side by side, Thrym and Thor sat ready to be wed. As was tradition, Thrym called for the hammer to hallow their union. As the heavy Mjollnir was laid in Thor's lap, the mighty warrior did not miss a beat! Clasping his weapon, he cut Thrym down, who did not even have time to be surprised. Thor then slay the entire party in rage, leaving nothing of the wedding but devastation.
As legends tell it, Thor returned to Asgard and contentedly changed back into his usual attire, with Loki laughing alongside him all the way.
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