Monday, March 03, 2014

Shall I tell you a story?

The most beautiful wedding ever seen in Valhalla was the marriage of Njord and Skade. Njord came from the race of Vanir; he was a great swimmer and sailor and like all the Vanir he could summon the rains so that the fields and forests became verdant and green as he made his way across the land. Skade came from the race of Jotuns; she was a great skier and skater and like all the Jotuns she could summon the snow so that people could travel at the speed of the wind. Their courtship was complicated but they loved each other deeply and when they finally married all of heaven and earth rejoiced with them.

But once the feasting and celebrations were over, and it was time for them to return to their home, they faced a dilemma. For Njord’s house, Noatun, was by the seashore; near the waters that loved him so and near the forests and fields that he so loved. And Skade’s house, Thrymheimr, was in the mountains; at the top of a glacier with a magical chairlift so that you could ski down wherever you wanted and always have a way to get back to the top.

Now they loved each other deeply, and wanted to be together always, so they compromised: nine days they would stay at Skade’s house in the mountains, and nine days they would stay at Njord’s house by the seashore. But despite his love for Skade, Njord was unhappy in the mountains, and on the tenth day, as they came down the mountain back to Noatun, he sang this lay:

Loath were the hills to me,
I was not long in them,
Nights only nine;
To me the wailing of
Wolves seemed ill,
After the song of swans.

And Skade loved Njord, and wanted him to be happy, so she stayed the nine days in Noatun. But Skade was unhappy away from her mountains and on the ninth morning she sang this lay:

Sleep could I never
On the sea-beds,
For the wailing of waterfowl;
He wakens me
Who comes from the deep –
The sea-mew every morn.

And so she returned to the mountains, and he remained by the sea, and their two children, Frey and Freya, split their time between the two houses, spending the summer with their father by the seashore bathing in the fjord and wandering the meadows and the winter with their mother in the mountains skiing the steep slopes with the speed of the wind.

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