View Full Version : Odin's Oath

Sunday, December 12th, 2010, 09:11 AM
At the building of Asgard there seems to have been a problem:

After the creation of Midgard the Gods were planning a massive bulwark against the Giants. A Giant smith came forward and offered to build the stronghold in a year's time if he might have Freya, the sun and the moon by way of payment; but if on the first day of summer any part of the work remained undone, he was to receive no wages. The Aesir felt secure in making such a promise and crafty Loki urged them on. But the building proceeded more rapidly then thought possible; For the Giants powerful horse Svaldifari, during the night pulled into place stones as huge as mountains. when only three days remained before summertide, the Giant was already busied with the castle gate and the Aesir were growing uneasy; at no price whatsoever were they prepared to surrender Freya, the sun and the moon. They commanded into their presence Loki, whose bad counsel was the cause of their trouble, threatened him with death and thus frightened him into promising to find a way out of their difficulties. Transforming himself into a mare, he ran whinnying out from the forest at evening just as Svaldifari was at his task to hauling stone. Svaldifari broke loose and follwed the mare into the woods, pursued in turn by the builder; that whole night not a stone was hauled and thus the work was interrupted. The mason/smith was enraged; but Thor crushed his head with Mjollnir. The mare - or Loki - later foaled Sleipnir, the world fleetest horse, a gray with eight feet.

It seems the core of the problem that Odin had to hold his oath/promise. That oath/promise obviously was contradicting another oath he had given to the Vanir. The oath is never mentioned in the lore but seems to be implied into the exchange of hostages to give them some sort of security.

Odin's dilemma here was, that he had given 2 conflicting oaths.

He was not able to break them. Freya obviously did not volunteer to marry that Giant (or if she is it was just 'given' something else). Thus Odin was in an impasse.

The council of the Gods couldn't find a solution to the problem.

If an oath was not important then they would have easily broken it.
If an oath was important then they would have given Freya, the moon and the sun to the Giant.

They had a problem as none of the Aesir could do anything to break the oath therefore they summoned Loki, who was a Giant by race but a 'foster-'brother to Odin.

Loki used Seidr, in this case shapeshifting. If Loki was a great Seidrman and used Seidr it is curious that this was one of the things Loki later tried to make fun of Odin as a Seidrman (that it was a female thing). We also know that Gylfi, a human king used Seidr. So it was not just a female thing but also something for males. The difference I can see is that men used seidr for warfare and women used it for the land and family. It might be that Odin also learned the seidr of women and it was that, what was curious for the people then, to make 'love' seidr looks indeed a bit strange for a warrior-God, though he seemed to have done so and used it for his own purposes.

Loki as an outsider of the Aesir was able to get the Gods out of the impasse as he himself obviously was not bound by the oath. He did not plain slain the Giant (after all he was one of his own race) but used trickery.

What then happened was that Odin formally kept his oath/promise by following the letters of the oath but broke it in spirit, as the deal was the wall against Freya, sun and moon.

After the deal was over and 'done' the Giant of course go angry but Thor was then legally able to kill him.

After all the outlook is not very flattering to the Aesir, to make a wrong judgement and then breaking an oath/promise halfway. To keep an oath just by the letter not by the spirit is obviously tolerated.

summertide is 21st of June. From then on we see the sun getting lesser and lesser and in the north it finally disappears for a time. (Higher than the artic circle)