myths The Weirdest Stories from Norse Mythology  

Laura Allan
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Norse mythology isn't nearly as bright and cheery as it's shown in the recent Marvel movies. Sure, most people have at least heard of Ragnarok, the great end of all things, and people know that it involves fire and a lot of death. But there are many more Norse myths that are often disturbing, disgusting, and sometimes downright funny. And yes, before you ask, Loki is involved in most of them.

You see, the gods in ancient Norse myths had one thing in common with the Greek gods: they were fallible and totally capable of messing things up. They drank too much, they slept around, they messed with mortals just for fun, they ended up getting a lot of people killed... ok, so they had a lot in common with the Greek gods. 

So, prepare yourself for strange monsters, weird punishments, a world made of body parts, and trickery the likes of which you've never seen. Get excited, because it's about to get weird, Norse-style. 
The Gods Make a Giantess Laugh... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Weirdest Stories from Norse Mythology
Photo:  Haukurth/Wikimedia Commons
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The Gods Make a Giantess Laugh So She Doesn't Kill Them All

Occasionally, Loki did prove himself to be useful for something. In one case, the gods were approached by a giantess, Skadi, whose father they'd slain, demanding vengeance. After some seriously amazing negotiating, the gods managed to convince her to take some reparations instead. The first was a husband of her choosing (though she had to choose him only by his feet); the second was memorializing her father's eyes in the stars; and the third was giving her one good, honest-to-god laugh.  

This last one proved to be the most difficult. They tried and tried, but none were able to make her laugh, so at last they turned to Loki who basically said "Chill, guys, I've got this." What he did then baffles the mind. He brought in a goat and tied one end of a rope to it. Then he tied the other end of the rope to his own testicles and proceeded to have a tug of war with the goat in this way. Both goat and god screamed in pain, and finally Loki collapsed. Only then did the giantess finally laugh. So, while Loki is pretty good at getting a laugh, one must wonder: at what cost?
Loki Becomes a Mare, Because H... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Weirdest Stories from Norse Mythology
Photo: Oslo rĂ„dhus / Oslo City Hall/flickr/CC-BY-NC 2.0
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Loki Becomes a Mare, Because He Really Likes Horses

Let's just put it out there right now that, as far as sleeping around goes, Loki gives Zeus a run for his money. Case in point: Loki really liked the stallion, Svadilfari, of a mason worker who was building a great wall for the gods. This mason worker was also a giant, who the gods wanted to go away, so Loki offered to help by "distracting" the giant's horse. In order to get close to this stallion, Loki changed himself into a mare and then ran off into the woods with him to mate. Because, as we said, he really really liked this horse, so it seemed like the thing to do.

Mare Loki became pregnant by the stallion, and then gave birth to an eight-legged steed named Slepnir. This monster-horse then became Odin's steed, who you might have seen for a moment in the movie Thor, when Odin comes to rescue his dumb son from the Ice Giants. We'll talk about more of Loki's abomination children later. 
Kvasir is Killed By Dwarves, W... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Weirdest Stories from Norse Mythology
Photo:  eddiecoyote/Flickr
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Kvasir is Killed By Dwarves, Who Turn Him Into Mead and Poetry

Kvasir's birth alone is a pretty weird story. The gods had just won a war and wanted to celebrate, so they all chewed berries, spat them out, and fermented them to create an alcohol. Except, the fermented berries became a person instead, and that person was named Kvasir, which basically translates to "fermented berry juice."

Weirder still, this alcohol god was also the smartest god who ever existed. He liked imparting wisdom to whomever he met, and traveled extensively to do to. One day he came upon two dwarves with whom he tried to share his worldly knowledge. Instead of listening, as they probably should have, the dwarves killed him and drained his blood. From that, they created a special mead that made the drinker quite poetic. In fact, this mead was supposedly the birth of all poetry. So at least he didn't die in vain.   
The Tree of Life Has an Unreli... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Weirdest Stories from Norse Mythology
Photo: Bob Peterson/flickr/CC-BY 2.0
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The Tree of Life Has an Unreliable Squirrel Who Loves Hatred

According to Norse myth, everything in creation exists on a tree of life called Yggdrasil. In the branches of this tree lives an eagle, and at the base, in the roots, is a dragon. These two creatures greatly hate each other, and it's mostly thanks to a squirrel named Ratatosk, who travels up and down the trunk. This squirrel just loves gossip, and any time the dragon mutters an insult about the eagle, the squirrel runs up and tells the eagle what has been said. Then, when the eagle says something cruel in response, the squirrel runs back down to the roots to inform the dragon. Ratatosk loves the gossip so much that he'll do basically anything to keep it going, even lie. He'll even go so far as to spread unrelated gossip to the gods and others, but his main focus is keeping that hatred between the eagle and the dragon burning. It seems even the ancient Norse knew that squirrels were really dicks.
Thor is a Blushing Bride, and ... is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Weirdest Stories from Norse Mythology
Photo:  Bloodofox~commonswiki/Wikimedia Commons
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Thor is a Blushing Bride, and Loki is His Bridesmaid

For anyone who thinks cross-dressing is a new phenomenon, think again. It once happened that a giant by the name of Thrym stole Thor's hammer and refused to give it back. He would only return the hammer under one condition: that he be allowed to marry Freyja. Of course, no one was going to let that happen, especially Thor, so he decided to impersonate Freyja and go to marry the giant in her place. Loki loved this idea, and transformed himself into a handmaid in order to go watch all this happening.

Somehow, the giants bought the disguise, and the two managed to get Thor to the wedding feast. Through the whole feast, Thor was pretty obviously manly, especially in appetite, and the giants seemed to suspect something. Loki continually made excuses, all with underlying jokes about Thor's actual sex. The moment Thor could get his hands on his hammer, he not only left the giant at the alter, he killed his would-be husband and all the guests in attendance. Probably to the great amusement of Loki.
The Gods Use Baldur as a Livin... is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Weirdest Stories from Norse Mythology
Photo: Internet Archive Book Images/flickr/No known copyright restrictions
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The Gods Use Baldur as a Living Target for Knife-Throwing Practice

You know about Odin's son Thor, but Odin also had another son with his wife Frigg, named Baldur. All the gods really liked Baldur - well, except for Loki, but we'll get to that in a moment.

One night, Baldur started to have terrible dreams about his death, and his mom started to get worried. She went to everyone and everything in existence, including inanimate objects, and made them take an oath not to harm him. Oaths were pretty serious business, so this basically made him invincible. The gods used to make a game out of throwing random weapons and objects at Baldur, then laughing as they harmlessly bounced off. Loki, however, didn't like someone else getting the spotlight. He managed to find out that there was one thing Frigg hadn't gotten an oath from: the plant called mistletoe. Straight away, he made a spear from mistletoe, and waited for the gods to play their silly weapon-throwing game again. When they did, Loki approached a god, handed him the spear and basically said, "Hey bro, throw this at him next!" The god did, and Baldur fell down, dead. The gods were stunned and horrified at what they had done, and mourned for a very long time. This was, perhaps, Loki's greatest betrayal. 
Grendel's Mom Has Got It G... is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Weirdest Stories from Norse Mythology
Photo:  Truthkeeper88 /Wikimedia Commons
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Grendel's Mom Has Got It Going On

Some people know the epic of Beowulf, a Norse hero, and how he slays Grendel. But do you know what happened after that?

Well, Grendel had a mother, who was pretty unhappy that Beowulf had killed her son. She sets about taking revenge by killing pretty much everyone she can find, and by keeping body parts as trophies. Eventually, Beowulf gets wind of this and comes looking for her. Upon seeing her son's killer, Grendel's Mother flies at him an and epic fight ensues.

Now, Grendel is supposed to be the biggest bad guy of all time, but Beowulf quickly finds that his mother is actually much harder to kill, as none of his weapons work on her. There are some weird, somewhat sexual, straddling moments during this fight as well, making the whole thing a little awkward for the hero. Eventually, however, he prevails, and probably permanently remembers the phrase "never piss off a monster's mom." 
Dwarves Make Thor's Hammer... is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Weirdest Stories from Norse Mythology
Photo: Michael Vincent Rigos/flickr/CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0
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Dwarves Make Thor's Hammer Because Loki Is a Jerk

Now, thanks to the recent Marvel movies, we all know that Thor's hammer, Mjölnir, is pretty awesome. But how it was made is arguably even more awesome. You see, Loki, ever the trickster, decided to cut off all of Sif's hair one night. Sif just happened to be Thor's bride-to-be, so Thor was less than happy, and threatened Loki within an inch of his life. Loki promised to have the dwarves make her some amazing beautiful hair as a replacement, and Thor begrudgingly agreed. 
The dwarves were up to the task, but Loki just didn't know when to stop pressing his luck. He went to another set of dwarves and bet that there was no way they could create anything as awesome as those dwarves who made the hair. He even bet these dwarves his own head that they couldn't do it. Of course, the dwarves were not going to be shown up just like that, and through great hardship, they created several amazing things, including the hammer Mjölnir.
To silence Loki, and because they'd won fair and square, the dwarves sewed his mouth closed as punishment. Of course, this didn't keep Loki out of trouble, as you'll see in other items on this list.