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The Weirdest Stories From Norse Mythology

List RulesVote up the strangest tale from the North

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. 

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    Loki Fathers a Lot of Little Monsters - Literally

    Just in general, Loki sleeps around and fathers a lot of babies. You already know he was mother, somehow, to Slepnir, but he was also father to other strange and confusing creatures, in particular with one woman. Loki once slept with a giantess named Angrboda, and she became pregnant with three children.

    One would think that these children would be part god and part giant, but would look pretty humanoid in general. This was not the case. Upon giving birth, Angrboda saw that her children were a massive snake, a giant wolf, and a young woman who was half alive and half dead. The two beasts have their own strange stories, but the girl, who was named Hel, probably got the best deal out of the lot.

    The gods kidnapped Loki's kids and sent Hel to the afterlife, Nifilheim, to look after the honored dead and to take care of them. Once there, she built a massive hall and became a pretty decent, if not greedy, ruler.

    Of course, she was still genuinely rotten and dead from the waist down, but considering her dad was the biggest jerk of all time, she did alright for herself. 

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  • Photo: edward stojakovic / flickr / CC-BY 2.0
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    Clouds Look a Little Like Brains Because They're Really Giant Brains

    Ever notice how clouds look a little like huge brains? Well, the Norse thought there was a reason for that. According to their myths, the world was made from huge severed body parts from the giant Ymir. Upon his death, his blood was turned into the oceans, his flesh became the land, his bones became the mountains, his teeth became the rocks, his hair became the plants, and his eyelashes became the human realm called Midgard.

    His skull was tossed high up into the air and it became the sky, which is held up in four corners by dwarves for all eternity. And the giant's brain? It too was tossed up and it became the clouds. So when you look up into the sky to watch the clouds, you're really looking up at scattered bits of giant brains - at least according to the Norse.

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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 altar, he killed his would-be husband and all the guests in attendance. Probably to the great amusement of Loki.

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  • 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.

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