Skadi, the Goddess of Winter and Daughter of the Frost Giants

Destined for an Unhappy Marriage..

According to the ancient skalds, the storytellers among the Vikings, the world was shared by many different races. There were men and women, but there were also dwarves that dwelled in the secret places of the earth, and the Alfar (similar to the Fair Folk of the Tuatha De Danann who were worshipped by the Celts). Among the stronger races there were the Aesir and the Vanir, the two races of gods, and then there were the giants. There were fire giants who lived in the Earth and who caused fire to erupt, and there were frost giants who were the bringers of winter and darkness. It was the frost giants that the Aesir most fought with in the heathen myths, and as the story of Skadi shows just because a battle was over didn't mean that a war was won.

Skadi was the daughter of Thiassi, a powerful ruler among the frost giants. Thiassi had stolen the golden apples of youth in an attempt to rob the Aesir of their immortality, and the Aesir had reacted in a predictably violent manner with Thor dealing a death blow with the great treasure the war hammer Mjollnir. When the death of Thiassi reached Thrymheim his daughter, the frost giantess Skadi girded herself for battle and revenge before she set off towards Asgard.

When the gods saw the snow-shoed goddess of winter and royalty among the frost giants they knew that, while they could triumph in battle, it would be far less costly to make reparations to try and turn Skadi into an ally. She only had two conditions; that the Aesir must make her laugh and she must be allowed to choose a husband from among them. The first condition was easily taken care of when Loki tied his testicles to a goat's beard, which is really funny no matter what era you live in. And the gods agreed to the second condition, but Skadi was only allowed to see the feet of the gods she chose from.

When Skadi saw the feet of the assembled gods she chose the strongest, cleanest set believing them to belong to Baldur, the most beautiful of the gods and the son of the All Father Odin and the goddess Frigga. When she saw her husband though, Skadi saw that she had chosen the sea god Njord, the Vanir father of Frey and Freya. Though disappointed Skadi married the sea god she had chosen. That was when the problems began.

Skadi was a goddess of the Winter and the cold, and she couldn't abide the temperate domain that Njord dwelled in near the sea. So in an effort to be reasonable the new couple agreed to spend half the year near the sea and the other half in the mountains of the North. After a time though Skadi spent more and more time in the mountains, avoiding her husband more and more. Eventually the two decided to end their union, and Skadi instead married Uller, the son of the goddess Sif and the half brother of the gods Modi and Magni. Both being creatures of cold, darkness and Winter they made a much better and happier couple.

As with her husband, Skadi's place at Ragnarok (the Norse version of Armageddon) isn't declared. Though a frost giant, the Asatru legend doesn't declare whether Skadi will fight alongside the other giants, the goddess Hel and her siblings the Fenris Wolf and Jormundgand the Midgard Serpent, or if she will fight with the Aesir, the valkyries and the Einherjar when the world comes to its next turning. As with many things in the pagan world only so much was decreed by fate; the rest was up to the actions of the players.

"Skadi," by Anonymous at Vanir
"Skadi," by Micha F. Lindemans at Pantheon

Published by Neal Litherland

Neal Litherland has been a professional freelance writer since 2008. An author, blogger and gamer, he received a Bachelors of Criminal Justice from Indiana University. To keep up to date on his current proje...  View profile