Loki's Complicated Family
There is more to Loki than his tricks, pranks and mistrust. He was also quite the player and had many partners, bearing many children by them. Loki had two wives. A frost giant whom he hid from the other gods, and a beautiful and very patient goddess. If divorce was not a thing of the gods, it meant that Loki was in a bigamous relationship. Both wives seemed to be faithful to their husband, even though Loki himself slept around, not just with giantesses, goddesses and humans. But the shapeshifter had many other partners, with animals, and even birthing some of them himself in a female form. In fact, according to their legend, Loki helped create some different species of animals, by impregnating others, or birthing them himself as a female mother. (Such as the eight-legged horse, you can read about in a previous article https://www.thedanishcanadianmuseum.shop/post/loki-the-trickster )
Angrboon “Anger-boon” Angrboon was Loki’s first wife. She was kept a secret, because she was a giantess. He must have loved her, because Loki married her instead of just sleeping with her, like the other gods had done before him. Angrboon lived in Jortunheim with the others of her kind, so Loki would disappear from Asgard for long periods of time to be with her. Until it was found out and Odin forbade Loki from being with her.
When the marriage was discovered Loki’s three children were also unearthed, and all of them were brought before Odin to inspect. The three proved to be very powerful beings.
Angrboon’s three children:
Hel She was Loki’s only daughter, and a frightening character she was. While one half of Hel’s face was as beautiful as any young maiden, her other half was a corpse. She was half alive, half dead. Despite her appearance, and her gloomy disposition, when brought before Odin, Hel was polite and respectful. Impressed with her manners, Odin gave land for Hel to rule over. Not just any land, but the land of the dead. It was named after her, and she ruled over the dead humans and gods that were sent to her, because they were not allowed to enter Valhalla.
Jormungandr “your-mun-gand” Despite being young, Loki’s son was massive in size and forever growing. Jormungandr was a giant snake. The “Midgard serpent” they called him. He was so large and so powerful that he was a threat to the gods. Since there was nowhere large enough to put him. Odin picked up the great snake and hurled it into the earth’s ocean. It sunk to the bottom where it was trapped under the waves. Where he lived, slithering under fishermen boats, and continued to grow. Until the end of the universe when he would break forth and fight the gods.
(Photo taken from Sea serpent (hyperleap.com) This carving of the giant snake is found in Sweden)
Fenrir “Fen-rur” The third child of Angrboon was a giant wolf. He was mighty to behold, and as powerful as his siblings. Fenrir mistrusted, and fought with everyone. The only god Fenrir trusted was Tyr, who befriended the beast. One glance at the wolf, and Odin feared him. For he foresaw that as an enemy, Fenrir would their most powerful adversary. He was so threatening that many could be kill by his jaws. With that fear clouding his mind, Odin ordered that he be bound, and imprisoned. No chains or ropes could hold Fenrir however, and he broke free every time. It was not until the dwarves fastened unbreakable chains was Fenrir subdued. Tyr himself had to trick his friend into submission, to put the bindings on. Fenrir then announced, that if Odin had treated him kindly, he would have been their ally. But, since the king god had bound him, Fenrir’s fate was sealed, and he would be their enemy. As Odin feared, Fenrir was their greatest adversary in the final battle against the gods.
Sigyn “Sig-in” After Odin learned of Loki’s marriage to the giantess Angrboon, he broke it off, and had Loki marry one of their own; Sigyn of the Aesir. So little is known about this goddess, that they do not know what she was the goddess of. With what we do know, one might venture to guess that she was the goddess of protection or defense. Her name is speculated to have two meanings ‘victory’ and ‘female friend’. Perhaps meant to mean ‘victorious friend’. What they do know about Sigyn is what is written in the Edda poem. Sigyn was a devoted wife, despite Loki’s constant adultery, and harsh tricks against her friends and family. Loki then committed an unforgivable crime. He used his schemes and forked tongue to get one of the other gods killed, Baldur the beautiful. Although it was by another’s hand, it was Loki who set it in motion, and he almost got away with the murder. However, he was found out, and a punishment was in order. The penalty was that Loki was tied to rocks in a cave. Above him was a poisonous snake that Skadi the goddess of winter provided. (Read more about the goddess of winter here: https://www.thedanishcanadianmuseum.shop/post/skadi-goddess-of-winter ) The snakes venom was so potent that it would have killed any mortal, and it caused unbearable pain to a god. The venom fell on Loki’s face, causing him to shake the earth with his agony.
Sigyn, ever the dutiful wife, held a bowl up over Loki’s head, protecting Loki from the dripping venom. The only problem was that when the bowl became full, Sigyn would have to leave the cave to empty it. Loki then would scream out with pain as the deadly saliva fell upon him once again. Loki was eventually released, but never forgave the other gods and goddesses for his punishment. Sigyn on the other hand, is not mentioned again. As of yet no other written characteristics has been found of her.
As for Sigyn’s children. There are different accounts of whom she mothered. In the Edda poem she only had one son Narfi, while other ancient texts have said that she had another son named Vali. Both will be mentioned, and you can decide which one you prefer.
Narfi Can also be spelled as Nari. In all the poems, Narfi is undoubtedly Sigyn and Loki’s son. He is a lesser god however, with no title of his own that the historians know of. Little is known about him before his death. After Loki committed the murder of one of his own people. His punishment was not only to endure great physical pain. All accounts say that Narfi was sentenced to death for his father’s crime. His throat was ripped out by a wolf. Then his entrails used to make the chains that bound Loki to the rocks in the cave.
Vali Some of the written texts say that Vali was Odin’s son, and that he was the god of dark deeds and wrongdoings. That he purposefully carried out the execution of Narfi himself, in anger for Baldur, his brother’s, death. Other poems have said that Vali was Loki’s son; Narfi’s brother. While Narfi was sentenced to death, Vali was turned into a savage wolf and provoked into killing his own brother. He is never mentioned again, so perhaps was kept as a wolf and set loose. In both stories Narfi dies, and Loki is severally punished, along with Sigyn, who no longer had her son(s).
Written by Billie Richard
Sources used Books: Norse myths and Tales, Epic Tales. By Flame Tree Publishing Norse Mythology, by Neil Gaiman
Websites: Fenrir | Norse mythology | Britannica Sigyn - Norse Mythology for Smart People (norse-mythology.org) Sigyn - Loki's Wife - Norse mythology (skjalden.com) Narfi and Váli - The Sons of Loki - Norse mythology (skjalden.com) Altuna Runestone (hyperleap.com)