Jörmungandr

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In Norse mythology, Jörmungandr (pronounced [ˈjœrmuŋɡandr]), mostly known as Jormungand, or Jörmungand (Old Norse: Jǫrmungandr), or Midgard Serpent (Old Norse: Midgarðsormr), or World Serpent, is a sea serpent, and the middle child of the giantess Angrboða and the god Loki. According to the Prose Edda, Odin took Loki's three children, Fenrisúlfr, Hel and Jörmungandr, and tossed Jörmungandr into the great ocean that encircles Midgard.[1] The serpent grew so large that he was able to surround the Earth and grasp his own tail.[1] When he lets go the world will end. As a result he earned the alternate name of the Midgard Serpent or World Serpent. Jörmungandr's arch enemy is the god Thor.

Contents

Sources

The major sources for myths about Jörmungandr are the Prose Edda, Húsdrápa, Hymiskviða, and Völuspá. Less important sources include kennings in skaldic poetry. For example in Þórsdrápa, faðir lögseims, "father of the sea-thread", is used as a kenning for Loki. There are also image stones from ancient times depicting the fishing encounter.

Stories

There are three preserved myths detailing Thor's encounters with Jörmungandr:

Lifting the cat

In one, Thor encounters the serpent, who is disguised as a colossal cat by the giant king Útgarða-Loki. As one of the tasks set by Útgarða-Loki, Thor must lift the cat; though he is unable to lift such a monstrous creature as Jörmungandr, he manages to lift it far enough that it lets go of the ground with one of its four feet.[2] When Jörmungandr is revealed by Útgarða-Loki, the lifting is counted as an impressive deed.[2]

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