Sigyn

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Sigyn (Old Norse "victorious girl-friend"[1]) is a goddess and wife of Loki in Norse mythology. Sigyn is attested in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources, and the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson. In the Poetic Edda, little information is provided about Sigyn other than her role in assisting Loki during his captivity. In the Prose Edda, her role in helping her husband through his time spent in bondage is stated again, she appears in various kennings, and her status as a goddess is twice stated. Sigyn may appear on the Gosforth Cross and has been the subject of an amount of theory and cultural references.

Contents

Attestations

Sigyn is attested in the following works:

Poetic Edda

In stanza 35 of the Poetic Edda poem Völuspá, a Völva tells Odin that, amongst many other things, she sees Sigyn sitting very unhappily with her bound husband, Loki, under a "grove of hot springs".[2] Sigyn is mentioned a second (and final) time in the ending prose section of the poem Lokasenna. In the prose, Loki has been bound by the gods with the guts of his son Nari, his son Váli is described as having been turned into a wolf, and the goddess Skaði fastens a venomous snake over Loki's face, from which venom drips. Sigyn, stated again as Loki's wife, holds a basin under the dripping venom. The basin grows full, and she pulls it away, during which time venom drops on Loki, causing him to writhe so violently that earthquakes occur that shake the entire earth.[3]

Prose Edda

Sigyn appears in the books Gylfaginning and Skáldskaparmál in the Prose Edda. In Gylfaginning, Sigyn is introduced in chapter 31. There, she is introduced as the wife of Loki, and that they have a son by the name of "Nari or Narfi".[4] Sigyn is mentioned again in Gylfaginning in chapter 50, where events are described differently than in Lokasenna. Here, the gods have captured Loki and his two sons, whom are stated as Váli, described as a son of Loki, and "Nari or Narfi", the latter earlier described as also a son of Sigyn.[5] Váli is changed into a wolf by the gods, and rips apart his brother "Nari or Narfi". The guts of "Nari or Narfi" are then used to tie Loki to three stones, after which the guts turn to iron, and Skaði places a snake above Loki. Sigyn places herself beside him, where she holds out a bowl to catch the dripping venom. However, when the bowl becomes full, she leaves to pour out the venom. As a result, Loki is again described as shaking so violently that the planet shakes, and this process repeats until he breaks free, setting Ragnarök into motion.[5]

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