The Masks of Odin by Elsa-Brita Titchenell
Copyright © 1985 by Theosophical University Press. All rights reserved.

Chapter 17

Trymskvadet

(The Theft of Thor's Hammer)

TEXT

TRANSLATOR'S NOTES

Long ago, before humanity became thinking and responsible, the hammer of Thor was stolen by the giant Trym. Thor's hammer represents power not only of destruction but also of creation, including the power to procreate: hence Mjolnir is the symbol of marriage. Loki, agent of the gods and spokesman for the giants, is sent by Thor to find the hammer and forthwith borrows Freya's "feather-guise" and sets out to locate the irreplaceable emblem of creation. He returns with the tidings that Trym has indeed stolen Mjolnir and hidden it deep in the earth. In exchange for its return the matter giant demands that Freya become his bride. Freya, besides being the indwelling spirit of Venus, and sister of Frey, the earth deity, represents, as we have seen, the higher intelligence of our humanity; she guides and protects our human race which is her Brisinga-jewel.

Hearing Trym's outrageous demand, the goddess snorted with such vehemence that the precious gem was shattered. Indeed, all the gods, meeting to deal with this emergency, greeted the giant's ultimatum with consternation. During their deliberations, Heimdal proposed that Thor disguise himself as Freya in bridal attire so that he might himself retrieve his property. His futile protests are overruled by the assembled deities, and Thor reluctantly submits to the indignity of being garbed in fine linen and, wearing two rounded stones on his bosom, to the hall of Trym, accompanied by Loki attired as a bridesmaid.

During the nuptial festivities the giant is appalled by the bride's prodigious appetite and thirst. Only Loki's ready wit saves the situation as he explains that Freya has fasted long in anticipation of this happy event. When Trym bent to kiss his bride and, raising the veil, met the Thundergod's lightning glare, he reeled back the length of the hall from the impact. Again Loki intervened with an explanation which fortunately satisfied the giant (who evidently was a bit dimwitted).

Trym ordered Mjolnir to be brought and laid on the bride's lap to consecrate the marriage. And so it was that the power of Thor was restored to the god after its misuse in the sphere of matter by a race not yet awake to its responsibility as a humanity. It may not be out of place here to note that our own hedonistic age is apparently not the first to misuse creative and destructive power. The creativity symbolized by Thor's hammer — the power to set in motion vortices of action to contain life and organize forms for gods to occupy — can obviously be applied on many levels of existence. Our earth provides analogous examples: from the proliferation of mineral crystals through the many ingenious devices plants have for disseminating spores and seeds; through the seasonable mating of animals to human sexuality, each stage of development opens up more opportunities than the last for creativity. We humans are not limited to the physical world in our creations; we enjoy greater freedom of creativity than at any previous stage of progress: our versatile intelligence and exclusively human intuition are gateways to worlds of science and art, to reaches of inspiration and philosophic and spiritual ideals not available to "the dwarfs in Dvalin's train." This places us in a position of responsibility for the governance of our earth and the kingdoms beneath the human which follow our lead.

It should be mentioned that theosophic history records that, since the age when the creative power came to earth from the realm of the gods, the planet has undergone even grosser materiality than that which prevailed when Thor's hammer was stolen, at which time it was comparable to its present condition. We have since then descended even further and begun the reascent. At the midpoint of its life, the earth's heaviest atoms began to radiate away their substance, i.e., radioactivity began. This was millions of years ago, though it was only recently discovered. The planet should continue to refine its matter (with intervals of consolidation that should become progressively briefer) until it eventually dies. We are, according to Brahmanic and theosophic chronology, past the nadir or turning point when we began to wend our slow steps once more upward in spiritual growth. The tale of Volund relates how the most material humanity fared in that, the planet's darkest hour (pp. 202-210).


Trymskvadet

Wroth was Wing-Thor when he awoke and missed his hammer. He shook his beard and tore his hair. Son-of-Earth groped about him and his first words were:

THOR: Hear me, Loki. What I have to say no one knows, neither on earth nor in the heavens: the hammer has been stolen from the Ase.

They went to the court of beautiful Freya and his first words were:

THOR: Lend me, Freya, your featherguise, that I may find my hammer.

FREYA: I would give it to you though it were of gold. I would give it though it were silver.

Loki flew, the featherguise whirred; he left the Aesir's courts and entered the giant world, where Trym the thurse (1) prince sat on the high seat twining golden collars for his hounds and braiding the manes of his horses.

TRYM: How is it with Aesir? How is it with elves? Why are you come to the giant world?

LOKI: Ill is it with Aesir. Have you hidden Lorride's (2) hammer?

TRYM: I have hidden Lorride's hammer eight days' journey beneath the ground; no man shall fetch him back again unless he bring me Freya to wife.

Away flew Loki, the featherguise whirred; he left the giant world and entered the Aesir's courts; there Thor met him in the middle of the court, and his first words were:

THOR: Did you make the errand as well as the effort? Give air to the message from afar. Seated, a speaker oft digresses; reclining he may lie.

LOKI: I have completed the effort and also the errand: Trym, the thurse prince, has your hammer. No man shall fetch it back again unless he bring the giant Freya to wife.

They sought out fair Freya, and these words he at once spoke:

THOR: Array yourself, Freya, in bridal gown. We two shall fare to the giant world.

Wroth was Freya. She snorted with rage so that all the Aesir's halls shook. The Brisingamen was shattered.

FREYA: I should truly be man-crazy to go with you to the giant world.

All the gods and goddesses met in council; the mighty Aesir conferred on how to regain Lorride's hammer. Quoth then Heimdal, the whitest of Aesir, wisely foreknowing as are the Vaner:

HEIMDAL: Let us dress Thor in a bridal gown and let him wear the Brisingamen! Let him wear a bunch of rattling keys, a woman's garb falling about his knees, upon his breast broad rounded stones, and bridal linen upon his head!

THOR: Aesir might call me unmanly if I let myself be arrayed in bridal linen.

LOKI, SON OF LOFO (3): Quiet, Thor! Such words! Soon the giants will settle in Asgard if you do not fetch your hammer.

They adorned Thor in bridal linen and with the great Brisinga-jewel; from his waist dangled keys and a woman's skirt fell about his knees; on his chest two rounded stones. They veiled his head in costly linen. Quoth Lofo's son:

LOKI: I shall go as your bridesmaid. We two shall journey to the giant world.

Quoth the thurse king:

TRYM: Arise, giants. Strew the benches. They are bringing me Freya to wife, the daughter of Njord from Noatun! Bring me golden-horned cows and all-black oxen to please this giant; treasures I have aplenty, gems aplenty; Freya alone is lacking.

Toward evening came guests; ale was served for the giants. Sif's man (4) alone ate one whole ox, eight salmon, and all the dainties meant for the women; and he drank three kegs of mead.

TRYM: When did you ever see a bride with a broader bite? Never saw I a bride bite sharper, or a maiden drink more mead.

Between them sat crafty Loki, who retorted to the giant's words:

LOKI: Freya ate naught for eight whole days, such was her longing for the giant world.

Trym bent beneath the veil to kiss the bride; he staggered back the length of the hall.

TRYM: Why are Freya's glances so fierce? Her eyes burn like fire.

Between them sat crafty Loki, who retorted to the giant's words:

LOKI: Freya slept not for eight whole nights, such was her longing for the giant world.

There entered the giant's sister to ask for a bridal gift. She begged:

TRYM'S SISTER: Give me the redgold rings from your hands if you would win my love and my favor.

TRYM: Bring in the hammer to consecrate the bride. Lay Mjolnir in the maiden's lap; join our hands with the wedding band.

Then smiled the heart in Lorride's breast, as the hardheaded hammer he felt. First he slew Trym, the thurse king, then lamed all of his kin. He slew the aged giant sister who had dared to ask a bride's gift; blows she received, not rings and coins, hammerblows instead of gems.

Thus came the hammer once more to Odin's son.


Chapter 18

Contents


FOOTNOTES:

1. Uninspired matter giant. (return to text)

2. Thor. (return to text)

3. "Leafy isle": earth. (return to text)

4. Thor. (return to text)