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

Chapter 19

Loki Steals the Brisinga-Gem



Here is an instance where the naughtiness of Loki sets in motion a train of events vitally connected with the course of human evolution. At the instigation of Odin, once more in his role as destiny, karma, the trickster Loki gains possession of Freya's precious "gem of fire" — human intelligence. We have seen that Freya represents the higher, spiritual faculty of intelligence and is, as the planetary deity of Venus, the sponsor and protectress of her brother Frey's intelligent kingdom, the human race of the planet earth.

When Freya confronts Odin and asks for her gem, the god imposes a condition which is profoundly meaningful: she must incite a struggle between the world's two most powerful kings, one not to be resolved by the victory of either but by the ultimate slaying of both "by a Christian man." This phrase of course reflects the attitude of an age when Christian missionaries were militantly spreading the gospels of the Prince of Peace over the lands of northern Europe and Iceland. However, the crux is the eternal opposition of the forces of light and darkness: there can be no existence and certainly no progress without the tension between pairs of opposites which denotes life. It is a significant philosophical concept which passes almost unnoticed, lost in the levity of Loki's wiles. In a more farseeing frame, it becomes evident that Freya's battle continues for the duration of existence, alleviated from time to time as another human heart is moved to overcome the opposing armies in himself, to gain, and to give, the peace that passeth understanding. This must lend added luster to Freya's precious gem.

Loki Steals the Brisinga-Gem

From Sorla Thattr, folktale. The Icelandic thattr, like the Sanskrit sutra, means a strand (in a rope).

It is said that Loki discovered that Freya had obtained the gem from the dwarfs. He related this to Odin. Odin then demanded that Loki should bring him the gem. Loki objected that this was not to be obtained and gave as his reason that no one could enter Freya's home against her will. Odin said that he was to leave and not return until he had obtained the gem. Loki slunk away complaining loudly. He went to Freya's house and found it locked; he tried to enter but could not. It was very cold outside and he soon became frozen. He then transformed himself into a fly and flew around to all the locks searching for a crack but could nowhere find a hole big enough to enter. Finally at the rooftree, under the rafters he found a hole no larger than could accommodate a needle. Through this hole he entered. Once in, he looked about to see if anyone was awake but he found that all were sleeping. He entered Freya's bed and discovered that she was wearing the gem around her neck, but that the lock was turned downward. Loki transformed himself into a flea, sat on her cheek and stung her, whereupon she woke up, turned over, and once more fell asleep. Abandoning his flea disguise he took the gem, opened the house, went away, and gave the gem to Odin.

When Freya awoke in the morning and saw that all the doors were open without having been forced, and that the precious gem was gone, she felt certain she knew what had happened. She went to the hall, to King Odin, just as she was, and told him that he had done ill to let the gem be stolen from her. She requested that he return it. Odin said that as she once had received this gem, so would she never receive it again; "unless" he added, "you can cause two kings, the greatest in the world, who each rule over ten others, to battle each other under the condition that both shall fight, living or dead, until some Christian man were so brave and possess so much fortune that he dare to tackle both these men and kill them. Only then shall their misfortune cease, when the same hero shall release them from the need and trouble of their perilous paths."

Freya agreed and received back her gem.

Chapter 20