Thor and Loki Journey to the land of the giants

In Norse Sagas by Skjalden

Many seasons ago Thor and Loki were traveling together on Thor’s chariot pulled by his two goats. When the sun began to set, they came to a house of a farmer, the farmer welcomed Thor and Loki inside to stay for the night.

Because the family was just simple farmers they did not have much food to share with their two hungry guests. So Thor slaughtered his two goats, chopped up their meat, and put it into a cooking pot.

Thor Thjalfi Loki and Röskva norse mythology saga

When the meat was cooked, Thor and Loki sat down to enjoy their evening meal. Thor invited the farmer and his wife and their two children Thjalfi and Røskva to join them.

Thor spread out the goatskin next to the table and said to the farmer and his family; throw the bones on to goatskin.

Thor and Loki stayed at the farmer’s house for the night, and before dawn, Thor got up and put on his clothes. He reached for his hammer Mjölnir and began to swing it over the two goatskins with all the bones on it.

The bones began dancing on the floor, and they started to form the shape of the two goats. The goatskin wrapped itself around the two goats, and now the two goats had been brought back to life.

But something was wrong, one of the goats was limping one of its legs, Thor sat down on one knee to feel the leg, and he could clearly feel that it was broken. Thor became furious in an instant and yelled at the farmer and his family to come outside.

When the family came outside Thor demanded to know who had broken one of the bones. Loki stood at the entrance to the house and smiled at the boy.

The whole family stood there paralyzed in fear looking at Thor, who was holding his hammer Mjölnir while sparks were flying left and right through the air. If eyes could kill, they would all have been dead right then and there.

Well who did it, Thor asked again, slowly looking at each one of them?

The boy Thjalfi said, almost whispering, it was me mighty Thor…

The farmer then said, Thor please do not harm my family, you can have everything I own.

Dark clouds started to drift apart in the sky, and slowly the singing from birds could be heard again, and Thor’s anger had slowly passed. Thor then said in a calm voice, I will take both of your children, Thjalfi and Røskva in compensation, they will become my servants.

Thor told the farmer to take care of his two goats and left the farm with Loki and the two children. They traveled east and when came to the ocean they crossed over it. After many days on the sea, they finally saw land and here they went ashore. Right next to the beach was a huge forest with trees as tall as mounts and as wide as a house, Thor said let’s go into the forest.

After many hours of walking in the forest, it began to get dark and as luck would have it, they had found a very large hall standing seemingly in the middle of nowhere in the forest. It was a bit strange because one end of the hall had an opening as wide as the hall itself. But because they were tired after walking the whole day, they did not think much about it and went inside to sleep for the night in the middle of the hall.

During the night they all woke up as the ground suddenly began to shake violently under them, Thor and his companions searched for a more secure room in the hall and found one further down to the right.

Thor stood in the entrance to the room with his hammer Mjölnir in his hand ready to defend himself if he had to. The others stood inside the smaller room too scared to look out into the hall. The ground stopped shaking a few moments later, and a loud noise began to fill the air that could be heard for the rest of the night.

Thor and the sleeping giant norse mythology saga

Thor and Loki meets Skrymir

At sunrise, Thor went outside and saw a giant lying in for forest a short distance away from him. The giant snored heavily as he slept, and now Thor understood from where the noise came, that he had heard during the night.

Thor put on his belt of strength and he began to be filled with mighty power. But just at that moment, the giant woke up and quickly stood up. It is said that for once Thor was to startle to strike with the hammer. Instead, he asked the giant for his name, and the giant replied;

Thor giant skyrmir Norse mythology sagas poetic edda

I am Skrymir.

And I do not need to ask your name, because I know who you are Thor, you belong to the Æsir.

But Thor what are you doing here in Giant land? And Why have you dragged my glove away?

Skrymir then reached down and picked up his glove.

Thor now saw that during the night he had mistaken this glove for a hall.

Skrymir shook his glove and Loki and the two children landed on the grass next to him.

Skrymir sat down and began to eat his breakfast and so did Thor and his companions.

Skrymir asked Thor; so were are you going?

Thor answered; we are going east.

Skrymir said; So am I, we should pull our provisions together.

Thor nodded in agreement.

When they were all done eating, Skrymir put all their provisions together in one bag and threw it over his shoulder.

Because I take much larger steps than you, it will probably be night time before you see me again said Skrymir.

In the evening Thor, Loki, Thjalfi, and Røskva caught up with Skrymir again under a huge oak tree. Skrymir gave Thor the food bag and said he wanted to lie down and go to sleep, moments later Skrymir fell asleep, snoring loudly.

Thor sat down next to the food bag and began to untie the knots, but no matter how hard he tried he could simply not loosen any of the knots. After realizing that of all his effort was wasted he became angry.

Thor stood up and went over to Skrymir who was still asleep, he took out his hammer Mjölnir, and while holding it with both hands, he hit Skrymir on his head.

But to his surprise, Skrymir awoke and asked; Did a leaf from the tree just fall down on my head?

Oh and Thor did you enjoy, your evening meal? And are you getting ready to go to sleep?

Thor replied; yes we are getting ready to go to sleep.

Skrymir went back to sleep and started to snoring loudly again. In the middle of the night and after many hours of trying to fall asleep, Thor just could not take it anymore, he stood up and walked over to Skrymir with his hammer in his hand, Thor raised his hammer and hit Skrymir with a hard blow on his head and he felt the hammer sink deep into the head.

Skrymir awoke yet again and said; What now? Did an acorn just fall down from the tree and hit me on my head? And what are you doing standing there in the middle of the night?

thor journey giants jotunheim jotnar norse mythology sagas

Thor quickly moved a few steps back and said; I just woke up, yes it is still night Skrymir, I will try and go back to sleep.

Thor thought for himself; If I can just hit him a 3rd time, I will make sure it will be the last I see this giant. Thor laid down and waited for Skrymir to fall asleep. A little before dawn, Skrymir had fallen asleep again. Thor stood up and ran towards Skrymir with his hammer raised, and with all his might he struck Skrymir on his temple. The hammer sank up to its shaft into Skrymir’s head, but then Skrymir sat up and brushed himself on the side of his head and asked;

Are there some birds sitting in the tree above me? I think I just were hit in the head with some leaves or twigs from the branches. Are you awake Thor? It is time to get up and get dressed.

Thor and Loki arrives at Utgard

We are almost at the stronghold called Utgaard (Also called Udgård), I have heard you whispering among yourself that I am not a small man, but if go to Utgaard, you will see much larger men than me. But you should know Thor, they do not like people who act arrogantly, especially from such a small fry like you.

Or else I would suggest that you turn back, and in my opinion, that would be the best thing for you to do. But if you really want to go to Utgard, then continue to head east. My path leads me northward to those mountains that you can see over there. Skrymir then picked up the food bag and threw it over his shoulder and headed north into the forest.

Thor and his companions continued on their journey and traveled east until midday when they arrived at a plain, here they saw a huge fortress, it was so tall they had to bend their necks all the way back, just to see the top of it.

Thor enters Utgard loki norse mythology sagas icelandic

They walked up to the fortress, but could not enter because the gate was closed. Thor went up to the gate and tried to open it with all his might, but he was unable to open it. So Thor and his companions squeezed themselves in between the bars in the gate.

When they came inside they found themselves in a huge hall with many giants, they all sat eating and drinking and some of them were too big that sat on two benches. They went up to greet the king called Utgard Loki. The King sat and looked at them for a few moments, and said; News travels slowly from distant parts, but am I wrong in thinking that this little fellow with the red hair is Thor?

Surely there is more to you than meets the eye. Tell me, travelers, what skills do you think that you are capable of competing. No one is allowed to stay here unless they some skill or knowledge greater than other men.

Loki who was standing in the back of the group said; I have a skill that is ready to be tested because I can eat faster than any man in this hall.

UtgardsLoke answered; Well well that would be quite an accomplishment since you are so eager to get tested we shall do that. The King stood up and called for the man named Logi and told him to come forward, for an eating contest with Loki.

A large trough filled with meat was brought into the hall and placed on the floor. Loki placed himself at one end and Logi at the other. They both began to eat as fast as they could, and when they met in the middle of the trough. Loki had eaten all the meat from the bones, but Logi had not only eaten the meat, but also the bones and even the trough. It was clear to everyone that Loki had lost the contest.

thor utgaard loki thalfi roskva norse mythology sagas

Then Utgard Loki looked at the little boy Thjalfi, so in what can you compete?

Thjalfi replied; I can run faster than anyone in this hall.

Utgard Loki replied; that is indeed a fine sport little boy, but you will have to be quick if you want to win.

Utgard Loki stood up and said; let’s go outside to the flat plains of Jotunheim. Hugi comes here you will race this little boy.

In the first race, Hugi was so quick that he turned around while still running looking at Thjalfi.

Then Utgard Loke said; Thjalfi you are not even trying, you have to better if you want to win. But it does seem that you are faster than your travel companions. Then they began to race for a second time, by the time Logi was at the of the track, Thjalfi was still a long bow shot away.

Then Utgard Loki said; I think you know how to run a good race Thjalfi, but I don’t think you can win. Let’s try it for the third time.

In the third race; when Logi had reached the end of the track, Thjalfi was not even halfway. Then Utgard Loke said; The contest is over you lost little boy and walked inside.

After a short break, Utgard Loki looked at Thor and said; What skills do you want to show us, Thor? I have heard so many tales about are there any truth in them?

Thor answered; If you want to test me, you can test me in drinking, because I am thirsty.

Utgard Loki replied; well that can easily be arranged. He called to his cupbearer to bring in the feasting horn, from which the retainers usually drank. The cupbearer quickly brought in the horn and placed it in Thor’s hand.

Then Utgard Loki said; Anyone who can empty this horn in one drink is considered a good drinker, some drain it in two, but I have never seen anyone who needs more than three.

thor utgaard drinking contest norse mythology sagas

Thor looks at the horn, and it did not seem to be very large, although it was rather long. But he was quite thirsty so he began to drink, and he drank as much as he could and then stopped to look inside the horn. It seemed that the amount in the horn was only slightly lower than it had been before.

Utgard Loki then said; Good drinking Thor, although not that much. I would not have believed it if I had been told that Thor of the Æsir would have drunk more, but I know that you will finish it in a second drink.

Thor said nothing and put the horn to his mouth and was determined to take a larger drink. While drinking he noticed that he could not lift the horn up from the floor as much he would have liked.

And he drank as much as he could and as long as he could hold his breath, he then lowered the horn from his mouth and looked inside, it seemed to him that the level had gone down even less than it had before. But not there is enough space at the top of the horn to carry without spilling it.

Utgard Loki asked; What now Thor? Are you going to be so brave that you will take one sip more than is good for you? It seems to me that if you want to take a third drink from the horn, then it will have to be the biggest. But among us here, you will not be known as a great man as you are among the Æsir unless you can do better in these contests.

Thor began to get angry and placed the horn to his mouth for the third time and drank with all his might, continuing as long as he could. When he looked into the horn he could at least see some difference, then he gave the horn back and would not drink anymore.

Utgard Loki said; clearly, your strength is not as great as we thought, but do you want to be in another contest, because it is clear that you are not going to succeed here.

Thor replied; I am ready for another contest, what sort of contest do you have in mind?

Utgard Loki replied; We have a little game here my boys and I, we like to see who can lift up my cat from the floor without any of its legs touching the floor. Do you think you can do that Thor? A rather large grey car walked into the hall and Thor approached it, and placing his under the middle of the belly started to lift the cat up.

thor utgard udgaard lifting cat compitition norse mythology sagas

But no matter how much Thor raised his hand the cat arched its back. When had lifted the cat up from the floor as high as he could, one of the cat’s paws was lifted off from the floor, striking fear into the nearby giants that saw it.

Then Utgard Loki said; Alright, this contest has gone as I expected it would. The cat is rather large, whereas Thor is short and small compared with us large men here.

Then Thor replied; If you think I am so little, then why don’t you have someone here come forward and wrestle with me. Thor getting more and angrier by the minute.

Utgard Loki looked over at the benches and replied; I don’t see any man in here who I find dignified to wrestle with you. But wait, and he whispered something to his guard next to him, the guard went into a nearby room, and moments later an old woman came into the hall.

This is my nurse, her name is Elli, you can try and wrestle with her, she has thrown men to the ground, who seemed just as strong as you. Thor began to wrestle her, but the more he used his strength the stronger and more steadfastly she was. Thor began to lose his footing and fell down to one knee while turning his face completely pale.

thor utgaard old woman compitition norse mythology saga

Utgard Loki stood up and said; alright, enough, you have clearly lost the contest. If you can’t even win against my old nurse Elli, there is no reason for you to wrestle any other man in this hall. Thor and his companions were then given a place to sit at one of the benches and were treated well for the rest of the night.

In the morning at first light, Thor and his companions stood up and dressed and prepared to leave. Utgard Loki than came in and had a table set for them and they were treated to both food and drinks.

When they had finished eating they wanted to leave, Utgard Loki accompanied them as they left the fortress Utgard. Before they left Utgard Loki asked Thor, how he thought the trip had been and whether Thor had ever met some who were more powerful.

Thor replied; I have been seriously dishonored in this encounter, and now I know that you will that I am a person of little strength.

Utgard Loki answered; Well, now that you are out of the fortress, I will tell you the truth, because as long as I am alive you will not be allowed to enter again. And I can assure you that you, would never have been allowed to enter in the first place if I had known in advance that you had so much strength in you because you nearly brought disaster upon us.

I have tricked you with my magic, just as I did the first time I met you in the forest. I am the one you met there called Skrymir, and when you tried to untie the food bag, you were unable to find where to undo it. Because I had fastened it with iron wire.

When you struck me three times with your hammer Mjölnir, the first was blow you did was the least, yet it was so powerful that it would have killed me, had it found its mark.

But if you look over to those three flat-topped mountains they do not have three square-shaped valleys below, with one deeper than the others, these are the marks of your hammer. I moved them with magic and placed them in front of your blows, but you did not see me doing it.

And I did the same thing last night, I used my magic to trick you and your companions. When Loke had his eating contest against Logi it was not a normal man, it was a fire in the shape of a man, that is why it consumed both the bones and the wood.

When Thjalfi ran against the one called Hugi, that was my mind, and Thjalfi could not be expected to compete with the speed of my thoughts.

And Thor, when you drank from the horn and thought that you were very slow in draining it, it was no less than a miracle, and I would never have believed it if I didn’t see it with my own eyes. The other end of the horn which you could not lift up from the floor was out in the ocean. When you come to the ocean, you will see how much your drinking lowered it.

Utgard Loki continued to speak; And when you lifted up one of the cat’s paws from the floor, it was not just a cat, it was the Midgard serpent. But you raised him so high that he almost reached the sky.

It was also a real wonder that you remained on your feet for so long during the wrestling. And you only feel to one of your knees, as you struggled with Elli. Elli means old age, and no one overcomes old age.

But before you go, Thor, it would be best for both of us, if you never come back here again to meet me. Next time I will defend my stronghold with similar magic.

When Utgard Loki was done speaking Thor, gripped his hammer and raised it into the air. But, when he was ready to strike, Utgard Loki was nowhere to be seen. The stronghold had also disappeared and there was just one big beautiful plain.