Archive | September 2014

Sturlaugssaga starfsama

The wooing of Gerðr by Freyr is covered by the Skírnismál. However, the motive in this myth is not very uncommon. The eddic myth is far from complete and some gaps needs to be filled. There is a saga which can shed some extra light on this bridal-myth.

In the Sturlaugssaga starfsama king Sturlaugr vowed on Julnight to find out the origin of the úrarhorn that he obtained after many adventures in Bjarmalandand and then gave to King Harald. Véfreyja, the old foster mother of his wife of Asa, advices him to pretend like he would marry Mjǫll, the daughter of the king Snær. She was the only one knowing the secret. Sturlaugr however, asks his blood-brother Frosti that he would travel to the kingdom of Snær in Finland. There he must convince Mjǫll to marry Sturlaugr. He gives him a rune staff (on. kefli) which Frosti need to throw in the lap of Mjǫll.

Frosti takes on the assignment and goes to the court of Snær. To veil his true identity, he calls himself Gestr. In the vicinity of the king’s hall is another homestead that is enclosed by a high wooden poles (on. skíðgarðr). Here lives the king’s daughter Mjǫll. Frosti always dwells in the vicinity of this place to catch a glimpse of the king’s daughter, but all winter long he did not succeed. But on one day, the hall was opened. He enters and sees the princess sitting there on a chair and combing her hair with a golden comb. Never before had he seen such a beautiful woman. He throws the rune-staff in her lap which she attentively reads. Worried about the outcome, Frosti cannot sleep and eat. In the following night the princess comes to him and throws a gold ring on him. Frosti went outside to meet Mjǫll. She asks him if it is true what the rune staff said what he affirms. She is willing to be the wife of Sturlaugr. Mjǫll flees the court of her father together with Frosti. She  has a magic girdle which gives her the ability to move very fast. Frosti has to follow her and clinches on to her belt.

When they arrive in Sweden, Sturlaugr is satisfied but he is actually not really interested in marrying her. He tells Frosti to dress like him and sleep with her because both were very alike. During the wedding night Frosti should ask her for the secret of the úrarhorn. Sturlaugr would eavesdrop on their conversation. Frosti does what the kings tells him to do and sleeps with the bride. She is tricked into believing that she sleeps with Sturlaugr. Mjǫll confesses all her secret knowledge, and when Sturlaugr has heard enough, he left. Véfreyja insist that he burns the hall in which the two sleep. Both Frosti and Mjǫll die in the fire. Sturlaugr and Véfreyja feared the witchcraft of Mjǫll when she would find out that she has been deceived.

In this saga, the main characters are representations of gods like Freyr, Skaði/Gerðr, Skírnir and Freyja. I’ve published an more extensive article about this and other myths in the latest issue of Wende (Issue 15, 2014).