Classical Lit And Mythology

The History and Significance of the Goddess Sigyn

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"The History and Significance of the Goddess Sigyn"
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Norse mythology has for many centuries mainly been a source of study for academics, and rarely has it passed from the academic realm into reading material for the popular masses. Whilst many of the gods and goddesses from Roman and Greek mythology are at least recognised today, the majority of their Norse counterparts have long since been forgotten. Indeed few people will recognised that Wednesday and Thursday are named after Norse gods, Odin (Woden) and Thursday respectively. The name of Sigyn though is not even given that form of recognition.

Sigyn is far from being a major figure in Norse mythology and appears in relatively few tales from the main period of Norse mythology. In most sources there is at best only a passing reference to her and the only real stories about her come from the Poetic Edda and Prose Edda.

Sigyn was the wife of the trickster god, Loki, and despite her husband’s frequent indiscretions stayed loyal to him. The name Sigyn is often translated as meaning victorious girl-friend, an apt name and description. Loki is of course central to many tales but Sigyn appears primarily in the story about Loki and Baldur. Baldur was the Norse god of peace and almost indestructible, but Loki found a way to kill him through the use of mistletoe built into an arrow form. After the killing though, Loki found that he was unable to escape from the angry mob, despite attempting to change into a salmon.

As punishment for killing Baldur Loki was tied down by three boulders, but the punishment came from the fact that a poisonous snake was positioned above him, dripping venom on his head.  Sigyn though remained loyal throughout this punishment and positioned herself so that all of the venom would drop into a bowl that she held, protecting her husband. Eventually though the bowl becomes full, and Sigyn has to go and empty it. At this point any venom that falls onto Loki causes great pain, resulting in Loki struggling and shaking the earth, to cause earthquakes.

When of course people talk of a lack of recognition for Norse gods and goddesses in popular and modern culture, there is one form of popular culture where there is at least some people will recognise their names. That form of popular culture is in comic form, when Thor is one of the main characters from a series of comic books. Many of the other Asgard and Vanir deities also appear, including Sigyn. In the comic books the story of Sigyn is expanded upon, although she is given superhuman powers, with the ability the lift 25 tonnes.

More about this author: Tim Harry

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