~ Heathen Stories and New Myths ~
Loki and Sigyn's First Meeting
(as told to Galina Krasskova)
I am no teller of tales, no great Bard of Bragi's get. My inspiration comes from Woden alone but every so often, another God will whisper in my ear for a time. I, with my small talent record these things as faithfully as hands and heart will allow, but I am an imperfect tool and my words often weak for the task at hand. I beg indulgence now as I recount the tale that Loki has chosen to tell. It is what I have been given and what I am permitted to share. He has left parts of the story out and glossed over others. Suffice it to say, Sigyn is his treasure and what he shares, he does so with her consent.
This story begins before Loki came to make a home in Asgard. Oh, He and Odin had been blood-brothers for some time and He often visited the All-Father, even assisting him from time to time, running errands and carrying important messages. No one was as swift or cunning as the flame-haired sky-traveler after all, and Odin often trusted him with secret duties. Loki was observant and sly and quick to note those secret things others would keep hidden from the All-Father, and these he also carried back to his blood-brother. The work appealed to him for a time, though it did not earn him any true place in the halls of the Aesir. Suffice it to say that despite his dealings for and friendship with Odin, Loki did not often stay in Asgard for any great length of time. Aside from his bond with Odin, there was little to keep him there. It was after the great war, when the hostage price had been paid and the Vanir had come to live on the Aesir's odal lands that this tale came to pass.
Njord, sacral king of this bright tribe, had bartered himself and the lives of his children and future grandchildren for peace with the Aesir. He came to live among them as a hostage, though his kingship was never in question and he was given rank and respect among his new folk. He built a great hall by the ocean, and filled it with plants and herbs and finely crafted things from the land of his birth. Here his children dwelt until they too built halls of their own. He was a peaceful man, though no less a king for it, and exile from the Vanaheim seemed small price to pay for an enduring peace. He was respected and well liked amongst the Aesir and many often came to his home to learn the skills of the Vanir, herbcraft, witchcraft, peacecraft and other things best saved for other tales. His children thrived in their new home and he was, more or less, content.
It was not easy, however, ruling a tribe in abstentia, particularly one as passionate as the Vanir. Negotiations and political intrigue did not cease with the treaties of peace and often he and Odin sat in counsel, two kings debating governance of their folk. Messengers went often between their two halls, long after fragile, woven peace became firm reality. It was in such a function that Loki first set foot in that bright and shining sanctuary. Years later when wyrd had well unfolded as He was telling this tale to me, He mused that had he known what would happen, upon entering Njord's home, He'd have gone there sooner!
Odin had entrusted Loki with documents pertaining to some rather delicate trade negotiations with the Vanir. He was to carry them to Njord and await the other leader's reply. It was a simple enough task, but one that piqued Loki's interest. He'd never been inside the Vanic King's home and had heard tales of its beauty. Vanic architecture tended to be wide and spacious, light and organic in contrast to the more elaborate structures of the Aesir. The Sky-Traveller had an eye for beauty of all kinds and looked upon this particular task as an adventure, a chance to feed that aesthetic desire. Arriving in the hostage-king's lands, it was as if He had left Asgard altogether. The hall was best approached along a stretch of beach and the smell of the sea, the salty air, the crying of the gulls and the chill of the water which permeated every breath was a welcome change from the often stultifying rigor of Asgard's halls. Further, the Vanir bore Loki no particular ill will; they had not the ages-old hostility with the Jotun tribes that so poisoned many interactions with the Aesir. He was often treated hospitably in their halls, and this day was no different. He was shown into an expansive indoor garden and told, with courtesy and apologies, that it would be a bit of time before Njordh could see him. He turned down the offer of food or drink and decided instead to wander beneath the skylight, exploring the unfamiliar plants and flowers. Many of the women in Asgard had gardens, but none indulged to quite such great lengths as this.
Loki walked amongst the plants and small trees, herbs and colorful flowers hearing a fountain somewhere in the background, slowly feeling himself relax. He could understand why folk tended to gather at this hall. It was a peaceful, relaxing place and he thought it beneficial that this man had come to the Aesir. He had just lifted his nose from some glorious crimson flower when he heard a squeak and saw a small form ducking behind a bright, flowering bush. Curious, as only the god of mischief could be, he decided to investigate. There was a small, upturned basket of sewing on the ground and a few scattered flowers. Grinning, Loki crept around behind the bush only to see the figure darting off again. Laughing he set up chase. "I won't hurt you, little one. Why don't you come out?"
"No." it was a small, feminine voice from somewhere behind a row of flowers.
Loki chuckled. "Please? I am all alone here and have no one to talk to." He sat down cross-legged on a rock and waited, sensing that if he was patient, and did not startle her, this little stranger would come to him.
Eventually, two little eyes peeked out from behind a fruit tree. He smiled at her and beckoned, trying to look harmless. Hesitantly she came out in full view and Loki smiled, a genuine smile, at the little girl standing before him. He says later that he felt dizzy and stunned and realized later that she'd captured his heart with that first, shy glance, but he did not realize it right away. With a little bit of encouragement, the girl approached him. She was very shy, and looked at him with wide, worried eyes. She was slender, pale and seemed very delicate, though pretty. He wondered what she was doing there - she very obviously wasn't Vanir, she had not the abundant, vital power that flowed like blood through every Vanic man and woman he'd thus far met. She faced him, twisting a bit of her apron in her hands. He just smiled,
"My name is Loki. I am visiting here on business. I like your garden." He smiled gently.
The girl returned the smile somewhat hesitantly and shifted nervously but crept a little closer.
"I didn't mean to intrude." He assured her. "I didn't know anyone was here." He moved over and beckoned for her to sit, but she just blinked up at him owlishly. Finally, he asked her name.
"Sigyn. I live here." She told him softly.
"In the garden?" he asked with innocent eyes, wanting to see her smile again.
"No!" the girl giggled. "I got rooms upstairs. But this is my favorite place."
He nodded solemnly, "I can see why. It is beautiful." He considered and produced a bright purple flower from his sleeve holding it out to her. Her eyes widened and she squealed with delight as he offered it to her. She fingered every petal gently; it wasn't a flower she was familiar with. "How did you do that?" she whispered in awe, creeping closer.
Loki grinned. "Magic," he said, and beckoned for her to sit again. This time she did, curling her legs up under her, attention half on the flower and half on the strange man at her side. By the time Njord himself came into the garden to greet his visitor, Sigyn was giggling happily by Loki's side, the two of them wrapped in conversation. He watched them for a few minutes, pleased to see the little girl looking so happy. Eventually though, he cleared his throat to announce his presence. Loki looked up surprised and a little sheepish, Sigyn squealed again and ran to Njord's side, hugging him and then dragging him over to meet her new friend, babbling in the Vanic dialect. Loki was utterly charmed and it showed on his face, causing the elder man some difficulty in suppressing the grin that threatened. "I see you've met my foster-daughter." He smiled indulgently at the girl.
Loki smiled, "She was kind enough to keep me company."
"He gave me a flower," she told the sea-king.
"That was very kind of him, and it is your favorite color too." He stroked the girl's hair gently. "But I'm afraid I must steal him away now. We have business to discuss. I shall bring him back later," he promised her, exchanging a bit of a smile with his Jotun guest.
The girl looked disappointed but nodded, waving goodbye to her new friend, who returned the gesture, a small smile playing at his lips.
Their business was concluded amiably enough, drinks were shared, and eventually, he did get to see Sigyn again, if only to bid her goodbye. Over the next few weeks, his mind kept coming back to the child, flitting like a ghost through the Vanic king's gardens. He began using any excuse he could to visit, both business and simple social calls. It didn't do much for the Vanic ruler's salons to have Odin's Jotun blood-brother show up unannounced, but then Loki didn't care overmuch for those salons. He spent his time in the garden or on the beach, entertaining Sigyn, spending only as much time as was necessary with the others. Njord was always hospitable, if a bit smug as he watched the two of them together. (Had Loki thought about it, he might have questioned that smug look - after all, prophecy ran strong in Vanic lines.) He took to bringing Her simple gifts, pretty things that he knew would make her smile. She was obviously well loved and well taken care of in Njordh's hall - other goddesses, particularly Frigga, Eir, and Idunna visited and doted on her - but she was very shy and he couldn't quite place the source of the sadness that clung to her like a strange miasma. He asked Odin about her, but his blood-brother only got a rather sad look in his eyes and told him that was a question for Njord.
It was almost a year after he first met the girl, that he finally questioned Njord about her. He'd visited again, on business this time, and acceded to the man's request to remain in his private counsel chamber. When Njord turned to face him, it was as a man and father, not as a king and ruler of his people. "You love her." He said simply. Before Loki, stunned and a little worried, could protest, Njordh continued, "and you're curious about her."
It was all Loki could do to nod, "I don't intend her harm!" he protested immediately, used to being suspected of the worst by many of the Aesir. Njordh simply waved him away,
"I know that. I see it, in the threads. You could no more harm her than I could." He sighed heavily and came to sit opposite the slender Jotun man. "But you're curious about her origin." The sea-king offered him a drink and settled back, eyes dark. "My son found her a few years ago, not long after this hall had been built. She couldn't have been more than four or five years old, a bruised, hungry, disheveled thing, crying in the forest. Ingvi found her when He was out walking. She tried to run from him at first but was too scared and too weak to get very far, and he has a way with children. He calmed her and brought her to me." He smiled a little, a smile tinged with pain. "We don't know where she comes from... I suspect She's..." he hesitated searching for a term in the Aesir language that would not be derogatory "forgive me, a half breed." He inclined his head to the man. "I've always suspected the child born of an Aesir and Jotun union," His mouth tightened "and abandoned as a result. She's delicate... and too gentle to thrive amongst the Jotuns and yet if she is indeed part Jotun, would not necessarily be welcomed by some of the more insular Aesir." He snorted. "I don't know. I could be wrong. She could not tell us." He admitted. "What we do know is that she was mistreated and abandoned."
"I asked her once where she was from and it made her cry.' Loki whispered, looking stricken.
Njord nodded, "It was a year before the nightmares stopped. She remained very fearful. She's made a home here and I do consider her my own. She knows that." He said softly. "But some wounds are hard to heal." He sipped his drink slowly, eyes on the fire that crackled and danced in the stone hearth. "The women are kind to her, but…treat her as something of a pet. I do not think they truly see her worth save a few like Frigga or Idunna. I know she has captured your heart." He locked eyes with Loki. "These Aesir, they betroth young…I…cannot do that. It is not our way."
"I would not have asked," Loki said quietly. "She is too young." He looked away. "I would not have asked you until she was much, much older."
"It is written in the threads." He smiled. "Be her friend. She needs that. When she is older, we shall speak on other things. She has already informed me she is going to marry you." He grinned outright at the stunned look on the sky-traveller's face. It took a lot to throw Odin's blood-brother off balance. He did not think it untoward to allow himself the pleasure of knowing he'd finally managed it. (According to Loki, in private, Njord has never let him forget it either, something Sigyn giggles over).
Njordh was quiet for a time, "One more thing," He said slowly. "I know you have a wife in Jotunheim." He held up a hand to forestall Loki's explanation. " When she is old enough, you must tell her everything. I will not have her coming to you blind." Loki nodded, recalling again that Vanic ways were as different from the Aesir as the Aesir were from the Jotuns. "And build your hall in Asgard. She needs stability…I do not think she could tolerate being moved about." He rose and Loki rose with him, walking to the door. "My daughter is wiser than she seems on the surface."
"I know." Loki smiled, all the masks falling aside for a moment. "That is both a strength and a sorrow to her." He inclined his head, offering thanks to the man, leaving with lighter heart than before. He could only imagine how the meeting would have gone had it been with someone else.
Within a few years, it became clear to all that Odin's flame-haired blood brother was courting the young foster daughter of Njordh. It aroused no little consternation among some of the more traditionally-minded of the Aesir, though Njord protected the girl from all of that. He obviously did not mind that his foster daughter was going to wed a Jotun, and He only became angry once, when one of the men accused him of child abuse - insinuating that allowing Sigyn to wed Loki was the equivalent of selling the child into iniquity. The shild paid for that insult padded Sigyn's wedding chest and put an end to such open accusations. Njord's rage had been as great and as cold as the ocean depths and few wished to see him thus angered again. It was clear though, that no one understood the love between the two, and many assumed wrongly that Loki had used some Jotun witchery to win her affections... to what end, they did not wish to speculate.
Loki never returned from his many travels without some small gift
for Sigyn, and he even built his hall on the outskirts of Asgard, a gift to his
bride on their wedding day. He found out, on that day, that she'd kept that
first purple flower he'd given her. They wed when she was fifteen, though that
is a tale for another to tell.
© Galina Krasskova
Author of "Exploring
The Northern Tradition", "Walking
Towards Yggdrasil", "The
Whisperings of Woden" and more.