For years I heard people talk about patron gods and goddesses. Some just chose one they liked, others were ‘called’ by the deity itself. The first didn’t feel right to me, although I had several gods and goddesses I was attracted too. But ‘being called’ sounded a bit strange. What did they mean with that? When, why, how? I didn’t really get it and very few had a clear story about how it works. It seemed to be hard to explain…
When I met my second power animal, a polar bear, in a meditation it was handed to me by a woman. At the time I didn’t really pay attention to her as I was very excited to get to know my new power animal. Somehow though, the woman settled herself somewhere in the back of my mind. In the weeks and months after this happened she slipped into my dreams, meditations, shamanic journeys and even in my daily life. Sometimes I saw her, most of the time I felt her. I just knew she was there. I had heard about a Norse goddess called Skadi, but I didn’t make the connection yet between her and this mysterious woman that decided to occupy my mind.
I decided to do a journey in which I asked my polar bear friend to bring me to her. We walked through a magnificent landscape with snowy mountains and finally arrived in a cave or hall of ice. The woman was sitting in front of a fire and a roasting spit. I assumed she killed the animal on the spit herself; her bow and arrows are lying next to her. She first welcomes my polar bear and only then she invites me with a gesture to sit down. I spent quite some time there, mostly listening, sometimes answering questions. She was friendly enough, but I still felt a bit intimidated. She radiated strength and a strong sense of authority. When she indicated it was time to leave, she gave me her symbol: a silvery white snow crystal. I thanked her and left.
After this journey it was clear to me that she had chosen me, ‘called’ me if you will. My first task was to find out all I can about her. Still a work in progress but I’ll share some of what I found here.
Skaði is one of the lesser known goddesses of the Norse Pantheon. She is the goddess of winter, snow, ice, cold, skiing and hunting. She is often depicted on ski’s with a hunting bow, accompanied by a snow animal (polar bear, white wolf, arctic fox). Her colours are white and icy blue.
Contrary to a goddess like for example Freya there is not a lot to be found about Skaði in the Edda’s and/or other texts from that era. The name Scandinavia is said to be derived from her name, meaning ‘Skaði’s island’. Etymologically her name is related to ‘skathi’, an Old Norse noun meaning ‘harm, damage’, the Dutch word is ‘schade’ which could point to the destructive power of snow and ice. Sometimes Skaði is referred to as Öndurguð (Old Norse ‘ski god’) and Öndurdís (Old Norse ‘ski dís’, often translated as ‘lady’).
Not everyone agrees on calling her a goddess. She is the daughter of the Jotun (ice giant) Thiazi. When the Aesir (clan of gods) kill her father, she leaves Jotunheim (world of the ice giants) and travels to Asgard (realm of the Aesir) to avenge this heinous act. The Aesir fear the destructive powers of winter and convince her to refrain from revenge. She agrees, but demands two things in return. First the gods have to make her laugh, because she hasn’t been able to laugh since her father died. Then Loki ties the end of a rope to his testicles and the other end to a goat. When the goat starts to walk, Loki’s face grimaced from the pain and Skaði laughs out loud. Her second demand is to marry one of the gods. Odin agrees, but determines she can only see the gods’ feet to choose from. She chooses the most beautiful feet, thinking it must be Balder. However, they belong to Njord, the sea god. The marriage isn’t very successful. They eventually split up because Njord can’t get used to living in the mountains and Skaði hates the sea.
According to the Heimskringla (a collection of Norse kings’sagas) Skaði later married Odin, and they had many children together. She also has connections to Loki. In the poem Lokasenna (Poetic Edda) she places a venomous serpent right above Loki’s face, he can’t get away from it, because he is bound. His wife tries to catch the venom in a bowl, but when she has to empty it, the venom drips on Loki’s face, causing a lot of pain and his fury.
There’s more, but that’s too much for a column. More sources and info are always welcome though, tips of books/websites/etc. are much appreciated.
I made a Pinterest album to collect images and artistic impressions of Skaði: http://www.pinterest.com/tinknl/deity-skadi/
Did you know Skaði before you read this?
Do you have a patron god(dess)? How did that happen?
T(h)ink about it and share if you’d like…