Loke's Punishment

Annie Klingensmith June 25, 2022
Nordic
Easy
2 min read
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After the death of Balder, the gods sent Hermod, his brother, to the realm of the dead to beg the goddess of death to release him. 

Hermod rode nine days and nine nights through valleys so dark that he could see nothing. At last he came to a bridge made of glittering gold. 

Modgud, the maiden who kept the bridge, stopped him and said: “What is your name?” Hermod told his name, but did not say he was a god. 

Then the maiden said: “Why do you who are living try to cross this bridge? You shake it more than a whole army of dead men.” 

Hermod replied: “I come to seek Balder, the Beautiful, and I pray you let me pass quickly, for the gods wait wearily in Asgard.” When the maiden saw that he was a god she hindered him no longer. 

Hermod rode on until he came to the kingdom of the dead. Spurring bis horse he leaped over the gates without touching them. 

He rode swiftly to the palace and entered. There he saw Balder in the highest seat and spent the night with him. 

Next morning he begged the goddess of death to release Balder, and told her of the sorrow of the gods and the despair of the earth. 

The goddess replied: “If all created things, the lifeless as well as the living, will weep for Balder, I will release him. But if anything refuse to weep, he shall not return to Asgard.” 

Hermod rode back to the gods, who sent messengers throughout all the world to beg everything to weep for Balder. All things, men, animals, plants and even stones wept willingly, and the messengers returned gladly because they thought Balder would be released. 

But on the way to Asgard, they found a giantess who said: “Balder never brought me gladness. I will not weep. Let Death keep him.” 

So because there was one thing that would not weep, Balder remained in the realm of death, and the gods were forever grieved. 

Now this giantess was Loke, but the gods did not know it until long afterwards. When they found it out they determined to punish him. 

Loke fled to the mountains. There he built a square house with four doors, so he could see in every direction. Often he changed himself into a salmon and hid in a stream near by. But Odin sat upon his throne and saw Loke’s hiding-place. 

One day Loke wove a net like the one he had once borrowed from Ran, the sea-god’s wife. Just as it was finished he looked out and saw the gods coming. He threw the net into the fire and plunged into the stream. 

But the gods saw the shape of the net in the ashes and wove one like it. When it was finished they held it by the ends and dragged it through the water. 

Then Loke hid between two stones and the net passed over him. The gods felt that something living had touched the net, and the next time they weighted it so heavily that Loke could not slip under it. 

This time he leaped over the net. The gods tried again and Thor waded in the middle of the stream. As Loke tried to leap over, Thor caught him. He was so slippery that he almost slid through Thor’s hands. But Thor grasped his tail tightly and he could not escape. 

Then Loke was bound so that he could never loose himself, but his wife was allowed to bring him food and water. So he was punished for his many evil deeds.

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