VIKING - 34: 'Freyja Craves The Brisingamen Necklace', Loki's Humiliation Of A Goddess
"Two wooden stakes stood in the field on which I hung my hat and cloak. They had character in my fine clothes. Naked I was nothing".
Dawns'pale, icy grey fingers stretched across the sky, and flakes of snow drifted on the breeze about Asgard.
Seen by Loki alone Freyja left the shelter of her hall, Sessrumnir, her cats sleeping peacefully by the hearth, her chariot standing idle outside. She stole out on foot into the cold grey morning for the bridge Bifrost. The Sly one was bemused by this untoward behaviour. Wrapping his cloak closely around him he followed, not caring where her path would lead him.
The goddess hardly walked, but seemed to float across the deeply frosted earth across a resting Asgard, hips asway as she went over the rainbow bridge that shivered and swayed around her, and under her feet. The deep, crisp snow crunched lightly beneath her as she made her way across Midgard, the rising sun gleaming, dazzling on the frost. She dreamed of gold, lusted after the brightness as she crossed the bare, open land with Loki hastening after her. Freyja forded a twisting stream that had been stilled by ice, the hoar frost hanging on the air as she passed a great glacier. Criss-crossed by deep, cruel cuts the glacier loomed dark in the gathering twilight that heralded the end of another winter's day. She came by and by to great, smoothed boulders that littered the bottom of a cliff.
A narrow path led downward, cold-teared eyes showed her the way to the dwarves' forge, tearful now at the sight of a shower of gold before her. The way narrowed between damp rocks until she came to a great, dank cavern. Here she stood still, the sound of dripping water all that broke the silence. A gill burbled in the darkness as she stood, listening. Far-off the tapping of hammer on metal brought a flutter to her heart. She felt her heart hammering within her to the time of the hammering ahead. Deep yearned filled her, to see the fine work of the dwarves.
Freyja strolled warily into and through the cavern, squeezed through an even narrower gap between cold, arching rock walls until she stepped into the heat of the forge where she came upon Alfrigg, Dvalin, Berling and Grerr. Freyja was dazzled by the bright, dancing light of the flames until her eyes became used to it. When she saw what the dwarves had been busy with her breath left her. She gasped at the sight of a choker of bright gold, smooth-wrought folds and fine shapes, patterns like a golden river in which the light of the forge danced and writhed.
Nothing had she seen as beautiful, or wished to own before as much as this treasure.
The dwarves stared at Freyja, shimmering in the hot light. Where her cloak fell around her bare shoulders gold brooches and finery on her dress gleamed, the light playing on the shapes. They were smitten by her beauty.
Freyja smiled on Alfrigg and his friends, telling them,
'I would buy that necklace from you'.
They looked at one another, three shook heads and the fourth answered curtly,
'It is not for sale'.
Freyja snapped back,
'I want it!'
They grimaced and she told them again,
'I want it. Silver and gold will be yours - a fair outlay, and more', Freyja's voice rose and she neared the workbench where it rested. 'Other rewards will be forthcoming in payment'.
'We have silver enough', one dwarf told her.
'And gold we have, too', another added.
Freyja gazed at the treasure she yearned. A hunger rose deep within her, painful and sharp it struck.
Alfrigg, Dvalin, Berling and Grerr huddled together, deep in debate, whispered hoarsely. At last they nodded and Freyja asked, on edge,
'What is your price/'
'The necklace belongs to each of us', one of them told her.
'Each of us should have the same payment', the second leered up at her.
'There is only one price we can agree on', the third put in, 'that would please us'.
Alfrigg pointed up at her,
'You are the price'.
She reddened, and not just because of the heat in the workshop. Her ample bosom heaved and her breaths came short.
'If you lie with each of us for one night, and only then, will we part with it and you will then feel its coolness around your smooth neck'.
Freyja looked at them, each ugly, hairyupturned-snout face in turn. She took in their fat bellies overhanging their belts, beady, dark eyes shining, bright from the flames. Her longing for for the necklace overcame her distaste. After all, this would cost her only four nights, and after that the necklace would be hers... forever! The light from the forge danced around the walls of the cave and the dwarves' eyes took in the goddesses' beauty.
Shamelessly she nodded,
'Very well, I am yours these next four nights'.
The four days and nights went quickly enough for Freyja. She kept her part of the bargain and the dwarves kept theirs. They handed it to her, putting it around her throat and fastening it. She hastened away, out of the cavern and back across the frosted plain of Midgard, her 'shadow' following. She hurried across Bifrost and entered Sessrumnir cloaked in darkness. Under her cloak the Brisingamen necklace caressed the line of her smooth, fair throat.
The Sly one headed straight for Vallaskjalf, where he found the Allfather on his high seat in the darkness but for one or two torches sputtering in the cold breeze as Loki came up to 'One-Eye' through a side door. On either of Odin's shoulders sat Huginn and Muninn, his ravens and at his feet sat his two wolves.
'What now?' demanded the Father of Battle at Loki's intrusion.
The Sly One smirked.
'I see the twisted look you wear', the Allfather growled.
'Ah! I would warrant you saw nothing of hers?' Loki grinned evilly.
'Hers?! Whose do you speak of?'
'You missed it all! Could you not see from Hlidskjalf?'
'See? See what?' Odin snarled, tired of Loki's word-play.
'Where could you have been, Allfather, when the goddess you lust after slept night after night with four ugly dwarves?'
'That is enough from you1' Odin snapped.
Loki pressed on, twisting his words like daggers into the Allfather's tortured soul. He delighted in telling of the goddess selling her womanhood for the Brisingamen necklace. Despite himself, Odin could only sit listening as Loki wound his tale, leaving nothing unspoken.
'Get the necklace', the Allfather hissed through teeth set when Loki was done with telling of Freyja's shamelessness.
Loki's cold smile and mute head-shaking angered Odin. He growled at the Sly One,
'Nothing you ever do is ever worthy! You would have us all snapping at one another's throats. You will get to her throat and bring me the choker!' Odin's face twisted in anger as he threatened Loki, 'Until you get it do not show yourself here!'
Loki looked up from where he knelt at the Terrible One, his face grimly masked in cold anger. His wits left him and he fled in terror, howling like a wolf in pain.
That very night the Sly One stole across the crisp, moonlit snowy field toward Sessrumnir. He boldly came to the door, a plan taking shape in his thoughts. Drawing his cloak tightly about him Loki shivered. A sudden wind whipped up the snow, whipping his cheeks. The gnawing cold crept into his heart, through his blood and he shivered fitfully.
He thought of Thor's wife Sif, locked in her bedchamber. He thought of her forged golden tresses, his own lips drilled with an awl by Thor for his evil trick of shearing Sif's real tresses. He scowled at the thought and looked again at the door. Muttering magic words, and with shaking his head the Shape Changer turned himself into a fly.
He searched for a gap above and below the great door. Neither between plaster and wood, nor between wall and turf roof was there a gap big enough even for a fly to get through. Finally, despairing of ever entering the hall the Shape Changer found a tight hole below the eaves, through which he wriggled and writhed, and was at last free to roam within Sessrumnir. Making sure the maids were sound asleep he flew to Freyja's bedside - but she still wore the necklace around her throat! The clasp was out of sight or reach under her chin.
Loki changed shape again, to become a flea, and amused himself crawling about her breasts. He sat there, gathered strength and bit the pale skin at her throat. Freyja jerked, moaned and turned onto her side and settled down, still deep in her slumbers, dreaming. He clasp was there for him, as he meant it to be. Sure she was sound asleep, Loki took his own form, looked around and deftly unclasped the necklace. He drew the Brisingamen necklace from her throat. He was in his element! There was no thief in the Nine Worlds as nimble and crafty as the Sly One. Deftly and without a sound he made for the hall door, slowly slid back the great bolts, turned the lock and stole into the crisp, cold frosty night.
Freyja awoke with a start later that morning, felt around her throat, then behind her neck. She looked around her bed closet. She rose and looked at the door to Sessrumnir. The bolts had been drawn back and there was no sign of the door having been forced. This could only have been Loki's doing, but even he would not have risked the Allfather's terrible wrath in his undertaking. It had to have been taken with Odin's sanction.
Yet she could not know how her secret had been found out, her greed and guilt become known to him. Freyja hastened to Vallaskjalf to accost Odin,
'Where is my necklace?' she demanded. 'You have cheapened yourself with any part in the theft!'
Odin scowled at her. Even though a goddess, she was of the Vanir, in Asgard only through the grace of her beauty.
'Who are you to speak of cheapening? You have brought shame on us here. Through sheer greed you sold yourself to the dwarves for a trinket!'
'Where is my necklace?' Freyja demanded again, voice rising with annoyance - and also fear. She screeched at Odin in fury, wept torrents of gold.
'You will never see it again', the Allfather told her, 'unless you submit yourself to one condition. Only one thing will make me happy'.
Freyja stared at Odin. Whatever it was that entered her throughts made her bite her tongue.
'You shall stir hatred, bring war between two kings in Midgard, set them at one another's throats. They must meet in battle, each king with the retinues of a score of vassal kings', the Father of Battles stared grimly at Freyja in her misery. 'You will use the charms you have to give new life to the war dead. Once each warrior is cut down and bathed in blood he must stand again, as though unharmed. and fight once more'.
Freyja gaped at the Allfather, but he was adamant,
'They are the conditions I have set you. Whether or not they are against it, they should slash one another to ribbons'.
Freyja shook her head - then nodded,
'Very well then, give me back my necklace'.
'As and when', the Allfather told her, and looked away as her eyes brimmed with golden tears. She was like a child when she did not get her own way. She left to do his bidding.
Eir, goddess of healing, Freyja, goddess of the Vanir, huntress, warrior maiden, harvester of the dead and sister to Frey. Frigg, wife of the Allfather, Fulla her servant, Idun wife of the poet-god Bragi, Lofn who smiled on unlawful relationships, Nanna the wife of Baldur, sea god Aegir's wife Ran, Odin's mistress Rind, Saga who drinks with Odin in her hall daily, Thor's wife Sif, Loki's faithful wife Sigyn, Sjofn who wakes men's passions and more...
The Gods and Goddesses were also 'human'
They were as prone to vanity, greed and envy as their counterparts on Midgard - Middle Earth - whose daily struggles to support themselves and their kin led to strife and argument with neighbours.
Loki was the arch-schemer who saw the weaknesses of his fellows in Asgard and sought to bring them to recognise their failings, forgetting his own (like many of us mere mortals). In his various guises he tricked the other gods and led them a merry dance. Only Odin saw through him, and Thor often bested him physically, humiliating him. There were times...