Click to enlargeSkadi, Goddess of Winter

Skadi, the Viking Goddess of Winter, was the daughter of the giant, Thuzi. She was born into the heroic world of Asgard, legendary home of the fierce Norse gods, and of slain heroes. A formidable warrior and hunter herself, Skadi was a force to be reckoned with.

Determined to avenge the death of her father, who had been murdered by the gods for abducting Idunn, the beautiful goddess of youth, she stormed their citadel to exact revenge or compensation for her loss. Astonished by the onslaught of this one-woman fighting machine, the gods backed down.

Rather than fight her, Odin, the one-eyed king of the gods, offered her gold for her pain and suffering. But Skadi was already rich from the pillaging and plundering spoils of her father and grandfather. Instead, she demanded a husband from among the gods, and a good laugh as well. (She hadn't laughed once since the death of her father.)

Odin agreed to her terms. But he too set conditions. Since none of the gods volunteered to marry her, she would have to choose her own mate. But she would have to choose by looking only at their feet! A curtain would hide the rest of their bodies from her.

Secretly in love with Baldur, son of Odin, and the god of light and beauty, Skadi chose the most attractive set of feet, believing them to be his. Unfortunately, she guessed wrong. Instead of the handsome Baldur, she picked the homely sea god, Njord. Loki, the Trickster, provided her laugh at great personal expense. But the laugh was really on Skadi. She didn't get her heart's desire. Still, she kept her word, and stoically went through with the marriage. It was doomed from the start.

Njord liked to live beside the sea; Skadi was happy only in the mountains with her beloved wolves. The mismatched couple compromised by taking turns. They lived first beside the water, and then in the mountains. But they were miserable. At the end of eighteen days, they separated for good, and Skadi returned to her snowy home in Thrymhein. Happily, there she met Ulle, god of winter, archery and skis. The soul mates thrived on a life of proud independence in the wild mountains. Little else is known about their life together.

There is a dark side to Skadi, as there is in the winter weather that she loves. She is stormy and unpredictable, relentless in her pursuit of what she perceives as justice. She will stop at nothing to achieve her objectives. But she has passion and integrity, and the determination to live life in all its fullness, regardless of the harshness of her circumstances, or of the feelings of others about her.

In the dark of winter, we need to embrace her wild, untamed spirit. We must focus, as she did, on carving out a life for ourselves of our own choosing.


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