Skadi - The Hag

The Element Encyclopedia of Witchcraft: The Complete A-Z for the Entire Magical World - Judika Illes 2005

The Hag

This Frost Giantess (Snow Queen) has dominion over winter, hunters, and skiers. She is a death goddess as well; her name indicates “Destruction.” Skadi carries a quiver filled with arrows. She hunts bears and wolves; skiers and hunters who fail to come home are understood to have fallen to Skadi.

Skadi is the daughter of the Frost Giant Thiazzi who stole the apples of immortality from the gods. Eventually Loki the trickster stole the apples back and Thiazzi was killed. Skadi strapped on her snowshoes, armed and girded herself, then marched straight to Asgard seeking revenge. Her appearance terrified the gods including Odin. To placate her, they offered her wergild (reparations payments) for the loss of her father, including vast quantities of gold. She spurned this as she had plenty of her own.

The price she demanded was a husband from among the gods. They agreed but were terrified that she would demand handsome Baldur (indeed Skadi had him in mind). Odin insisted on a kind of beauty contest: Skadi could have any god as her husband but must choose him solely on the basis of his feet. Skadi agreed provided another condition was met: the gods must make her laugh—an impossible task because her heart was filled with rage and grief.

The male gods hid behind a screen with only their bare feet showing: Skadi chose the most beautiful pair of feet, assuming she was selecting Baldur. Instead it was the Vanir Sea god Njord, whose feet were worn smooth by the waves.

Skadi was bitterly disappointed and was even less likely to laugh, but Loki clowned around, playing circus tricks with Thor’s goats, and eventually forced laughter from her.

Njord and Skadi married but it was an unhappy union as the two were unable to live together: Skadi hated sunshine and the seashore, Njord found her ice-palace painfully cold and oppressive. They live apart; Skadi spends her time among her snow-covered mountains.

When the gods ultimately turn on Loki, it is Skadi who personally places a poisonous snake over Loki’s forcibly upturned face so that its venom drips on him, allegedly in revenge for her father’s death.

See ANIMALS: Bears, Snakes, Wolves and Werewolves; DIVINE WITCH: Freya, Herta, Odin.