the dictionary of norse mythology

IRONWOOD


IRONWOOD As soon as Idunn and Loki were across bifrost, the rainbow bridge, and into Midgard, the giant eagle swooped down, seized Idunn and carried her away. Once in thrymheim, his fortress, Thiazzi shut the golden maiden in the highest tower. Without the magic apples, the faces of the Aesir and asynjur—the gods and goddesses—began to wrinkle and sag, their rosy cheeks faded, their hair grew white and thin, and their joints stiff and creaky, for these gods and goddesses were ancient. The gods and goddesses met to decide what to do. Everyone was there except Loki. The gods immediately con-cluded that Loki must have been up to some mis-chief. They searched for him and found him. Odin ordered Loki to bring back Idunn and her apples under threat to his life. Loki fled in terror to the goddess freya to bor-row her flying suit of falcon feathers. With this, he flew off to Thrymheim. Fortunately for Loki, Thiazzi had gone fishing, and Idunn was unguarded. Loki used his magic to turn the maiden and her basket of apples into a small nut, which he grasped in his claws. Odin, the all-seeing, caught sight of the falcon from afar and saw that behind him came an enor-mous eagle—Thiazzi. Quickly build a pile of shavings and kindling at the gates of Asgard, Odin commanded. Just in time, Loki flew over the walls of Asgard. The eagle was so close behind that he got caught in the flames that roared up when the dry kindling was lit. The eagle fell to the ground, and the gods slew him. Then Loki said the magic words, and Idunn stood before them once more, offering her wonderful apples with a happy smile. It is of particular interest to mythologists that Loki turns Idunn into a nut. This symbol of eternal youth is often found in old Scandinavian burial sites. Idunn may have been a vanir goddess of fertility, youth, and death. This is the only surviving myth about her.

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