Nordiska Gudasagor berättelse för Ungdomen
Nordic Mythology retold for the Young
by Kata Dahlström [K.D.]
Illustrations by A.V.

Published in
Ungdomsvännen: Illustrerad tidskrift för hemmet
The Friend of Youth: Illustrated for the Home
Volume 12 1907
Volume 13 1908









     Svipdag liberates Menglad-Freyja from the world of the giants


           Svipdag, who heard that a fair maiden had been taken by a mighty giant, decided to find and free her.

      Long he roamed around without finding what he sought. Finally, far into the mountain halls, he found the beautiful maiden, who sat melancholy and dreamy, enchanted by the giant, who had also destroyed her beautiful appearance. Her golden curls were knotted into a hard, disfigured mass, difficult to comb out; no words came across her lips, and her beautiful eyes were always downcast. 

       Bravely Svipdag slew the giant and freed the maiden. First he brought her to the dark-elves, with whose help he got her beautiful hair straightened out, and then he went with her to his father's frontier fortress.

     On the way he tried in vain to awaken the young maiden from her lethargic state. As if in sleep, she followed her rescuer, with no sign of gratitude or joy at his rescue. Full of grief and anger, Svipdag left her in the forest and returned home.

      Poor Mengla-Freyja wandered in the woods. Finally she came to a giant woman's farm. There she got to stay and guard the goats. 


       But Svipdag returned, driven by a strange unrest, to again seek the maiden and bring her out of Jotunhem. He found her with the giant woman and took her to Jotunheim’s boundary waters, Elivågor, but left her there, though he himself set out across the river. Fair Menglad, however, was also able to cross over to the opposite shore. Then she wandered a long time, she came to the fortress where Svipdag lived. She went inside, pretending to be a poor girl, but every one could clearly see that she was a noble woman with courteous manners and not the person she claimed to be. Svipdag, who recognized her, decided to test whether she really was as cold and heartless towards him as she appeared. He feigned marriage to another person and the beautiful Menglad had to hold a light for the bride.

        Filled with deep sadness, she did not see that the torch burned farther and farther down, until it finally burned her delicate white fingers. Still she felt no pain. When Svipdag asked her to examine her ​​hand, she looked up at him with her beautiful, sad eyes. Their eyes met, and the spell that had previously kept her prisoner, broke. Afterwards, Svipdag and Menglad-Freyja celebrated their wedding.

      Her father. Njord, who heard about her marriage, arrived at the castle filled with anger, but when he heard Svipdag’s feat, how he rescued the long-missing Freyja from giant-hands, then his anger turned into friendship. Nevertheless, beautiful Freyja was soon separated from Svipdag by Urd's decree and returned to Asgard. Thereafter Svipdag, who was of much lower birth than Freyja, must, during the countless hardships and dangers, and the marvel of courage and valor, seek the sword concealed by Mimer and bring it to the realm of the gods and thus prove himself worthy of his god-born wife.


Groa’s Incantations

After his mother's death, Svipdag, the brave son of Groa and Örvandel, had received as his step-mother Sif, who then became Thor’s wife. His step-mother, who loved Svipdag greatly, but who loved her own son Ull even more, proposed a difficult task to her young stepson, namely to again seek  Menglad-Freyja, whom he had rescued once before in the underworld.

Svipdag, who suspected his step-mother of evil intent, although without basis, went to his dead mother's mound and sang a song that she taught him and begged her to sing, in case he should get into trouble.

As soon as the song's call reached her ear, Groa stood up and spoke to her son: "'Why are you calling me from the peace of the grave? What misfortune has befallen you, my son?" Speaking of his worries Svipdag asked his mother to place a protective hand over him during his journey through Jotunheim’s misty worlds. "It seems to me, I'm too young to visit Urd's halls," he said plaintively.

 Groa replied: "Be without fear, my son! Urd, who weaves everyone's fortunes has also woven yours. If you meet it without fear, she takes close care of you. Go courageously toward your goal, my protective incantations will follow you on your journey and clear danger out of your way.

If swollen rivers meet you, they will slacken their pace, and you shall be unharmed to wade over  them. If treacherous enemies bind you, shall your fetters burst, and all locks open for you. The sea was stormy, white-capped waves shall lie down and gently cradle you upon their immeasurable depths. If you are on the icy mountains threatened by deadly cold, you should still not freeze. If during the night pale, old female figures discourage you on your path, they will still not be able to so so. You shall appear before Mimer, the mighty treasure-hider and show your courage and your wisdom. From his wife, terrible Sinmara, you shall win the sword of victory which will open the way for you to the fair Menglad-Freyja’s castle.


More to Come



Swedish text translated by William P. Reaves (c) 2011