Norse mythology features a set of religious stories that give meaning to why the Norse people and Vikings interacted with highly complex characterS and how they lived their lives. It defines the different races beings in Norse mythology, such as giants, elves, fairies, gods, and goddesses, among others. One of the most popular beings was the Kvasir, who were greatly venerated. Read on to learn more about them.
According to Norse mythology, Kvasir is regarded as a wise god and the god of inspiration. Additionally, Norse mythology describes that the gift of poetry came into the world through Kvasir, who was considered the wisest and cleverest of all beings. He was born when the Aesir and Vanir came to a truce and spat into a cauldron. There are Icelandic literary sources that claim that Kvasir was one of the Vanir hostages that was sent to Asgard along with Njodr, Freya, and Freyr. He was very valuable to the Aesir as he brought with him important gifts of eloquence, wisdom, and diplomacy.
He was popular for his intelligence and for how he spread spiritual teachings wherever he went. He played a significant role in helping the Aesir gods capture Loki after the trickster killed Baldr. He recreated a fishing net out of the ashes and recreated the same pattern of Loki’s fishing net from the giantess Rán.
Unfortunately, Kvasir only spread his wisdom and intelligence for a short while before he was killed by two wicked dwarf brothers, Fjalar and Galar. The dwarves then mixed Kvasir’s blood with honey to make powerful and magical mead (Óðrerir) that inspired anyone who drank it to speak and act with wisdom and poetry. Odin drank all the mead to acquire knowledge and wisdom. Supposedly, he spilled some of the mead in Midgard, the world of the humans, which thereafter became the source of all bad artists and poets. Odin only gave the mead to those he felt were worthy of powerful traits, of which nearly all of them became great poets and artists.
As mentioned earlier, Kvasir was killed by two dwarves, Fjalar and Galar, who then mixed his blood with honey to make the magical mead of poetry. The two wicked dwarves eventually had to trade the mead to Suttung, the frost giant, after viciously killing his parents. When Suttung realized that the mead of poetry was magical, he hid it in a deep chamber in a mountain in Jotuneheim and asked his daughter to watch over it.
Suttung, however, couldn’t keep his ‘treasure’ a secret. He boasted about it to everyone and eventually Odin was able to hear about it. Odin then disguised himself as a farmer, went to Jotunheim, and offered his services to Baugi, Suttung’s brother. After harboring the fields for about a year and being a very loyal servant to Baugi, Odin then asked whether he could drink some of the sacred mead as payment for all the work he has done. However, Suttung wasn’t for the idea.
So, Baugi drilled a hole on the side of the mountain so that the disguised Odin can sip some of the mead. Instead, Odin took the form of a snake and slithered through the hole, and met a giantess, who seemed lonely at the time. Gunnlod, Suttungs daughter, immediately fell in love with Odin and he managed to convince her to give him 3 sips of the Mead over their 3 days and nights together. Odin, however, drank all the mead and turned into an eagle so that he could escape and go back to Asgard.
Odin then spat the mead into different containers held by the Aesir gods. Some of it spilled into Midgard, and supposedly, the color of beets came from the dark crimson color of the mead.
In Prose Edda, Kvasir appears in two specific books – Gylfaginning and Skáldskaparmál. He is mentioned once in chapter 50 of Gylfaginning, which talks about how Kvasir led to the successful capture of Loki after the death of Baldr, Frigg’s son. To hide from the gods, Loki took the form of a salmon by the day and swam in the Franangrsfors waterfall. He always thought of the type of devices the gods would use to capture him when he was in the water. One day, Odin spotted him from Hlidskjalf and Loki had to be smart about it to avoid being captured, so he made a net.
He sat by the fire and when he saw the gods coming close to him, he threw the net into the water and jumped into it to escape. When the gods reached Loki’s house, Kvasir – who was the wisest of them all, was the first one to go through the door. Kvasir immediately noticed the shape of the net and told the gods about its purpose, which was to catch fish. The Aesir gods then used the same shape of the net to flush Loki out of the river.
Kvasir is also mentioned severally in Skáldskaparmál, Chapter 4 talks about how Kvasir came into existence. Following the Aesir-Vanir war, the two groups of gods decided to call a truce by both sides spitting into a cauldron. They decided not to waste their spit, and decided to form a man named Kvasir. Kvasir was to be the wisest beings of all.
Chapter 57 talks about the death of Kvasir, which led to the creation of the Mead of Poetry. Two wicked dwarf brothers, Fjalar and Galar, invited Kvasir to their home. When Kvasir arrived, they killed him and drained his blood into 2 vats and one pot. Afterward, they mixed the Kvasir’s blood with honey and made the mead of poetry, which gave wisdom and poetic inspiration to anyone who drank it.
Facts about Kvasir
Kvasir is considered the god of creative inspiration, diplomacy, and poetry. He played a crucial role in the ancient Norse as a god of mead production and peace-making.
He is among the exalted dead, and his ancestral memory is often invoked in North pagan ceremonies.
Poetry and metaphors are considered languages of the divine and are often used to describe the incomprehensible and immortal in human language. It is the main medium through which the spiritual teachings of Norse are often passed on. For this reason, Kvasir is an important part of Norse culture.