Ran norse goddess facts and symbols meaning

In Norse mythology, there is a lot that is said about the Norse pantheon. Often many of the deities are painted in positive lights expects for small accounts of their misdeeds here or there. But these are almost negligible in light of all their good. Loki may perhaps be the most mischievous deity who is often attested in almost all mythologies as being up to no good. He, however, is not the only Norse deity in this category.

Although not much is written about her, Ran, also known as the mother of the sea also falls in this category. She is often depicted in a sinister light. In this post, we will take a closer look at who she was, what she symbolized, and the type of relationship she had with the giant Aegir.

ran

Who is Ran?

Ran is known as the goddess of the sea, hence sometimes referred to as the mother of the sea. She is described as a delicate-looking woman with blue-green skin who was seen sitting on the beach. Her hair was described as dark and long, trailing off into nothingness because it was magically connected to the seaweeds in the northern seas. Despite her outward beauty, Ran has sharp, pointed teeth and clawed fingers. Her smile was said to chill the blood of whoever saw it.

Ran also could transform into a mermaid and back to human-like form with legs. Her description fits that of the flirtatious siren of the etins, female giants of the sea who made eyes at humans and lured them into their doom. Ran’s greatest weapon was said to be her net, which she used to drag humans and seafarers into the water and drown them. She would then take their souls back to her husband’s halls where there would be feasts held. Because she was allied with Hel, from Helheim, she would often send the souls she was tired with to Hel.

Seafarers considered Ran to be the maker of all the sea storms in the northern oceans. So, when they were caught in a storm, gold would be distributed among the men, so if they were to drown and die, they would not go into Ran’s Hall empty-handed. Having the gold was considered lucky, as it would put the souls of those drowned in Ran’s good graces. As a result, they may celebrate and feast in Ran’s halls for centuries. Eventually, though, Ran would get tired of them and send them to Helheim. Another alternative was to drop the gold into the sea and offer a prayer to Ran to calm her, so she could grant the seafarers safe passage and a good voyage. Those who were lucky enough to be granted safe passage were said to be Ran’s favorite. That was both a good and bad thing because if Ran like them enough, it would only be a matter of time before she brought their souls to her hall.

Ran Symbols and Meaning

Ran Symbols and Meaning

The name Ran is a common Old Norse noun that means theft, robbery, and plundering. This is because Ran had the habit of pulling people to the sea and plundering to their death. Some people suggest that the name Ran could be linked to the Indo-European word Rani, which means lady.

She is seen as the personification of the darker and more destructive side of the sea. Ran doesn’t try to hide her nature. Her favorite hobby is collecting the dead souls which she uses to populate her hall. She is seen as the depiction of the siren that flirted with and enchanted sailors, luring them to their death.

Aegir and Ran

Aegir and Ran were a married couple and both were considered the personification of the malevolent and benevolent aspects of the sea. Aegir was a giant associated with the sea, while Ran was a sea goddess, although it’s never been specified whether she was an Aesir or a Vanir. Some refer to her as a giantess. Together they live in their great hall called Aegirheim which is underwater.

As we’ve mentioned, the two slightly contrast in a way. Aegir is described as a more gracious host of the sea resembling the calmer and more benevolent side of the sea. Although compared to Njord, the Vanir god of the sea, Aegir doesn’t represent the providence and abundance of the sea. Rather he is responsible for taking the treasures from the drowned seafarers. Ran on the other hand doesn’t try to be calm. She is a wilder more sinister representation of the sea. She is often described as dragging the poor innocent sailors into the sea and drowning them before taking their souls back to Aegirheim. Their dynamic as a couple was the personification of the changing tides of the sea, from calmness to raging waves.

The two are big personalities of the sea, and despite their association as giants, they maintain good relationships with the gods, often inviting them for feasts in their hall. Aegir especially is an honorary member of both the Aesir and the Vanir. He tries his best to maintain a good relationship with both sides. Although Ran would support her husband, her true alliance was with the goddess Hel. She preferred being in the company of the old gods.

The couple also had nine daughters together named, Blóðughadda (bloody-hair), Dröfn (foaming sea), Bylgja (billow), Himinglæva (transparent on top), Uðr (frothy wave), Dúfa (pitching wave), Hefring (lifting wave), Hronn (welling wave) and Kolga (coldwave). All the nine daughters were said to be spirits of the sea and the personification of the waves. Odin was said to have fallen in love with all the nine daughters and had one son with all nine of them. The son’s name is said to be Heimdallr, who would later grow up to become the guardian of the Bifrost.

Conclusion

Given who she was, sailors in the Viking Age would be sure to pray tribute to Ran before their sea voyages and raids. They would offer her treasures to appease her and to gain safe passage across the sea. To build an altar for her, you would need to use greener shades of the sea colors, pirate-like treasures or gold, various shells, dried seaweed, and toy ships resembling the ones she would drown.