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ODIN WINS FOR MEN THE MAGIC MEAD
T was the Dwarfs who brewed the Magic Mead, and it was
the Giants who hid it away. But it was Odin who brought
it from the place where it was hidden and gave it to
the sons of men. Those who drank of the Magic Mead
became very wise, and not only that but the could put
their wisdom into such beautiful words that every one
who heard would love and remember it.
The Dwarfs brewed the Magic Mead through cruelty and
villainy. They made it out of the blood of a man. The
 Kvasir the Poet. He had wisdom, and he had such
beautiful words with it, that what he said was loved
and remembered by all. The Dwarfs brought Kvasir down
into their caverns and they killed him there. "Now,"
they said, "we have Kvasir's blood and Kvasir's wisdom.
No one else will have his wisdom but us." They poured
the blood into three jars and they mixed it with honey,
and from it they brewed the Magic Mead.
Having killed a man the Dwarfs became more and more
bold. They came out of their caverns and went up and
down through Midgard, the World of Men. They went into
Jötunheim, and began to play their evil tricks on
the most harmless of the Giants.
They came upon one Giant who was very simple. Gilling
was his name. They persuaded Gilling to row them out to
sea in a boat. Then the two most cunning of the Dwarfs,
Galar and Fialar, steered the boat onto a rock. The
boat split. Gilling, who could not swim, was drowned.
The Dwarfs clambered up on pieces of the boar and came
safely ashore. They were so delighted with their evil
tricks that they wanted to play some more of them.
Galar and Fialar then thought of a new piece of
mischief they might do. They led their band of Dwarfs
to Gilling's house and screamed out to his wife that
Gilling was dead. The Giant's wife began to weep and
lament. At last she rushed out of the house weeping and
clapping her hands. Now Galar and Fialar had clambered
up on the lintel of the house, and as she came running
out they cast a millstone on her head. It struck her
 and Gilling's wife fell down dead. More and more the
Dwarfs were delighted at the destruction they were
They were so insolent now that they made up songs and
sang them, songs that were all a boast of how they had
killed Kvasir the Poet, and Gilling the Giant, and
Gilling's wife. They stayed around Jötunheim,
tormenting all whom they were able to torment, and
flattering themselves that they were great and strong.
They stayed too long, however. Suttung, Gilling's
brother, tracked them down and captured them.
Suttung was not harmless and simple like Gilling, his
brother. He was cunning and he was covetous. Once they
were in his hands the Dwarfs had no chance of making an
escape. He took them and left them on a rock in the
sea, a rock that the tide could cover.
The Giant stood up in the water taller than the rock,
and the tide as it came in did not rise above his
knees. He stood there watching the Dwarfs as the water
rose up round them and they became more and more
"Oh, take us off the rock, good Suttung," they cried
out to him. "Take us off the rock and we will give you
gold and jewels. Take us off the rock and we will give
you a necklace as beautiful as Brisingamen." So they
cried out to him, but the Giant Suttung only laughed at
them. He had no need of gold or jewels.
Then Fialar and Galar cried out: "Take us off the rock
and we will give you the jars of the Magic Mead we have
"The Magic Mead," sad Suttung. "This is something that
 one else has. It would be well to get it, for it
might help us in the battle against the Gods. Yes, I
will get the Magic Mead from them."
He took the band of Dwarfs off the rock, but he held
Galar and Fialar, their chiefs, while the others went
into their caverns and brought up the jars of the Magic
Mead. Suttung took the Mead and brought it to a cavern
in a mountain near his dwelling. And thus it happened
that the Magic Mead, brewed by the Dwarfs through
cruelty and villainy, came into the hands of the
Giants. And the story now tells how Odin, the Eldest of
the Gods, at that time in the world as Vegtam the
Wanderer, took the Magic Mead out of Suttung's
possession and brought it into the world of men.
OW, Suttung had a daughter named Gunnlöd, and she
by her goodness and her beauty was like Gerda and
Skadi, the Giant maids whom the Dwellers in Asgard
favored. Suttung, that he might have a guardian for the
Magic Mead, enchanted Gunnlöd, turning her from a
beautiful Giant maiden into a witch with long teeth and
sharp nails. He shut her into the cavern where the jars
of the Magic Mead were hidden.
Odin heard of the death of Kvasir whom he honored above
all men. The Dwarfs who slew him he had closed up in
their caverns so that they were never again able to
come out into the World of Men. And then he set out to
get the Magic Mead that he might give it to men, so
that, tasting it, they would have
 wisdom, and words
would be at their command that would make wisdom loved
How Odin won the Magic Mead out of the rock-covered
cavern where Suttung had hidden it, and how he broke
the enchantment that lay upon Gunnlöd, Suttung's
daughter, is a story often told around the hearths of
INE strong thralls were mowing in a field as a
Wanderer went by clad in a dark blue cloak and carrying
a wanderer's staff in his hand. One of the thralls
spoke to the Wanderer: "Tell them in the house of Baugi
up yonder that I can mow no more until a whetstone to
sharpen my scythe is sent to me." "Here is a
whetstone," said the Wanderer, and he took one from his
belt. The thrall who had spoken whetted his scythe with
it and began to mow. The grass went down before his
scythe as if the wind had cut it. "Give us the
whetstone, give us the whetstone," cried the other
thralls. The Wanderer threw the whetstone amongst them,
leaving them quarreling over it, and went on his way.
The Wanderer came to the house of Baugi, the brother of
Suttung. He rested in Baugi's house, and at supper time
he was given food at the great table. And whole he was
eating with the Giant a Messenger from the field came
"Baugi," said the Messenger, "your nine thralls are all
dead. They killed each other with their scythes,
fighting in the field about a whetstone. There are no
thralls now to do your work."
 "What shall I do, what shall I do?" said Baugi the
Giant. "My fields will not be mown now, and I shall
have no hay to feed my cattle and my horses in the
"I might work for you," said the Wanderer.
"One man's work is no use to me," said the Giant, "I
must have the work of nine men."
"I shall do the work of nine men," said the Wanderer,
"give me a trial, and see."
The next day Vegtam the Wanderer went into Baugi's
field. He did as much work as the nine thralls had done
in a day.
"Stay with me for the season," said Baugi, "and I shall
give you a full reward."
So Vegtam stayed at the Giant's house and worked in the
Giant's fields, and when all the work of the season was
done Baugi said to him:
"Speak now and tell me what reward I am to give you."
"The only reward I shall ask of you," said Vegtam, "is
a draught of the Magic Mead."
"The Magic Mead?" said Baugi? "I do not know where it
is nor how to get it."
"Your brother Suttung has it. Go to him and claim a
draught of the Magic Mead for me."
Baugi went to Suttung. But when he heard what he had
come for, the Giant Suttung turned on his brother in a
"A draught of the Magic Mead?" he said. "To no one will
I give a draught of the Magic Mead. Have I not
 daughter Gunnlöd, so that she may
watch over it? And you tell me that a Wanderer who has
done the work of nine men for you asks a draught of the
Magic Mead for his fee! O Giant as foolish as Gilling!
O oaf of a Giant! Who could have done such work for
you, and who would demand such a fee from you, but one
of our enemies, the Æsir? Go from me now and never
come to me again with talk of the Magic Mead."
Baugi went back to his house and told the Wanderer that
Suttung would yield none of the Magic Mead. "I hold you
to your bargain," said Vegtam the Wanderer, "and you
will have to get me the fee I asked. Come with me now
and help me to get it."
He made Baugi bring him to the place where the Magic
Mead was hidden. The place was a cavern in the
mountain. In front of that cavern was a great mass of
"We cannot move that stone nor get through it," said
Baugi. "I cannot help you to your fee."
The Wanderer drew an auger from his belt. "This will
bore through the rock if there is strength behind it.
You have the strength, Giant. Begin now and bore."
Baugi took the auger in his hands and bored with all
his strength, and the Wanderer stood by leaning on his
staff, calm and majestic in his cloak of blue.
"I have made a deep, deep hole. It goes through the
rock," Baugi said, at last.
The Wanderer went to the hole and blew into it. The
dust of the rock flew back into their faces.
 "So that is your boasted strength, Giant," he said.
"You have not bored half-way through the rock. Work
Then Baugi took the auger again and he bored deeper and
deeper into the rock. And he blew into it, and lo! His
breath went through. Then he looked at the Wanderer to
see what he would do; his eyes had become fierce and he
held the auger in his hand as if it were a stabbing
"Look up to the head of the rock," said the Wanderer.
As Baugi looked up the Wanderer changed himself into a
snake and glided into the hole in the rock. And Baugi
struck at him with the auger, hoping to kill him, but
the snake slipped through.
EHIND the mighty rock there was a hollow place all
lighted up by the shining crystals in the rock. And
within the hollow place there was an ill-looking witch,
with long teeth and sharp nails. But she sat there
rocking herself and letting tears fall from her eyes.
"O youth and beauty," she sang, "O sight of men and
women, sad, sad for me it is that you are shut away,
and that I have only this closed-in cavern and this
A snake glided across the floor. "Oh, that you were
deadly and that you might slay me," cried the witch.
The snake glided past her. Then she heard a voice speak
softly: "Gunnlöd, Gunnlöd!" She looked round,
and there standing behind her was a majestic man, clad
in a cloak of dark blue, Odin, Eldest of the Gods.
"You have come to take the Magic Mead that my father
 set me here to guard," she cried. "You shall not
have it. Rather shall I spill it out on the thirsty
earth of the cavern."
"Gunnlöd," he said, and he came to her. She looked
at him and she felt the red blood of youth come back
into her cheeks. She put her hands with their sharp
nails over her breast, and she felt the nails drive
into her flesh. "Save me from all this ugliness," she
"I will save you," Odin said. He went to her. He took
her hands and held them. He kissed her on the mouth.
All the marks of ill favor went from her. She was no
longer bent, but tall and shapely. Her eyes became wide
and deep blue. Her mouth became red and her hands soft
and beautiful. She became as fair as Gerda, the Giant
maid whom Frey had wed.
They stayed looking at each other, then they sat down
side by side and talked softly to each other, Odin, the
Eldest of the Gods, and Gunnlöd, the beautiful
She gave him the three jars of the Magic Mead and she
told him she would go out of the cavern with him. Three
days passed and still they were together. Then Odin by
his wisdom found hidden paths and passages that led out
of the cavern and he brought Gunnlöd out into the
light of the day.
And he brought with him the jars of the Magic Mead, the
Mead whose taste gives wisdom, and wisdom in such
beautiful words that all love and remember it. And
Gunnlöd, who had tasted a little of the Magic
Mead, wandered through the world singing of the beauty
and the might of Odin, and of her love for him.