FOREBODING IN ASGARD

What happened afterwards was the shame of the Gods, and mortals could hardly speak of it. Gulveig the Witch came into Asgard, because Heimdall could not forbid her entrance. She came inside and she sat amongst the Æsir and the Vanir. She walked through Asgard with a smile on her face, and where she walked and where she smiled dreadful foreboding came.

Those who felt the foreboding most deeply were Bragi the Poet and his wife, the fair and simple Iduna, who gathered the apples that kept old age from those in Asgard. Bragi stopped telling his never ending tale. Then one day, overcome by the fear and the foreboding that was creeping through Asgard, Iduna slipped down Ygdrassil, the World Tree, and no one was left to  pluck the apples with which the Æsir and the Vanir stayed young.

Then everyone in Asgard was dismayed. Strength and beauty began to fade from all of them. Thor found it hard to lift Miölnir, his great hammer, and the flesh under Freya’s necklace lost its white radiance. And still Gulveig the Witch walked smiling through Asgard, although now she was hated by everyone.

It was Odin and Frey who went in search of Iduna. She would have been found and brought back without delay if Frey had had the magic sword with him that he had bartered for Gerda. In his search he had to fight against the one who guarded the lake wherein Iduna had hidden herself. Beli was the one he fought against. He overcame him in the end with a weapon made of stags’ antlers. It was not then but later that Frey regretted the loss of his sword. It was when the Riders of Muspell came against Asgard, and the Vanir, who might have won, but didnt because of the loss of Frey’s sword.

They found Iduna and brought her back. But still worry and foreboding crept through Asgard. It was known, too, that the witch Gulveig was changing the thoughts of the Gods.

At last Odin had to judge Gulveig. He judged her and sentenced her to death. Only Gungnir, the spear of Odin could kill Gulveig, who was immortal.

Odin hurled Gungnir. The spear went through Gulveig. But still she stood smiling at the Gods. A second time Odin hurled his spear. A second time Gungnir pierced the witch. She looked dead but did not fall down. A third time Odin hurled his spear. Then, pierced for the third time, the witch gave a scream that made all Asgard shudder and she fell dead on the ground.

“I have killed in these halls where killing is forbidden,” Odin said. “Take the corpse of Gulveig and burn it on the ramparts, so that no trace of the witch who has troubled us will remain in Asgard.”

They took the corpse of Gulveig the witch out onto the ramparts and they lit fires under the pile on which they laid her.

Loki was far away when all this was being done. Now he often went from Asgard, and his journeys were to look at that marvelous treasure that had passed from the keeping of the Dwarf Andvari. It was Gulveig who had kept the imagination of that treasure in his mind. Now, when he came back and heard the whispers of what had been done, a rage flamed up in him. For Loki was one of those whose mind was changed by the presence and the whispers of the witch Gulveig. His mind was being changed to hatred of the Gods. Now he went to the place where Gulveig was burnt. All her body was in ashes, but her heart had not been devoured by the flames. Loki, in his rage, took the heart of the witch and ate it. It was black and terrible in Asgard, the day that Loki ate the heart that the flames would not devour!