LOKI’S PUNISHMENT

The crow went flying toward the north, croaking as she flew, “Let Hela keep what she holds. Let Hela keep what she holds.” That crow was the hag Thaukt transformed, and the hag Thaukt was Loki.

He flew to the north and came into the lands of Jötunheim. He lived there as a crow, hiding himself from the fury of the Gods. He told the Giants that the time had come for them to build the ship Naglfar, which was to be built out of the nails of dead men, and sail to Asgard on the day of Ragnarök with the Giant Hrymer steering it. Listening to what he said, the Giants then and there began to build Naglfar, the ship that Gods and men wished to remain unbuilt.

Then Loki, tiring of Jötunheim, flew to the burning south. He lived as a lizard amongst the rocks of Muspelheim, and he made the Fire Giants rejoice when he told them of the loss of Frey’s sword and of Tyr’s right hand.

But in Asgard there was still someone who wept for Loki, Siguna, his wife. Although he had left her and shown his hatred for her, Siguna wept for her evil husband.

He left Muspelheim as he had left Jötunheim and he went to live in the World of Men. He knew that he had now come into a place where the fury of the Gods might find him, and so he made plans to be always ready for escape. He had come to the river where, ages before, he had killed the otter that was the son of the Enchanter, and Loki built his house on the very rock where the otter had eaten the salmon on the day of his killing,. He made four doors to it so that he might see in every direction. The power that he kept for himself was the power of transforming himself into a salmon.

He swam in the River as a salmon often. But Loki had hatred even for the fish that swam beside him. He wove a net so that men could have the means of taking them out of the water.

The fury that the Gods had against Loki did not go away. It was he who, as Thaukt, the Hag, had given Hela the power to keep Baldur. It was he who had put into Hödur’s hand the sprig of mistletoe that had taken Baldur’s life. Asgard was empty now that Baldur didn’t live anymore in the Peace Stead. The minds of the Æsir and the Vanir grew grim and gloomy thinking about the terrible things that faced them. In his hall of Valhalla ,Odin thought only about the ways   he could bring heroes to him to help in defending Asgard.

The Gods searched through the world and at last they found the place where Loki had made his home. He was weaving the net to take fishes when he saw them coming from four directions. He threw the net into the fire so that it was burnt, and he sprang into the river and transformed himself into a salmon. When the Gods entered his home they found only the burnt out fire.

But one of them could understand all that he saw. The marks of the burnt net were in the ashes and he knew that these were something to catch fish. From the marks left in the ashes he made a net that was the same as the one Loki had burnt.

With it in their hands the Gods went down the river, dragging the net through the water. Loki was frightened to find what he had weaved used against him. He lay between two stones at the bottom of the River, and the net passed over him.

But the Gods knew that the net had touched something at the bottom. They fastened weights to it and they dragged the net through the river again. Loki knew that he could not escape it this time and he rose in the water and swam toward the sea. The Gods caught sight of him as he leaped over a waterfall. They followed him, dragging the net. Thor waded behind, ready to seize him should he turn back.

Loki came out at the mouth of the river and there was a great eagle hovering over the waves of the sea and ready to swoop down on fish. He turned back into the river. He made a leap that took him over the net that the Gods were dragging. But Thor was behind the net and he caught the salmon in his powerful hands and he held him despite all the struggle that Loki made. No fish had ever struggled so much before. Loki got himself free except for his tail, but Thor held the tail and forced him to take on his proper form.

He was in the hands of those whose anger was strong against him. They took him to a cavern and they tied him to three sharp-pointed rocks. They tied him with cords that were made of the sinews of wolves, and they transformed the cords into iron bands. They would have left Loki there bound and helpless but Skadi, with her fierce Giant blood, was not content that he should be left untormented. She found a serpent that had deadly venom and she hung this serpent above Loki’s head. The drops of venom fell on him, causing him pain drop by drop, minute by minute. So Loki’s torture went on.

But Siguna with the pitying heart came to his relief. She exiled herself from Asgard, and endured the darkness and the cold of the cavern, so that she could take some of the torment away from him who was her husband. Siguna stood over Loki, holding in her hands a cup that the the serpent’s venom fell into, thus sparing him from all the pain. Now and then Siguna had to turn aside to empty the cup, and then the drops of venom fell on Loki and he screamed in agony, twisting in his bonds. It was then that men felt the earth quake. Loki stayed there in his bonds until the coming of Ragnarök, the Twilight of the Gods.