It is important to note, that since about the 1970’s (give or take), the Northern tradition has been reinvigorated and revived into modern times. It is once again a living tradition, dynamic, adaptive, and changing with each new adherent. As such, from the foundations in the ancient literature, with additions from fields such as anthropology and history, has been growing new branches. As such, in some ways, the old stories are changing. Through things like personal insight and interpretation, new details and information are being added to the old stories. The internet, especially, is awash with new(er) information concerning old deities.
This section focuses on modern interpretations of the ancient material. Let’s start with the Northern Paganism shrine. The bulk of it just recounts the story of Njord and Skadi, and the eventual divorce. But here is a new bit not accounted in the sources; (My comments are in parenthesis)
“It seems that shortly after this (the divorce), she had an ill-fated affair with Loki. Some sources (which ones?) claim that Odin sent Loki to her in order to cement her bonds with Asgard; others merely suggest that the opportunistic Loki saw a chance to take advantage of the depressed Skadi. Apparently she had fallen into sadness, and Loki decided to cheer her up by making a spectacle of himself.” The goat story concerning Loki’s testicles is recounted here. I have omitted it. Moving on.
“At any rate, she seems to have taken him more seriously than he took her, for they had an affair that did not last, and it filled her with a rage against him so bitter that when he was caught and bound after Baldur’s death, Skadi placed a poisonous serpent over his head, to drip venom onto him until he was released.”
Now, I will be the first to admit that the sources allow for a lot of interpretation. So does personal insight, journey work, working with deity, what have you. I by no means wish to discount these things. There is definitely the indication in the Lokasenaa that the two might have had an affair. However, Loki also makes the same accusations of the other goddesses there. Not to say some of those are without truth, but it is a far stretch from “sometimes true” to “always true.”
I for one, am not a big fan of this interpretation, and that is primarily based on the assumptions it makes. First, it assumes Loki was telling the truth. Gods can and do lie. This was one thing I learned when I first started in spirit work. The are not “all good”, spirits (gods included) can and do lie. Second, it assumes she was really upset over her divorce with Njord. On the contrary, the information we do have seems to indicate she was unhappier with him. Plus, it could be argued that she was “tricked” into marrying him in the first place. Lastly, and this is the one that really gets me, that she would need a bad rebound screw to have a reason to dislike Loki. Let me see, he admittedly had a hand in the death of her father, something she was upset enough over to march to Asgard and demand compensation for. You could add to this that Loki simply accused her of sleeping with him, with everyone else as a witness. If you want to humiliate/dishonor a woman publicly, accuse her of an affair, especially if her husband is present. Personally, I think she has more than enough reason to dislike him without a bad affair.
Here is a selection from Diana Paxson, along the same lines;
“Skadhi is stronger than any civilized being, fully capable of challenging the gods. Even though she is persuaded to forgo her vengeance for the death of her father, she does not forget. When Loki makes the mistake of taunting her with his part in the killing, she renews her vow and after he finally exhausts the patience of all the gods and is captured and bound, she is the one who ties the serpent above him to drip venom onto his face.” – Diana Paxson
Another common association with Skaði in modern contexts is the wolf, especially the white wolf. Images on the internet abound with her paired with wolves, and this is also how she sometimes appears to me. Given my own proclivities, this is certainly one of the associations I can get behind. Besides, she is even associated with wolves in the ancient Eddas. Njord could not stand the sound of wolves in Thrymheim, being the most notable.
Here us a bit from Elfwood.com; “After a while, Skadi realized that she and Niord could never be happy with each other, so she left. When she was out hunting with her wolves one day, she ran into Ulle, the Aesir god of Winter, Archery and Skiers. They fell in love and were soon married.” (Elfwood.com)
This also serves as a good bridge into the next bit of contemporary lore concerning Skadi. The connection with Ullr. Here is a selection from pantheon.org, sanctioning the same line of thought.
“The marriage between Njord and Skadi was not a happy one. She wanted to live where her father had lived, in Thrymheim in the mountains, and Njord wanted to live in Noatun, his palace by the sea. So they agreed to spend the first nine days in the mountains and the following nine days by the sea. This arrangement did not work out very well, and they separated. Eventually, Skadi left Njord for the god Ull.” (Pantheon.org)
Now, this little addition in the modern lore seems to me to be a logical choice. Its adds an interesting epilogue to her cycle of stories. “And then they hunted happily ever after”, if you prefer the romance. Yet, it also creates an odd kind of contradiction when considered with the information from the Heimskringla. Now, I’ve already noted on the problems with the Heimskringla.
But here is my question, did Skadi have a bunch of sons with Odin and then go off with Ullr? Or did she leave Ullr after a time to go have sons with Odin? Just a thought.
I think that is where I am going to leave this post for the time being. There is a lot more to explore here, so there will probably be more posts in this series going forward.
As always, I am open for questions!