The lighter side
of Norse Mythology
L. Fitzgerald Sjöbek on Norse Gods:
THOR
Very different from the Fabioesque Marvel superhero, the original Thor defined macho centuries before muscle cars and chaps even existed.  We're dealing with a being who owned magical goats which he slaughtered and ate every night.  The next day they came back to life, he'd have them pull his divine cart for a while, then he'd eat 'em again! This is an entity who lost only one drinking contest is his entire existence, and then only because as it turned out he was drinking the entire sea and didn't realize it.  Not big on perception skills, but he sure could hold his liquor and/or seawater.  A

LOKI
Having earned a B.A. in literature from a California university, I've attended more lectures on The Trickster Figure in Myth than I care to recall. You've got Coyote, Eshu, The Great Gazoo, the list goes on and on. And then you've got Loki. "Trickster figure" doesn't even begin to cover it. You think trickster, you think practical jokes, shoplifting, maybe some tagging. You don't tend to think of leading the legions of hell in battle against the gods at the end of the universe, but that's exactly what Loki's got jotted down in his celestial Palm Pilot. Also he's fathering illegitimate monsters with a giantess in his off hours. Heavy. B+

BALDUR
The god of love, purity, beauty, blah blah blah.  Balder's mom was worried about him, so she got all objects in the universe to swear they'd never kill him, which is pretty obsessive. Unfortunately for some reason she overlooked a mistletoe tree, and so Balder suffered the godly and heroic death of a mistletoe sprig through the heart.  Then the goddess of death agreed to give him back if everything in the universe wept for him. Which everyone did except for Loki.  Moral of the story: there's always someone to mess anything up. C

FREYA
This is the one you always forget when you try to remember who the days are named after. She got Friday named after her, so somewhere in the universal unconscious she's forever associated with three-day-weekends.  She had sex with four dwarfs in exchange for a necklace.  She has a lover named Ottar who is disguised as a wild boar.  She once appeared on "Love Connection" and got a date with Hank from Detroit.  Two of the previous three sentences are accurate. C

YMIR
Dead giant. Ymir is responsible for some of the most unappetizing aspects of the Norse mythos. To begin with, humanity emerged from his armpit. This is not a madcap comedy from the makers of "Dumb and Dumber," this is actual ancient myth. Later on, after he's dead, the human-habitable portion of reality is formed from his eyebrow. So if you wonder why the gods no longer commune with us, there's your explanation. We are armpit sweat living on a giant dead eyebrow. B
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