Jormungandr meaning in norse mythology

Jormungandr (pronounced “YOUR-mun-gand) is a sea serpent based in Norse mythology. The name itself means “huge monster.” Jormungandr was the second child of giantess Angrboða and Loki. Based on Prose Edda, also called Younger Edda, which is an Old Norse work of literature that was written around the 13th century, Odin took all three of Loki’s children. Jormungandr was thrown into the ocean that surrounds Midgard, which is what early Germanic cosmology referred to as Earth.

As the narrative goes, the sea serpent grew so large that it could surround Midgard and could grasp its tail. That is how c got the name Midgard Serpent and World Serpent. It is believed that when the sea serpent releases its tail, it will begin what is known as Ragnarök. It refers to a series of events that include a great battle and the Earth being submerged. After, the Earth would resurface and begin anew.

It is worth noting that during Ragnarök, Ragnarök is indeed an essential character. The names that are synonymous with these times is apocalypse and Armageddon; in short, the end times. During these times is where the sky and earth fall apart, leading to terror and destruction as people have never known before. That is why Jormungandr needed to remain with the tail in his mouth so the world can stay in harmony. It was also evident early on that Thor was his arch-enemy, having been tested and also put in contexts where Thor had to challenge him.  

Jormungandr in Germanic mythology

Earthquakes during the era of where Jormungandr narrative was commonplace were attributed to him. It was the case well into the Middle Ages during the pre-Christian period. The references, or myths, that exist about Jormungandr are all concerning Thor. Let’s look at them.

Lifting the cat: In this story, Thor meets Útgarða-Loki, the giant king who decided to challenge Thor’s strength. One of the tests was to lift Jormungandr, but he was disguised as a colossal cat using magic. Using all his power, Thor could only lift the cat enough to raise one paw from the floor, having grabbed the cat from around the belly. After failing to lift the cat further, the giant king let Thor know of the deception and that even raising the paw was impressive enough. Those who watched were indeed afraid of Thor succeeding; lifting the cat would have meant changing the universe’s boundaries.

Thor’s fishing trip: The next encounter was Thor going fishing with a giant called Hymir. The issue began when Hymir refused to give Thor bait, so the god decided to cut off the head of the giant’s most massive ox to use as bait instead. A row followed. Even so, Thor insisted on going further into the sea to fish despite Hymir’s refusal. Thor makes a large line and hook and puts the bait, and makes his way further in. As per the story, Jormungandr took the bait, and Thor pulled the serpent out of the water. Upon seeing him, Thor got hold of his hammer. When Hymir saw that, he cut the line, and Jormungandr went back into his original position of circling the earth.

Ragnarök: As mentioned, Ragnarök is about a series of events that unleashed somewhat a hell on earth. It begins with unarrest in the sea as Jormungandr releases his tail from his mouth. After, he trashed his way to land. His brother Fenrir, a monstrous wolf in Norse mythology, joins in, setting one half of the world on fire. Jormungandr then sprays poison the seas and skies on the other half.

Jormungandr then meets Thor in the ultimate battle. As it happens, Thor is unable to be the hero in other people’s battles. Though he’s able to kill Jormungandr, he ends up dying after taking nine paces, having been poisoned with the serpent’s venom. It is perhaps after this that there is a renewing of the Earth that is predicted after Ragnarök.

Is Jormungandr a God?

Jormungandr is half-god and half-giant. His mother giantess Angrboða, was also referred to as the mother of monsters. Loki is a god in Norse mythology, but there appears to be an interesting relationship between him and other gods. In some cases, he’s deemed to help other gods, and in others, he is seen being malicious towards them. Loki is also known as a shapeshifter and has played his part in a lot of the mythology sagas in Norse narrations of events.

Who killed Jormungandr

Given the two narratives that exist in earlier Scandinavian versions of Thor’s fishing trip, it is said that when Thor killed Jormungandr. After the serpent took the bait and was face to face with Thor, the god of thunder and lightning captured the World Serpent and struck it on the head, causing it to die. The other is with Ragnarök, where Thor is eventually able to kill Jormungandr, but Thor doesn’t also survive as he gets poisoned by deadly poison the sea serpent is known to produce.

Wrap up

Norse mythology does have some varying narratives of Jormungandr, but it remains that he was a sea serpent, having been thrown to his position by Odin during that time. He was also the reason that the boundaries of reality on earth were in check, seeing as he surrounded the entire landmass. Letting go of his tail meant that he would alter the world’s reality, something that Thor appears to have triggered when he tried to pick up Jormungandr when he was a cat, and when he was fishing. Finally, at Ragnarök, both the sea serpent and the god of thunder and lightning die after a battle that affects the whole world.


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