Who is Ægir ?
Ægir was a giant (sea jötunn ) .
Ægir is the god of the sea , also known as Hlér (shelterer” or “concealer” ) or Gymer ( Skáldskaparmál chapter 33 ) . He is perhaps the personification of the power of the ocean. Ægir commands almost every ocean in the Nine Worlds, and can cross over into our world in any ocean, although he and his family prefer the cold northern waters.
He rules the surface of the oceans , shipping routes , island and skerry’s ( small rocky island, usually too small for human habitation.) Ægir was the brewer of meads and wines for the gods.The Aesir loved his drink so much, they brought him the greatest cauldron ever forged ( Hymiskviða ), so that he could brew his meads and wines for them . After long summers of battles, the Aesir would gather at Ægir’s Hall (Hlesey: “the Island of the Sea-God” Hler = Ægir ) near Vanaheim ,to feast and drink, and tell tales of their battles .When the sea foams people say its a sign that Ægir’s ale is finished brewing .
Ægir carries a spear , one of the poetic names for the sea in Old English is garsecg, or spearman.
Ægir is a generous and hospitable host , in his halls the cups are always full . Since there can be no fire in his halls , light and warmth is provided by a pile of gold in the middle of his floor, which led to “Ægir’s Fire or Light or Brightness ” being yet another kenning for gold. Skáldskaparmál – 40 , 41.
On the other side Ægir makes us remember that he is still a powerful elemental god. A ship that was wrecked at sea was referred to as having gone “ into Ægir’s jaws ”. He caused storms at sea, either to do in the ungrateful or just because he felt like it. Sailors both loved and feared him, often making elaborate sacrifices to him; fifth-century Saxons routinely sacrificed a tenth of their captured victims to Ægir when they were ready to leave a conquered land over the sea. Behind the jovial facade lies a relentless god who demands sacrificial victims of one sort or another. Ægir’s fingers are clawed, reminding us of that part of his nature.
Ægir’s wife is Rán. Togheter they have 9 daughters . In many ways, Ran acts out the darker and more destructive side of the sea’s nature; unlike Ægir who comes across as friendly but might then turn on you, Ran makes no bones about being a ravager. She is beautiful, but her teeth are sharp and pointed and her fingers are clawed. When she smiles, your blood runs cold or it ought to. Her hobby is collecting dead souls, with which she populates Aegirheim. While Ægir is both an “honorary” Aesir and an “honorary” Vanir, and tries to balance alliances with all of them, there is no question where Ran’s alliances lie. She is on good terms with Hel, the goddess of Death, and prefers the company of the older gods.
It is assumed that Fornjót is Ægir’s father , if this is correct then Logi (Logi is often confused with Loki ), a fire giant , and Kári , god of wind ,would be his brothers .
Skáldskaparmál – 35
Ægir’s had 2 serving-men , Fimafeng – “The Swift Handler” ( killed by Loki ) and Eldir – “The Man of the Fire”. They are only mentioned in the introductory note of Lokasenna
Sources for Ægir ;
Grímnismál – The Ballad of Grimnir – 45
Hárbarðsljóð – The Poem of Harbarth – 37
Hymiskviða – The Lay of Hymir or Hymir’s poem. – 1
Lokasenna – Loki’s Wrangling – Introductory Note , 3 , 4 , 10 , 14 ,16, 18
Skáldskaparmál – 1 , 4 , 5 , 7 , 24 , 26 , 33 , 40 , 41 , 76 .
The nine daughters of Ægir and Rán ;
A.k.a the billow maidens or the wave maidens .
The nine daughters personify the waves. Each daughter’s name reflects poetic terms for waves. They were portrayed as beautiful maidens dressed in white robes and veils and always helped their father, brew the beer for the gods.
There name’s are found in the Skáldskaparmál twice – 33 , 76 .
- Himinglæva – the heaven-shining wave, the transparent wave ,
- Dúfa – the pitching wave ,
- Blódughadda – blood thirsty wave ,
- Hefring – the lifting wave ,
- Udr – the frothing wave ,
- Hrönn – the welling wave ,
- Bylgja – the billow wave ,
- Dröfn or Bára – the foam-fleck wave ,
- Kolga – the cold wave .
The nine daughters of Ægir are assumed to be the mothers of Heimdallr .
High comments that Heimdallr says the following lines in a work by the name of Heimdalargaldr:
I am of nine | mothers the offspring, Of sisters nine | am I the son.
This is the story of how this became so ;
It is said that the Nine daughters love each other more than any other, and that their alliance is unshakable. They never quarrel, or if they do, no one sees it. So when one of them chose to lay with the canny Aesir god Odin, against the wishes of their father Aegir, the other eight covered it up. It is also said that Odin lay with all nine of them; if this is so, he must have been either very brave to lie with nine deadly, toothed, bloodthirsty mermaids, or else very drunk on their father’s brew. Either way, it is certain that at least one daughter lay with Odin, and that she got with child by him.
When she made it known to her sisters that she was with child, they all circled her in protection, knowing that their father – and especially their equally bloodthirsty mother, who had no love for the One-Eyed One – would be furious. So they all made a pact that no one should know which of them had done the deed, not even their parents. They all went away, and hid for many months in caves in the darkest part of the sea bottom, where not even Ægir and Ran could find them. In time, the baby was born, and they brought him in their arms to Aegirheim, where they confessed to their angry parents what had been done, if not who.
Ægir demanded again and again to know which of them had done the deed, but the sisters were a solid wall and would not move, and not one of them could be turned against another. Ran threatened to hang them all by their hair from the bottom of the biggest iceberg, but still they would not reveal the baby’s true mother. “Let him be known as the child of Odin and the Nine of us,” they all said, “for it is as good as true.”
Offerings for Ægir;
If you should offer to Ægir, be generous! Give Him fine old coins (sailors once carried them in case they drowned, so that they wouldn’t arrive in Ægir’s realm empty handed). Offer Ægir mead , ale and bread , do not give Ægir mass produced beverage, self-brew or locally brewed beverages are better but be sure to acknowledge that it isn’t nearly as fine as the mead and ale that Ægir has at home. If you cant brew your own beverages or have anything else around you can offer anything that he would not be likely to get otherwise.Offerings may be given at an altar or shrine or brought to the sea. If you don’t live near an ocean, make a large bowl of salt water and drop food into it for him. An altar/shrine to Ægir may contain anything of the sea, and feature any of the sea’s colors.
The following invocation or prayer is not my own creation .
Hail, Lord of the Sea-Foam,
Father of Fishes, Father of Vastness,
Brewer of ale in the great cauldron
Stolen from the honor-god's ancestral home.
Hail, generous one, host of Aegirheim,
Husband of the Robber-Queen,
Father of the Nine Waves,
Master of Fimafeng and Elrir.
Hail to the Lord whose windows
Are every foot of ocean's water.
May you look well upon us,
You who feed so many of us with your bounty,
Even when our foolishness and greed
Overstrip you of your treasure,
And may you forgive our carelessness
With the great cold kingdom that is your realm.
Links to the other gods .
Analyses Analysis Bellows Corona Dutch Edda Edda's Eiriksmal Frigg Frigga Goddess Eir Hakonarmal Har Harald Fairhair Havamal Havamal 2 Havamal 4 Havamol Heathen Heathens Heimdallr Heimskringla High one Hávamál Lokasenna Mimir Nine worlds Odin Petition Poetic Edda Prophecy of the Seeress Prose Edda Ragnarök Sacred text Skaldskaparmal Snorri Sturluson Study The saying of Har Toughts Valhalla Vanaheim Viking Vindheim Völuspá Yggdrasil