Rán

Who is Rán ?

Rán is the goddess of storms and the drowned dead and a personification of the sea . The sea was also referred to as “Rán’s road”.

To the sky shot up the Deep’s Gledes,
With fearful might the sea surged:
Methinks our stems the clouds cut,
Rán’s Road to the moon soared upward.

Skáldskaparmál – 76

Rán appears as a delicate-looking woman with blue-green skin. Her long black hair drags on the ground behind her when she walks through Ægir’s hall; its ends trail off into nothingness, and this is because her hair is magically linked to all the seaweed that grows in all the northern oceans.

Rán’s name is translated by scholars as “robber,ravager or plunderer”.

Rán and her husband Ægir, a jötunn who also personifies the sea, have nine daughters, who personify the waves. The goddess is frequently associated with a net, which she uses to capture sea-goers.

According to the prose introduction to a poem in the Poetic Edda and in Völsunga saga, Rán once loaned her net to the god Loki.

Then they sent Loki to get the gold; he went to Rán and got her net, and went then to Andvari’s fall and cast the net in front of the pike, and the pike leaped into the net.

Reginsmál introductory note

Rán is attested in the Poetic Edda, compiled during the 13th century from earlier traditional sources; the Prose Edda, written during the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson; in both Völsunga saga and Friðþjófs saga hins frœkna; and in the poetry of skalds, such as Sonatorrek, a 10th century poem by Icelandic skald Egill Skallagrímsson


Relatives ;

Rán and her husband Ægir 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.

Sources for Ran ;

Rán is attested in the Poetic Edda, compiled during the 13th century from earlier traditional sources; the Prose Edda, written during the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson; in both Völsunga saga and Friðþjófs saga hins frœkna; and in the poetry of skalds, such as Sonatorrek, a 10th century poem by Icelandic skald Egill Skallagrímsson

Sonatorrek – 7


Friðþjófs saga hins frœkna – 6

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 .

  1. Himinglæva – the heaven-shining wave, the transparent wave ,
  2. Dúfa – the pitching wave ,
  3. Blódughadda – blood thirsty wave ,
  4. Hefring – the lifting wave ,
  5. Udr – the frothing wave ,
  6. Hrönn – the welling wave ,
  7. Bylgja – the billow wave ,
  8. Dröfn or Bára – the foam-fleck wave ,
  9. 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.”