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Know Your Gods: Sigyn

Welcome to my first ever Know Your Gods feature!

I write urban fantasy and romance novels which are frequently inspired by mythology (so far, mostly Norse mythology, with a few Greek goddesses thrown into the mix).

Because mythology lacks a set canon, everyone from Marvel to Neil Gaiman has a slightly different take on these characters. So, I thought it would be fun to present a series of gods both as they are depicted in the original source material and as they appear in my Gods and Lovers books. (Yes, this is “fun” in the University of Chicago sense of the word.)

Also, while I’m going to talk about the gods as historical and literary figures, it’s important to note modern pagans still revere these figures. I’m not discussing them as devotional figures, but I also mean no disrespect to modern pagan traditions.

Let’s start with the Norse myths, shall we?

The entirety of surviving Norse mythology comes from two sources written in Iceland in the 13th century: the prose Edda and the poetic Edda. Both were written 200 years after Christianity had displaced the old religions, and they were intended as a way to preserve the smilies and metaphors so important to Icelandic poetry.

As Neil Gaiman says in the introduction to his wonderful book Norse Mythology (read my review here), it’s as if all we knew of Greek mythology came from the myths of Hercules and the Odyssey.

There are some characters whose personalities still shine through the surviving myths, like Thor. But there are also some characters we know almost nothing about.

Like Sigyn

Sigyn, in the Eddas, is described as Loki’s wife. Together they have two children, Nari and Vali, both of whom come to a bad end after Loki murders Baldr and is imprisoned beneath the earth (click here to read more about that story).

Loki_and_Sigyn_by_Gebhardt
“Loki and Sigyn” (1892) by Karl Franz Eduard von Gebhardt.

Sigyn is notable for staying with her husband in the cave and catching the poison which drips from the serpent’s fangs and into his face.

One of Sigyn’s kennings, or metaphorical names from old Norse poetry, is “incantation-fetter,” suggesting there’s at least one myth where Sigyn does something interesting. But that myth has been lost.

In addition to his sons with Sigyn, Loki had three children with another woman, Angerboda (more here). Also, one of Loki’s many kennings is “burden of Sigyn’s arms,” which might mean their marriage was less than joyful, or it might mean Loki was generally held in low regard, or it could be a reference to Sigyn literally holding Loki in the cave.

Regardless, most modern interpretations of Norse mythology tend to make Sigyn out to be a victim, a madwoman, or both.

Who is Sigyn in the Gods and Lovers Universe?

For me, making Loki’s wife a victim or a weakling lacks imagination.

She’s the wife of Loki, arguable the most interesting character in the entire Norse tradition. (And yes, I’ll argue it!) There has got to be more to her than just victimhood.

In my first Loki novel The Trickster’s Lover (SPOILER ALERT!), Loki reveals that his wife Sigyn died in the cave where he was bound, after Loki promised Sigyn he would find their son Vali and reverse the spell that had turned Vali into a wolf.

Loki does find Vali in my second novel, The Wolf’s Lover, and they have an emotionally complicated reunion.

But how did Loki and Sigyn connect in the first place? And what kind of a woman was Sigyn?

Well, I’m working on that right now!

Look for the answers this fall (ish?) in the third book in the Loki series, The Briar and the Rose, which tells a tragic story from Loki’s past (click here for a tiny sneak peek).

No, that woman picking lingonberries isn’t Sigyn…

Like what you’ve read? Click here to join my newsletter and I’ll send you a free copy of Tam Lin, my sexy modern take on the Scottish folktale.

 

4 thoughts on “Know Your Gods: Sigyn Leave a comment

    • Ha, what a great question, Dante! I’ve been asking myself that for years…
      The honest answer is that I don’t know. When I first re-started my writing career, I was focusing on sci-fi and Serious Literary Stories. Then I had a dream about Loki, which turned into a short story, which turned into the first Loki scene in my first novel. And it’s just spun completely out of control. 😉

      Like

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