The Mead of Poetry – Norse Myths For Kids
As Presented by Dael Dhra for Hrafnarfjall Hearthside. To listen instead, go here: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=iDXRUMttye0&feature=youtu.be
Listen, children, and listen well For I’ve a tale I would tell A tale of two people, healing from war, Who, with magick, would heal the scar – This tale of magick, so strong and hale, From it sprang an entire male! So hear me now, and hear me well.
Kvasir and the Mead of Poetry
Long ago, two tribes of gods went to war, the Aesir and the Vanir. When it finally ended, they were so very, very tired of war that they decided to honor the end of it with a magickal working. What kind of magickal working, you may ask?
Freya had been teaching Odin magick, so he knew, if he put his mind to it and with the proper ingredients, he could work a very strong magick indeed. Now, you may know this yourselves. To spit on something is to make a strong, firm promise, so what did Odin do? That’s right. He had them spit on it. Normally, you may spit on your hand to make such an agreement, but this time, Odin had better ideas. He had them all spit into a kettle! Being wise, he had them chew some berries and leaves first, berries and leaves which were known to have strong magick to help keep the new peace. But it didn’t taste very nice, no indeed. The bitter taste filled their mouths, so they had to spit, and they spit, a lot. They spit so much they filled the kettle, and it was a rather large kettle too! Finally the bitter taste faded from their mouths and they spat the berries and leaves out entirely, and after a while, the Gods drifted away.
Well, imagine the surprise the next day when someone came by to empty the kettle – and there was a new god! An Aesir, fully formed, from the spit of all the Gods, given to keep the peace.
This God was named Kvasir, and he was extremely wise. Even Odin, known for his wisdom, respected Kvasir’s wisdom. Kvasir knew he was destined to help people, wandering the worlds and answering their questions. He never failed to give a good answer. Whatever people asked, they left knowing he had given them the best answer he could. So he wandered everywhere, becoming well known for his answers for people and helping them. He also taught them, so people everywhere were smarter when he left. It was said there was no knowledge he did not possess, no question that he could not answer.
One day, Kvasir’s wanderings took him to the home of two Dwarves, named Fjalar, which means Deceiver, and Galar, which means Screamer, who were brothers. They were selfish dwarves, though, you see – these dwarves wanted to keep Kvasir and his knowledge and answers for themselves. Kvasir said no, because Kvasir knew his purpose was to wander and to help all people, giving everyone knowledge. But the Dwarves didn’t take no well – and Fjalar and Galar killed poor Kvasir! Then they drained his blood into a large kettle, and added a LOT of honey – and I mean, a LOT! of honey.
Then they let it sit a LONG time – months! – in order to make from his blood and the honey a drink called Mead, hoping to hide what they had done by getting people to drink it. Once it was done, they poured the mead into two glasses called Bothn and Son, and a pot called Othrerir to store it. Well, eventually, the other Gods noticed Kvasir was missing, and finally, they learned that Kvasir had last been seen with the Dwarves, and the Gods went to talk to the brothers about what happened to Kvasir. But the dwarves lied. They told the Gods that Kvasir died because he could not breathe under the weight of his own knowledge. He suffocated under his intelligence. Well, the Gods seemed to accept this, but Odin, being very wise, didn’t believe the Dwarves, and he waited, and he watched. And sure enough, his patience was rewarded, for you see he saw when the Dwarves formed more trickery which led to the discovery of the mead. The Dwarves invited a Giant, named Gilling, to feast with them, along with the Giant’s wife. Well, they decided to go fish for their dinner and they capsized the boat – and the Giant drowned! The dwarf brothers went back home, where Gilling’s wife waited, and when they told her she was very sad, and could not stop crying. Fjallar offered to show her the spot her husband had died, and when she accepted, Gallar waited on the roof of the house they lived in and dropped a huge rock on her head when she walked through the door! Well when her son Suttungr learned of her death, and of his father’s, he went to these dwarves and tied them up on a reef which the sea covers at high tide. The Dwarves begged for their lives, and finally, they offered the one prize they had – the special mead – in compensation for his parent’s deaths. They had tried it themselves, you see, and knew that this mead now had special magick – it made anyone who drank it a master Poet and Storyteller! Your words were given magick and were spellbinding to all those listening, and it also granted the wisdom and knowledge of Kvasir to the drinker!
Naturally, Suttungr wanted that mead, so he accepted, and the Dwarves gave him the pot of mead, keeping the glasses for themselves. Odin overheard this, and watched as Suttungr took it back home, giving the guarding of it over to his daughter, Gunnlod. Naturally, Odin himself wanted the mead for its magick, being relentless in his quest for knowledge – so he went to pay Suttungr a visit. Suttungr refused even Odin a taste of the mead, so Odin went to his brother, Baugi, and on his way, he saw slaves (Yes, they had slaves back then, though we know better today) belonging to Baugi working in the fields. Odin made these slaves an offer. They used sharp tools called scythes to cut the field, and they needed sharpening.
So Odin offered to sharpen these tools for them. He used a sharpening stone that he enchanted with magick, and it worked so well on the scythes that all the slaves wanted the sharpening stone. They offered to buy it, but Odin just threw it up into the air – and they fought over it, and killed each other for it. Later that summer, Odin went back to Baugi. But Odin tricked Baugi – he didn’t go as Odin, but he changed his clothes and his hair and even his voice and how he moved, and he changed his name too! He called himself Bolverk, and went to Baugi’s hall to introduce himself. Naturally, Baugi offered food and drink to be polite to the newcomer, and as they were talking, Odin asked Baugi politely how business was going. Well, Baugi immediately replied that business wasn’t going very well, since his slaves had all died and he couldn’t get anyone to do the work. Well, Odin offered to do the work in exchange for a drink of Baugi’s brother’s mead. Baugi agreed and said he’d talk to his brother. Odin (calling himself Bolverk, remember), did the work as agreed through the rest of the summer.
When winter came, though, he asked Baugi for his payment. Baugi talked to his brother Suttungr, who said no, this stranger could not have a sip of the mead, even for payment for such work as he had done. Naturally, this angered Odin, and they both went to Suttungr, who still refused. Then Odin suggested Baugi use a trick to get it and he handed Baugi a drill powered by hand, and asked him to dig into the the mountain that Suttung’s hall was on and tunnel through to get it. He only managed a very small hole, however, so Odin turned into a snake and slipped in! Baugi, witnessing this, tried to strike the snake with the drill, but Odin escaped! Odin slipped through the hole and found himself in Gunnlod’s room. Gunnlod was quite a pretty giant, and Odin liked her – finally spending three days in her company!
Gunnlod was, of course, quite happy to have the attention and flattery – she’d been very lonely guarding the mead, so Odin was able to talk her into giving him a drink of the mead she guarded every night – gaining THREE drinks! But he drank so much on the last night of it that he drained the container! Then he snuck back through the hole, as a snake once again, slithering and squirming – but once he got back out of the hole he turned into an eagle, and flew away!
Gunnlod was not happy that Odin drank all the mead, and immediately accused Odin of theft and went to her father Suttungr to tell him. As soon as he heard, he saw the eagle fly away and knew it was Odin who was the thief, and he too turned himself into an eagle, and flew after Odin! The other Gods saw Odin coming, and put out containers for Odin to spit the mead into – but Suttungr was so close he accidentally let some of the mead drop backwards, and this part, now anyone could drink, and is called the “rhymester’s share”. So this is how it came to be that we find great storytellers and poets among all the races – men, Giants, Alfar, and even the dwarves. Perhaps one day you, too, will be a great storyteller, touched by the Mead of Poetry.
And that concludes our tale! For the children at heart – if you liked this, please follow the channel, and find Hrafnarfjall Hearthside on Facebook! Don’t forget to check out our Patreon hall, here on Midgard! https://www.patreon.com/HrafnarfjallHearthside. See you there!
For other Hearthside tales:
Yggdrasil and the Nine Worlds https://smokeandmirrors16.wordpress.com/2021/03/10/myths-for-kids-yggdrasil-and-the-nine-worlds/
The Aesir and Vanir War https://smokeandmirrors16.wordpress.com/2021/03/10/norse-myths-for-kids-the-aesir-and-vanir-war/