Mytho-historically, a jotun is a giant member of the primordial inhabitants of Jotunheim the “outer” realm of Middangeard, our homeland, also called Manna-Heim or “Home of Man.” Middangeard itself was created from the body of the giant Aurgelmir (Ymir). Sometimes called “frost giants,” a cognate of Jontun is Ettin (OE Eoten). In PIE, this is also from where “eat” derives.
In myth, the jotunar are often imagined as antithetical to the ēse, the Æsir and Vanir of the Norse.
But sometimes the relationships were more amicable. For instance, Skadi (aka Skade), bowhuntress, skiier, winter-goddess, and mountain-goddess.
She is the daughter of Thjazi, who shapeshifted into a giant bird and separated Idunna from her golden apple tree. (I think that’s my favorite story. Mmmmm, chaos and apples.)
For his crimes, Thjazi was executed and his wereguild paid—in part—by a union between Skadi and Njörðr, Vanic father of twins Freyr and Freyja. That didn’t end well. Later, in Heimskringla, we learn that Odin was a much better match for the giantess.
Likewise, Loki, the one who put Thjazi up to abducting Idunna, comes from Jotunheim. Ah, Loki—he gets such a bad rap. As our trickster, it is his pranks that cause critical thinking, problem solving, progress. Without someone to goad us from time to time, we stagnate. (See also this 1992 article, “Utgard: The role of the Jotnar in the Religion of the North,” by Diana Paxson @hrafnar.)
After all, Mimir’s well of wisdom is in Jotunheim; if it were easier to access, everyone would have such wisdom.
Skadi is one of the protectresses of our hof and hearth. In our tradition, we honor life as well as death, creation as well as destruction, love-and-light as well as what-lies-beyond. We don’t consider this “black magic” or dark anything. I mean, the Initiator created the night as well as the day—and tomorrow we will get an equal helping of both.
This is sacred.
Like the mountains separating Middangeard from Utgard, Skadi, mountain-goddess, helps up maintain the borders between the ordered and the chaotic.
Until Later, Waes tu hael,
This post is part of a year-long project, The Pagan Blog Project, “a way to spend a full year dedicating time each week very specifically to studying, reflecting, and sharing your spiritual and magickal path. . . . Each week there is a specific prompt for you to work with in writing your post, a prompt that will focus on a letter of the alphabet . . . .” (http://paganblogproject/)