Jormungandr: The Midgard Serpent
Less well known than Greco-Roman mythology, Nordic (and Germanic) mythology nevertheless conceals many treasures and appears to be one of the richest 👑 in Europe. It presents the world to us through an often contradictory vision, tales, and legends of the Nordic peoples. These peoples spoke Saxon languages, not Celtic, Slavic, or Latin. From the fourth to the sixth century AD, Europe underwent many upheavals. Some Saxon dialects disappeared while others evolved.
They are the origin of German, Dutch, Flemish, English, Danish and Swedish, Norwegian, and Icelandic. With their languages, the Germanic peoples brought their myths, religions, and gods. Few vestiges of their beliefs remain in the countries where Christianity imposed itself very early on, so one must look to Scandinavia and especially Iceland (which only became Christian in the 12th century) to get an idea of Germanic mythology. The harsher living conditions largely contributed to create great differences with Greco-Roman mythology 🏛️, the most remarkable of which is undoubtedly the fact that the gods are mortal.
The few written testimonies we have come from outside observers such as the Roman historian Tacitus, since the Saxons did not know writing in the sense we understand it. The runes, which had a mystical meaning, were used to carve inscriptions on wood or stone and not to write long treatises. Most of the written sources date back to the 13th century and their authors were already Christians. They come to us from Iceland, where the ancient gods took longer to disappear.
Around 1220, Snorri Sturluson, a brilliant scholar, great landowner, and prominent Christian political figure, wrote a book on pagan gods and myths so that they would not be lost to future poets. This book, the Edda, offers a comprehensive overview of Nordic mythology. Another important source of knowledge is a collection of mythological poems entitled the Poetic Edda, an incunabulum also written in Iceland ❄️ in the twelfth century, before the previous one. There are many ways to spell the names of northern mythology gods. We have chosen for this blog Jormungand the famous snake enemy of Thor. We will start by defining him and then we will show his impact in the Nordic mythology but also in current stories.
You probably know him, a giant snake found in the depths of the sea. This creature is called Jormungand in Norse mythology. According to, the Jormungand register should reappear at the end of time to destroy the 9 worlds of the Nordic mythology and the Yggdrasil, well for the moment it is not... ⏲
1) Who is Jormungand? 🐍
A) Physical description 💪
We all want to know what the beasts that appear in mythology look like. Get ready because we're talking about perhaps the greatest beast of Norwegian mythology it's still incredible knowing that Nordic mythology counts in its ranks Jotunheim, a kingdom full of giants!
You're probably wondering why he called it that? Don't worry. "Jormungand" literally means "necklace of the earth", so now you understand the sheer size of the creature we're talking about. This snake wraps itself around Midgard and finally bites its tail like the ouroboros (if you know). For your information, its mouth full of teeth 🦷 full of venom is big enough to bite a giant.
B) Personality 🤔
Jormungand's large size is not synonymous with a much stronger character. His intelligence is limited the only time we could see a bit of this personality was during the meetings with Thor, even if these meetings were not very friendly. This creature has a habit of staying underwater in darkness and solitude.
C) Family 👪
Jormungand is one of the children of Loki, the god of chaos, and Angroboda, his giant mistress. He inherited his size from his mother and his destructive tendencies from his father. The parents of this creature also had two children, a giant wolf 🐺 (Fenrir) just as destructive as his brother the snake but much smarter. The prophecies say that they will fight together during Ragnarok.
We also have the ruler of the underworld (Hel) much less aggressive than his brothers and sisters. Although she finds herself in a dark position, she still manages to maintain decent relations with the rest of the world. But all that changed when Odin discovered the children of Loki and Angroboda. He fought against them. He made them all outcasts, throwing Jormungandr into the ocean, condemning Hel to the underworld, and plotting to trap Fenrir on an island by himself.
2) Stories about Jormungandr
A. Thor's fishing trip with Hymir
It all started with an invitation to a banquet from Aegir and Ran, two giants who lived under the sea, but the condition was to bring a cauldron big enough to make a maximum of mead 🧪. The problem was the drinking tonight as there were going to be the gods, but the giants and their children were known to have a big appetite!
The solution was Hymir, a giant living in the perilous kingdom of Jotunheim, who had a cauldron big enough for the situation. Thor volunteered to go and visit Hymir.
When Thor arrived home, Hymir had prepared three bulls for Thor's visit. But the giant had underestimated Thor's legendary hunger. The young god ate two of the bulls in one meal, and Hymir angrily announced that they should go fishing in the morning for the next day's food. He was not going to do without his cattle!
Logically, the young boy had no choice. So in the morning, he went fishing. Hymir thought he was just going to fish small prey for a few hours. But Thor went to the bulls and killed them and used them as bait. Hymir was furious, but after this feat (completely irrational by the way), he was afraid to face Thor (You understand why...). So they left in Hymir's fishing boat.
Thor brought the boat back to where they were going to fish. Hymir used the bullheads (a perfect bait) to fish for 🎣 two whales but he was not happy when he saw Thor because he was just sitting in the picture, looking out at the ocean.
Finally, Hymir told Thor that he could go home, but the young boy disobeyed again. He escaped by rowing out to sea. At that moment, Hymir nervously reminded Thor that the mythical serpent (Jormungand) was hiding in the dark depths of the ocean. Thinking that the two whales were enough, Hymir returned to the shore (Hymir secretly hoped to finish soon!).
But Thor, as always, only did what was in his head. He continued rowing to a certain spot where he hung a bull's head on a huge hook and finally threw it into the ocean. There was a moment of tense silence. Then something shook Thor's line so hard that the god almost fell into the ocean, He felt a superhuman force. He recovered quickly and began to shake (He was getting scared, in fact) as hard as he could, his muscles were contracted to the maximum.
Hymir knew that Jormungandr was the only creature who could test Thor's strength. He also knew that if the serpent emerged from the depths, the end of the world would begin. From a distance, the giant watched the battle between Thor and the serpent. He could see that Thor was regaining the upper hand. To finally see the snake's hideous head come out of the water, and see Thor take his hammer 🔨
In a second, Hymir cut 🔪 the fishing line to saving Thor, the snake at that moment fell back into the sea depths leaving impressive waves.
Thor was so furious that he pushed Hymir into the ocean. Then he left the two whales in front of Hymir's house 🏡 and finally took the cauldron he needed. Still furious at the escape from Jormungand, Thor returned to Asgard.
B. Why this hate between Thor and Jormungand?
We can know that in the battle of Ragnarok, Thor and Jormungandr were to kill each other. But the question was, why did Thor and Jormungandr hate each other?
- The difference between the origins
The first reason to consider is the origin of both. Thor came from a tribe of gods because he was the son of father Odin, who was probably the most hated by all the giants of the Northern Pantheon. Meanwhile, Jormungandr was the son of Loki-Trickster, who lived among the gods. Although Loki lived with the gods, nobody respected him. Can we say that Lokin had to spend most of his time with other emotions? Many sources have mentioned that Loki came from giants and was himself a pure giant. If it was mythologically true, the background of Jormungandr and Thor was the original reason they hated each other so much.
- Competition at Utgard-Lok
In Norwegian mythology, Thor and Lok had the opportunity to travel to the land of Utgard-Lok. When the gang arrived at the gate of Utgard-Lok, the giants of Utgard-Lok did not welcome them. The gods even laughed because they seemed too small. In his anger, Thor agreed to compete with the giant of the hall. The King of Utgard-Lok challenged Thor to bring the cat to the gym. However, to everyone's dismay, Thor could only lift the cat's paw. Then Thor entered the drinking contest because he was famous for his drinking skills. However, he was unable to finish Utgard-Lok's drinking horn.
Later, when Thor left Utgard-Lok, the giant king said that everything was ready. The cat Thor was trying to raise was actually Jormungandr. At that time, Jormungandr was so huge that he surrounded Midgard. And the drinking water pipe that Thor drank was in contact with the ocean 🌊. And when Thor finished his drinking contest, he drank up to half of the seawater. This set the fire to defeat Jormungand.
- Thor's fishing trip
This part you already know
For the three stories above, we think these are possible reasons why Thor and Jormungand hated each other. And according to legend, they killed each other in their final battle. If Odin and Fenrir had sworn by enemies for Odin's warnings against Ragnarok, Thor hated Jormungand 🐍, he was the incredibly large snake but also the only one who could challenge him.
C. Ragnarok: The war between the giants and the gods.
In Nordic mythology, Ragnarök refers to a prophetic end of the world comprising a series of events including a three-year winter without the sun (Fimbulvetr), followed by a great battle on the plain of Vígríd. The majority of deities such as Odin, Thor, Freyr, Heimdall, and Loki, but also the giants and almost all men will die there, and a series of natural disasters will then see the world submerged by the waves and destroyed by fire. After this catastrophe, the survivors (Baldr, Höd, and Vidar) will meet Líf and Lífþrasir, the only human couple aiming to repopulate the world. Ragnarök is an important theme in Nordic mythology. It is told mainly in the poetic Edda, in the section of the Völuspá, probably written by an Icelandic cleric after the year 1000, but also in Snorri's Edda, written in the thirteenth century by Snorri Sturluson, who was himself inspired by the poetic Edda🖋️.
The Ragnarök is the subject of many studies and controversies to determine the real origin of the story, which was written late, after the Christianization of the Nordic world. Many scholars argue that the texts referring to the end of the prophetic world are inspired by the biblical accounts of the Last Judgement, especially Revelation and the end of the millenarian world, and Ecclesiastes. Some also find comparisons with accounts of other Indo-European mythologies, which could indicate a common origin of the myth or external pagan influences. For many scholars, these influences borrowed from other cultures and rewritten by Christian clerics ✝️ are erroneously attributed to Viking mythology and have distorted our knowledge of the Scandinavian faith. This text could also draw its sources from the observation of natural disasters in Iceland.
The war between the giants of Jotunheim and the gods of Asgard named Ragnarok is a war in which Jormungandr will appear against Thor. During an icy winter, the snake decided to leave the waters to reach the surface. This appearance will cause tremors in the nine worlds, and even break the bonds of Loki and Fenrir imprisoned by Odin while waiting for Ragnarok.
Loki as a free man will lead an army of giants ready to destroy Asgard. Fenrir used his large jaw to swallow it all (even Odin). And the famous creature will make the sky poisonous with his incredible breath.
Finally, Thor found a way to attack Jormungand, his old enemy. He used his fearsome hammer to crush the serpent ideal. After this triumph, Thor will turn around, take nine steps, then fall to his knees, choking on the snake's poison. After a few seconds of agony, he will also die ☠.
Here is one of our creations representing the great creature that is Jormugand, a mythical snake in Norse mythology.
3) Cultural representation
Jormungand appears in the oldest writings of Nordic mythology: the Edda in Prose and the Poetic Edda, which date back to the 13th century. It can also appear in old stone sculptures 🗿 that date from before the 13th century, but they have been so worn out over time that it is difficult to put a name to the characters depicted in the past.
B. Modern appearances
- Yu Gi Oh
In the Manga Yu Gi Oh very known by its famous card game, this incredible creature makes its appearance, or rather she has the honor to benefit from a card just for her. We let you here to feel the connection between ancient history and contemporary times.
Like many Scandinavian characters, Jormungand has found his place in many comics ✏, including the Thor series by Marvel. Other fantasy writers - including JRR Tolkein and Neil Gaiman - have been influenced by Nordic mythology and the giant snake.
- Jormungand the manga
Jormungand (ヨルムンガンド, Yorumungando?) is a manga from Keitarō Takahashi. It was pre-published between 2006 and 2012 in the monthly magazine Monthly Sunday Gene-X of the publisher Shogakukan and was compiled in a total of eleven volumes.
The adaptation into an animated television series was announced in December 2011. It is produced by White Fox Studio with direction by Keitaro Motonaga and script by Yousuke Kuroda and is composed of two seasons. The first was broadcast from April 10 to June 26, 2012, and the second from October 10 to December 26, 2012.
Outside Japan, the series is broadcast in French-speaking countries by Dybex and is available for download on Wakanim. It is also broadcast in North America by Funimation Entertainment and in the United Kingdom by Manga Entertainment.
That concludes the blog on Jormungand, this so special snake! 🙂
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We'll meet again very soon for adventures, each one crazier than the next!
Jormungand has fascinated many cultures, we understood that it was more or less in the same form but with a different name. This creature was often linked to earthquakes but also floods. Therefore, it was viewed with an evil eye. It was even considered to be the trigger for the end of mankind. Because of its incredible history, it was included in many current works such as Marvel, Yu Gi Oh, or manga with the same name. It is, therefore, necessary to remember one thing: the beauty of this mythology that fascinated our ancestors, and that continues to fascinate us new inhabitants of this land.