Mythology Monday: The Mead Of Poetry


Thanks to my friend Leslie for suggesting this one, as it was a tale I was less familiar with. This story is basically another about Odin’s quest to be the smartest motherfucker in the room.

It also involves bodily fluids, for some reason.

So, this particular tale begins at the end of the war between the Aesir and the Vanir. To commemerate their new peace, each member of the two factions proceeds to spit into a vat. Then they took that spit and made a dude with it, named Kvasir.

Now, Kvasir is really, really smart. In fact, he is the wisest person who’s ever existed. Which makes this next part kind of weird.

See, Kvasir gets an invitation to the home of two dwarves named Fjalgar and Galar. Seeing as how these two names mean “deceiver” and “screamer” respectively, you’d think that Kvasir might have taken this as a sign that things aren’t quite on the up and up. But he goes into their house anyway.

This turns out to be a bad idea, because Deceiver and Screamer up there immediately kill him. Then they take is blood, separate it into three vats, and use it to make mead. For those that don’t know what that is, think wine, but made from fermented honey instead of grapes.

Anyway, this mead is super, super awesome, and basically contains all of Kvasir’s wisdom, and can turn anyone who drinks it into a ludicrously amazing poet.

Fjalgar and Galar dont’ hold onto the mead for very long, though, because of their taste for murder. Sometime later, they drown a giant named Gilling for funsies, then kill his wife because her crying annoyed them. This pisses off the giants’ son, Suttung, and he heads off for a little old-fashioned vengeance.

He drags the two off to the sea to drown them, but relents when they offer him their super-amazing magical mead. So he lets them live, claims his prize, and then takes it off to a chamber under a mountain. Once there, he sets his daughter Guunlod to guard the mead.

Naturally, Odin eventually hears about this mead, and decides that he’s going to go steal it. Again, because Odin’s main motivation is to grab all the wisdom that he can.

So he disguises himself as a farmhand, then heads off to a farm belonging to Suttung’s brother, Baugi. Here, he runs into nine of Baugi’s servents mowing a field. He offers to sharpen the servants’ scythes with this whetstone he so convenently has. They agree, and then find that their scythes are now cutting hay like nobody’s business.

This, of course, starts them clamoring to buy the whetstone from him. Odin agrees to sell it, but lets them know that it’s going to cost them. Then he throws the whetstone into the air, and watches as the servants all kill each other trying to get it.

He then goes to Baugi, and offers to do all the work of the nine men whose deaths he had absolutely nothing to do with, if Baugi will let him have a sip of Suttung’s mead. Baugi’s like, “I have no way of accessing that, but I’ll help you out if you can do that much work.”

Odin keeps his end of the bargain, and he sets out with Baugi to ask Suttung for some of his mead. Suttung’s like, “No. Now get the fuck out of here.” Rebuffed, but not undaunted, Odin comes up with a cunning plan. Which isn’t surprising, because he’s basically the god of cunning plans.

Seriously, his most notable trait is probably his cleverness.

So the two sneak off and end up in a chamber Baugi says should be closest to where the mead is being stored. Odin then takes out an auger, and has Baugi drill a hole into the wall. A bit later, Baugi says he’s done, but Odin thinks that was suspiciously fast. So he blows into the hole, and realizes Baugi’s lying out his ass. He tells Baugi to actually finish drilling the hole.

He does, and Odin confirms this by blowing into it again and seeing that the dust is going through. He then says, “Later, sucker,”before turning into a snake and slithering through the hole.

Once through, he turns himself into a hot dude and sets about seducing Guunlod. He offers to sleep with her for three nights, if he can have three sips of her father’s mead. She agrees, and they set about doing it.

On the third night, Odin sneaks into the mead chamber and promptly drinks all of it. Then he turns into an eagle and starts flying towards home. Suttung, however, isn’t too happy about his mead being stolen, so he also turns into an eagle and chases him towards Asgard. Suttung, though, realizes that’s where he’s heading, and wisely decides to turn around rather than deal with literally all the gods.

Odin makes it back to Asgard, vomiting up the mead he drank into vats the other gods set up along the way. Ew. A few drops, though, fall from his beak and land on Midgard, which is where all the bad poets come from. Good poets get a drink of the mead from Odin personally.

You know, the mead that he drank, and then threw up. Which, again, ew.

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