Part three of my micro-series on personal favorite theories regarding the gods of Asgard, gleaned from reading between the lines and from personal experience, has to do with something that revealed itself to me while looking further into my relationship with Njord – a theory that has refined itself over the years but still remains true to its original hypothesis.
In studying Heathen lore, it was always something fun for me to read between the lines and come up with some of my own ideas about things. There are four major ideas of mine that I would like to share here, giving each idea its own post. They are:
- That the eye Odin sacrificed for wisdom is visible to all, as is the eye he still ‘has.’
- That Odin’s wife happens to be Njord’s sister-wife.
- That Heimdall is Njord’s son.
- That the runes aren’t necessarily what we think they are.
The lore tells us of Njord’s famous children, Freyr and Freyja – through his sister-wife, whom I believe to be Frigg. I believe the lore also tells us of a third child, a son, who is just as celebrated as the Lord and Lady, themselves. I believe that son is Heimdall, and here is why ….
In Lokasenna, we are treated to some marvelous accusations. One of the ones I found most interesting, as it applied to the god I was developing a bond with at the time, was when Loki accused Njord of allowing the daughters of Hymir to use his mouth as a privy / chamber pot. By this point, I was used to the idea that the lore – in my opinion falsely – assigns to Njord tremendous passivity; but the notion of one among the Aesir (let alone chief among the Vanir, who survives Ragnarok) being abused this way by giants just seemed too much of a stretch, and it didn’t sit well with me. I thought it might be a good idea to look a little into Hymir’s background.
As it turns out, the lore does leave us a bit of information regarding Hymir. He is fierce – fierce enough that when in his home to retrieve a cauldron for Aegir, Thor and Tyr both consent to allowing Hymir’s wife to hide them until she’s had the chance to disarm his wrath. Later, Thor is supposed to throw a cup and break it – in a display of how hard Hymir’s head is, Thor must throw the cup against Hymir’s head instead of the wall in order to break it. Usually, Thor throws anything hard at anyone, said anyone drops – but not Hymir. Hymir also happens to have daughters – the exact number is not known; but there is a theory or two floating around that the daughters of Hymir are rivers that empty into the sea. This would explain the ‘urinating’ of the daughters into Njord’s ‘mouth’ – Njord happens to have, as his area of influence, the coast.
As I read about giants with multiple daughters, it occurred to me that there was one among the gods who was born from multiple mothers. I thought at first this was mere happenstance; but eventually, I came to realize that the lore has a lot less happenstance and a lot more purpose than I had originally thought. With Heimdall, there is a line from Thrymskvida where Heimdall is said to have the foresight common to all Vanir – this was what nudged me to more firmly believe that Heimdall might be Njord’s son. The association Georges Dumezil made to the Welsh description of the waves coming in nines, the ninth producing ‘the ram,’ and the ram associations to Heimdall also made me wonder. The ram itself may also point loosely in the direction of Hymir’s hard head; although I will admit this is quite a stretch. Other things also point in this direction, though, when considering Heimdall’s relationship to Freyja. In the etymology of his name, there is some thought that Heimdall might be related to Mardöll, another name of Freyja’s, that is also thought to relate to the sea. It is the sea from which Heimdall is said to have come, and of course there is the sea connection to Njord that leads back again to the daughters of Hymir. What interests me the most here, however, is the animosity said to have occurred between Loki and Heimdall over Loki’s theft of Freyja’s necklace. That the two gods wind up taking the forms of sea creatures to fight is of less interest to me – I find myself asking why would Heimdall do this? There are no other bits of lore suggesting a direct relationship between Heimdall and Freyja (except, of course, Loki’s accusation that Freyja slept with all the gods). So why would Heimdall feel compelled to essentially defend Freyja’s honor by winning the necklace back for her and perhaps dueling with Loki in order to win it; unless there were some sort of relationship between Heimdall and Freyja? I’m reminded of a Jeff Foxworthy ‘Redneck’ joke, “If you’ve ever climbed a water tower with a bucket of paint to defend your sister’s honor, you might be a redneck.” Was Heimdall perhaps defending his sister’s honor in going after Brisingamen? This animosity seems to hold between Heimdall and Loki, as the two are destined to face one another again at the last battle and slay each other. Wouldn’t there be others who might have an axe to grind with Loki? There are two ways I see this pairing at Ragnarok: Heimdall and Loki are anathema for one another because while the one’s purpose is to defend borders, the other’s seems to be to challenge and cross borders and boundaries; or there is something really personal between the two that we simply haven’t seen in the lore. I tend to think both are true – and I think the personal grudge has to do with Heimdall being Freyja’s brother; which would explain in part why Freyja isn’t destined to face off against Loki at Ragnarok.
There is nothing in the lore that directly points to Njord as Heimdall’s father. This idea comes from piecing several things together and reading between the lines. However, this feels right to me in every way.