Sleipnir Odin’s horse

sleipnir odin's 8 legged horse

In Norse mythology, Sleipnir is Odin’s horse. Grey in color, with eight legs, he is the best and fastest. He is able to ride the sky and the waters, and also along with the other worlds. His name means “he who glides quickly”. Apparently, Sleipnir horse bears runes engraved on its teeth. According to the poem “The Building of the Wall of Asgard,” shamanism was used to conceive Sleipnir. Loki transformed himself into a mare so that Svadilfari could impregnate her.

The fortification of Asgard

The Asi, had recently settled in the new land of Miðgarðr and had just built Valhalla the magnificent, enormous hall in Asgard that is ruled over by Odin.

At that time, Asgard had as its only defense against the attacks of the giants, its geographical position, the steep rocks and cliffs scattered all around, were a barrier difficult to overcome. But, considered the incredible strength and wickedness of the giants of Jútunheim, the gods thought, for some time now, to fortify the divine citadel with thick walls, an indispensable obstacle to oppose the continuous threat of attack.It is said that, in those very days, a builder came to visit the gods and offered them the opportunity to encircle Asgard with a mighty wall that could withstand the attacks of the giants.. And, as if to magnify even more his ability, he said he could do the job in 3 seasons. The gods, faced with such confidence, were speechless: none of them would ever have thought that a fortification could be built in such a short time.

Fascinated by the words of the builder and dreaming of a lasting peace protected by unbreakable walls, they asked him how he wanted to be compensated. Great was the wonder and discomfort of the Asi, when they learned that the master required in exchange for his work the beautiful Freya, pride of all Asgard, as well as the sun and the moon.

So a pact was made with the gods, if he completed the wall in 18 months, he would get the sun, the moon, and the goddess Freya as reward, but if he failed, he would get absolutely nothing.

The gods, on the advice of Loki accepted, but on condition that the wall was finished by the summer.

The craftsman replied that he would have done it as long as he could help himself with his horse Svadilfari. Though the gods were uncertain, Loki assured them that the man wouldn’t win the bet even with the help of his horse and so Freyja, the sun and the moon would be spared, the pact, then was sealed with an oath

Immediately the builder set to work on the first day of winter and the work, thanks to Svadilfari, proceeded with incredible speed. During the freezing winter nights, braving the rain and frost, exposing himself to extremely cold temperatures, the craftsman loaded large boulders on the back of his horse, which transported them to the fortress of Asgard. During the day, stone by stone, the craftsman would build granite walls, majestic and imposing as no one had ever seen them.

Svadilfari and his Master

Svadilfari and his Master

The Asi, although accustomed to other feats of strength, were astonished to see all those boulders being carried effortlessly by Svadilfari: they feared that, with such help, the master could easily have respected what had been agreed upon. After all, the pact had been made in front of witnesses and under the sacred bonds of an oath. When the six months of the winter season were drawing to a close, the work was indeed almost complete.

So Three days before the winter was over, when the only thing missing was the door to the entire construction, the gods in panic for the imminent transfer of Freyja, the sun and the moon, gathered in assembly to find a way to not pay the builder and blamed Loki for having agreed to the pact, and ordered him to find a solution immediately.

With difficulty, Loki managed to convince the gods that, despite everything, nothing was still lost: with his art of deception he would have prevented the craftsman from completing the work. Seeing no other solution, the Asi left Loki free, threatening him with death if his plan was not successful.

The birth of Sleipnir

So Loki, taken by great fear, turned into a mare and seduced the mighty horse. That same evening, while he was carrying the heavy boulders, Svadhilfari heard a whinnying sound coming from the woods. The unmistakable equine call heralded the arrival of a graceful mare. That mare was truly a vision! Her mane swayed gently, following the agile movements directed by stupendous muscles, a true masterpiece that seemed to have come out of the workshop of a sculptor inspired by the gods. Moreover, the stallion’s nostrils were impregnated with that impalpable and indescribable odor that the sex of the mare spread all around. Svadhiìfari could not bear that torment for long: giving in to his instinct, he ripped the reins, ran away in the forest where he remained in his company all night and the following day.

In vain the master mason tried to capture the stallion and only at dawn, exhausted, Svadhiìfari returned to his master.  Now that the horse could no longer help him, the master realized that he would never be able to respect the pacts and finish the citadel in time. So the craftsman began to inveigh against everything and everyone. His bestial cries, a terrifying sound expression of infinite rage, resounded throughout Asgard, calling the attention of the Asi. The gods recognized in those inhuman sounds the typical fury of the evil inhabitants of Jótunheim, so they understood that the skilled builder was nothing but a giant.

The gods, unmasked the giant, as they were used to do in those cases, called Thor, who is the greatest enemy of the giants, on his arrival smashed his skull with a blow of his mighty hammer Mjolnir. The body of the giant went to join other infamous corpses in the depths of Hel.

After a certain time in fact the god Loki gave birth, among the general astonishment, to a magnificent foal, which had eight legs, all perfect. Only then was understood what subterfuge Loki had resorted to in order to distract the stallion of the giant from his work. And, between jokes and winks, they laughed at the strange sexual appetites of the god, whose effeminacy was already known: but this adventure went far beyond the boundaries of the unimaginable.

odin and his horse sleipnir

Odin riding Sleipnir

Only Odin, observing Loki’s steed galloping faster than the wind, found words of praise for Loki. And, remembering that they had once “mixed their blood” becoming brothers, he asked him the horse as a gift, because he was the fastest and most powerful of all the horses. The legend of Sleipnir horse was born.

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