Jörmungand : le serpent des mers du Midgard

Jörmungand: The Midgard Sea Serpent

In Norse mythology, Jörmungand is the serpent of the seas that rules the ocean surrounding Midgard . Gigantic, the monster that has grown over the years is able to catch its own tail in its mouth. But then who is he really and where does he come from?

Who is the snake Jörmungand?

Who is Jormungand?

Jörmungand is also called Jörmungandr, or Midgard Serpent. He is a sea serpent, brought forth by Loki and the giantess Angrboda . Jörmungand has a brother, the wolf Fenrir , and a sister, Hel , goddess of the dead. It is told that each of Loki and Angrboda's children took the form of the animal that their parents themselves had assumed at the time of conception.

The Midgard Serpent is depicted and described as huge and ugly. Even if he weren't to exceed the size of a human baby when he was born. He is a mixture of serpent and dragon , and spits deadly venom. His gaze is terrifying and his teeth are sharp.

jormungand jewelry

As a youngster, Jörmungand was raised in the world of giants where he was conceived, in Jötunheim . It is the god Odin who throws the sea serpent to the bottom of the ocean following an ominous prophecy. This announced that the Aesir would be decimated by the children of Loki. Once at the bottom of the water, the serpent grows and encircles Midgard, until it bites its tail .

In the Edda the legend is related as follows: "He threw the serpent into the deep sea that was all around the land, but it grew so large that, living in the middle of the sea, it now surrounds all the land and bites itself. tail ".

The representation of the snake biting its tail is called the Ouroboros . When it moves at the bottom of the water, Jörmungand also causes tidal waves.

What does "Jormungand" mean?

Jörmungand means "huge monster" in Old Norse.

The Midgard Serpent and its enemy, Thor

Jormungand and Thor

Thor , the god of thunder , is the sworn enemy of Jörmungand . The god and the sea monster meet a total of three times.

The first meeting takes place in the hall of the giant Utgarda-Loki when the gods are invited there. The latter, in order to achieve some mockery, then asks Thor to lift a cat as high as possible. What the god immediately does, convinced of his strength. But as he lifts the animal, it grows, so that its legs (except one) always remain on the ground. The thunder god is upset. But obviously, the scene makes all the giants present laugh. It is only the next day that Thor learns from the giant that it was in fact Jörmungand, transformed for the occasion into a cat , and that the challenge was only a joke.

The myth of this first encounter is depicted on four runestones that have been found.

The second encounter takes place at sea . Jörmungand has since been sent into the ocean by Odin, and it's time for Thor to take on the monster. The god of thunder therefore goes to the port in order to find a boat on which to sail. The only boat he finds there belongs to the giant Ymir, completely afraid to go to sea when Jörmungand was awake.

Out of the question for Thor to abandon his plans. He therefore does not tell Ymir about it and pays him a more than reasonable sum to take him out to sea. With him, the god carries in the boat a strong fishing line .

Once at sea and after fishing a little, Thor hangs an ox's head on the end of his line as bait for the Midgard serpent. The latter ends up taking the bait and Thor only has to pull with all his might to bring him to the surface.

As the monster's head appears and Thor is about to strike it with his hammer, the giant Ymir gets scared and cuts the fishing line. Jörmungand therefore dives back and disappears in the deep waters.

The third and final encounter between the sea monster and Thor takes place during Ragnarök .

Jörmungand and Ragnarök

Jormungand Ragnarok

Legend has it that the Ragnarök – apocalyptic battle – begins when the Midgard Serpent lets go of its tail .

After a three-year sunless winter, Jörmungand is beginning to feel quite uncomfortable in the icy waters that surround Midgard. The monster then causes a tidal wave and, while it splashes the world with its tail, it projects poison before emerging out of the water.

The Edda recounts the scene: “Then the ocean will break over the land, because the Midgarde serpent, seized by its giant fury, will reach the shore. The Midgard Serpent will breathe so much venom that it will spray the whole air and the sea."

During this prophetic end of the world, Thor and Jörmungand meet one last time . Face to face, the god and the sea monster fight. Thor kills Jörmungand , but also ends up dying of his wounds . “Thor will slay the Midgard Serpent and take another nine steps before he falls dead to the ground, due to the venom that the serpent will spit on him”, is it written in the Edda.

The Midgard Serpent and its contemporary depictions

Jormungand God of War

Jörmungand first appears in the writings of Snorri's Edda , and is first depicted on various runestones . But since then, his image has been taken many times.

Marvel comics feature the sea monster. His fight with the god Thor is represented there in the numbers 272 and 273 of the summer of 1978.

He then appeared in many video games, starting with Final Fantasy. Jörmungand also inspires World of Warcraft, Tomb Raider, Magicka or even God of war 4.

Jormungand tattoos

We have produced a complete article on the viking tattoos you can visit.

The Midgard Serpent is a popular tattoo. It symbolizes both fertility and death . It can be performed on the whole of an arm, around the shoulders, or even smaller around a vegvisir.

In order to give you ideas, here are also Jormungand tattoo images :

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