Kvasir – Norse god of poetry and wisdom

When the war between the Vanir and the Aesir ended it was decided that all the gods from both the branches should spit in a huge barrel.

The blending of the saliva was a symbol of truce between the two families of gods.

Kvasir is created

From the saliva Odin created a new god. The new god was named Kvasir. As Kvasir was created from the saliva of all the gods combined, one can only imagine how wise he was.

It was told Kvasir could answer any question. Kvasir got his name from “kvase” which was what the Vikings called their bitter beer.

In Viking times it was common to use spit in the process of brewing beer as it sped along the yeasting. His name means “spittle”.

Kvasir is murdered

One horrible day Kvasir went out for a walk. Two dwarfs met up with him. They were named Fjalar and Galar.

They were desperate to gain the wisdom of Kvasir and saw only one solution. The two dwarfs murdered Kvasir. They took the blood of Kvasir and mixed it with honey. Anyone who drank this mixture would gain some of the wisdom of Kvasir and the gift of poetry.

Gilling gets killed

Now these two dwarfs had more murders on their conscience. Once they had convinced a giant named Gilling to row them out on a lake.

The dwarfs then sank the boat. The two dwarfs held on to part of the wreckage and paddled back to shore. They left Gilling to drown.

Once Gilling was dead the two dwarfs went to inform his wife. The dwarfs hid on her roof. When the wife of Gilling ran outside the dwarfs dropped a giant stone on her head and she fell dead to the ground.

Suttung wants revenge

Now the son of Gilling named Suttung was furious and wanted revenge. He gathered all the dwarfs and placed them on a rock in the sea threatening to leave them there to die. The dwarfs were terrified and promised to give Suttung the Kvasir mixture if he would let them live.

Suttung agreed. He took the mixture and hid it in a mountain. His daughter Gunnlod was given the assignment to guard the Kvasir mead.

How Odin got the Kvasir mead.

The Aesir were determined to get hold of the Kvasir mead. They believed it was rightfully theirs as Odin had created Kvasir from their saliva.

Odin disguised himself and got a job working for Baugi, the brother of Suttung.

Odin asked to taste the mead as payment for a job well done.

Baugi refused this request.

He did however convince Baugi to drill a small hole in the mountain. Odin transformed himself into a snake and crept in. Once inside he spent three nights with Gunnlod making love to her. In return she agreed to let him have three sips of the mead.

Gunnlod is described as a beautiful and kind woman. Odin quickly drank all the mead. Odin betrayed Gunnlod once he got the mead.

It was only the mead he was interested in. In hast he changed himself into an eagle and flew back to Asgard with lightning speed.

In Asgard he then spit out all the Kvasir mead into three jars. Finally the gods had secured the Kvasir mead in Asgard until the end of time.

Anyone who drank the Kvasir mead received the gift of poetry and wisdom.