In Old Norse , Jörmungandr means "Great Beast". It is also called " the Midgard Serpent " in Norse mythology because it is a gigantic serpent that lives in the sea encircling Midgard. He is the son of Loki the evil god and the giantess Angrboda , his brother is the wolf Fenrir and his sister is the underworld goddess Hel . Jörmungandr was thrown into the sea by the god Odin because it was predicted that he would wreak havoc among the gods . It grows so large that it is able to grab hold of its tail and eventually surrounds Midgard . He will cause the seas to rage by letting go of his tail during Ragnarök . Jörmungandr worst enemy is the god Thor .
THE VIKING WORLD SNAKE
Before being cast into the sea, Jörmungandr was raised in the world of giants with his brother and sister.
The First Meeting of Thor and Jörmungandr
Snorri recites in the Edda that in harboring Thor and his companions, Utgarda-Loki had issued challenges to them. One of them, done by Thor, was to lift his cat. But he only managed to get a paw off the cat. They later learn that the cat is none other than Jörmungandr disguised by a subterfuge of Utgardia-Loki .
Thor's Fishing Party
Thor goes on a fishing trip with the giant Hymir. The latter refused to give him a bait, so Thor tore off the head of one of his oxen to make some. They rowed to the spot where Hymir usually fished. Hymir who feared the Midgard Serpent did not want to go further, but Thor demanded that he row further offshore.
Then Thor would prepare a big line and tie the ox's head on the hook. The hook sank into Jörmungandr 's palace and he was pulled out of the water. Thor then raised his hammer to strike him, but Hymir getting scared cut Thor 's line and Jörmungandr escaped.
The account about this encounter is one of the most popular among Norse myths . This is proven by the fact that there are four engraved stones from the time of the Vikings which symbolize it. The Stone of Altuna , the Stone of Ardre VIII , the Stone of Hordum , and the Cross of Gosforth .
It is on the stone of Ardre VIII that we see it best illustrated. There is a man who enters a house where there is an ox. Then two men fishing with spears.
This stone correctly represents the story, it dates from the 18th and 9th centuries. We can therefore deduce that the myth was represented 500 years before its recording in the Prose Edda around the year 1220.
Thor and Jörmungandr during Ragnarök
Thor and Jormungant were destined to meet during Ragnarök . Jörmungandr came out of the water, caused a tidal wave and fought against Thor. The latter struck him with his hammer and killed him. After taking nine steps, he too died because of its venom .
Jörmungandr was already present in the religion of the Germanic tribes, and the pre-Christian religions bear witness to this. Indeed, in the Middle Ages, when there were earthquakes, they considered that it was the movements of the serpent of the world that caused them. It would have represented the ocean and its dangers. The movements of the waves embodied its undulations.