(Last Updated On: November 21, 2010)
About a year ago, I wrote a blog about Ullr after coming upon the realization that this Norse god was indeed not the god of snow, but rather the God of Skiing. Shortly thereafter, I was introduced to Skade through the book Two Planks and a Passion. In this book, Huntford refers to Skade as the Ski Goddess. Could she be the female counterpart to Ullr? I decided to investigate.
Who was Skade?
Skade is the Viking and goddess associated with bowhunting, skiing, winter, and mountains. She is commonly referred to as the Goddess of Skiing and the Goddess of Winter. In my opinion, this automatically gives her a step-up on Ullr. Ullr is not the God of Winter! Sometimes Skade is called the Goddess of Winter Hunting, Snow-shoeing, and of the Shadows.
Other names for Skade
Skaði, Skadi, or Skathi
“Ondurdis” – goddess of skiing
Skade is the daughter of the giant Thiazi. Thiazi’s death has a is detailed in a few different accounts that differ. But one story says that Thiazi was killed by the Gods for stealing apples. The Gods wanted to pay Skade for her father’s death in gold, but she demanded a husband instead.
Though Skade lusted after a beautiful god named Baldur, she supposedly made a bargain with the other Viking gods that she should choose her husband by looking at his feet rather than his face. She did so, and choose Njord, the lord of the seas. Njord wanted Skade to live by the sea, but Skade’s heart was in the mountains (yeah, another reason why she’s a super cool goddess). The two could never agree on where to live and their marriage did not last.
Skade’s marriage with Njord is consistent in multiple sources, but beyond that, accounts of Skade’s story differ. Some accounts say she then married Odin, God of Wisdom (among other things). Odin was eventually killed by a wolf, Fenrir, a who was the son of the Fire-God Loki. Loki was a shape-shifter and there are numerous sources who detail hostile encounters between Skade and Loki. Some other accounts say Skade eventually ran off with Ullr himself, since they obviously had so much in common.
Like many females, Skade is overlooked. We’ve heard of the Norse gods Odin, Ullr, and Loki. But, who has really heard of Skade? Those people are few and far between. Still, no one can deny Skade’s importance to skiers and winter-lovers alike. Ullr and Skade should be thought of together, not separate, as the God and Goddess of Skiing. And when it comes to “pray for snow”, we should look to the skies for Skade instead of Ullr. Afterall, she is the Goddess of Winter 🙂
Depictions of Skade
Photo courtesy of Valhalla
Photo courtesy of Absolute Astronomy
Norse Mythology by Rasmus Björn Anderson
Norse Mythology A to Z by Kathleen N. Daly, Marian Rengel
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