In the previous blog post, we have discussed why Thor had a pair of goats pulled his chariot. It was quite laughable to think about a muscular man with two goats and a chariot. But every detail in Norse mythology does have its meaning and so did the image of two goats. Odin the Allfather had a steed to carry him along the Nine Worlds. The horse was Sleipnir – an eight legged horse. But why it had to be a Sleipnir Horse of Odin then?
Sleipnir was a product of spontaneous love affair
The story went back to the time where Asgard still had no protective wall. A giant builder appeared in Asgard asking to build the wall for Asgard. The gods of course allowed him to build. However, the builder wanted Freya Goddess of War as his bride and he would build the impenetrable wall. He even wanted the Sun and the Moon for himself only.
The gods didn’t like this greedy builder. But Loki convinced them to let the builder build the fort by saying that the builder would never finish the fort in time. But Loki was wrong. The builder worked so effectively with his horse. Gods were angry because the giant was about to finish the wall and they was about to lose Freya and two beautiful stars. Gods demanded Loki to do something. If they lost Freya, Loki would lose his head too.
Loki who mastered at solving problems shapeshifted himself into a mare seducing the stallion of the giant. The stallion was captivated by Loki chasing him into the forest where they entertained each other for a night. And Sleipnir was the product of this spontaneous love affair.
Without the horse, the giant builder couldn’t finish his work in time.
No sources mentioned what motivated Loki to gift his son to his enemy (Odin). But quickly after, Sleipnir became Odin’s favorite steed that was responsible for carrying Odin around Nine Worlds.
Sleipnir Horse of Odin and Why it had to be a horse?
Sleipnir was not an ordinary horse. Not only was he a son of Loki but he was also a favorite steed of Odin. When Loki seduced the stallion, he turned into a mare which meant he mothered Sleipnir.
Sleipnir had eight legs instead of four. No horse in the cosmos could beat his speed. He could gallop on the land, through the air, and across the ocean. Wherever his master wanted to go, he could carry him there, from Asgard to Helheim the Underworld.
In one legendary poem from Hervarar saga ok Heiðreks, it said about the speed of Sleipnir the horse:
"Who are the twain that on ten feet run?
three eyes they have,
but only one tail.
Alright guess now this riddle, Heithrek!"
"Good is thy riddle, Gestumblindi,
and guessed it is:
that is Odin riding on Sleipnir
While the pair of Thor’s goats seemed very normal, the horse of Odin was not. To explain, Thor was not a leader but Odin was. The goats of Thor helped him look more friendly and easy to communicate with while the horse of Odin was somewhat out of the reach. Because after all, Odin was the King of Asgard ruling over Valhalla the Great Hall. Both gods offered blessings to men, yet hardly could we found occasion that Odin directly talked with humanity. But Thor did it often.
With the course of history, we often see the leaders rode on his horse to the front line. They were the symbol of wild spirit, freedom, and leading force. This fit all the qualities that Odin embodied. A horse was a friendly creature but it made the rider a little bit out of the reach compared with goats.