Friday, April 12, 2013

K is for Kraka; A to Z Blogging Challenge

#AtoZchallenge #kraka

In the Nordic Sagas, Kraka (770-842)(or Áslaug as was her real name) was the daughter of the Danish Viking chief, Sigurd Fafnesbane and Brynhild, one of the Valkyries, but she was brought up in a poor Norwegian family. 

Few women in history are portrayed with such skill, wit, power, and courage.  I'm proud to tell you about one of them. Today's post is about a woman from Norse mythology named Kraka, who prior to tonight, I knew very little about. Kraka was asked to solve a near impossible riddle which she did, with aplomb.

According to legend, Kraka had to solve this riddle before she could meet the Viking chief, Regnar Lodbrog, whom she would later marry. 

She was instructed to appear before him "neither clothed nor naked, neither eating nor fasting, and neither alone nor accompanied by anyone.Kraka solved the riddle by covering herself in her long hair fastened by a fishing net. She bit into an onion, not considered to be food to show she was not fasting. Then she made a dog accompany her.

Kraka, Aslaug, #AtoZchallenge
Image from Wikipedia.  No copyright infringement intended.  Used for educational purposes only.
Brilliant!  This is related to my "I" post about Iceland where I discovered my real life Viking ancestors strictly by chance!  You can read my "I IS FOR ICELAND" post here:

From the Mythology Dictionary:


        A queen of Denmark. Daughter of Sigurd (Siegfried) and Brunhild. Wife of Ragnar Lodbrok. Mother of Biorn, Hvitsek, Ivar, Rogenwald and Sigurd. 
       One version of the story of Sigurd and Brunhild says that they married and had a daughter called Aslaug who was reared by Brunhild's father. When he was exiled, the father took the child with him to Norway hidden inside a harp, which was broken open by a peasant couple who killed the old man. They made a slave of the girl, who they called Krake
       Ragnar Lodbrok, king of the Danes, came ashore near the hut where they lived and proposed to marry her. She agreed but deferred the wedding for a year to test his love. At the end of that time they were married and they had four children, Biorn, Hvitserk, Ivar and Rogenwald. When Ragnar was advised to put her aside in favor of a princess, Aslaug produced proof that she herself was high-born. She later gave birth to Sigurd the Snake-Eyed. 

Völsunga saga:  A depiction of Brynhildr (1919) by Robert Engels.
According to the Völsunga saga, Brynhildr (Kraka's mother) is a shieldmaiden. (a valkyrie) She was ordered to decide a fight between two kings, Hjalmgunnar and Agnar, and knew that Odin preferred the older king, Hjalmgunnar, yet she decided the battle for Agnar. 
For this Odin condemned her to live the life of a mortal woman, and imprisoned her in a remote castle behind a wall of shields on top of mount Hindarfjall, where she sleeps in a ring of flames until any man rescues and marries her. 
The hero Sigurðr Sigmundson (Siegfried), heir to the clan of Völsung and slayer of the dragon Fafnir, entered the castle and awoke Brynhildr by removing her helmet and cutting off her chainmail armour. The two fell in love and Sigurðr proposed to her with the magic ring Andvaranaut. 
About Andvaranaut:
In Norse mythology, Andvaranaut (Andvari's Gift), first owned by Andvari, is a magical ring that can make gold.
The mischievous god Loki tricked Andvari into giving him the Andvaranaut. 
In revenge, Andvari cursed the ring to bring destruction to whoever possessed it. 
Loki quickly gave the cursed Andvaranaut to Hreidmar, King of the Dwarves, as reparation for having inadvertently killed Hreidmar's son, Ótr. 
Ótr's brother, Fafnir, then killed Hreidmar and took the ring. 
Sigurd (Siegfried) later killed Fafnir and gave Andvaranaut to Brynhildr (Brünnehilde).
The story of Andvaranaut is one of the central themes of Richard Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung).
Also related to this topic are Vikings, Wagner, and Beowulf.  I am very proud to be a part of this timeline and to have ancestors who were Viking warriors.
Wagner's opera, Die Walkure, (The Valkyrie) can be heard below for free in its entirety. 

Also related to Kraka and Norse Mythology:

(Click title to read poem)
The Project Gutenberg EBook of Beowulf This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at Title: Beowulf An Anglo-Saxon Epic Poem, Translated From The Heyne-Socin Text by Lesslie Hall Author: Release Date: July 19, 2005 [EBook #16328] Language: English Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1 *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK BEOWULF *** Produced by David Starner, Dainis Millers and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at

There was also a film version of Beowulf.  You can view the film trailer below.

(This Viking Queen gives special thanks to my Paladin for suggesting Kraka.)