Loki is one of the most important characters in Norse mythology. Other than maybe Odin or Thor, he appears in so many of the different stories. In the myths it isn’t clear if he is on the side of the Aesir gods, working with the giants or rather just interested in himself.
In fact, in the final battle of Ragnarok, much of the chaos and destruction is a consequence of the actions of Loki. Which brings us to the topic of Loki’s children. Loki had a few different children with different partners. Some of those children are incredibly important in the fate of the Aesir gods. So let’s dive in. Who are Loki’s children?
Loki has a number of children with different gods or creatures. Loki and his wife the Vanir goddess Sigyn give birth to two sons Narfi and Vali. Loki in union with the horse Svadilfari gives birth to an 8 legged horse called Sleipnir which is later given as a gift to Odin. And Loki and the giant Angrboða give birth to the a serpent Jörmungandr who lives in the waters surrounding Midgard, the goddess of the underworld Hel, and a monsterous wolf Fenrir who kills Odin at Ragnarok.
The children of Loki are very interesting characters in the Norse myths. We should look at each of the characters in some more details and dive into the myths surrounding them.
Narfi and Vali
Loki lived amongst the Aesir and Vanir gods. When he was there he took as a wife the Vanir goddess Sigyn. By all accounts they had a good early marriage and together they gave birth to the sons Narfi and Vali.
As time goes by, the marriage begins to sour. Loki spends more and more time outside of Asgard and Sigyn becomes increasingly despondent at the whole relationship.
Towards the end of the Norse myths, Loki is hunted by his fellow gods. When he is captured he is taken to a cave by Thor and Kvasir where they find Sigyn, Narfi and Vali waiting for them.
Kvasir transforms Vali into a wolf and forces him to murder his brother Narfi. The gods then use the entrails of Narfi to bind Loki. While he is bound his wife Sigyn watches over her husband and remains loyal.
Sleipnir is an 8 legged horse which is born from the union of Loki in horse form with a horse called Svadilfari. Svadilfari is the work horse of a stone giant who works for the Aesir gods.
A stranger visits Asgard one day with an offer. He is granted an audience with the Aesir gods and offers to build a wall in one season around Asgard in exchange for the sun, the moon and the hand of the goddess Freya in marriage. The gods agree to the offer, with some persuasion from Loki, believing that the stranger has no chance of completing the task.
To the surprise of the gods the stranger is an incredibly fast and able worker, using his horse Svadilfari to carry a lot of the stones and help greatly in the construction of the wall. As the winter comes to an end and the deadline approaches it looks likely that the stranger will complete the task on time.
The gods call a meeting and they display great anger towards Loki for persuading them to agree to the offer. The quick thinking Loki suggest to the gods that he can thwart the stranger in his attempt to build the wall.
That evening, when the stranger is gathering the his tools to head into the mountains to quarry the last batch of stone, Loki transforms into a female horse. He gets the attention of Svadilfari and lures him into the forest away from his master.
Loki and Svadilfari actually don’t return for almost a year. Without the help of his horse, the stranger fails to complete the wall and the gods are able to keep the sun, the moon and Freya.
Loki does eventually return with a smaller horse called Sleipnir. The other gods assume this is his son. Loki gives Sleipnir as a gift to Odin. The horse was said to be the strongest and fastest in all the world and could outrun the wind.
Odin would ride Sleipnir into battle and take him on many adventures.
Jörmungandr, Hel and Fenrir
As the marriage of Loki and Sigyn began to get worse and worse, Odin demanded to speak with Loki. Odin said that he had seen Loki sneaking away to the land of the giants, Jotunheim, and that he knew he had three children with the giant Angrboða.
Odin was anxious about these children and had visions that they would be involved in the final battle at Ragnarok and that they might lead to the demise of the Aesir gods.
Odin sent Thor and Tyr to go to Jotunheim and to bring back the children of Loki. The gods encountered some troubles getting to Jotunheim but once they arrived at the hall of Angrboða they didn’t have much trouble finding Jörmungandr, Hel and Fenrir and bringing them back to Asgard. In fact, the gods suspected that Angrboða and the other giants had made it intentionally easy to bring the children back.
Odin, now, had to deal with each of the children. Jörmungandr was a huge serpent and so Odin decided to put it into the deep dark waters surrounding Midgard. Here it would grow even bigger than before.
Hel was half dead, half alive and often talked of her fondness for the company of the dead. Odin therefore decided to have her watch over the underworld and keep charge of those humans who died from sickness and old age.
Fenrir was feared by Odin most of all. He twice attempted to bind the beast with chains made by the dwarfs. Each time the monsterrous wolf was able to break free. On the third attempt, the dwarfs used their best material for the chains. This time the wolf was bound. Fenrir felt betrayed at this betrayal and ripped off the hand of Tyr as revenge.
What Happened to Loki’s Children?
In the final battle of Ragnarok, two of the children of Loki play an important role. Jörmungandr fights Thor in a terrible battle. Thor gets the upper hand and kills the great serpent, but the venom of Jörmungandr has caused to much damage and Thor eventually succumbs to the poison.
Odin fights Fenrir, but the wolf is bigger and stronger than anything Odin has fought before. The mouth of the wolf is so large that he is able to swallow Odin whole. The son of Odin, Vidar, seeing his father die and after much hardship is able to kill the wolf and get vengeance.
Loki and his children are very important in the Norse myths. The different roles played the children contribute greatly towards the events that befall the gods.
There is much tragedy in how everything ends. Loki, Jörmungandr and Fenrir all die on the battlefield of Ragnarok. But it certainly makes for a good story.
Thanks for taking the time to read this overview of the children of Loki. If you find stories about the creatures of Norse mythology interesting then feel free to check out this article. If you want to know more about the creation myth then check out this article. Enjoy!