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Thor and the Midgard Serpent

Thor and the Midgard Serpent is a limited edition fine art replica print © 2006 Allen Bjorkman after an illumination, Iceland, 1765-66.

The tradition of making copies of Viking sagas by hand continued in Iceland until relatively modern times. I carved this linoleum block and hand printed it in a limited edition of 250 copies. The photo shows the very first print pulled. "Thor's Fishing Trip" was compiled from various sources.

Text translation: "Thor rows out with the Giant Hymir and pulls up the Midgard Serpent and purposefully strikes it with his hammer Mjollinar, just as the story says."

Thor's Fishing Trip

According to Norse tradition the World Serpent (Jormungandr) was one of three monstrous children of Loki (the trickster god) and the giantess Angrboda. The serpent grew at an alarming rate and the gods threw him into the sea. In the depths of the ocean the serpent continued to grow until he encircled the earth and lay with his tail in his mouth. The Edda reads:

"Thor disguised himself as a young boy and paid a visit to the Giant Hymir. During Thor1s stay Hymir decided to go on a fishing trip. Thor wanted to go with him and Hymir reluctantly agreed providing that his guest find his own bait. Thor found Hymir's biggest ox and pulled its head off.

They both set out to sea in Hymir's fishing boat. Thor rowed out too far and Hymir began to panic in case the Midgard Serpent should attack them. Thor got out the ox1s head, fastened it to a sturdy hook and hurled it over the side. The serpent took the bait straight away and pulled back in fury as the hook bit into its mouth. Thor exerted his divine strength, his feet reaching to the bottom of the sea, and drew the writhing serpent up to the boat. Fearing for his life Hymir cut the line allowing the serpent to escape. Furious, he knocked Hymir into the sea.

The serpent sank into the sea. But Thor threw his hammer after it, and they say that he struck off its head by the sea-bed. But I (Snorri Sturluson) think in fact the contrary is correct to report to you that the Midgard Serpent lives still and lies in the encircling sea."

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