Exploring Our Gods and Goddesses – Sigyn

We know very little about the Goddess Sigyn. Not much has survived from the pre-Christian era about this Goddess, yet despite the fact that little has survived, there is still much available to us to learn from.

Her name, appears to etymologically derive from two Old Norse words, sigr (victory) and vina (meaning girl-friend). This will cause some modern-day practitioners to hail Her in rites as “Victory Girlfriend” or the more poetic variation of this as “Victory Bringer.”

Appearances in Lore: Volupsa, Gylfaginning, Skaldskaparmal, Haustlong, Pulur, Þórsdrápa

  • She was counted among the Asyngr (the name given to the Goddesses among the Aesir).
  • She was wed to Loki, and with Him had two sons
  • As described in the lore, Loki’s two sons were slain, one forced to kill the other. The intestines of Her son was then used to bind Loki.  Sigyn stood at His side in Her grief, and held up a vessel to catch the poison that burned like acid, that dripped from the snake fixed above Him. Some of Loki’s kennings refer toHim as being the cargo of Her arms.
  • One of Her by-names, or kennings is “Incantation-Fetter” (used briefly in passing in Þórsdrápa). That name alone leads many to believe that She must have some talent with magic.

Because she’s mentioned in Haustlong (an older text and one of the few actually written by a pagan skald, and not a Christian scholar) I’ve seen scholarly speculation that she may be a Goddess from the older Germanic tradition, which carried into the later appearing Norse culture.

Appearance in Archaeology: Outside of these references in the ancient lore, we do have one believed artistic depiction of Her in Anglo-Saxon archaeology, specifically on the Gosforth Cross (found just outside St. Mary’s Church in Cumbria, England) where She appears depicted in conjunction with a bound Loki.

Gosforth_Cross_Loki_and_Sigyn

This depiction from the Gosforth Cross is believed to represent the scene of Sigyn holding the bowl to catch the snake’s venom as Loki lays bound.

Some known depictions in artwork during the 19th & 20th Centuries:

Sigyn Loki's Wife by H. G. Theaker
Sigyn Loki’s Wife –                                    by H. G. Theaker
Loki and Sigyn by Gebhardt
Loki and Sigyn –
by K. F. E. von Gebhardt.
Loki and Sigyn -  by M. E. Winge
Loki and Sigyn –
by M. E. Winge
Loki Bound by W. G. Collingwood
Loki Bound by W. G. Collingwood

A sampling of some modern day depictions in artwork during the 21st Century:

I’m also including some altar stones I had commissioned, since it’s so rare to find iconography of Her.

Loki & Sigyn Altar Stones

 For Sigyn we see on the front, the north star. That’s in part because this was a gift to a friend, who is the most devout Sigyn’s person I know and she calls Sigyn – Her North Star. But also because as we see in her steadfastness with Loki as He lays bound, She is a quiet presence, a presence of light in dark times, constant in Her loyalty. The back design with the flower and butterfly motif comes from my own interactions with Sigyn. To me she come across with two main aspects: the woman as mother, and the child. I have long personally associated Her with butterflies from my own personal gnosis. She is a Goddess of transformations, and who like a bird, or bee may transplant the pollen to allow for new growth, She also helps to encourage things in their growth. I’ve personally always found Her to be a fantastic Goddess to pray to when you want to grow and improve, or if there are any major health concerns (especially with children). With Loki I used the rune Dagaz for a symbol on the front, because Dagaz to me is like the yin/yang symbol, it is the balance of chaos and order, which to my mind embodies Loki. The back was inspired from the story in the myths where He turns into a fish. As a God of Magic and shapeshifting, I wanted to include an image of him in another form, and since ‘water’ is so opposite his usually described ‘fiery’ aspects… it also embodies the juxtaposition of dagaz as yin/yang. If anyone is interested in your own set, you can inquire with the artisan: CreativeArtandSoul on Etsy.

Correcting A Misperception: For the longest time I was perplexed by an odd modern trend where people are talking about this Goddess as an abused wife, as someone abused by Loki. There’s absolutely no reference in the lore to this ANYWHERE. So I was left wondering, why does this misinformation continue to crop up?

Apparently it’s a simple case of mistaken identity. Some folks are confusing Sigyn with the various Signys that appear in the lore. Each and ever occurrence of a Signy is conveying a human, mortal woman. Several of these women by the name of Signy had some pretty horrible things happen to them, such as being raped, or suffering from some injustice, etc.

Additionally, I would not be surprised if part of the reason why Sigyn is described sometimes as an abused wife, is because some of those who perceive Loki as evil incarnate, automatically assume that He must also be abusive. But we have nothing to suggest that he has ever been abusive to his wife, and in fact as we see in the ancient law codes (Gulaþing Law, etc.), a woman could divorce a husband if he struck her, and while more difficult, could also divorce because she was unhappy.

So How Does This Help Us Learn About Her: If we look at the etymology of her name Victory Girlfriend, and then her kenning of incantation-fetter, we see this Goddess begin to take on associations with both battle and magic. This suggests to me that she is skilled at the ability to magically ward and protect. Possibly also that she has in her nature, the ability to help to tame the wildness of Loki. Love can make a man who enjoyed sowing his oats settle down if its with the right woman.

We also can see that She is a Goddess that is a mother, and I have personally found her to be an excellent Goddess to call upon when someone is working vigil on a sick loved one, be it a child, a spouse, a sibling, a friend, a parent, etc. She is a Goddess who endures.

How you can explore more in books, meditations, rituals and prayers:

For those who enjoy the musings, prayers, poems, rituals, etc. from others who have worked with this Goddess, you may find the following Devotional texts Sigyn: Our Lady of the Staying Power, and the Feeding the Flame: A Devotional to Loki and His Family to be of interest.

Or if you’re so inclined you can set aside an hour’s worth of time, raid the kitchen for a large mixing bowl, and then fill it up with water. Then try just standing there, holding the water-filled bowl before you for that hour while you think and meditate upon Her.

I think I’ll leave you with this poem I wrote in honor of Her.

Do Her Cries Fill Your Ears?

Proud. Doting. Mother.
Devoted. Steadfast. Wife.
Forsaking neither
in cruel death or in life.

Drip. Drip. Falls the venom.
Drip. Drip. Fall Her tears.
Hands strain to hold steady.
The agony sears.

A Goddess of love
and Goddess of grief.
Encompassing-arms
that yet held Them too brief.

Proud. Doting. Mother.
Devoted. Steadfast. Wife.
Forsaking neither
in cruel death or in life.

This is an updated adaptation of a previous write-up I did for my Wyrd Designs column at Patheos that posted on June 24, 2011.
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