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Eikthyrnir: The Stag of Valhalla

I always find the animals among the Gods as a favorite of mine to study such as Ratatoskr, Hraesvelgr, Hildisvini, Huginn and Muninn, etc. Unfortunately in some cases very little is known beyond a few mentions in text. Today I wanted to share about one I really like which is Eikþyrnir, the stag of Valhalla.

Eikþyrnir or Eikthyrnir (Old Norse “oak-thorny”) is a stag which stands upon Valhalla.

Eikþyrnir heitir hiörtr, (Eikthyrnir the hart is called,)

er stendr á höllo Heriaföðrs (that stands o’er Odin’s hall,)

ok bítr af Læraðs limom; (and bits from Lærad’s branches;)

en af hans hornom (from his horns fall)

drýpr i Hvergelmi, (drops into Hvergelmir,)

þaðan eigo vötn öll vega (whence all waters rise)

Grímnismál

The stag Eikþyrnir stands on the roof of Valhall and eats from the branches of the World-Tree, here called Læraðr. Valhall appears to be depicted as a hall similar to the one described in Völsunga saga, ch. 2. Thus the stag, standing on its roof, can eat from the tree.

“Svo er sagt að Völsungur konungur lét gera höll eina ágæta og með þeim hætti að ein eik mikil stóð í höllinni og limar trésins með fögrum blómum stóðu út um ræfur hallarinnar en leggurinn stóð niður í höllina og kölluðu þeir það barnstokk.”

“It is said that King Volsung had an excellent palace built in this fashion: a huge tree stood with its trunk in the hall and its branches, with fair blossoms, stretched out through the roof. They called the tree Barnstock.” (Jesse Byock translation.)

1 Eik means oak but the Icelanders often used the word as a general term for tree.

2 Barnstokkr literally means child-trunk (Bairnstock), although it is not clear that this was its original meaning. In the passage the tree is called eik (oak). A few passages farther on it is called apaldr (apple tree), another general term for tree. Apaldr, however, may have a further symbolic meaning, possibly associated with the apple tree of the goddess Idunn. Barnstokkr may also be identified with the world tree Yggdrasil.

Eikþyrnir, the name of the stag, is most commonly translated as ‘Oak-Thorn’, and taken as a reference to its antlers. SOURCE

Further Resources:

Eikthyrnir – Mythical Male Deer And Heidrun She-Goat Stand On The Top Of Valhalla

Otherworld streams and rivers in Norse mythology

Eikthyrnir and Heidrun: The Stag and the Goat that Dwelled in Asgard

Heidrun and Eikthyrnir

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