Aegir Lord of the Sea
Also known as: Eager
Origin: Norse Aegir literally means “sea.” In Norse cosmology, Aegir is the presiding spirit of the ocean. He may also be understood as actually being the ocean.
Aegir is incredibly ancient, primeval even. His nature as a deity is unclear: he is sometimes called a Jotun (Giant), but he may be so old that he predates Jotuns or any other known classification. Regardless of what he is, he is on generally good terms with other Norse spirits. They socialize in each other’s halls and realms. Aegir is a wonderful, generous host: invitations to his undersea parties are deeply coveted, at least by deities and perhaps by shamans or those engaging in visualization, although dreaded by seafarers. Aegir’s palace beneath the sea is also a realm of the dead. Those who die at sea or whose bodies end up in the ocean are believed to journey to his realm. However, as afterlife realms go, Aegir’s is particularly pleasant. There’s usually a huge party going on, with plenty of food and drink. Allegedly Aegir brews the best mead and ale in the whole world.
Aegir is beloved but feared. He protects seafarers, but he can also raise storms with huge waves and cause shipwrecks, if he chooses. Once upon a time, Saxon pirates threw prisoners overboard in the belief that this kept Aegir appeased. Aegir sometimes appears standing on the surface of the waters far out at sea; he makes himself visible to mariners, sometimes with protective intent, sometimes not. Petition him for safety on the seas and to reveal the secrets of the deep. Aegir knows everything; he is a well of knowledge and can theoretically fill any request or recruit another deity who can.
Favored people: Aegir is patron of brewers.
Manifestation: A large vigorous man with a long, flowing mane from which water flows. He’s proud of his beard and grooms it, adorning it with charms, seashells, sea plants, and beads. Aegir’s beard is the equivalent of a mermaid’s hair.
Attribute: A gigantic cauldron in which he brews mead and ale. (No matter how big you envision, it’s bigger.)
Consort: Ran (also his sister). They have nine daughters, the Nine Wave Sisters.
Sacred territory: All seven seas, but also Laeso Island near Denmark (once known as Hlesey Island, famed in the Middle Ages for its sea salt industry)
Offerings: Be generous. He’s a king. Give him objects reminiscent of the sea. Give him fine old coins (sailors once carried them so that in case they drowned, they wouldn’t arrive at Aegir’s hall empty-handed). Serve him mead and ale, acknowledging that you know it’s nowhere near as good as what he serves at home. (If you’re lucky, he’ll let you taste his brew someday.) An altar may be built for him, or offerings may be brought to the sea.
Aegir (the sea) In Norse mythology, a host of the gods, the sea god, brother of Kari, the air, and Loki, the fire-trickster god; married to Ran, his sister, father of nine daughters, the waves, or wave maidens. Like his brothers Kari and Loki, Aegir belonged to a primeval order of gods, older than the Aesir, the Vanir giants, dwarfs, or elves. Aegir was portrayed as a gaunt old man with long white hair and beard and ever-clutching, clawlike fingers. Whenever he appeared above the waters, it was to destroy ships and take the men and cargo to his underground kingdom. Aegir’s servants were Elde and Funfeng, who waited on guests in his banquet hall under the sea. In Anglo- Saxon mythology Aegir was called Eagor. Whenever an unusually large wave came thundering toward a ship, its sailors would cry, “Look out, Eagor is coming!” In ancient Saxon times one of every 10 prisoners was sacrificed to Aegir to ensure that the raiders would return safely. A ship was referred to by the kenning “Aegir’s horse.” Aegir also was known as Hlér or Ler (the shelterer) and Gymir (the concealer). In the Prose Edda he is said to be “well skilled in magic.” Aegir and Ran appear in William Morris’s Sigurd the Volsung and the Fall of the Niblungs.
Taken from the Encyclopedia of World Mythology and Legend, Third Edition – Written by Anthony S. Mercatante & James R. Dow
Copyright © 2009 by Anthony S. Mercatante
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