Angerboda is the Witch of the Iron Wood; Mother of Wolves; Mother of the Apocalypse; Hag of the East Winds.

Angerboda’s name is related to “foreboding.” This witch goddess is a mysterious, fiercely independent, private spirit. It is not clear which, if any, of her known names is her true one. She may or may not be the same goddess as Gullveig. The two star in different but related myths that if strung together form a cohesive narrative. (There are also those who perceive them as independent, completely distinct spirits.)

Not only is Angerboda’s identity unclear, but she is also virtually impossible to classify: she may be a giantess, a troll-queen, a member of the Vanir pantheon, or some or all of the above. She may be Loki’s twin sister. She may be something so old, she defies definition. She is a shape-shifter, which accounts for some of this confusion.

Angerboda is a spirit of death and destruction as well as birth and life. She is Freya’s personal messenger. When a childless king and queen petition Freya’s help, she sends Angerboda to them in the form of a crow, bearing an apple of fertility. The queen quickly conceives and bears a healthy child.

The Vanir spirits are not confrontational; when the Aesir arrived in their territory, they initially observed them from a distance. The Aesir constructed halls, including Valhalla, from such massive quantities of gold that they shimmer and shine. The Vanir lack halls, living in a misty realm spun from magic spells. The gold awakened a fascination and longing: the Vanir dispatched Gullveig to get some.

Gullveig means “power of gold.” She may be Angerboda’s alter ego. She may also be known as Heid, the “shining” or “gleaming” one. Gullveig asks the Aesir for a gift of gold for the Vanir into whose territory they have moved. The response? The Aesir call her a witch and condemn her to death. Thor seizes and binds her. Gullveig/Angerboda is pierced with spears like a pig on a spit and roasted on a pyre. She burns, her ashes are scattered, and yet miraculously she reappears, alive and good as new. The Aesir recapture her and repeat their actions. Angerboda/Gullveig is burned and resurrected three times. (Norse deities are not immortal: she was expected to die, further confirming her identity as a witch to the Aesir.)

Twice Angerboda returned to life in Valhalla, but the third time she found herself in her home, the Iron Wood. She never reenters Asgard because the Aesir still long to destroy her. The Vanir, appalled at her treatment, declared war on the Aesir and attacked via magic spells, precipitating a brutal war between the pantheons.

Angerboda’s children include Hel, Queen of Death, the Midgard Serpent, the Fenris Wolf, and the wolves responsible for solar and lunar eclipses. Other sons are identified as werewolves. She is the grandmother of trolls.

• Angerboda is a weather deity, capable of raising storms.

• As the Hag of the East Winds, her songs drive ships right into storms.

• She can be petitioned for lessons in magic and to foretell future events.

Also known as:




Favored people:

Witches and those who protect wolves


A beautiful woman so radiant that she shines; an old emaciated iron-grey hag; a crow

Spirit allies:

Venerate her together with her children, grandchildren, Loki, and Vanir spirits, especially Freya. Do not venerate her side-by-side with Aesir spirits.


The Iron Wood (Iarnvid), the deep forest at the world’s edge

Sacred creatures:

Crow, wolf, snake




She rides a wolf using a snake for reins.


Decorate it with wolves and snakes, pieces of iron, and petrified wood. Give her the gold she once sought.

See Also:

  • Aegir
  • Aesir
  • Balder
  • Freya
  • Gerda
  • Hel
  • Herta
  • Loki
  • Odin
  • Thor
  • Vanir


Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses – Written by : Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes.

Angurboda (Angrbotha) (one who bodes danger or sorrow) In Norse mythology, a hideous giantess; wife of the fire-trickster god, Loki; mother of three monsters, the wolf Fenrir, the goddess of death (Hel), and the gigantic Midgard serpent. Angurboda appears in the Prose Edda.


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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