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Nordic Salt Legends

Dear Viking Answer Lady:

We are an offshore survey company that has an instrument which acquires data related to subsurface structures. We like to name our equipment after local folklore having to do with salt. Example: our instrument in the Gulf of Mexico is called Huixtocihuatl (the Aztec goddess of salt). Please help us out by giving your suggestion of a name we could use for our instrument in the North Sea. Viking mythology related to salt would be great.

(signed) A Pair of Old Salts


Gentle Reader:

There are several related Fenno-Scandian myths dealing with how the ocean became salt, the tale of the Sampo from Finland and the tale of the Grotti from Scandinavia. These salt legends all are based around a central concept, that of a hand-mill being used to grind salt, grain, or ore.

Hand-Quern Millstone The hand-mill used in Viking Age Scandinavia consisted of a flat, stationary stone with another on top, the top stone being turned by a handle fixed at the edge and pierced through in the middle where the raw material to be ground was introduced. Turning such a mill was heavy, laborious work, and almost always reserved for thralls or slaves. It is no wonder that in areas where such mills were used that legends would arise of a magical mill that would turn of itself, and from there it is only a short leap to an even more magical mill that will produce wondrous things from nothing.

Interestingly enough, the tale of the magic salt mill, grinding away on the sea floor, is actually truer than one might suspect. Scientists began discovering hydrothermal vents in the 1970s and have found that many minerals, including salt, make their way into the sea through these vents: in other words, the hydrothermal vents act like the Fenno-Scandic "magic salt mill" at the bottom of the sea1. 

Links to the Salt Legends of Finland and Scandinavia


The first of the Northern salt legends comes from Finland, told in the Finnish national epic, the Kalevala, of how Ilmarinen, the master-smith of the gods, made a magic mill, which he called the Sampo.

The Finnish Master-Smith, Ilmarinen Then the smith named Ilmarinen
Answered in the words which follow (l. 270)
"I will go to forge the Sampo,
Weld its brightly-colored cover,
From the tips of swans' white wing-plumes,
From the milk of barren heifer,
From a little grain of barley, (l. 275)
From the wool of sheep of summer,
For 'twas I who forged the heavens,
And the vault of air I hammered,
'Ere the air had yet beginning
Or a trace of aught was present." (l. 280)

Then he went to forge the Sampo,
With its brightly-colored cover,
Sought a station for a smithy,
And he needed tools for labor;
But no place he found for smithy, (l. 285)
Nor for smithy, nor for bellows,
Nor for furnace, nor for anvil,
Not a hammer, nor a mallet.

Then the smith, e'en Ilmarinen,
Spoke aloud the words which follow: (l. 290)
"None despair, except old women,
Scamps may leave their task unfinished;
Not a man, how weak so ever,
Not a hero of the laziest!"

For his forge he sought a station, (l. 295)
And a wide place for the bellows,
In the country round about him,
In the outer fields of Pohja.

So he sought one day, a second,
And at length upon the third day (l. 300)
Found a stone all streaked with colors,
And a mighty rock beside it;
Here the smith his search abandoned,
And the smith prepared his furnace,
On the first day fixed the bellows, (l. 305)
And the forge upon the second.

Thereupon smith Ilmarinen,
He the great primeval craftsman,
Heaped the fuel upon the fire,
And beneath the forge he thrust it, (l. 310)
Made his servants work the bellows,
To the half of all their power.

So the servants worked the bellows,
To the half of all their power.
During three days of the summer, (l. 315)
During three nights of the summer,
Corns beneath their heels were growing,
And upon their toes were blisters.

Ilmarinen Checks the Forge

On the first day of their labor
He himself, smith Ilmarinen, (l. 320)
Stooped him down, intently gazing,
To the bottom of the furnace,
If perchance amid the fire
Something brilliant had developed.

From the flames there rose a crossbow,(l. 325)
Golden bow from out the furnace;
'Twas a gold bow tipped with silver,
And the shaft shone bright with copper.

And the bow was fair to gaze on,
But of evil disposition: (l. 330)
And a head each day demanded,
And on feast-days two demanded.

He himself, smith Ilmarinen,
Was not much delighted with it,
So he broke the bow to pieces, (l. 335)
Cast it back into the furnace,
Made his servants work the bellows,
To the half of all their power.

So again upon the next day,
He himself, smith Ilmarinen, (l. 340)
Stooped him down, intently gazing,
To the bottom of the furnace,
And a boat rose from the furnace,
From the heat rose up a red boat,
And the prow was golden-colored, (l. 345)
And the rowlocks were of copper.

And the boat was fair to gaze on,
But of evil disposition:
It would go to needless combat,
And would fight when cause was lacking. (l. 350)

Therefore did smith Ilmarinen
Take no slightest pleasure in it.
And he smashed the boat to splinters,
Cast it back into the furnace;

Made his servants work the bellows, (l. 355)
To the half of all their power.
Then upon the third day likewise,
He himself, smith Ilmarinen,
Stooped him down, intently gazing,
To the bottom of the furnace, (l. 360)
And a heifer then rose upward,
With her horns all golden-shining,
With the Bear-stars on her forehead;
On her head appeared the Sun-disc.

And the cow was fair to gaze on, (l. 365)
But of evil disposition;
Always sleeping in the forest,
On the ground her milk she wasted.

Therefore did smith Ilmarinen
Take no slightest pleasure in her, (l. 370)
And he cut the cow to fragments,
Cast her back into the furnace,
Made his servants work the bellows,
To the most of all their power.

So again upon the fourth day, (l. 375)
He himself, smith Ilmarinen,
Stooped him down, and gazed intently,
To the bottom of the furnace,
And a plow rose from the furnace,
With the plow-share golden-shining (l. 380)
Golden share, and frame of copper,
And the handles tipped with silver.

And the plow was fair to gaze on,
But of evil disposition,
Plowing up the villiage cornfields, (l. 385)
Plowing up the open meadows.

Therefore did smith Ilmarinen
Take no slightest pleasure in it;
And he broke the plow to pieces,
Cast it back into the furnace, (l. 390)
Called the winds to work the bellows
To the utmost of their power.

Then the winds arose in fury,
Blew the east wind, blew the west wind,
And the south wind yet more strongly, (l. 395)
And the north wind howled and blustered.
Thus they blew one day, a second,
And upon the third day likewise.
Fire was flashing from the windows,
From the door the sparks were flying (l. 400)
And the dust arose to heaven;
With the clouds the smoke was mingled.

The Sampo

Then again smith Ilmarinen,
On the evening of the third day,
Stooped him down, and gazed intently, (l. 405)
To the bottom of the furnace;
And he saw the Sampo forming,
With its brightly-colored cover.

Thereupon smith Ilmarinen,
He the great primeval craftsman, (l. 410)
Welded it and hammered at it,
Heaped his rapid blows upon it,
Forged with cunning art the Sampo:
On one side there was a corn-mill,
On another side a salt-mill, (l. 415)
And upon the third a coin-mill.

Now was grinding the new Sampo,
And revolved the pictured cover,
Chestfuls did it grind 'til evening,
First for food it ground a chestful, (l. 420)
And another ground for barter,
And a third it ground for storage.

One side would grind out grain, the next side would grind out gold, and the third side would grind out salt -- with these things a family could be happy forever.

However the wicked Louhi, Dame of the North Farm, heard of the Sampo and resolved to have it for her own. She cast a spell over Ilmarinen's forge, and then drove her sledge in and stole the magic mill.

Now rejoiced the Crone of Pohja,
And conveyed the bulky Sampo
To the rocky hills of Pohja,
And within the Mount of Copper, (l. 425)
And behind nine locks secured it;
There it struck its roots around it,
Fathoms nine in depth that measured,
One in Mother Earth deep-rooted,
In the strand the next was planted, (l. 430)
In the nearest mount the third one.

The Sampo was set up in a strong room behind nine locks, and each day it ground out a sack of grain, a sack of gold, and a sack of salt for its new mistress.

Ilmarinen soon found out that the Sampo was gone, and set off to recover it. Along the way he gathered the rest of the great Finnish Kalevala heroes: Väinämöinen and Lemminkäinen, and they went together to recover the Sampo (Runo XXXIX).

Along the way they had many adventures, one of which involved a giant pike which the heroes killed (Runo XL). Ilmarinen took the pike's bones and crafted a magical kantele (a type of harp) for Väinämöinen, who used it to work magic. Finally, the band of heroes reached Pohja where they would recover the Sampo (Runo XLII):

Väinämöinen, old and steadfast,
In the stern himself was seated,
And he steered the vessel onward, (l. 20)
Through the waves he steered it onward,
Through the foaming waves he steered it,
Steered it o'er the foam-capped billows,
Unto Pohja's distant havens,
To his well-known destination. (l. 25)

When they reached the goal they sought for,
And the voyage at length was ended,
To the land they drew the vessel,
Up they drew the tarry vessel,
Laid it on the steely rollers, (l. 30)
At the quay with copper edging.

After this the house they entered,
Crowding hastily within it;
Then did Pohjola's old Mistress,
Ask the purport of their coming: (l. 35)
"Men, what tidings do you bring us,
What fresh news, O heroes, bring you?"

Väinämöinen, old and steadfast,
Answered in the words which follow:
"Men are speaking of the Sampo, (l. 40)
Heroes of its pictured cover.
We have come to share the Sampo,
And behold its brilliant cover.

Then did Pohjola's old Mistress
Answer in the words which follow: (l. 45)
Two men cannot share a grouseling,
Nor can three divide a squirrel,
And the Sampo loud is whirring,
And the pictured cover grinding,
Here in Pohjola's stone mountain, (l. 50)
And within the hill of copper.
I myself rejoice in welfare,
Mistress of the mighty Sampo."

Väinämöinen, old and steadfast,
Answered in the words which follow: (l. 55)
"If you will not share the Sampo,
Give us half to carry with us,
Then the Sampo, all entire,
To our vessel we will carry."

Louhi, Pohjola's old Mistress, (l. 60)
Heard him with the greatest anger,
Called together all her people,
Summoned all her youthful swordsmen,
Bade them all to aim their weapons
At the head of Väinämöinen. (l. 65)

Väinämöinen, old and steadfast,
Took the kantele and played it,
Down he sat and played upon it,
And began a tune delightful;
All who listened to his playing (l. 70)
Heard it with delight and wonder,
And the men were all delighted,
And the women's mouths were laughing,
Tears from heroes eyes were falling,
Boys upon the ground were kneeling. (l. 75)
At the last their strength forsook them,
And the people all were wearied;
All the listeners sank in slumber,
On the ground sank all beholders,
Slept the old and slept the youthful, (l. 80)
All at Väinämöinen's playing.

Then the crafty Väinämöinen,
He the great primeval minstrel,
Put his hand into his pocket,
And he drew his purse from out it, (l. 85)
And sleep-needles took he from it,
And their eyes he plunged in slumber,
And their eyelashes crossed tightly,
Locked their eyelids close together,
Sank the people all in slumber. (l. 90)

Into sleep he plunged the heroes,
And they sank in lasting slumber
And he plunged in languid slumber
All the host of Pohja's people,
All the people of the village. (l. 95)

Then he went to fetch the Sampo,
And beheld its pictured cover,
There in Pohjola's stone mountain,
And within the hill of copper.
Nine the locks that there secured it, (l. 100)
Bars secured it, ten in number.

Then the aged Väinämöinen
Gently set himself to singing
At the copper mountain's entrance,
There beside the stony fortress; (l. 105)
And the castle doors were shaken,
And the iron hinges trembled.

Thereupon smith Ilmarinen,
Aided by the other heroes,
Overspread the locks with butter, (l. 110)
And with lard he rubbed the hinges,
That the doors should make no jarring,
And the hinges make no creaking.
Then the locks he turned with fingers,
And the bars and bolts he lifted, (l. 115)
And he broke the locks to pieces,
And the mighty doors were opened.

Despite having the doors opened, the three heroes still could not easily make off with the Sampo, for it had magically grown roots into the sea, into the mountain, and deep into the earth below it. Lemminkäinen tried to shift the magic mill, but he could not budge it. Finally, the heroes found the largest bull in Pohja, hitched it to a plow, and plowed up the roots of the Sampo, freeing it from bondage. They all seized hold and carried it to their ship, and prepared to sail back to their southern homeland.

The Heroes Escape with the Sampo The heros started their voyage southwards back to Finland, but Louhi awoke and found her prize was gone. Louhi was a powerful witch, and summoned up a fog and storms to stop the heroes.

Louhi, Pohjola's old Mistress,
Fell into the greatest fury,
But she felt her strength was failing, (l. 335)
And her power had all departed,
So she prayed to the Cloud-Maiden:
Maiden of the Clouds, Mist-Maiden,
Scatter from thy sieve the cloudlets,
And the mists around thee scatter, (l. 340)
Send the thick clouds down from heaven,
Sink thou from the air of vapor,
O'er the broad sea's shining surface,
Out upon the open water,
On the head of Väinämöinen, (l. 345)
Falling onto Uvantolainen!

But if this is not sufficient,
Iku-Turso, son of Äijö,
Lift thy head from out the water,
Raise thy head above the billows, (l. 350)
Crush thou Kaleva's vile children,
Sink thou down the wicked heroes
In the depths beneath the billows,
Bring to Pohjola the Sampo,
Let it fall not from the vessel! (l. 355)
But if this is not sufficient,
Ukko, thou of gods the highest,
Golden king in airy regions,
Mighty one, adorned with silver!
Let the air be filled with tempest, (l. 360)
Raise a mighty wind against them,
Raise thou winds and waves against them,
With their boat contending ever,
Falling on the head of Väinö,
Rushing on Uvantolainen!" (l. 365)

Väinämöinen, the bard, crafted a magic song that caused the fog to disperse, but then the tempest arose and nearly swamped the ship. Before they went down, however, Lemminkäinen swiftly made emergency repairs to the boat, keeping them afloat through the terrible storm.

Louhi was not so easily overcome, however (Runo XLIII):

Louhi, Pohjola's old Mistress,
Called together all her forces,
Bows delivered to her army,
And the men with swords provided,
Fitted out a ship of Pohja, (l. 5)
As a war-ship she prepared it.

Canny Väinämöinen, meanwhile was not complacent. He sent Lemminkäinen up onto the mast to look around them for further dangers. Soon enough he spotted the Mistress of Pohjola and her men in hot pursuit. First Väinämöinen urged all hands to the oars, and tried to outrow the ship from Pohjola. But soon it became apparent that the northerners were gaining on them. Despite having lost his pike-bone kantele, Väinämöinen was not helpless, or without magic:

Then he took a piece of tinder,
In his tinder-box he found it,
And of pitch he took a little,
And a little piece of tinder, (l. 110)
And into the sea he threw it,
And he spoke the words which follow,
And in words like these expressed him:
"Let a reef of this be fashioned
And a cliff be fashioned from it, (l. 115)
Where may run the ship of Pohja,
Fitted with a hundred rowlocks,
And may strike the sea tempestuous,
And amid the waves be shattered!"

The Heroes Defend the Sampo Against Louhi Väinämöinen's spell caused rocks to spring up in front of Louhi's ship, breaking it to bits. Louhi in turn took the pieces of her boat and made magical wings from them, and of scythes fashioned cruel talons for her hands, and swept down upon the heroes like a great vulture. Before the heroes could stop her, Louhi had snatched up the magic mill and flew back up into the air with it! But her grip upon the mill was not firm, or else the Sampo wished to return to its rightful owner, Ilmarinen, and it slipped from the witch's grasp and was smashed upon the sea.

The largest pieces of the Sampo became the great wealth and riches of the oceans. The portion which ground salt sits on the sea-floor until this very day, grinding out salt, and that is why the sea is salty. And the smallest pieces, formed of the brightly-colored lid, were cast ashore all throughout the lands of Finland, and where they fell the land was fertile and rich ever after.

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Orkney Islands 

The Norse called the great whirlpool Maelstrom

Just north of the most northerly Orkney Island, there is an eddy or whirlpool called the Swelki (from Old Norse svelgr or sea-mill). At the bottom of the sea floor in this spot is a magic mill, and with it are two giantesses, Grotti-Fenni and Grotti-Menni, who grind and grind and grind. Originally the mill was supposed to grind out good things, but when the giantesses were enslaved and forced to turn the mill, they cursed it to grind nothing but salt. And while they still are enslaved to the mill, to this day it still grinds salt. The legend states that the whirlpool is caused by the waters of the sea, pouring through the grind-stone's center hole.

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Iceland -- Snorri Sturluson's Skáldskarpamál and Amloði's Mill 

Sem Snæbjörn krad:
Hvatt kveda hraera Grotta
hergrimmastan skerja
ut fyrir jardar skauti
Eyludrs niu brudir;
þær er, lungs, fyrir laungu
lid-meldr, skipa hlidar
baugskerdir ristr bardi
bol, Amloða mólu
Her er kallat hafit Amloða Kvern.

(It is said, sang Snæbjörn, that far out, off yonder ness, the Nine Maids of the Island Mill stir violently the host-cruel skerry-Grotti -- they who in ages past ground Amloði's meal. The good chieftain furrows the hull's lair with his ship's beaked prow. Here the sea is called Amloði's Mill.)

The "Nine Maids of the Island Mill" is a kenning. The "mill of islands" is the ocean, which grinds stone to sand. The "Nine Maids" are probably the nine waves, who are also known as the mothers of the god Heimdallr. Therefore the complete kenning is "waves of the sea".

"The host-cruel skerry-Grotti" is another kenning. A "grotti" is a hand-quern or mill. A "skerry-mill" then is a similar kenning to "Island Mill", being a mill that grinds out sea-stones or skerries, hence the ocean. Therefore the complete kenning is "the host-cruel ocean", meaning that the ocean can be creul to armies or sailors travelling upon it.

The story of Amloði is one found across Northern Europe, and is most familiar to English-speaking peoples as the story immortalized by Shakespeare in his play Hamlet. Hamlet and Amloði are differnt forms of the same name, and the tale is that of the Wise Fool. In this story, Amloði's uncle slays his own brother, Amloði's father, and Amloði swears vengeance. To survive until he is able to take this vengeance, he pretends to be a witless fool. Throughout the story Amloði tells the strict truth, couched in such a way as to make unwary listeners think him to be mad and raving.

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Denmark -- Saxo Grammaticus Gesta Danorum Book III. The Tale of Amlodhi 

Again, as he passed along the beach, his companions found the rudder of a ship, which had been wrecked, and said they had discovered a huge knife. "This," said he, "was the right thing to carve such a huge ham;" by which he really meant the sea, to whose infinitude, he thought, this enormous rudder matched. Also, as they passed the sandhills, and bade him look at the meal, meaning the sand, he replied that it had been ground small by the hoary tempests of the ocean.

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Iceland -- Snorri Sturluson's Skáldskarpamál and The Tale of the Grotti 

In the days of the Peace of Frodi, King Frodi was invited to stay with King Fjolnir of Sweden. There he purchased two women slaves, who were big and strong, called Fenja and Menja. In Denmark at this time there were two millstones so huge that no one had the strength to turn them. These millstones were also magic, and would grind whatever the miller desired. The mill was called Grotti ("the crusher"), and the name of the man who had given it to King Frodi was Hangjaw. King Frodi, being wise, saw that his two new slaves were likely candidates to turn the mill, so he sent them to grind. He instructed them to grind out peace and prosperity for his people. But in one thing Frodi was not wise: in his desire to see his people happy, peaceful, and prosperous, he drove the two slaves day and night to turn the mill, and would not allow them to rest or sleep for longer than the cuckoo stops its calling.

The two women knew some magic, and they composed a magical song they calld Grotti's Song. Singing this song, they caused the mill Grotti to grind out an army to slay the people of King Frodi. The army was led by a viking named Mysing, who slew King Frodi.

16th Century Map by Olaus Magnus Showing the Maelstrom Among the plunder that Mysing took was the mill Grotti, and the two mill-slaves with it. When he had the mill and the women aboard his ship, Mysing ordered the women to grind from the mill. This they did, until midnight came and they were tired. They asked to rest, but like Frodi, Mysing insisted that they keep grinding.

This angered the maidens, and they began this time to grind salt. The salt heaped up over the stone, and fell to the hold of the ship, and finally rose up past the decking, and soon, in only a short while, the ship sank into the ocean, and where the sea poured into the eye of the handmill was a whirlpool there afterwards in the ocean. And to this day Fenja and Menja are still there at the bottom of the sea, grinding salt, and it is this which has made the oceans salty.

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Iceland -- The Poetic Edda, "Grottasöngr" (The Song of Grotti) 

(1) Now then are come to the king's high hall
the foreknowing twain, Fenja and Menja;
in bondage by Frodi, Fridleif's son,
these sisters mighty as slaves are held.

(2) To moil at the mill the maids were bid,
to turn the grey stone as their task was set;
lag in their toil he would let them never,
the slaves' song he unceasing would hear.

(3) The chained ones churning ay chanted their song:
"Let us right the mill and raise the millstones."
He gave them no rest, to grind on bade them.

(4) They sang as they swung the swift-wheeling stone,
till of Frodi's maids most fell asleep.
Then Menja quoth, at the quern standing:

(5) "Gold and good hap we grind for Frodi,
a hoard of wealth on the wishing-mill;
he shall sit on gold, he shall sleep on down,
he shall wake to joy; well had we ground then!

(6) Here shall no one harm his neighbor,
nor bale-thoughts brew for others' bane,
nor swing sharp sword to smite a blow,
though his brother's banesman bound he should find."

(7) This word first then fell from his lips:
"Sleep shall ye not more than cock in summer,
or longer than I a lay may sing."

(8) Menja said: "A fool wert, Frodi, and frenzied of mind,
the time thou, men's friend, us maidens did buy;
for strength did you choose us, and sturdy looks,
but you didn't reck of what race we sprang."

(9) "Hardy was Hrungnir, but his sire even more;
more thews than they old Thjatsi had.
Ithi and Aurnir are of our kin:
are we both born to brothers of jotuns!"

(10) "Scarce had Grotti come out of grey mountain,
from out of the earth the iron-hard slab,
nor had mountain-maids now to turn the mill-stone,
if we had not first found it below."

(11) "Winters nine we grew beneath the ground;
under the mountains, we mighty playmates
did strive to do great deeds of strength:
boulders we budged from their bases.

(12) "Rocks we rolled out of jotun's realm:
the fields below with their fall did shake;
we hurled from the heights the heavy quernstone,
the swift-rolling slab, so that men might seize it."

(13) "But since then we to Sweden fared,
we foreknowing twain, and fought among men;
byrnies we broke, and bucklers shattered,
we won our way through warriors' ranks."

(14) "One king we overthrew, enthroned the other.
To good Guthorm we granted victory;
stern was the struggle ere Knui was struck."

(15) "A full year thus we fared among men;
our name was known among noble heroes.
Through linden shields sharp spears we hurled,
drew blood from wounds, and blades reddened."

(16) Now we are come to the king's high hall,
without mercy made to turn the mill;
mud soils our feet, frost cuts our bones;
at the peace-quern we drudge: dreary is it here."

(17) "The stone now let stand, my stint is done;
I have ground my share, grant me a rest."
Fenja said: "The stone must not stand, our stint is not done,
before to Frodi his fill we ground."

(18) "Our hands shall hold the hard spearshafts,
weapons gory: Awake Frodi!
Awake Frodi!, if listen thou wilt
to our olden songs, to our ancient lore."

(19) "My eye sees fire east of the castle
battle cries ring out, beacons are kindled!
Hosts of foemen hither will wend
to burn down the hall over thy head."

(20) "No longer thou Leire shall hold,
have rings of red gold, nor the mill of riches.
Harder the handle, let us hold sister;
our hands are not warm yet with warriors' blood."

(21) "My father's daughter doughtily ground,
for the death of hosts did she foresee;
even now the strong booms burst from the quern,
the stanch iron stays -- yet more strongly grind!"

(22) Menja said: "Yet more swiftly grind: the son of Yrsa
Frodi's blood wil crave for the bane of Halfdan --
he Hrolf is hight and is to her
both son and brother as both of us know."

(23) The mighty maidens, they ground amain,
strained their young limbs of giant strength;
the shaft tree quivered, the quern toppled over,
the heavy slab burst asunder."

(24) Quoth the mighty maiden of the mountain giants:
"Ground have we Frodi, now fain would cease.
We have toiled enough at turning the mill!"

(1) Nú eru komnar til konungs húsa,
framvísar tvær, Fenja ok Menja,
þær ro at Fróða Friðleifssonar
máttkar meyjar at mani hafðar.

(2) Þær at lúðri leiddar váru
ok grjóts gréa gangs of beiddu;
hét hann hvárigri hvílð né ynði,
áðr hann heyrði hljóm ambátta.

(3) Þær þyt þulu þögnhorfinnar;
"leggjum lúðra, léttum steinum."
Bað hann enn meyjar, at þær mala skyldu.

(4) Sungu ok slungu snúðga-steini,
svá at Fróða man flest sofnaði;
þá kvað þat Menja, var til meldrs komin:

(5) "Auð mölum Fróða, mölum alsælan,
mölum fjölð féar á feginslúðri;
siti hann á auði, sofi hann á dúni,
vaki hann at vilja; þá er vel malit.

(6) Hér skyli engi öðrum granda,
til böls búa né til bana orka,
né höggva því hvössu sverði,
þó at bana bróður bundinn finni."

(7) En hann kvað ekki orð it fyrra:
"Sofið eigi meir en of sal gaukar,
eða lengr en svá ljóð eitt kveðak."

(8) "Var-at-tu, Fróði fullspakr of þik,
málvinr manna, er þú man keyptir;
kaustu at afli ok at álitum,
en at ætterni ekki spurðir.

(9) Harðr var Hrungnir ok hans faðir,
þó var Þjazi þeim öflgari,
Iði ok Aurnir, okkrir niðjar,
brœðr bergrisa, þeim erum bornar.

(10) Kœmi-a Grótti ór gréa fjalli,
né sá inn harði hallr ór jörðu,
né mœli svá mær bergrisa,
ef vissim vit vætr til hennar.

(11) Vér vetr níu várum leikur
öflgar alnar fyr jörð neðan,
stóðu meyjar at meginverkum,
fœrðum sjalfar setberg ór stað.

(12) Veltum grjóti of garð risa,
svá at fold fyrir fór skjalfandi;
svá slöngðum vit snúðga-steini,
höfga-halli, at halir tóku.

(13) En vit síðan á Svíþjóðu
framvísar tvær í folk stigum,
beiddum björnu, en brutum skjöldu,
gengum í gögnum gráserkjat lið.

(14) Steypðum stilli, studdum annan,
veittum góðum Gotþormi lið;
var-a kyrrseta, áðr Knúi felli.

(15) Fram heldum því þau misseri,
at vit at köppum kenndar várum,
þar sorðum vit skörpum geirum
blóð ór benjum ok brand ruðum.

(16) Nú erum komnar til konungs húsa
miskunnlausar ok at mani hafðar;
aurr etr iljar, en ofan kulði;
drögum dolgs sjötul, daprt er at Fróða.

(17) Hendr skulu hvílask, hallr standa mun,
malit hefi ek fyr mik; mitt of leiti;
nú mun-a höndum hvílð vel gefa,
áðr fullmalit Fróða þykki.

(18) Hendr skulu höndla harðar trjónur,
vápn valdreyrug, vaki þú Fróði,
vaki þú Fróði, ef þú hlŭða vill
söngum okkrum ok sögnum fornum.

(19) Eld sé ek brenna fyr austan borg,
vígspjöll vaka, þat mun viti kallaðr,
mun herr koma hinig af bragði
ok brenna bœ fyr buðlungi.

(20) Mun-at þú halda Hleiðrar stóli,
rauðum hringum né regingrjóti,
tökum á möndli mær, skarpara,
erum-a varmar í valdreyra.

(21) Mól míns föður mær rammliga,
því at hon feigð fira fjölmargra sá;
stukku stórar steðr frá lúðri
járni varðar, mölum enn framar.

(22) Mölum enn framar. Mun Yrsu sonr,
niðr Halfdanar, hefna Fróða;
sá mun hennar heitinn verða
burr ok bróðir, vitum báðar þat."

(23) Mólu meyjar, megins kostuðu,
váru ungar í jötunmóði,
skulfu skaptré, skauzk lúðr ofan,
hraut inn höfgi hallr sundr í tvau.

(24) En bergrisa brúðr orð of kvað:
"Malit höfum, Fróði, sem munum hætta,
hafa fullstaðit fljóð at meldri."

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Sweden -- The Salt Mill, A Surviving Swedish Legend 

Small 10th Century Hand-Quern from the Excavations at Fröjel, Sweden Once there were two brothers, one rich and the other miserably poor. On Christmas Eve the rich brother lit his candles and put all sorts of good food on the table. But the poor brother had neither candles nor firewood nor anything to eat. He went to his brother and asked him for a little food, but his brother said that he couldn't spare a thing. The poor brother didn't give up; he kept nagging and asking for help until the rich brother threw a ham at hims saying, "Why don't you go to Hell with it!"

The poor brother did exactly that: he went to Hell. When he arrived at a certain woodpile in Hell, he met an old man with grey hair and a beard that reached down to his feet. The poor brother greeted him and asked if this was Hell. Yes, so it was, he replied. But when the old man saw the ham, he told the poor brother to be on his guard, for at that particular time there was a great shortage of ham in Hell, and he could be certain that little devils would do anything to get it. They mustn't have it unless they gave him the old grinding mill standing in a corner in Hell.

Inside Hell, he was immediately surrounded by a gang of little demons who started ripping pieces from the ham shouting, "How much for the ham? How much for the ham?"

The brother swung at them with the knobby stick he carried, and shouted that he wouldn't give them the ham unless they gave him the old grinding mill. That was far too much to ask, they said, but since he wouldn't give in, they finally had to let him have it. Throwing the ham right into the middle of the crowd, he grabbed the mill and bolted for the door. When he got outside Hell to where the old man was standing, he asked him what the mill was good for. "It can grind anything you tell it to grind," said the old man, and he showed him how to start and stop it. The brother thanked him for the information and hurried home.

Back home everything was cold and dark in the poor brother's house. He'd been gone so long that his wife and children sat crying, fearful that something terrible had happened to him. He told them not to cry or be sad; soon they'd have heat and light. Placing the mill on the table, the poor brother orderde it to grind firewood. Immediately the mill ground out the best dry firewood you could wish for! After that he told it to grind candles and all sorts of good food, and the mill ground everything he asked for. Now they had so much of everything that the king himself couldn't have wanted more.

On Christmas day the poor brother invited his rich brother to visit. When the rich brother saw all their wealth, he was dying of curiosity. So they showed him the mill, and the poor brother commanded it to grind out a few silver trinkets. His eyes round with envy, the rich brother tried to persuade the poor one to sell him the mill. At first he was told that it couldn't be bought for love nor money, but he nagged and nagged, offerring more and more money, until finally the poor brother said that even though his brother had been cruel and mean to him, he was still his flesh and blood, and so he'd sell it to him for the highest amount he'd offered. This delighted the rich brother, but even though he hurried home with his new possession, it wasn't until summer that he could bring himself to try it out.

One day during haymaking he told his wife to join the other harvesters gathering in the hay; he's stay home and do the chores, as well as prepare the dinner. His wife was happy to do this, for he was always complaining that she didn't do enough work at home.

The husband cleaned and fussed and did small chores, and before he knew it it was time to make dinner. His plan was to let the mill prepare the dinner, so he put it on the table and told it to grind out herring and porridge. And so it did; herring and porridge poured out of the mill until all the pots and dishes were full. He tried to stop it, but his brother hadn't told him how, and so it continued to grind and grind and grind. Though he put out every dish he could find, they too were filled in a matter of minutes, and soon the herring and porridge started to overflow onto the floor. In a few minutes he was in herring and porridge up to his knees.

In a few minutes he was in herring and porridge up to his knees.

He opened the doors to the other rooms, and the herring and porridge followed behind until it reached up to his chin, Luckily he made it to the fornt door, and rushed out and away down the road. But the wave of herring and porridge pursued him, and after he'd run for a while, he saw his wife and the harvesters on their way home for dinner.

"Get out of the way, or you'll drown in herring and porridge!" he shouted, and rushed off down the road.

They though he'd gone mad, and continued toward home. Soon, however, they were met by the torrent of porridge, and now they were the ones who had to take to their heels.

Meanwhile, the rich brother ran off to the poor brother's house, and asked him to come quickly and turn off the mill. But his brother answered that he'd no intention of doing that, for once he'd sold the mill he didn't want to have any more to do with it. After begging and pleading, the brother who now owned the mill said that he'd give it back for nothing if only the flood of herring and porridge would stop. When his brother heard this, it didn't take him long to stop it. This time he kept the mill for a good long time, and it ground out everything he asked, and he became a rich, powerful man.

Around that time, a sea captain from England came to their twon after having heard of the miraculous mill. He went to its owner and offered to buy it, but was told that it couldn't be bought for love nor money. But the captain offered so much that finally its owner was persuaded to part with it.

The captain took it on board his ship and sailed away. However, the poor brother had neglected to tell him how to turn it off. When the captain was out in the middle of the ocean, he ordered the mill to grind out salt. He had no idea that it would grind so fast, and figured that he's have a full load only when he got to the harbor.

Salt Crystals

But he had a surprise in store: within only a few days the ship was so full of salt that it looked like it might sink. The captain couldn't stop the mill, and the crew couldn't even manage to dump all the salt into the ocean. The result was that the ship sank with captain, crew, and mill.

Now that mill stands at the bottom of the ocean still grinding out salt, and that's why the ocean is salty.

Recorded by Olof Petter Pettersson. Published in Svenska Sagor och Sägner 9, Sagor från Åsele Lappmark, Kunglinga Gustav Adolfs Akademin för Folklivsforskning. Stockholm, 1945 (publication series). Aarne-Thompson type catalogue no. 565. As translated in Swedish Folktales and Legends.

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1 Sean Chamberlin, Ph.D. The Remarkable Ocean World: Salty Tales from Hagar the Horrible. Accessed 5/13/99. Natural Sciences Division, Fullerton College, 321 East Chapman Ave, Fullerton, CA 92832. (Link dead as of 12/15/05. The page may still be accessed via the Wayback Machine).

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  • Kalevala in Elias Lönnrot ed. The Kalevala, an Epic Poem After Oral Tradition. Oxford World's Classics Series. trans. Keith Bosley. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 1999.
    Buy this book from Buy this book today!

  • Kalevala in Thomas A. Dubois. Finnish Folk Poetry and the Kalevala. Garland Reference Library of the Humanities, Vol 189. New York: Garland Publishing. 1995.
    Buy this book from Buy this book today!

  • Kalevala in Elias Lönnrot ed. The Kalevala; Epic of the Finnish People. trans. Eino Friberg. ed. George C. Schoolfield. Springfield: University of Illinois Press. 1989.
    Buy this book from Buy this book today!

  • Kalevala in Elias Lönnrot ed. Kalevala: The Land of the Heroes. trans. W.F. Kirby. London: Athalone Press. 1985.
    Buy this book from Buy this book today!

  • Kalevala in Elias Lönnrot ed. The Kalevala : Or Poems of the Kaleva District. trans. Francis P. Magoun. (Reprint). Boston: Harvard University Press. 1985.
    Buy this book from Buy this book today!

  • Gesta Danorum in Saxo Grammaticus. Saxo Grammaticus History of the Danes I-IX. 2 vols. Hilda R. Ellis-Davidson and Peter Fisher, trans. and commentary. Ipswich. 1980.
    Buy this book from Buy this book today!

  • Gesta Danorum in Saxo Grammaticus's The Danish History, Books I-IX:Book Three. Berkeley Digital Library. Online Medieval and Classical Library Release #28a. Accessed 5/13/99.

  • "Grottasöngr" in The Poetic Edda. trans. Lee M. Hollander. 2nd revised ed. Austin: University of Texas Press. 1962. pp. 153-158.
    Buy this book from Buy this book today!

  • "Skáldskarpamál" in Snorri Sturluson's The Prose Edda: Tales from Norse Mythology. trans. Jean I. Young. Berkeley: University of California Press. 1954. pp. 118.
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  • "Skáldskarpamál" in Giorgio de Santillana and Hertha von Dechend. Hamlet's Mill. Boston: David R. Godine. 1st paperback ed. 1977. pp. 87, 361-364.
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  • Blecher, Lone Thygesen and George Blecher, eds. and trans. Swedish Folktales and Legends. Pantheorn Fairytale and Folklore Library. New York: Pantheon. 1993.
    Buy this book from Buy this book today!

  • Comparetti, Domenico. The Traditional Poetry of the Finns. trans. J. M. Anderton. London. 1898.

  • Troughton, Joanna. The Magic Mill. Folk Tales of the World. New York: Bedrick/Blackie. 1981.
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