R is for Ratatoskr

Ratatoskr in a 17th century
Icelandic manuscript.

Name: Ratatoskr (Typically means “drill-tooth” or “bore-tooth,” although some say based off its etymology that it’d be more like rata-/rati- for “the traveler” and -toskr for “tusk.” Basically “the climber tusk” or “tusk the traveler.”)

Type: nature spirit

Origin: Norse mythology

Description: Ratatoskr is… a squirrel. *grins* He climbs up and down Yggdrasil, the world tree, to take messages between the unnamed eagle at the top and the wyrm Níðhöggr who lives under one of the tree roots at the bottom. According to the 16th chapter of Prose Edda‘s Gylfaginning, Ratatoskr “runs up and down the ash. He tells slanderous gossip, provoking the eagle and Níðhöggr.” Some say the fact Ratatoskr is portrayed as a lowly squirrel is due to his behavior in stirring up trouble.

Interesting Facts: He can be found in both the Poetic Edda, which is a compilation of Old Norse poems and a very important source of information about Norse mythology, as well as Prose Edda, which was written by Snorri Sturluson in approximately 1220. The Prose Edda contains eddic and skaldic poetry poetry about Norse mythology. For such a small creature, there’s a lot of different theories on both his name and purpose/role in Norse mythology.

Have you heard of Ratatoskr before? Any “R” creatures or beings you know of?

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