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J is for Jötunn

The jötnar Fafner and Fasolt seize Freyja.

Jötunn are giants from old Norse mythology. They’re extremely strong nature spirits. Their home is Jǫtunheimar, one of the nine worlds in Norse cosmology. They live well with homes fashioned like those of the gods.

Some jötnar (plural of jötunn) are described as having long claws, fangs, and deformed appearances. As well as being really tall. Others are sometimes given opposite descriptions, except the tall part. While trolls are hideous and have features like those of neanderthals, the jötnar resemble normal people through their general facial features. However, they might have multiple heads (depending on the individual), which can look into different directions.

They also live a long time and can be very knowledgeable and wise. When it comes to magic, they tend to be shamanic and make use of their brute power, allowing it to do most of their work for them. Unlike trolls, the jötnar are unaffected by sunlight and will not turn to stone like their distant cousins. This means that while the majority of populace are safe during the day, shepherds tend to disappear while herding sheep, and thus, naturally are considered to be eaten.

Here is what wikipedia says in regards to their origins:

The first living being formed in the primeval chaos known as Ginnungagap was a giant of monumental size, called Ymir. When he slept a jötunn son and a jötunn daughter grew from his armpits, and his two feet procreated and gave birth to a son, a monster with six heads. These three beings gave rise to the race of hrímþursar (rime thurs), who populated Niflheim, the world of mist, chill and ice. The gods instead claim their origin from a certain Búri. When the giant Ymir subsequently was slain by Odin, Vili and Vé (the grandsons of Búri), his blood (i.e. water) deluged Niflheim and killed all of the jötnar, apart from one known as Bergelmir and his spouse, who then repopulated their kind.

Interesting Tidbits:

  • In Norse mythology, it’s said that fire jötnar, or fire giants, will torch the world at the end of Ragnarök, killing all the people, some of the gods, and themselves. All except for a man and a woman Odin sets aside in a forest that doesn’t burn.
  • While jötnar are tied to Norway, they have also spread to England, where they are known as Ettin. 
  • In later times, trolls began to replace jötnar and took on many of their traits. Due to that, people started viewing them as one in the same.
Have you heard of Jötnar before? If so, where? Also, is there a mythological being you’re itching to read about? Let me know!


  1. Maybe you'll want to get a twitter button to your blog. I just bookmarked this site, although I had to make this manually. Simply my $.02 🙂

  2. I've never heard of jotnar, so I learned something new! I wish I knew how to pronounce all the Scandinavian words in today's post, though. My Swedish genes are not helping.

  3. I love reading and researching mythological creatures so I have heard of the Jotnar before. Norse mythology is one of my favourites.

  4. Thanks for the comments!

    Mara, I have a hard time pronouncing some of them too! lol

    Marcus, I agree. I give huge kudos to his world building skills!

    Anonymous, thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed it.

    C R, that's awesome! I love Norse mythology as well.

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