The Gungnir spear meme

The meme has the following claims:

  1. Its a magical weapon made by dwarves on the order of Loki, who gave the spear as a gift to Odin
  2. It never misses its mark when thrown
  3. That any oaths made with a hand on the upon its point cannot be broken

So here are the claims one by one

  1. It’s a magical weapon made by dwarfs on the order of Loki, who gave the spear as a gift to Odin

That is tue. The story are from Snorri’s Edda (The Prose Edda). In the part of his Edda called Skáldskaparmál chapter 39 Snorri recount how Loki cuts of Sifs hair. Thor forces Loki to replace the hair and hegoes to the dwarfs called The sons of Ivaldi. They created gold hair for Sif,  Freyr’s ship Skíðblaðnir and Odin’s spear Gungnir. Loki then make a wager with Brokkr that his brother Eitri can’t make items as beautiful and useful as those of The Sons of Ivaldi. Eitri creates boar Gullinbursti, the golden arm ring Draupnir  and the hammer Mjölnir. Loki gives the items to the gods for them to decide which irem is the best and the gods decide that the Mjölnir made by Eitri are the best and Loki losses his bet

2. It never misses its mark when thrown

This doesn’t seem to be true (unless I have missed information somewhere)

When the spear is presented the to the gods it is reported in Snorrris Edda that its virtues was “that the spear would never stop in its thrust;” from Arthur Gilchrist Brodeurs 1916 translation. I also checked Lembæk and Stavnems Danish 2013 translation “Snorris Edda”, which says the same. There are no other information in Snorri’s Edda about the spear. I think the “never misses its mark” information on the meme is inspired by this source, its just not correct. Never stopping its thrust must be something about nothing stopping it when thrown and not about always hitting its target.

3. That any oaths made with a hand on the upon its point cannot be broken

That doesnt seem to be true. It seems a misinterpretation of a poem in The Poetic Edda

Gungnir are mentioned once by name in The Poetic Edda. That is in Sigrdrífumál stanza 17. The poems are always a bit hard to understand (here I Larringtons revised edition from 2014):

Sigrdrífumál stanza 14:

Then Mim(er)s head spoke
wisely the first word
and told the true letters

Sigrdrífumál stanza 15:

“On a shield”, he said, “They should be cut,
the one that stand before the shining god …

Then the poem continues to list where these “True letters are cut” and in Stanza 17 it says:

on the point of Gungnir and the breast of Grani

Sigrdrífumál stanza 18: it says

All were shaved off, those which were carved on
Asn stirred into the sacred mead
and sent on wandering ways;
They are among the Æsir, they are among the elves
some are with the wise Vanir
some with humankind

And in Stanza 19

Those are book runes, those are helping-runes,
and all the ale-runes, and precious runes of power,
for those who can, without confusing them, without destroying them
posses them for good fortune;
use them if you get them
until the gods are torn asunder.

I personally think this is hard stuff to understand the specific meaning of. Its clearly isn’t about that you cant swear false oaths on the spear. As I understand it, it says the Min (or Mimer) said some profound troth. This truth was carved many different places (among them on Gungnir). These runes was shaved of and stired into “the sacred mead” which was distributes to æsir, elves, Vanir and humans. A bit like Suttungs mead. Im not sure it is Suttings mead, because Suttungs mead was created by the spit of æsir and Vanir. But Suttungs mead alså conferred knowledge or ability to the ones who drank it. Where Suttungs Mead conferred poetic abilities to the ones who drink it, The Sacred mead seem to have conferred ability to use runes in magic (if I understand the poem correctly).    

I also read the poem in Rolf Stavnems 2018 Danish translation “Den Poetiske Edda” and I get the same meaning out of the poem here.

If you read other translations, then the numbering may be off.

Disclaimer: There might be information in other sources that I haven’t seen, but I don’t think so.

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