Jörmungandr: Mythology & Symbolism

In Norse mythology, Jörmungandr is a sea serpent and the middle child of Loki and Angrboða. As stated by Prose Edda, Odin took Jörmungandr and tossed him into the great ocean surrounding Midgard. It is in the sea that Jörmungandr grew so large that he could encircle the whole world. That's how he got his name, the world serpent/Midgard serpent.

Jörmungandr’s greatest enemy is the thunder god, Thor, who is destined to be killed in Ragnarök. Jörmungandr won’t kill god Thor; instead, they will kill each other, with Jörmungandr dying first before Thor dies from Jörmungandr poison.

After killing Jörmungandr, Thor took nine steps away before dying of Jörmungandr’s poison spewing in the air during the fight.

Who is Jörmungandr?

Jörmungandr is the Midgard serpent (mythical jötunn serpent) who lives in Norse mythology. 

He encircles the realm of Midgard and whose destiny is to fight and kill Thor when Ragnarök comes. He is among the three born of the god Loki. 

His mother is the giantess Angrboda. He is a brother to Hel, Queen of the Dead, and the great wolf Fenrir whose destiny is to kill the All-Father god Odin when he comes to Ragnarök.

Out of the three children of Loki, Jörmungandr’s destiny was the most significant. Prophecies showed that he would grow so huge that his length would cover the whole world. 

Unfortunately, he will grow so tall that one day, he will bite his own tail. Once this act happens, a new era will begin, the period of Ragnarök – the Nordic mythological cataclysmic event that signifies the end of the world.

Jörmungandr can be compared to the Ouroboros, a serpent that also ate his own tail and has a symbolic meaning.

It is ironic that upon his birth, Jörmungandr, then a tiny serpent, was thrown into the sea out of fear by Odin. As time passed, Jörmungandr became a monster. He later fulfilled his destiny many years later by killing Thor.

Is Jörmungandr a Snake or Dragon?

Jörmungandr is a snake. He is the great serpent of the world from Midgard.

Jörmungandr in Greek can be compared to a python. However, despite being a python, he looked more like a dragon.

Jörmungandr, Pinterest: Valessa Lee

The Symbolic Meaning of Jörmungandr

Jörmungandr symbolizes predestination. Norse people had a strong faith and believed that the future was already determined and nothing could change it. 

Jörmungandr is the ultimate symbol of fate’s inevitability.

Jörmungandr also symbolizes the Ouroboros serpent Nordic variant, a giant world serpent from ancient Egypt and east African myth.

This serpent also encircled the world and, at one point, bit his own tail. He symbolized the ending and rebirth of the world.

Is Jörmungandr Good or Evil?

Jörmungandr is evil.

He hated Æsir gods, especially Odin and Thor, for tossing giants away, which posed the risk of extinction.

Of the two, he hated Thor the most; their destiny was to slay each other. As stated by Mimir, Jörmungandr destroys Thor’s statue because he calls him the fat dobber.

He hated Odin so passionately that he extended the hatred to all of Odin’s allies. He nearly attacked Atreus, Kratos, and Mimir for saying they are friends to Odin in Jörmungandr’s ancient language.

The only ally of Odin that earned Jörmungandr respect was Tyr. He did so because Tyr guided his temple and responded to the horn at the temple’s bridge. Mimir was also lucky not to be hated by Jörmungandr. 

World serpent
World serpent

Mimir, out of all people, was the only one who tried to stop Odin from destroying giants. Mimir also understood Jörmungandr’s ancient language, hence the friendship.

However, Jörmungandr was not all evil. He portrayed some empathy sometimes. For instance, he was more than willing to help Atreus and Kratos, who had the same losses as him.

Jörmungandr also felt lonely as he was the only one of his kind left alive in Midgard.

He also had no other being who could speak with him his ancient language. Nevertheless, the Midgard serpent would talk in his dead language once in a while, which led to Mimir describing him as a sparkling conversationalist.

How Did Jörmungandr Get So Big?

Jormungand’s mother, the giantess mistress, Angrboda, was a huge monster. Therefore, he inherited his monstrous size from his mother. His father being of a troublemaking nature, passed the troublemaking trait to Jörmungandr.

Also, Jörmungandr got his monstrous size from the ocean. Upon realizing he is a problem child, the Asgard gods threw him into the sea, which was a big mistake.

It is in the ocean that Jörmungandr grew so huge by feeding on whales daily. He was so big that he could encircle the whole world and finally bite his tail.

What Language Does Jörmungandr Speak?

Jörmungandr speaks his ancient language, which is by then dead. Atreus also understood the language, and he often talked to the sea serpent in his language. 

During the final battle, Atreus, whom Jörmungandr learned the language, calls for help from the serpent using the ancient language.

It is also possible that Jörmungandr learned this language from Laufey. Laufey was the only giant alive in Midgard alongside Jörmungandr at this time.

Did Loki Give Birth to Jörmungandr?

Yes, Loki gave birth to Jörmungandr. He is the son of Loki, the trickster god, and Angrboda, the giantess. 

He is also a brother to Hel, Queen of the Dead, and Fenrir, the great wolf. His brother Fenrir was destined to kill the All-Father god Odin come Ragnarök while his sister Hel ruled the Nordic Underworld.

Why Do Thor and Jörmungandr Hate Each Other?

Thor and Jörmungandr hate each other due to several reasons. First is the difference in their origin. Thor was the son of Odin from the god tribe. All giants in the Norse pantheon hated this family. On the other hand, Jörmungandr was the son of Loki, the trickster. He, Loki, lived among the Norse gods who never revered him.

Another reason why the two hated each other was that Thor fished Jörmungandr while on a fishing trip with giant Hymir. He had prepared a special bait, an ox head for the fish. He felt the wave, and his fishing line shook.

On grabbing the rod, he found out it was Jörmungandr. He was so angry that he wanted to strike Jörmungandr to death; Hymir let off the rod, letting Jörmungandr go back to the sea.


Ana has always been interested in all things Norse mythology, Vikings and tales of ancient Germanic myths. An avid reader of books on Norse mythology, she also enjoys watching movies and TV shows based on Viking culture, and she secretly watched every Norse god-inspired MCU production as well!

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