Saturday, August 23, 2014



Appeal: Old Age, Wisdom, Elder, Strength

ellia560ca24cbe75e00.jpgIn Norse mythology, Elli is a personification of old age who, in the Prose Edda book Gylfaginning, defeats God Thor in a wrestling match.  She is the embodiment of the crone and the wisdom and strength of the elderly. 

There are a lot of strong Goddesses to be found in Norse mythology, but Elli, nicknamed 'the Giant Crone,' takes the cake.  She challenged the God Thor to a wrestling match — and won.  We have to be fair to Thor though, as the whole thing turned out to be a bit of a trick.  Elli, although the weakest of the giantesses of Utgardr, was actually the personification of old age.  After the giantesses told Thor about their stunt, he obviously wasn’t too happy, even though the fact that Elli only managed to get Thor down to one knee was a mark of his strength.

This serves as a valuable lesson not to underestimate old people.  We often think of the elderly as unfit, forgetful and out of touch with modern times, but they have a wealth of knowledge and can often give good advice.  They are also not necessarily as helpless as we imagine.  There is a good story online of this point.  It was about a shoplifter who had been apprehended.  The manager shouted "Stop! Thief!", as the criminal ran to the door with something he had stolen.  The shoplifter tried to barge past an old lady without thinking.  But it turned out the pensioner had a belt in Judo.  She grabbed the thief's arm, twisted it and in an instant he was on the floor.

Elli is not mentioned in any other extant source but the notion that not even the Gods are immune to the effects of aging is supported by the fact that they must consume the apples of Idunn on a regular basis in order to remain young.

Thou wilt support us, both when little and even to gray hairs.  When our strength is of Thee, it is strength; but, when our own, it is feebleness.  We return unto Thee that from their weariness our soul may rise towards Thee, leaning on the thing which Thou has created, and passing on to Thyself, who hast wonderfully made them; for with Thee is refreshment and true strength.



  1. This is a wonderful post about Elli!

    1. Thank You! I love reading about all the strong Goddess's for the Norse. And Elli was proudly one of them. She also has a chapter in the Blog Book, Who are your Divine Friends.