How Ursa Minor came to be

In the previous post I mentioned that I wasn’t sure how Óðr became the son of Njörðr because I’ve been given contradictory elements of a couple different stories and I need to do some more research as well as divination to sort things out – but I’m feeling moved to share at least one of the possible origin stories with you guys; this is my first time telling it, so please forgive the roughness. 

One day Njörðr and a group of his best warriors were out riding through one of  Vanaheimr’s ancient forests, hot in pursuit of a white stag with golden antlers, when the roar of a ferocious creature startled their coursers, several of whom tossed their riders and beat a hasty retreat. Njörðr kept control of his steed but swiftly dismounted, drawing his gleaming sword and readying himself to face the beast. Old growth trees exploded outward and a she-bear larger and more savage than any of them had ever seen charged towards the company. Her claws were like daggers and her teeth like knives, and there was a terrible fury in her eyes. 

Njörðr attempted to calm the creature with his divine power, but to no avail. So he plunged his sword, the product of exceptional Dwarf craftsmanship, into her breast and that merely slowed her a little. She grabbed Njörðr by the throat and flung him into the nearest tree, whereupon his mighty warriors attacked the bear as one, stabbing her with spear and axe and sword, which she shook off as if they were nothing more than pesky honey-hoarding bees.

This gave Njörðr time to regain his feet and he lifted the tree the force of his collision had uprooted and charged the beast, brandishing the trunk like a halberd. He landed blow after blow but again its shaggy body sustained no damage. The she-bear knocked the tree out of his grip and then slashed his chest with her daggery claws, cutting through his clothing and shedding his divine blood.

But this time as he fell back Njörðr grabbed hold, unbalancing the shaggy creature so that one of her stout legs was lifted off the ground. At that moment his companion Wanlan struck with his spear and the bear howled in pain, rage and fear. Wisdom-wealthy Njörðr deduced that the source of the bear’s invulnerability lay in her contact with the Earth, and so he summoned storm-winds so strong that they lifted her bulk completely off the ground and held her in the air until his companions chopped her body into pieces, severing her head from its neck last of all. 

Njörðr was impressed by what a great foe the she-bear had been, and so gathered all of her remains together, poured mead and prayed over them, and then called down a bolt of lightning from the heavens to set them ablaze. He then dug a trench, buried her charred bones, and placed a large boulder over them which he plunged his gleaming sword into to serve as a grave marker, feeling that one of so heroic a nature deserved a proper funeral. 

He and his warriors then searched the neighboring woods, discovering a babe asleep in a wicker basket. It was no ordinary babe, even by the standards of the Vanir, for in appearance it seemed half a God and half a bear. The warriors all said that they should kill it right then and there, lest it grow to become a monster like its mother, but Njörðr felt pity in his heart and so swore to raise the halfling as his own dear child, naming him Óðr because of how furiously his mother had fought to protect him. 

Later, when Óðr had grown to manhood he returned to the scene of the battle, moved the boulder and collected the bones of his mother. He forged stars out of them, and then placed those stars in the heavens as the constellation Ursa Minor so that she could continue to watch over him. The gleaming sword he retrieved from the boulder, carrying it with him from that day onward.