"On bolster I sat
In Baldur's Mead erst,
And all songs that I could
To the king's daughter sang;
Now on Ran's bed belike
Must I soon be a-lying,
And another shall be
By Ingibiorg's side."
"The red ring here I hew me
Once owned of Halfdan's father,
The wealthy lord of erewhile,
Or the sea waves undo us,
So on the guests shall gold be,
If we have need of guesting;
Meet so for mighty men-folk
Amid Ran's hall to hold them.
Goddesses in the Nordic sphere are often tied to death, or the dead, or otherwise play a role in malleable fate. They so often oversee the space between life – the beginning of life, the prospering of life – and the ultimate fate of death. Here, the Nornir, Hel, Freyja, and the Valkyries, alongside Sif, Eir and Frigg, play dominant roles, but so too does our god of the week, Rán. Rán, who takes those who drown in her realm, and catches them in her net, dragging them down, down, down to her hall in the deepest depths of the ocean.
Indeed, when she is mentioned in the lore, it is often from the perspective of a grieving parent, cursing her for taking someone they loved.
Ultimately though, we have so little information on Rán bar the briefest of attestations that associate her with death at sea, her nine daughters, and her husband, Aegir. However, she is also a Jotunn, and from that we can also infer some additional qualities that other Jotunn share. Their primordial, powerful, raw qualities.
After all, if Njordr represents the sea in its most generous form – the tide, the shore, the bounty and potential it offers for trade and exploration – Aegir and Rán represent its darker, more primal side. Its deadly nature, its incredible power. The sea gives, but the sea takes, and it can never be underestimated. The Viking Age people understood that more than most, and Aegir and Ran’s realm had to be entered and navigated as a part of their lives, society and culture.
How do you see Rán? What does Rán represent to you? Do you have any UPG around her?