Bragi is listed as one of the twelve judges who sits before Odin. This of course makes sense for a God of great wisdom and knowledge, and I am sure Odin would appreciate such an ally. Common sense and wisdom is always needed to balance out those who rush in anger to strife and war. ( I wish we had a few more Bragi's in our congress) In Skaldskaparmal Snorri Sturluson also calls him the son of Odin. Some other lists also show this to be true. This really should not be surprising, however, when you consider that Odin is called the All - Father of Gods and men.
No where is it mentioned in the Eddas how, or why, Bragi is so talented in verse. Though in the poem Sigrdrifumal it tells of runes being graven on several things, one of which is Bragi' s tongue. Was this the work of his father Odin ? It is also said that those who are verbally talented to a higher level than others are called Bragr after Bragi. This is reinforced in Grimnismal where Bragi is called " The best of poets."
One of Bragi's largest roles in our ancient lore is in the tale Lokasenna, ( The insolence of Loki ), where Loki and Bragi have some very heated words for each other. Loki who had already killed Aegir's servant, and had been chased away, returned in a foul mood to the great hall. Bragi at first tries to turn Loki away but is overruled by Odin because of a past blood oath. Odin even asks his son Vidar to give up his seat on the bench to Loki. Then the angry verbal exchange begins :
Bragi : The Aesir will refuse to make room for you on the benches here at this banquet. The Gods know full well who they want when they feel like feasting.
Loki : Odin you told me long ago when we blended our blood together that never again would you take a drink of ale unless it was brought to us both !
Odin then tells Vidar to give up his seat and then Loki goes after Bragi verbally.
Loki : Hail to the Gods ! Hail to the Goddesses ! I greet the Holy Gods, except for Bragi there on the bench at this fair feast.
Bragi : I will give you a sword, a swift horse too. Rings of gold to repay you lest you in anger provoke the Aesir and feel their fury.
Loki : Bragi you have no horse to boast of or gold rings to give. Among the Elves and Aesir here none likes war so little, or flees a fight so fast !
Bragi : I tell you were I outside instead of inside Aegir' s high hall I would soon be holding your head in my hands. You would lose it for your lies !
Loki said : Loud talk but little meaning from Bragi, jewel of the benches. Why do you not fight if your are so furious ? Heroes do not hold back !
Idunna then joins in : I beg you Bragi, for all the Gods, and for their sons sake too, do not tempt Loki with taunting words here in Aegir's hall.
The Loki says something very interesting : Be quiet Idunna ! You of all women are the one most mad for men. You have locked your arms in love around your brother's bane.
Now we all know that we stretch the truth when we are very angry, however, there is usually a grain of truth also in those angry words. I am sure that Bragi is no coward, but he is not as brave as a God like Thor, who later comes to the feast . Thor does not mince his words with Loki, or try to calm him down. Thor simply tells Loki to shut up , calls him a vile creature, and threatens his life repeatedly, backed with the might of his all powerful hammer. Loki is so worried that just before leaving he says : But now Thor I think I will leave. I am quite convinced you would kill ! Obviously a much more frightened response than he had with Bragi !
What I find more interesting is the line, " You have locked your arms around your brothers bane. " This of course implies that Bragi killed Idunna's brother, and that she still married him. That is a story that I wish had been preserved. Unfortunately, if true this story has been lost to history. Though there is s similar story with Skadi marrying Njord, even after the Aesir had killed her father.
In the 19th century two German scholars, Eugene Mogk, and Sophus Bugge, debated whether Bragi was always a God, or if he was a deified version of the poet Bragi Boddason. Some still debate this today, but I feel that Bragi, the God, is a totally seperate entity from the poet Bragi Boddason.
To me Bragi is not a warrior in the same sense as I see Odin,Thor,Tyr, and Freyr, but he is well respected by the other Gods and Goddesses. Odin especially would appreciate his skills in skaldic verse, and may have taught his son his great skills. Judging by his conversation with Aegir, in Skaldskaparmal, we can ascertain that he is very learned in the ancient lore. In every pantheon of Gods and Goddesses there is always one God who is the great teacher, poet, and skald of lore. In our pantheon that God is Bragi, the God - Poet .
Because Bragi is, in my opinion a forgotten God, I have set a special day aside for him to honor our wonderful and poetic God of verse. Every March 5th I honor him with a ritual in which I recite for Him many of the poems that I have written, an poems written by wonderful poets such as Larisa C. Hunter and Michaela Macha among others. All Hail Bragi Great God of verse. May his name and his deeds always stand proudly before us !
Bragi : God Of Verse
Bragi great Skaldic God, Wizard of the lyrical verse,
Master of praising verbiage, Lord of the damning curse.
Magical conjurer of words, they are both weapon and shield,
Weaved by your tongue, some are cursed , some are healed.
Teller of great tales, weaver of the story,
Spinning yarns of our heroes in all of their glory.
Promoter of the Gods, speaker of the lore,
In great detail you speak of love and of war.
They say there is a rune emblazoned on his tongue,
That gives him the words to be entwined and then sung.
Whatever the reason for the skaldic verse that you speak,
You are the great storyteller both the Gods and men seek .
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2013.