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midgard serpent eating ox head

Midgard Serpent

Celtic jewelry found in Scotland often features a sea serpent.  Most historians think this sea serpent is not Nessie, but rather the Midgard Serpent of Norse mythology.  In the Norse myth, Loki, the trickster god has three children with the giantess Angrboda.  One of them was Jormungandr, the Midgard Serpent.  Jormungandr grew so big that the gods threw him into the ocean.  He continued to grow until he circled the world and his tail rested in his mouth.  Sailors were afraid to sail the seas because the Midgard Serpent might eat them.  

Then according to the myth, the Norse lightning god Thor cut off the head of an ox, went out in a fishing boat, and used it as bait.  When Jormungandr took the bait, Thor clubbed the serpent on the head with his magical hammer.  This is the same hammer that Thor used to carve valleys into mountains.  Several versions of this myth disagree as to whether Jormungandr survived being clubbed on the head with this magical hammer.  But people do see Sea Serpents in lakes on every continent, not in the ocean.

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Here's a myth that says the Midgard Serpent survived: (the graphic is from this page) 

Here's one that says he didn't: