|Alyssa Sutherland as Aslaug in "Vikings"|
Meaning: "Betrothed woman of God" or "God's bath:
Pronunciation: AZ-lock, OWS-log, OWSH-lov
Other forms: Asløg, Áslaug, Aslög
Last night was the season two premiere of the hit TV show "Vikings". I thought, in honor of the occasion, I would highlight the name of one of the most interesting, and hated, characters of the show, Aslaug. The name comes from the Norse áss meaning "God", and laug which possibly means "betrothed woman". Another possible meaning for laug is "bath".
In the "Saga of Ragnar Lodbrok", it is said that Aslaug is the daughter of a shieldmaiden called Brynhildr, and Sigurd. When they die, Aslaug is raised by Brynhildr's foster father, Heimer. Heimer has a harp made large enough that he can carry young Aslaug in it, and he travels around as a harp player. While travelling Heimer stays in the home of a man named Åke and his wife, Grima. Believing the harp to carry some valuable treasure, they kill Heimer, and upon discovering Aslaug within the harp, decide to raise her as their own. They hide her beauty, which they believe to be a sign of her nobility, by making her wear a hood and covering her in tar. They call her Kråka, which means "crow".
One day while she is bathing, the men of Ragnar Lodbrok, a legendary Viking king, spy on her, and accidently let the bread they were cooking burn. Ragnar demands to know what happened, so they explain they saw a beautiful girl. He then sends for her, but tests her wits. He says for her to come neither clothed nor undressed, neither hungry nor full, and neither alone nor in company. She came wearing a net, with a dog, and biting an onion. Ragnar was impressed, and proposed to her. She would not accept until he accomplished his mission in Norway
Östen Beli of Sweden convinces Ragnar to go with the Princess Ingeborg instead of Aslaug, and when he comes to tell her, three birds have already informed her of his plans. She then lets him know of her noble parentage, and tells him that she will prove she is the daughter of Sigurd by giving birth to a baby whose eye will hold the image of a snake. In all Aslaug gave him five sons; Ivar the Boneless, Björn Ironside, Hvitserk, Ragnvald, and Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye.
Aslaug also possesses some sort of magic abilities, almost like a sorceress. At one point Ragnar does not listen to Aslaug's warnings of the condition of the fleet, and his quest fails. When Ragnar insists on consummating the marriage immediately, even though she says they should not, it results in their son, Ivar, being weak. She gives him a shirt she made as well, which protects him, if only for a little while, from the snakes in the pit he is thrown into.