Sleipnir is Odin's grey, powerful, eight-legged horse in Norse mythology. Sleipnir is faster than any other horse and can gallop faster than the wind. It can travel on land, water and air. Odin is very fond of his horse and legend has it that he is the one who carries warriors killed in war to Valhalla.

According to the oracle Sigrdrivomal, Odin carved runes on Sleipnir's teeth. Sleipnir's father is Svadilfari, the mighty black stallion of a mountain giant. This giant offered to build a fortress around the home of the gods, Asgard.

If he succeeded in building the fortress in one season, he asked for the Sun, the Moon and the goddess Freya as his wife. The gods did not believe he could do it and accepted his demands. But Svadilfari is strong, and with his help it looks like the giant will manage after all.

The gods began to get restless and sent the cunning Loki to somehow hold the giant back. Loki turns into a beautiful grey mare, seduces Svadilfari away from his master and lets the stallion mate him. Loki soon gives birth to the magnificent foal, Sleipnir. Without his horse, the giant fails to complete his task in time. Loki turns back into a man and later gives the horse Sleipnir to Odin.


Sleipnir is not Loki's only child, his brothers are the large and extremely ferocious wolf Fenrir, and Jormungandr the Midgard Serpent. He also has a sister, Hel, who is beautiful on one side but lifeless as a corpse on the other. Sleipnir meets his half-sister in the underworld, where Odin has banished her to be ruler of the dead. He will meet the wolf Fenrir, in the final battle between the gods and the forces of chaos at Ragnarok, kills Sleipnir and swallows him and Odin.

Another myth of Sleipnir is the encounter with the giant Rungnir who makes a bet with Odin that he and his horse will be faster than Odin and Sleipnir. Rungnir loses the bet and later falls in battle against Thor.

In Ragnarök, Hermod and Sleipnir go down to the underworld to rescue Baldr and Odin. For nine days and nine nights they gallop through land, sea and sky to reach the gate of the underworld, guarded by Garm, the Hound of Hell. Sleipnir bravely leaps over Garm.

Deeper and deeper they go into Hel's realm, through deep chasms and hordes of tormented souls. Further down, they encounter spitting snakes and the dragon Nidhogg, who sucks the blood of those who sin on earth. Finally they reach the Queen of the Underworld, Hel, who promises to release Baldr if every creature on earth sheds a tear for him. Everyone cries, except for a lonely old giantess named Tokk who is actually Loki in disguide, therefore Baldr remains in Hel's realm until the final battle. 

Some old stones found in Gotland depict a well-equipped horseman on an eight-legged horse. It is assumed that these images depict Sleipnir. Sleipnir's eight legs can also be interpreted as a metaphor for speed. There are, however, examples of Siberian shamans who were said to have eight-legged horses to reach heaven and the underworld.