Wolves in Norse Mythology
While I usually try to stick with current facts and interesting information, I thought I would tackle a little bit of mythology this time. Wolves have been a part of many stories for many generations over many time periods. These stories could be the reason some of us feel such a deep connection to this beautiful creature. The fact that the humans have so much history with regards to the wolf is interesting all on its own. We seem to be so fascinated with the wolf that it inhabits our belief systems, invades our mythology, touches our stories of old, and bleeds throughout our history in so many ways. What is so great about this is that this creature, while feared in many ways, is also respected in many more, which was all Fenrir wanted in the Norse mythological tale.
Fenrir’s tale is not for the faint of heart as it is a tale of treachery, betrayal, misunderstanding, all born through fear. The story starts with the trickery of the frost giantess, Angrboda who tricks Loki into having children with her. As you can imagine, this would not turn out to be a good thing. The three children she had were Fenrir - the wolf, Jarmungard - the serpent, and Hel, a God who ended up being Queen of the Realm of the Dead. The Gods took her children and put them in places they thought they would be able to do the least destruction. Fenrir was the only one they took under their care as he was just a pup and adorable. Tyr was the only one who fed him. He watched as Fenrir grew and grew to an incredible size, a size that the Gods became concerned with and feared he would wreak destruction on all of the nine realms.
He was too large to keep inside anymore, and since the Gods feared he was too dangerous to set free, they bound him in chains, which he easily broke. They had pretended it was a game to see how strong he was and when he broke the chain, they cheered so that their plot to control him would stay secret. In all of these treacherous games, Fenrir was just trying to win the respect of the Gods, to see him as something valuable and important. After Fenrir broke the second set of chains, the Gods knew they would not be able to create any chains strong enough to hold him. So they went to the elves to create an unbreakable chain. The chain was strong and felt rather soft to the touch. However, Fenrir suspected that something was amiss when it came to this chain, and, as he did not want to be bound, made a deal with the Gods. He would put the chain on, but only if one of the Gods would put their hand in his mouth. Of course, no one wanted to step up.
Tyr finally stepped up and sacrificed his hand as he believed it to be worth it to keep the nine realms safe. He knew how destructive those jaws were, knew he would lose his hand, but was willing to do so to keep Fenrir under control. As expected, Fenrir was unable to break the chain, and, in his anger, did bite Tyr’s hand off. The Gods put Fenrir in a desolate place with a sword in his mouth to hold it open. Fenrir realized that while he had been trying to prove himself, the Gods had only seen him as a monster and did not believe him to be capable of anything good. He had grown so big that his drool had created a lake. His size had made them fear, so instead of teaching him to be what he could be, they ensured turning him into what they feared he would become.
In Ragnarok, Fenrir broke free and ran around with his lower jaw on the ground and his upper jaw in the sky, devouring everything in his path. Fenrir did eventually kill and eat Odin for his betrayal. However, one of Odin’s sons managed to kill him, but not before he had two sons that followed in his path of destruction and chaos. Their names were Skoll and Hati, and they swallowed the sun and the moon and destroyed the starts, ultimately wiping out all sense of time. It is truly a sad story, the fact that the Gods created what they most feared is an important lesson.
While the wolf is seen as an omen of destruction, war, and death, the epitome of evil in some cultures, in other cultures it is also seen as a guide and a teacher. In other words, without the atrocities of destruction, war, and death, there can be no understanding of the things to be grateful for, there can be no rebirth, and most importantly, there can be no knowledge gained. The wolf is seen as a symbol in many cultures, including the Vikings and the Celts. The wolf has other functions besides just what is perceived as evil. Their beauty, their howl, their grace calls to us in such a primitive way and opens our hearts to see the majestic nature of this remarkable animal.
For now, reach for the stars, believe in yourself, and howl at the moon for the sheer joy of it. Forever Follow the Wolf.Written by Samantha Ford
Links – (As a side note, there aren’t many links here, but I did look up other sites. As they seemed to have a lot of the same information, I did not include them.)
Fenrir the Lord of Wolves – Norse Mythology
Wolf Symbolism & Celtic/Norse Mythology – Fenrir