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Thread: Tyr and Fenrir

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    Tyr and Fenrir

    The tale of Tyr and Fenrir is similar in many ways to Indra and Vrtra, and also to Mitra and Varuna. It can also be compared to the day and night of Brahma, the expansion and contraction of the cosmos, which is a full cosmic cycle and its destruction. This is to say that the meaning is both cosmic or cosmological and individual or initiatic. Thus one aspect is maya, the artificer, directed towards manifestation, and the other is maya as pointing the way back to the Principle and non-manifestation.

    In one text, Loki speaks of his son (Fenrir?) that he made with Tyr’s wife which would indicate a clear connection between the two. Whereas Tyr acts as Essence as do the causal gods and their bindings, Fenrir represents mutable Substance and its Accident, and therefore is associated with the lower realms. The first two fetters are broken by the wolf because the two lower worlds are conditioned. The third, however, was the divine thread Gleipnir, which is said to last until Ragnarok. Gleipnir was forged by the dwarves from the sound of a cat’s footfall, the beard of a woman, the roots of a rock, the sinews of a bear, the breath of a fish, and the spittle of a bird, owing to the fact of their absence. We must here recognize that these are highly symbolic of intellectual principles and of various initiatic stages, each relating to man and the cosmos. The final act of binding represents the victory of order, justice, and peace over chaos and evil; on the larger scale, it represents primordial bliss.

    The thread is equivalent to the Hindu sutratma which weaves all things together from the start of a period of manifestation to the end; it is an unbroken stream flowing from the center to the periphery, and connects thereby the lower self to the higher. Whereas Tyr acts as the Spirit or Intellect, Fenrir is the soul which utilizes the thread which is anchored at the heart and crown of the head.

    In order that Fenrir might be bound Tyr was required to put his hand in the wolf’s jaws as a pledge, which was bitten off as Fenrir was fully bound. His jaws can be viewed as a world door which sheers those who pass through it. And to bind the wolf is to pass beyond formal manifestation. One might see in this a double-edged sword, such that to pass through the Sun Door, which is possible after the third binding, is to be stripped of one’s outer self, or which is to say the soul from the Spirit.

    In terms of manifestation, heaven and earth are separated in order to be filled, symbolized by the opening of Fenrir’s top and bottom jaws. Tyr then places his hand within when the other gods refused, for he is the God of Being, the mediator between heaven and earth. The jaws then close giving Fenrir his flesh to eat, thus securing a divine root within the cosmos, which then makes possible a return of manifestation to its principial source. The closing of the jaws also symbolizes the union of heaven and earth for Tyr, the sacrificer.

    Having been fully bound, Fenrir was chained to two rocks and cast deep into the earth. The gods then stabbed Fenrir in the roof of the mouth forming the Sun Door, and the sword was jammed into his mouth keeping the jaws separate. His saliva forms the river Van, at the mouth of which he remains.

    In Gylfaginning it is written that two wolves chase after the sun but in so doing seize the moon, and that the race of wolves is said to come from the witch in Ironwood forest to the east of Midgard. From them comes Moon-Hound who is filled with the flesh of fey men, and he shall swallow the moon. This is significant for it connects magical phenomena with the lesser mysteries (lunar) and the wolves. It then follows that to battle against the wolf is to restrain such phenomena and to defeat death.

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    Additionally, where there is a possible ascending nature so also there is a descending, which explains cosmic degeneration, which is mentioned in this informative article: http://www.latrobe.edu.au/eyeofthehe...ue3/grimms.pdf

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    There is a similar folktale “The Girl Without Hands” in which a man unwittingly promises his daughter to the devil, but when she refuses her father cuts off her hands. She then leaves home, marries a king, and grows back her hands. The father and the devil represent God and manifestation, leaving home represents the manifestation of the soul, and loss of her hands symbolizes the inability to resist manifestation. But the soul is once again united with the Spirit and returns to the Principle.

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    That the thread which ties the worlds together was forged by dwarves in the mountain shows that the dwarves light the path to the spirit and are the actions of the gods who are the unmoved movers (see Coomaraswamy’s article on self-sacrifice).

    Dwarves are sense (and extra-sensory) powers or acts of the soul (and the gods) connected with the elements and existence (bhutah, bhutani). They are seen as so many breaths which make up the whole of the vital currents (prana, soma). Since the senses which includes the mind are twofold, the dwarves as part of the Tree of Duality (World Mountain), can be good or bad, that is whether they are used for purification, detachment, and the return to the formless realm, or taken as impure, attached to phenomena and objects of the senses. Here the symbol is used where the chariot is the body, sense organs are steeds, and reins are directed by the Intellect on behalf of the Self or passenger. The senses can either pursue their own ends or be directed by the Spirit. This is also seen in the sacrifice where the sacrificer is enclosed in the giant’s jaws and must tear away these envelopes of the spirit or be consumed by death.

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    I would also add that Fenrir’s breaking loose of the first two chains shows his power over the two formal realms, but not over the third or formless realm, which is barred to him.

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    There is much similarity in the Rig Veda where wolves are associated with inferior magic and a fallen state along the path: “drive from our road the wicked inauspicious wolf who lies in wait to injure us” (I.42). And similar to Gullveig: “with sacrifice I purge both earth and heaven: I burn up great she-fiends who serve not Indra, where throttled by thy hand the foes were slaughtered, and in the pit of death lay pierced and mangled. O thou who castest forth the stones crushing the sorceresses’ heads, break them with thy wide-spreading foot... Cast them within the deep and narrow pit” (I.133).

    This sacrifice brings them closer to the celestial door at “the center of the earth” (II.3), which is also the center of the being, where “the Gods have made the center of life eternal” (II.40, III.17); “reaching the central point of life immortal, encompassed about the earth and heaven issues forth the infinite; with strong wings he hath entered the dwelling-place of the Primeval Father” (V.47). “Wondrous, O people, is the sacred knowledge that while the waters stand still the streams are flowing” (V.47). Here man is “God-born” like Agni who “with pure mental power…was he born” (II.5).
    "The human state is an exit." -Frithjof Schuon

    "Make me immortal in that realm where they move even as they list, in the third sphere of inmost heaven where lucid worlds are full of light." -Rig Veda IX.113

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    Quote Originally Posted by exit View Post
    There is much similarity in the Rig Veda where wolves are associated with inferior magic and a fallen state along the path
    Wolves are not associated with inferiority, let alone twistedness in Germanic mythology. Instead, Germanic mythology recognises both the positive and negative aspects of the wolf to the human - protector, nurturer and scout on one hand; predator, traitor and uncontrollable on the other hand.
    -In kalte Schatten versunken... /Germaniens Volk erstarrt / Gefroren von Lügen / In denen die Welt verharrt-
    -Die alte Seele trauernd und verlassen / Verblassend in einer erklärbaren Welt / Schwebend in einem Dunst der Wehmut / Ein Schrei der nur unmerklich gellt-
    -Auch ich verspüre Demut / Vor dem alten Geiste der Ahnen / Wird es mir vergönnt sein / Gen Walhalla aufzufahren?-

    (Heimdalls Wacht, In kalte Schatten versunken, stanzas 4-6)

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    I am referring to the Lokian demiurgic nature of the giants, which is indeed inferior to the gods, and which like Maya has different levels, but nonetheless has the inferior fallen state* prefigured. The wolves are of the giants which come from Loki and are associated in the lore with witches and as enemies of the gods. The fourth and most inferior age is the age of the wolf. The wolf is also a protector and I've always said that the giants are the guardians of the gods and the mead, for it really depends from which position one's perspective is, nor have I ever admitted an irreconcilable duality. But since I do not admit any duality, the gods and giants are therefore not on an equal footing; and in this sense it cannot be denied that the giants are inferior to the gods.

    (* Note by fallen state I mean loss of the intellectual light.)
    "The human state is an exit." -Frithjof Schuon

    "Make me immortal in that realm where they move even as they list, in the third sphere of inmost heaven where lucid worlds are full of light." -Rig Veda IX.113

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    Wolves are associated with sin, evil, and witchcraft, and especially greed, hate, and treachery, which their names suggest. Wolves are also responsible for the final destruction of the world, which is prefigured and necessary as contraries allow for the possibility of manifestation; thus the sacrifice of Odin and Fenrir, acting as Essence and Substance, brings forth a new world, for the all-pervading Godhead is “the Absolute Truth and the primeval cause of all causes of the creation, sustenance, and destruction of the manifested universes” (Srimad Bhagavatam).

    The wolves as giants also act as guardians of the world door which in Svipdagsmol is described as the “door of death” which is none other than a reference to the initiatic death. In another sense, since the giants are deficiencies or aspects in man that must be overcome, the wolf symbolizes a fallen state or the initiate in a spiritual battle, hence Svipdag is told, “Thou never shalt enter within the house (world mountain), go forth like a wolf on thy way!” Here lies the lunar and solar doors as symbolized by the hounds that guard them one in the day and one at night. The house moreover is the world tree around which is coiled Vithofnir. At its summit is the paradise Lyfjaberg, the Hill of Healing, which (as the eternal Lyr) is described as resting on the tip of a sword which is another way of saying the narrow gate or razor’s edge. The sword Lævatein must be retrieved from hel where it lies in a chest of nine locks, one for each realm on the tree. This sword was made by Lopt (Loki) with runes by the doors of death, which is to say by the same art that created the world one may return to paradise; one descends to hel and ascends to paradise by “two wing-joints…in Vithofnir’s body” which is the “meat that men may give [the wolves]” who “leap within while they eat”; it is with Vithofnir’s feathers or wings and the sickle which cuts across time that the sword may be won, all of which is to say that the infinite is beyond all formal constraints of space and time. “Thence came I by wind-cold ways” says Svipdag who wins paradise and the sacred marriage.
    Last edited by exit; Wednesday, August 5th, 2009 at 08:37 PM. Reason: rewritten for ease of reading
    "The human state is an exit." -Frithjof Schuon

    "Make me immortal in that realm where they move even as they list, in the third sphere of inmost heaven where lucid worlds are full of light." -Rig Veda IX.113

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