Fenrir

Does anyone have much knowledge of Fenrir and the role he plays at Ragnarökr? How does he break free? I can’t remember, but I’m trying to work my way through the Edda to find out. I need to gather up information about Gullveig, aka Angrboða and the Járnviðr, as well as any connection she might have with Fenrir, besides being his mother. I read something in the Edda about how the wolf conceals himself in the Járnviðr (the Iron Wood), but what I don’t know is what was meant by the wolf. Which wolf? For what purpose?

I have some ideas I want to work with in an upcoming chapter, but I need to have all my information straight, because I don’t want to conflict with what the lore has to say.

Any thoughts?

Something I found that is of interest, although not directly related to my question. Found it on Wikipedia.

In the first of two stanzas mentioning Fenrir in Vafþrúðnismál Odin poses a question to the wise jötunn Vafþrúðnir:
“Much I have travelled, much have I tried out,

much have I tested the Powers;

from where will a sun come into the smooth heaven

when Fenrir has assailed this one?”

In the stanza that follows Vafþrúðnir responds that Sól (here referred to as Álfröðull) will bear a daughter before Fenrir attacks her, and that this daughter shall continue the paths of her deceased mother through the heavens.[7]

Published by Jessica Urquhart

First off, who am I? My name is Jessica Urquhart. Writing has always been a hobby of mine, which got its start in middle and highschool, when I'd write short stories for the amusement of my friends and classmates. Currently, I'm working on my first book, my one true love of a story I've been saying I would one day write. Well, that day has come. If you'd care to follow my musings on the adventures and hurdles of writing my first fantasy book, then please, read my blog.

27 thoughts on “Fenrir

  1. Wow, I am not well versed enough in the lore to give you any insights but I am impressed with what you already know and it has peaked my interest enough to find out what I can and invest my time in learning the beliefs and lore of my forefathers.

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      1. Oh, geez. I wrote you ate a good teacher instead of are a good teacher. I need to learn how to type and spell. You are smart AND wise. Resistance is futile. We, your devoted minions, await your message. 👨🏻‍💻👨‍💻👨🏼‍💻👨🏽‍💻

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      2. Lmao! If I’m resorting to eating teachers, then it would be reasonable to say that I have gotten so lost in my book, that I’ve started believing that I actually am a dark elf! Haha!

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      3. I suppose that could be a faster way to gain knowledge, eat the source. 😆. Oh, I’m fully stocked with Tiffany Aching material now. My grand daughter has already started. Also, I ordered my first Norse Primer for reference so I can follow along. I’m really feeling my inner Viking. I make knives as a hobby for myself and close friends. A saex with a traditional sheath would be cool.

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      4. Hell yeah! I have a thing for weapons with an edge! Knives or a saex. I think Dagmar says it all! I just read something today in the Edda. Óðinn instructed a young man he was fostering that when he kills a foe, possibly beasts, that he should immediately eat the heart to gain its strengths and such. He gained the ability to understand the speech of animals by eating the heart of a monstrous beast.

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      5. That’s very interesting. We still have some related traditions. When I was growing up, when you killed your first deer, you had to take a bite of the heart and give thanks to the animal for it’s sacrifice. Most saw it as a rite of passage and paid no further attention but to me, I felt a spiritual connection. I’ve told people how I used to catch birds and small animals with my hands, not to harm them but because I wanted to connect with them. A squirrel broke me of that when it bit through my thumb with his chisel like teeth. Being around animals all the time, wild and domestic, on the farm of my grand uncle in Quincy Florida, I think it was just a natural curiosity. City folk laugh at me and don’t believe its possible but us country boys know better. I never tried to befriend a snake or a bobcat. I left them alone, lol. I imagine the Norsemen had lots of wildlife around and later domestic animals that the depended on to survive. There was a relationship there, no doubt.

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      6. Yes, animals were sacred to them. I was much like you as a child, but as much as I loved shooting guns, my shitty long bow and playing with swords, I abstained from hunting,except to tag along.

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      7. You learned earlier than I did. But, I was raised with a rigid code of conduct I don’t see anymore. The hunting season hunter is no hunter at all. When my family refused to eat fish and game, I stopped hunting and fishing because I never on e took a fish or animal that wasn’t used to sustain me. I saved tons of money in my early 20’s by taking food from garden and land instead of buying it. I bought the things I needed to go slong with the main food items. I canned and froze in season so I could eat out of season vegetables and meat. I was never more healthier. This was the way I was taught by my extended family and I just brought it forward. I miss it but I only shoot animals with my camera now.

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      8. Honestly, I’d love to find a true expert on the lore who could mentor me. Doing this all on my own is proving exceedingly difficult. The more I read, the more unanswerable questions I seem to have. When I try to find answers to my questions, I can tell that most of the available sources, at least online, are unreliable and misinformed. There is too much Christian influence that distorts the true meaning. For example, there are terms for light elves, dark elves, black elves and dwarves. There are nine realms. We have humans, Jötuns, Alfár, Svartálfar, Vanir, Æsir.. That I can think of. Most people try to lump dokkalfar, Svartálfar and dvergar into one category, but that feels wrong to me. From what I glean from the lore is the dark elves and elves were all Mímir’s children, therefore essentially gods. They split into the two groups of elves and Svartálfar after Mímir’s son durinn rebelled. Durinn is Surtr, the one who will be responsible for Ragnarökr. My intuition tells me that the dark elves are neither black as pitch nor are they dwarves.

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      9. That is the hardest part of research. The internet is usually a resource for anectdotal evidence copied 10,000 times into all the sources available. Truly, one must know the language of old Norse and visit the libraries and read the text from those times. Still it’s a struggle to relate it to our modern thinking versus their way of explaining their belief when they understood it intuitively. What do you think of Grimfrost.com and their book. I’ve thought about it as a grammar school introduction but I’m not ready for the post graduate studies. I wonder if the dark elves were more of a division of our inherent existance of good and bad, dark and light. The Asian yin and yang is extremely well documented for every entity on earth and the universe. They’ve had 7000 years to get it right and so I subscribe to the yin and yang and also see the exact same thing in other ancient cultures just the terminology is different. Not sure at all if this is the case with Norse beliefs. I do agree that Christian influence has corrupted a lot of how we see the world in the past. How do we get to the truth and understanding of the truth? I’m just guessing but I hope there is an actual subject matter experts beyond the internet hype.

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      10. I don’t know that website. But personally, I believe, much from intuition, but also from looking at the lore in a literal way as I try to read between the lines. I see major similarities between the Gaelic mythological age and the Norse mythology, but what most people do is assume that it is all superstition and hocus pocus and result of an overactive imagination of people trying to explain the unseen forces around them. Well, a part of that may be so, but I think that it is really something far more ancient that is telling the history of our world and the com in of advanced beings to our world. There is a story in the lore of how Heimdallr was placed in a ship as a boy in put into an induced sleep form the duration of his journey from another world to ours. When he arrived, his mission was to educate humans and help them evolve with wisdom and goodness. Then he interbred with humans for the purpose of adding adding his DNA to ours and he established the classes. Nine worlds. The world tree cannot be seen by human eyes. This is cosmology! SciFi!

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      11. Strange. But, I’ve written a story about that where an insular society intends to facilitate a new mankind without the beast within and that humans were the gods first effort to breed themselves with early humans but the divinity and the beast are always at war in man and we transform from one to the other, which my recent comments about our humanity and progress to divinity is based on. I truly believe this. But my story was a way of introducing my belief through fiction. The truth is we have always held the same belief expressed a thousand different ways. Why would the Old Norse not explain the truth in their own way. They could not have known what modern science has taught us about the universe and the earth. They would have to find a way to teach through symbology. For instance, if I gave you the formula that demonstrates all living things and all the scientific terminology was indecipherable, the message is lost but if I explain it in common terms then people can understand and retell the story. So my thought is the symbology of the lore is a secret code that points to the origins and the end. Or not. But I like the thought of it.

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      12. That’s precisely my point. Only I think the lore had more ancient forgotten origins. Some kind of cataclysmic event likely took place, which displaced and scattered people when everything fell apart, and so, these people likely understanding and having been advanced tried to keep that knowledge alive, but throughout ages, so much would have been lost or forgotten or misunderstood by later generations as they devolved back into primacy. Then came the Germanic and vikings, carrying the remainder of what survived of the lore handed down to them.

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      13. I’ve heard there are strong similarities between the Edda’s and the vedic texts.

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      14. That just makes too much sense not to be true. In this massive DNA regression being done by Ancestry and Nat Geo, they have traced back the genetics to about 140 pairs for all 4 billion of us. The thought is environmental conditions caused a massive die off of humans and only the 140 survived to restart us. It’s possible, this setback slowed our progress. Thete have been 5 die offs in history abd supposedly we ate entering the sixth. They don’t happen overnight unless there is some cataclysmic event but the dieoffs in terms of earth history are rapid. NASA is serious about other world colonization. Imagine what lore will evolve on another world after 3 millennium.

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      15. I did some looking regarding wolves in Norse belief and found reference to Fenrir the wolf. It seems he was a symbol of the darker side of man. In various names and forms, he represented various acts interpreted as difficulties of life. I even read where it was Fenrir that killed Odin until Fenrir was killed by an avenging son. I oversimplify here but it was news to me and I have no current fram of reference to know if this is true or popular interpretation. With all mythologies of the world, the stories evolve from generation to generation and many interpretations exist. I have no idea which is true to the original.

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      16. The story of Fenrir killing Óðinn and his son killing Fenrir is a prophecy received by Óðinn that foretells Ragnarökr, the end of the worlds. It is not interpretation, it is prophecy.

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      17. That makes sense. If Fenrir represents our more beastly nature then the end of Odin and Fenrir would mean the end of everything or perhaps a transition. Is there anything in the prophecy or lore beyond Ragnarökr?

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      18. You’re looking at it metaphorically. Try seeing it literally. Óðinn is one of the cosmic Powers. As are all the gods, or they are super advanced lifeforms who dwell within a connected system, either planetary or solar. Look to the stars. Here’s a thought. Have you ever wondered what the universe looks like from the outside? Is it a life form? Whatever. The gods are not representations of ourselves. They are our ancestors, they are real beings from other worlds. They are spiritually advanced, rather than merely technologically advance as we are now.

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      19. Yes, a true reality exists we can’t quite answer yet but I do believe the same thing. My work involves quantum science and radiation to a very deep level. If you can force yourself to look into it you’ll see that it supports you all the way. The concept of time is purely human and it is skewed by modern life. Past, present, and future exist simultaneously and is different for each person or entity in a given space. We now believe that our universe is one of countless universes. If we study molecular structures down to the sub atomic particle, we find the universe mimics these particles in behavior. Think of it as a drop of water in a river that empties into the ocean that soans the world every 1000 years. Now reach into that river and take a drink. Aside from some organic material, that water is as old as the universe and it sustains your life energy. I have a device in my lab that meadures the intensity of the ekectrical field that surrounds every living thing. It’s like a finger print, unique to every individual, but I can measure it. It true, humans have an aura that never ceases until life ceases. A lot of what I do harnesses energy at the atomic level. I can measure accurately an electrical current at 10 X -19 power. Thats a decimal point, 19 zeros and a 1. This isn’t impressive at all to the science community. But, to say this has always been an intrinsic truth from our very origin of the universe is an example of how are discoveries are new to us but not the the physical universe. So what exists out there that we can’t possibly know just yet? This thrills me to ponder.

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      20. Their names might even be titles rather than specific persons. Or missions. Heimdallr could have been the name of the mission to seed humans, at least a portion of them with certain qualities. There is something in the prophecy of what comes after. To understand the new beginning, you need to understand the creation story of Norse lore. How Yggdrasil was formed and all grew out of it. The universe expanding. It will tremble or fall and die. Then a new tree will grow, and from it all will begin anew. All souls at their core continue to exist, and will take on new incarnations as the new worlds evolve.

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  2. I decided to look at your blog. I just read along until I came to this.

    There is not actually a lot of detail as to how Fenrir escapes. It is just said that it will happen. He was bound to out of concern for his ferocity and his immense growth. Taking it all literally, maybe the expectation was that Fenrir would continue growing and get big and strong enough to eventually break his bonds.

    These are from Voluspa.org, which uses the Henry Bellows translation of the Elder Edda. From Voluspa and Grimnismal respectively. Notably, Garmr making a racket is connected to the tether(literally “fast, as in to hold fast) breaking and the freki(ravenous, as well as a byword for a wolf) getting out. Gnipahellir is also telling. Fenrir was likely bound in a pit to a pillar or boulder, by the description we have of the story. Gnipahellir would refer to a cave or a pit. Garmr is likely just another term for Fenrir, not a separate being.

    Geyr nú Garmr mjök Now Garmr barks a lot
    fyr Gnipahelli, in front of Gnipahellir,
    festr mun slitna the tether will break,
    en freki renna; and the ravenous one escape;
    ——————————————————————————————————————————————–
    Austr sat in aldna In the east sat the old female
    í Járnviði in Járnviðr
    ok fæddi þar and there bore
    Fenris kindir; Fenrir’s kin;
    verðr af þeim öllum there will come of them all
    einna nokkurr one particular one
    tungls tjúgari a snatcher of the moon
    í trölls hami. in a troll’s form.

    Fyllisk fjörvi It fills itself with the vitals
    feigra manna, of the doomed
    rýðr ragna sjöt reddens the dwellings of the regin
    rauðum dreyra; with red gore;
    svört verða sólskin black the sunbeams become
    um sumur eftir, in summers after,
    veðr öll válynd. the weather all shifty.
    Vituð ér enn – eða hvat? Do you still seek to know – or what?

    ——————————————————————————————————————————————-
    Sköll heitir ulfr, er fylgir inu skírleita goði
    til varna viðar, en annarr Hati,
    hann er Hróðvitnis sonr, sá skal fyr
    heiða brúði himins.

    Skoll is the wolf | that to Ironwood
    Follows the glittering god,
    And the son of Hrothvitnir, | Hati, awaits
    The burning bride of heaven.

    Fenris kindir can also be Fenrir’s children. Hrothvitnir is taken as another name for Fenrir, as it means “well known wolf” or something like that. Hati is after the sun, and Skoll is after the Moon. Vafþrúðnismál has Fenrir himself as the one that devours the Sun. One solution is that all these wolves were originally one being, and so they tended to get conflated later on. Hati(hate) and Skoll(treachery, mockery) might have been terms associated with Fenrir as attributes. I know of at least one use of Fenrir’s name as part of a kenning for some kind of jotun. Though it might not refer to Fenrir the wolf, as Fenrir refers to something that “is of the fen.”

    Another solution is that Fenrir’s children or siblings, raised in the Ironwood by a troll woman, were seen as constantly pursuing the Sun and Moon, until the day in which Fenrir will actually catch the Sun and Moon after he gets loose. Wolves are pack hunters after all. The pursuing wolves(Skoll and Hati) overlapping or blocking the Sun or Moon at times might have been how the ancestors saw eclipses. In the Vedas there are a few references to a demon that darkens or hides the Sun, and the gods put the Sun back. The ancient Egyptian stories had a great serpent pursuing the Sun. There is similar folklore in other places.

    In older myths where Tyr/Tiwaz was the name of the highest god, it was most likely that he was the main enemy of the Wolf. It makes sense, given Tyr’s constant association with Fenrir throughout the rune poems, kennings, and myths we have recorded. Odin seems to have become conflated with some of Tyr’s attributes at some point. Notably, in the references to Ragnarok or combat with the Wolf in the old poetry, Tyr is not mentioned. The only place where Tyr is said to kill Garmr is in Snorri’s Prose Edda. I suspect this is another case of things getting conflated. Snorri also seems to have wanted to tidy things up, and Tyr’s role was a hanging thread.

    Multiple sources say that Vidar, son of Odin, will be the one to kill Fenrir after Fenrir devours Odin. This is either by tearing his jaws apart or stabbing him in the heart. Fenrir is supposed to have his jaws open from the heavens to the ground, devouring everything he can. Vidar stomps his lower jaw with his boot to halt Fenrir, and then kills him.

    What the Ironwood is exactly is mysterious. There is little on it aside from a few poetic references. Snorri’s reference in the Prose Edda seems to be gleaned from the older poems, not anything original. A giantess or troll woman is there, and she gives birth to wolf jotnar. One of these wolves might swallow a heavenly body. If you have not waded through Grimm’s Teutonic Mythology, I would recommend it. There may be some obscure reference from broader Germanic lore that can fill in the gaps. I am drawing a blank, as I cannot think of anything relevant. There are plenty of stories of forests with monsters in them.

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