The Monstrous Wolf in Norse Mythology
Fenrir (Old Norse: “He who dwells in the marshes”) is a legendary wolf who was the son of the Aesir god Loki and the giantess Angrboda.
The Aesir gods raised Fenrir themselves in order to keep him under their control and prevent him from wreaking havoc throughout the Nine Worlds.
However, he grew at an astonishingly fast pace, and eventually, the troubled gods decided to chain him up.
The cunning gods convinced Fenrir that breaking the chains was a game and a test of his strength.
Fenrir wanted to impress the gods and earn their respect so he played along and broke the first 2 chains.
The gods knew that they needed something extraordinary if he was to be shackled by the third chain.
So the gods sent a messenger down to Svartalfheim, the realm of the dwarves.
The dwarves, being the most skilled craftspeople in the cosmos, were able to forge a chain whose strength couldn’t be equaled; it was wrought from the sound of a cat’s footsteps, the beard of a woman, the roots of mountains, the breath of a fish, and the spittle of a bird – in other words, things which don’t exist, and against which it’s therefore futile to struggle.
The final result was a chain that was given the name Gleipnir (“Open”).
When the gods presented Fenrir with this third option, he became suspicious, and he refused to be bound with it unless one of the gods would stick their hand in his mouth as a pledge of good faith.
Only Tyr (who was considered a close friend to Fenrir) was brave enough to do this because he knew that it would mean the loss of his hand.
Sure enough, when Fenrir found himself unable to break free, he ripped Tyr’s hand from its arm.
The chain was then tied to a boulder and a sword was placed in Fenrir’s jaws to hold them open.
As he howled wildly and ceaselessly, a foamy river called Ván (Old Norse: expectation) flowed from his drooling mouth.
Fenrir remained shackled until Ragnarok, when he broke free and ran throughout the world with his lower jaw against the ground and his upper jaw in the sky, devouring everything in his path.
He is even managed to kill Odin before finally being put to death by Odin’s son Víðarr.
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