Norse Wolf

Wolves were seen as both being negative and positive to the ancient Norse people. On one hand, they represent chaos and destruction (Fenrir, Skoll, and Hati), while on the other hand, they represent bravery, loyalty, intellegence, strength, protection, and wisdom.

Norse legends speak of Odin, the god Allfather, who favored two wolves, Geri “the greedy one” and Freki “ the ravenous one,” his loyal companions and protectors. The two wolves accompany him on journeys and into battle and are always at Odin’s side. When Odin sits and dines he feeds them meat from the table for he has no need of food and only drinks mead and wine.

There is, however, a darker side to the Norse wolf mythology. The tale of the wolf entity named Fenrir begins with his birth to the god Loki and the giantess Angrboda.

It was foretold that Fenrir would kill the Norse god Odin at the battle of Ragnarok, the Viking end of the world, on the battle plains called Vigrid. To prevent this the gods decided to raise Fenrir themselves so they could keep an eye on him. Fenrir was in the beginning kept in Asgard, the home of the gods but they soon become fearful of his growing great size and bound him to a rock from which he quickly broke free. Two more times the gods tried to bind Fenrir with ever stronger leashes with no success.

Odin then sent a messenger down to the elf world to find dwarfs that would make a magical leash made of six ingredients: The sound of a cat’s walk, the beard of a woman, the roots of a mountain, the sinews of a bear, the breath of a fish, and the spittle of a bird.

When the magical leash named “Gleipnir” was finished Odin and the gods sent for Fenrir and lured him to a remote island where they told him that they wanted to test the strength of this new leash. They told him they were sure that it would break under his great power.

Fenrir didn’t trust that they would free him if he couldn’t break the leash so he told the gods that if one of them would place their hand in his mouth he would allow the leash to be place around his leg. All the gods refused his offer except for one, the god Tyr.

Tyr put his hand in the wolf’s mouth but once the leash was secured to Fenrir and he realized he wasn’t able to escape the gods laughed and he bit off Tyr’s hand. The gods bound Fenrir to a huge rock where he sits waiting for the battle of Ragnarok.