Meet the Gods: Tyr
This month we get to know Tyr (pronounced like “tier” or “tear”). Despite being the god of honor and justice, and showing courage by sacrificing his hand to save the gods and uphold the law, he came to be considered one of the lesser gods.
According to “Norse Mythology for Smart People,” more than any other god, Tyr presided over matters of law and justice, but was also a Norse god of war. At one time, he is thought to have been one of the three most important gods, along with Odin and Thor.
Mars, the Roman’s principal war god, was a remake of Tyr. Being connected to Mars centuries ago indicates Tyr was significant. The connection continues today with Tuesday, which comes from the Day of Tyr (also Tiw).
According to a story written by Brandon L. Parsons in 2015, “Tyr actually didn’t begin life as a Norse god, but started off as a god of the grizzled war-like Germanic tribes that lived in the deep, dark forests of ancient northern Europe. Back in those days, he went as Tiwaz; it wasn’t until much later that the Norse up in Scandinavia adopted him as one of their own and give him the name Tyr.
“Tyr is shown to be the son of Odin, the one-eyed Allfather, the head dude of the Norse pantheon. If one goes back to the beginning, it might even be possible that at one time, Tyr was the head of the gods and was later overtaken by Odin in popularity and had to take a back-seat in all of the stories.”
The name of the rune that looks like an arrow pointed upwards is Tiwaz, from the god Tiwaz, later called Tyr. The rune denotes victory and honor.
While considered a war god, Tyr’s primary role was upholding the law and assuring justice.
He was courageous and sometimes thought to be the boldest to the Norse gods.
The one surviving tale to feature him prominently comes from “The Binding of Fenrir” (also known as Fenris) – a giant immortal wolf who would consume everything, including gods. No chains would hold him, so, according to Parsons’ story, the gods turned to dwarves who used their magic to make what looked like a silk ribbon – using the sound of a cat’s footsteps, a woman’s beard and bear sinews, among other things – but was unbreakable.
Suspecting trickery, Fenris refused to allow it to be placed on him unless one of the gods agreed to put his hand into his fang-filled mouth. Only the courageous Tyr accepted the challenge. Upon realizing he could not get free, Fenris bit off Tyr’s hand.
Much later, Fenris later goes on to swallow Odin whole, and Tyr kills and was killed by Hel’s guard dog, Garm.
While it may seem odd that the god of war was also the god of law and justice, “Norse Mythology for Smart People” notes, “For the ancient Germanic peoples, war and law were profoundly related to each other – even indissolubly intertwined.” Words would be used in place of swords in a metaphorical battle, with the victor being the side the gods felt was most just.
Tyr might be a god you would want to call upon in legal matters and other battles. Like the Norse warriors who provided him with plenty of fresh meat, red blood and his favorite alcoholic drink – mead – to give them an extra edge, you can do something similar with offerings. They often carved his rune on their weapons for added power and you can do the same with your tools.
Merry part. And merry meet again.
About the Author:
Lynn Woike was 50 – divorced and living on her own for the first time – before she consciously began practicing as a self taught solitary witch. She draws on an eclectic mix of old ways she has studied – from her Sicilian and Germanic heritage to Zen and astrology, the fae, Buddhism, Celtic, the Kabbalah, Norse and Native American – pulling from each as she is guided. She practices yoga, reads Tarot and uses Reiki. From the time she was little, she has loved stories, making her job as the editor of two monthly newspapers seem less than the work it is because of the stories she gets to tell. She lives with her large white cat, Pyewacket, in central Connecticut. You can follow her boards on Pinterest, and write to her at woikelynn at gmail dot com.