September 13, 2020 3 min read 1 Comment

Who is Fenrir?

Fenrir, also called Fenrisúlfr (pronounced “FEN-rir;” Old Norse Fenrir, “He Who Dwells in the Marshes”) is known as a monstrous wolf of Norse mythology.

His significance for the pre-Christian Scandinavians is exhibited by his being portrayed on numerous existing runestones as ᚠᛖᚾᚱᛁᚱ (Fenrir).

He’s the son of the god Loki and the giantess Angrboda, which makes him the brother of the serpent Jormungand and the underworld goddess Hel.

As narrated in the tale, The Binding of Fenrir, the Aesir gods raised Fenrir themselves in order to keep him under their control and prevent him from wreaking havoc throughout the Nine Worlds.

He grew at an astoundingly fast pace and the worried gods decided to chain him up. Their first two attempts were unsuccessful; while the sly gods convinced Fenrir that it was only a game, a test of his strength, he broke through the fetters easily. For their third attempt, the gods had the dwarves forge the strongest chain ever built, which nevertheless gave the appearance of being very light and even soft to the touch.

When the gods presented Fenrir with this third fetter, he became suspicious, and he refused to be bound with it unless one of the gods would stick his or her hand in his mouth as a pledge of good faith. Only Tyr was brave enough to do this, knowing that it would mean the loss of his hand. And, sure enough, when Fenrir found himself unable to break free of his bonds, 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 “Expectation” (Old Norse Ván) flowed from his drooling mouth.


As the river’s name implies, this was not the end of Fenrir. At Ragnarok, he will break free and run throughout the world with his lower jaw against the ground and his upper jaw in the sky, devouring everything in his path. He will even kill the god Odin before finally being put to death by one of Odin’s avenging sons.


Fenrir and Other Wolves in Norse Mythology

There’s good reason to think that many of the other wolves mentioned in Old Norse literature are actually Fenrir going under different names. One Old Norse poem states that he will swallow the sun during Ragnarok, a feat which is elsewhere reserved for another wolf named Skoll (“Mockery”). Another Old Norse poem repeatedly mentions a wolf named Garm who will break free from chains at Ragnarok; this is quite possibly Fenrir being quoted under a different name. In another source, we find the wolf who will consume the moon called by the name of “Moon-garm” (Mánagarmr). Thus, the moon-eating wolf, who is elsewhere called Hati (“Hatred”) could be another extension of Fenrir.

Vikings believed that it is ultimately Fenrir who, in addition to killing Odin and destroying much of the world, will eat the sun and the moon during Ragnarok. But these wolves are never precisely defined in the primary sources, so we’re left to guess about their relationship.

Fenrir figures prominently in Norwegian and Icelandic poetry of the 10th and 11th centuries, and the poets speak nervously of the day when he will break loose.

What does Fenrir symbolise?

Fenrir was and is still considered a symbol of patience, determination & might because he has to wait and spend many years in a dungeon while chained to finally take his revenge at Ragnarok.


1 Response

Kerry-Anne Loadsman
Kerry-Anne Loadsman

November 07, 2020

Really interesting 😊
I love Wolves anyway, so this was of extra interest to me
Thank you

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