Tag Archives: Nordic

Tiw and the Wolf

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There is no creature more closely associated with death, destruction, and man-killing in Indo-European thought than the wolf/dog. So it is not at all surprising that we should find Tiw, whose best (surviving) association is martial in nature, so closely associated with the wolf.

According to the Prose Edda only Tiw was brave enough to feed the Fenriswulf (Wolf of the Fens), and so earned the by-name “Feeder of the Wolf“; which no more means, simply, that Tiw regularly poured out the kibble-and-bits then the poetic kenning “feed the ravens” meant that a warrior was going out to sit on a bench in the local park and scatter seed for the birds. In both cases the kenning is based upon observed behaviors of the raven and the wolf in relation to the battlefield, and their natures as carrion creatures, as eaters of the dead.

And so, as with “to feed the raven”, the notion of “feeding the wolf”, meant to engage in man-killing, to make war.

This is the function of the warrior and god of war… to kill the enemy, and to thereby feed both wolf and raven.

The same poeticism is — not surprisingly given the overtly poetic nature of our sources, not to mention the chief god of our pantheon — to be found in Tiw’s other by-name, the Leavings of the Wolf, which does not refer, simply, “to everything but Tiw’s hand (which the Wolf bit off)”, but rather to what is left of a man after the wolf of death, the wolf of the grave, has had its fill. These connotations to the Fenriswulf are clear and evident in his siblings (Hell, the Wyrm), whose birth and relation form the background of the “binding of the Fenriswulf” myth as we have it from Snorri.

And what is left of a man after the wolf of the grave has had its fill is spelt out throughout the heroic poetry of our ancestors, ie. the name undying, but perhaps most memorably represented in the most well-known of the Havamal verse, “Cattle die, kinsmen die, and so shall you yourself, but I know one thing that never dies, the praise of one’s worthy deeds.

That the “Leavings of the Wolf” is a kenning for glory is seen in Snorri’s reference to the use of his name (Tyr) in reference to men of exceptional boldness (and wisdom), in its poetic use in praise of warrior-kings, and in its ancient usage as a general word for any deity individually, and of all the deities collectively.

The root of this word/name traces back to the same root that gave us various words for the sky and day, as well as the names of various (ahem) “skyfathers” (eg. Zeus) including the prototypical Skyfather (ie. Dyauspita). And so at the root of the notion of (ahem) “god” as manifest in the word tiv and its Indo-European cognates, and which distinguishes it from any of the host of other words that also “mean god”, such as the word god itself for example (but also regin, vear, aesir, etc.) is the notion of “heavenly radiance”.

The line between godhood, that is tiv-hood, and glory, is clearly a very fine matter in the lore. In Sanskrit, this same word (deva) can refer to anything of excellence.

So, warfare. And death and glory. But not necessarily glory, the achievement of excellence, in regards to war alone as the association with knowledge and wisdom might indicate.

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However, in Tiw’s association with the wolf, which dates at least back to the Vendel period as evidenced in at least three of the bracteates of the era, we see nothing that is not paralleled in Woden’s Eddic relationship with the wolf. In the Griminsmal for example we read that Woden feeds his wolves great chunks of meat, but that he sustains himself on wine alone… the great chunks of meat referencing the bodies of the battle-slain while the wine (of memory and toasting) references the heroic glory of the battle-slain.

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It is as much on this point — ie. the relation of both Tiw and Woden to the wolf and specifically to the Fenriswulf, and to warfare itself, — as in the P.I.E. roots and I-E associations of the name Tiw, that academics theorized that Tiw once occupied a higher position in the sphere of warfare and the pantheon in general.

By the same virtue, others have speculated that Tiw was just another name For Woden.

Indigenous belief, Christianity and Ancestor Worship

An interesting question was asked over the chat in yesterdays Mimir’s Brunnr; How do you reconcile indigenous ancestor worship with generations of Christian ancestors?

I’d like to say the question baffles me. As much as the Christian denunciation of Heathenry as our ancestral faith because, “your ancestors were all Christian!”.

I’d like to say it baffles me, the sheer narrow minded, intellectualized and artificial nature of both the question and denunciation, but if I did it would only be by virtue of hindsight. Indeed, it is something I continue to wrestle with even today, for all that Wyrd has already taken care of all this for us.

I mean, we might have a problem with it, ie. Christianity, but there we have have, not only in the last, what, 50 generations or so of our ancestry, but outward and surrounding us in the present-tense, among our family, friends, and community.

We either have Christianity surrounding us among our folk, or we have the product/s of our culturo-historical experience with Christianity; of which we people of Anglo-Nordic belief are ourselves one example of.

Whether you can reconcile it in your mind or not, well, like “horns and horses” or “goats and thunder”, THERE IT IS. All of a piece in the heritage set at the foot of your cradle.

Something that I spotted out fairly early on as a Heathen was a tendency, perhaps subconscious as was the case with me, but a tendency nevertheless to imagine that the adoption of different gods somehow made us an entirely different form of man from our generations of Christian ancestors. And it only takes a sideways glance at 50 mph to see, historically, where this emphasis on ideological differences comes from. Who was it, historically, that imagined their ancestors were a completely different form of man? Such that they called them soulless, godless, lawless savages, and (ahem) “refused” to even bury their dead in the same graveyards as their ancestors?

So, while there is an ideological division there, certainly worthy of our thought and consideration, it was not born of our “folk-soul”. And it should never be allowed to define our folk-soul, which would, by its very nature, attempt to define our folk-soul out of existence.

And certainly, while I am none too sure about your own ancestors, mine weren’t exactly the “Church Fathers” demanding, under threat of law, that my ancestors bury their dead, not in native graveyards, but in Christian graveyards. My ancestors, Christian though they many have thought themselves, if only by virtue of there having been no other viable option at the time, lived under the yoke of the Church Fathers; where they never felt quite so comfortable as the Church Fathers told them they should, and so ultimately landed us where we, as people of Anglo-Nordic belief, are today, ie. not under the yoke of the Church Fathers.

Certainly, I don’t doubt that I have my ancestors, some of them quite immediate, who might conceivably have been quite mortified at my rejection of Christianity. But then, my maternal grandfather was a church-goer, not a “holy-roller”, but a man who behaved as though he had an obligation to get out there with the community every Sunday and spend some time thinking about God. He also use to tell me that “the Old Man is cracking his whip again!” when a thunderstorm was rolling in, bought me the first book I ever found on the runes (Tony Willis’ Runic Workbook lol), and seemed interested in my initial writings on Anglo-Nordic belief — “you’ve got some pretty deep thoughts there!” — while he was out here on Vancouver Island visiting just prior to coming down with cancer, et al.

When I call upon my ancestors and make offerings to them, I call upon them all. And much like the living, there might be some who want nothing of it. That is their choice, for them to make. Enjoy sheol, I guess? But on my end, as a person of Anglo-Nordic belief, it is offered to all, in thanks and remembrance of all … be they Anglo-Nordic of any kind or otherwise (eg. Christian, Slavic, Mi’kmaq).

The wheel keeps on rolling. As ever.

Heathen Hiking and the Wedding of Gerd

It has been a busy and eventful past two years around this southern Van. Island hearth!

To start, after some four years together my girlfriend and I got married in June of 2018. Lacking any Heathen community in the area, we had the J.P. take care of the official stuff at our home, first thing in the morning, before heading over to Caleb Pike Heritage Park and taking our vows, before the gods and our gathered friends and family. Some of these, namely family, could not make it as a result of the distances involved (2000+ kms!), but we nevertheless had an intimate turn of about a dozen or so people; the perfect size for both our venue and allotted budget!

The venue couldn’t have been better; a heritage park with heritage house situated on an old apple orchard, in a rural setting, and just down the road from the southern parking lot of some of our most memorable hikes, along the Gowlland Tod range. The weather was threatening in the distance, but a nice blue patch of sky remained overhead for the duration of the event. We took our vows outside, and the rustic setting was punctuated by a small family of deer that took it upon themselves to attend.

The ceremony itself, which blended the popular expectations of our intimates with the essentials of the elder beliefs, was officiated by our close friend, renowned academic and author, and fellow Anglo-Nordic Heathen, Richard Rudgley.


Within two days we were off to Vancouver for an old school train ride up through the Rocky Mountains to Valemont, British Columbia. As we neared our destination, I decided to take one more look at all the particulars and found that the taxi service we were relying on to get us up to our first cabin, just a few kms outside of Mount Robson Park, but some 35 kms from our drop-off point, had just up and gone out of business! For all of that, the owner of the second cabin we would be staying at, Sandy of Twin Peaks Resort, agreed to come pick us up and give us a ride up to our first cabin; while Kurtis, proprietor of Mount Robson Mountain River Lodge (our first cabin), gave us a ride back down to Valemont when our stay with him had concluded.

And speaking of Mount Robson Mountain River Lodge, this was the view we enjoyed from our private cabin…


As per the resort’s name, that is Mount Robson dominating the scene; the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies, coming in at 3,954 meters in elevation (above sea-level). And absolutely breath-taking. We could have just sat there on our deck, or lounging in bed if we preferred, and looked at it for the next 3 days. And it would have been worth every penny! Absolutely recommended for anyone ever thinking of heading out that way!

As it was, we had plans. Plans which involved, not admiring Mount Robson from an easy distance, but getting right up into his face, to soak our feet in Berg Lake, which sits at the base of the peak and is fed from the glacier that sits atop it.

And so we set out around 5am to do exactly that the first morning after our arrival. The first leg of our journey carried us to the entrance of the park, some 3 to 4 kms from our cabin, which we reached just after bright Sunne had crested the mountainous horizon and furnishing us with another breath-taking view of all the surrounding peaks.

Again we could have just sat ourselves down at that point and soaked it up all day. And truth be told, there was not a single step along the way — not a SINGLE step — where we were not utterly enthralled by the beauty and majesty of our surroundings. Okay. The second leg that carried us another 3 to 4 kms to the trailhead was what it was, ie. a nice walk amidst the trees, but from there forward we had to keep reminding ourselves that, while we afforded ourselves time to enjoy the hike, we were, ultimately, on the clock and could not lose ourselves in it.

This is is what greeted us soon after getting on to the trail, as we reached Kinney Lake…


As so it continued as we made our way up around Kinney Lake and into the Valley of a Thousands Falls. Now, I didn’t see a thousand. Or even a hundred. Maybe it was the time of year? Or a dry year? Or marketing hyperbole! But if one kept one’s eyes peeled, quite a number like this dotted the valley,


And then it was up, up, up(!) until we at last came to the roaring Emperor Falls, which one is able to get up close and personal with, as close as wisdom will allow, and cool off in the heavy spray of.


The picture doesn’t do it justice. Nor even the video I have. In its presence, the sense of its power is immense and palpable. Only to be compared with a good, prairie thunderstorm. Naturally, I had to get even closer than this pic indicates, but one would be a fool to underestimate the might of this etin-force.

And so we carried on, in awe, until, at length we at last arrived at Berg Lake, sitting in the shadow of the peak of Mount Robson. It was a hot day, in the upper 20s Celsius, and the last leg of the journey to the lake was rocky, dry, treeless, and anything but shadowy. And the ice-cold spray from Emperor Falls had long since evaporated. I used our coats and sweaters from the morning, along with the hardy bushes that dot the terrain there, to set us up a little shelter from the heat, and despite the rocky, broken terrain, it was shoes and socks off and into the glacial lake (chunks of ice were floating in it). The sheer contrast in temperatures, and the difficulty walking shoe-less, didn’t make an actual swim all that inviting, but feet in, a good soaking of the head and neck, et al. was infinitely refreshing. And possibly even necessary to avoid heat stroke.


Mount Robson peak is just off camera to the right in the above picture. I’m looking out across the lake at the glacier as it creeps, imperceptibly  down the side of the mountain and into the lake.

Incidentally, in answer to the famous meme, yes, I do still see frost giants around.

Here we have a pic of Mount Robson from the shore of Berg Lake:


One of the rules that we made on our hike up was “no looking back”, with the logic being to make good time on the one hand, and to save some sights for the hike back down on the other. Needless to say, it was regularly broken. And likewise, it really didn’t matter with vistas like this spread out before us:


We finally made it back to our cabin … sometime between 7 and 8 pm that evening; having covered a distance of 47.2 kms, with an elevation gain of some 1,384 meters, the better bulk of which took place over 2 to 3 kms as you leave the Valley of a Thousand Falls and start moving toward Emperor Falls and, further on,  Berg Lake.

We were exhausted to say the least. “Smiling and fulfilled” exhausted!

Down points of the hike? Virtually none. Other than that the trail is very tame and sees a fair amount of tourist traffic in high season. It is not as “backwoods” as one might imagine; though I’d still much prefer to get lost in the backwoods of the island than in the middle of hundreds of miles of unbounded Canadian wilderness. Which, if you’re not a moron, won’t happen here. While we saw some interesting birds, and a (not at all unfamiliar) sign that warned of a cougar in the area, our BIG wildlife sighting of the hike was a lone marmot.

Anyway, my wife hit the hay almost immediately after walking through the door, while I decided I was going to get a look at the stars once the daylight had vanished. Having forgotten what time of year it was, and how far north we were, it was around 1am before I finally realized that the daylight was not going to disappear from the horizon and I crawled into bed. In fact, as I learned, we would get solid night, but not until about 3am.

The next couple of days were spent lounging, enjoying the view, small walks up the river, dinner with our hosts, Kurtis and Claudia, and their other guests, and even a few cracks of thunder and flashes of lighting… though don’t let the locals know what a thrill you get from them, ie. forest fires, underscoring a point that I have always emphasized about Thunor’s popular designation as “god of thunder” and that none of our ancestors ever prayed for thunder and lightning or violent weather. Not that I don’t get it. You have no idea! But the point remains.

And then it was down to Twin Peaks Resort, a very nice cabin, with a very nice view in its own right, and the fine hospitality of our hosts, Sandy and Donna. Sandy (Alex) was a bit of a character — of the pop-to-the-chops variety the Havamal speaks of and we guys all know very well from our common interactions with each other, ie. male “flirtation/teasing” — but all-in-all a friendly, good natured man, and an impeccable host. Beyond helping us out to our first cabin, he and Donna also gave us a lift from town or to town on a couple of occasions, and dropped us off dark and early at the bus station the morning of our departure.

The second challenge of the honeymoon was to hike to the summit of Mount Terry Fox; made even more of a challenge, not only by the accumulation of fatigue, but also by the fact that the region’s only taxi service, now defunct as mentioned above, added upwards of 15 to 20 kms, along the highway, to the hike. But we decided to tackle it anyway, as it wasn’t like we could just come back next weekend. As it worked out however, the fear of heights I so rudely discovered I had a few years back, ie. the Goldstream Trestle, kicked in. Now, don’t get me wrong… Sandy. I have been back to the Goldstream Trestle (internet search it!) on a couple of occasions already, to face it and face it down. And I have hiked some fairly precarious trails and “trails” around the island here, which might not have presented a longer drop, but which would mess a person up all the same, with help every bit as many hours away. I am not easily deterred. And particularly here, realizing the potentially unique opportunity that was before me. And I hold a grudge against my fears. And I saw some of the pictures of people who had made it to the top, eg. “old people”.  As it was, we were about 3/4s of the way up the switchbacks — very  steep stuff here — before I noticed that I had begun to hyperventilate and my nerve at last broke. My wife, who skips and dances across the aforementioned Goldstream Trestle, perhaps seeking to make me feel better, said that, while she has no phobia regarding heights, was herself very apprehensive of the path and the incline. Very narrow path, Very steep slope. Fairly moist earth, not entirely ungiven to give way beneath one’s step, with a fall resulting in a fast plunge of maybe 50′ tops before one’s descent would have been stopped dead by a tree. With a lot more ground to cover if it was not. And so, as they say, discretion was acknowledged as the better part of valour, all things considered, and we turned back.


The memory of it still hurts. Especially having looked at our hike tracker and seen how close we were to (potentially) more tolerable terrain. But also, providing (further) incentive to one day return!

We filled the remainder of our honeymoon with walks to town and back, a couple of smaller hikes (the pics of which are on my wife’s laptop at the moment), and really, just some well earned rest and relaxation, doing the things newlyweds do on their honeymoon.

All-in-all it was an unforgettable experience. The perfect honeymoon. No matter the taste of humble pie, which any man who has ever put himself out there has to taste on the odd occasion, if he is any kind of man at all.

From there it was on a greyhound bus and back home to the island and the radiant sea!

We’ve been on a few different hikes since that time of course, mostly covering familiar territory, but also out to Botany Beach and Avatar Grove during a vacation in Port Renfrew, on Van Island’s (south) west coast, but we began to ease off on these after we learned that my wife was pregnant. And, on Dec.9th of this year, we welcomed our daughter into the world!

alfwinn She weighed in at 8 lbs, 9 oz. At least a pound more than most of us expected. On the 18th of December she was placed in my hands, sprinkled with water and named Aelfwynn Victoria-Marie. The middle names are a combination of the names of my maternal grandmother (Victoria) — not to mention Alfie’s city of birth, and the queen it was named after! — and my wife’s paternal grandmother (Marie), while Aelfwynn is of course Old English, in-keeping with my son’s name (Eldred), meaning “elf-joy”, and also being the name of the daughter of Aethelflaed, Lady of the Mercians, and niece of King Alfred the Great. And here, the picture to the right says it all! Aelfwynn is aelfscinu, radiating with the beauty and joy/friendliness of the elves!

So, it looks like, for the next few years anyway, hiking in general, and “adventurous hikes” in specific, are going to be anywhere from nonexistent to few and far between. That said, we will be building her up for a love of the outdoors. And I also have enough hikes as yet undealt with here to justify another “Heathen Hiking” entry or two, but for the time being, they are on the back-burner. I have however taken to doing some genealogy, which has furnished me with an interesting story or two regarding my early “British North America” (paternal) ancestors, and a lot of historical background concerning Upper Canada and Hasting County, including some of the superstitions held by the English, Scots, Germans and Irish that populated the new province in the late 18th and early 19th century. Ultimately, it’s the kind of thing that anyone outside of my family, or at least outside of North America, might not be all that keen on, but which I’ll probably throw up all the same. If however you are a Canadian, a real Canadian, ie. First and/or Founding Nations, or at least aspire to be — you can do it!!! — this is something you would be wise, and enriched, even obliged, to learn something about… be it from me, or the stories of our ancestors, and anyone but the CBC and its less than wholesome “political narrative” ilk.

Be whole!


Rebuttal: The Role of Tyr (by Mark Puryear)

I came across this article on Tiw (Tyr) recently,

The Role of Tyr

I’ve heard of the man who wrote it. Good people have good things to say about him. And I have due respect for his handling of the subject. Simply, some things are open to debate, and should be debated. And on such matters as these I’d prefer that a person disagree with me for the right reasons rather than agree with me for the wrong reasons.

That said, I disagree with much of what is written, and so was prompted to write this rebuttal.

So, my quotes of the author below are partial text. I encourage you to read the article in order to receive the full context and weight of the author’s argument. And so on to it,

The idea that Tyr was the original sky-father seems to have originated with Jacob Grimm. The flaw in his reasoning is that it is solely based upon etymological conclusions, which do not coincide with any other evidence known to us.

In fact, the Old English Rune Poem clearly establishes a link between Tiw, glory, stars, and the heavens. The sentiments find parallel in the ancient Vedic perception of Dyauspitar as a black horse (the night sky) draped in a necklace of pearls (the stars). It is also echoed in the Greek custom of naming the heavenly bodies, particularly the stars, planets and constellations, after the gods and heroes of their pantheon.

We also have the Abecedarium Nordmannicum and it’s cosmological reference “Tiu (Heaven), Birch (Earth), and Man in the middle”.

And of course we also have the Hymskvidha and it’s abundance of “sky references”; from the name of Tiw’s father, Hymir (dusk, twilight); to the name of Hymir’s best ox (Heavensbellower); to placement of Hymir’s hall at “the edge of heaven” (ie. the horizon).

All of this fits in quite well with the etymology of Tiw’s name, which itself goes back to a Proto-Indo-European that references the heavens and their brilliance.

A better argument against Tiw as Skyfather would focus on the slight distinction that exists between the P.I.E. root that gave us the god-name Tiw and that which gave us such other Indo-European god-names as Dyauspitar (Sanskrit), Sius (Old Persian), Zeus (Greek), and Jupiter (Latin). As I understand it, these P.I.E. roots are “siblings”, themselves both deriving from a deeper, common root, but they are not identical. The root that gave us the god-name Tiw yielded, instead, deva (Sanskrit), daeva (Avestan), deus (Latin), dia (Old Irish, reflective of pan-Celtic), and Dievas (Lithuanian, reflective of pan-Baltic). All of these words mean, to the modern Western understanding, “god”. More precisely, they mean “excellent, shining, glorious, renowned one; paragon”.

Only in the Germanic tongues, and possibly the Baltic tongues, did this precise root develop into the proper name of an individual god.

And interestingly, only in the Germanic tongues did the word for day stem from an entirely unrelated root.

One might thus reason that Tiw is not so much the “Skyfather” of the Germanic peoples, as he is the “Gloryfather”, a refinement of a basic concept, similar in some regards to what we see in the relation between the Greek Aether, Uranus, Hyperion and Zeus.

But where then is the “Germanic Skyfather”?

Some might be inclined to answer that with Woden; though Woden stands up as quite distinct and peculiar when measured against his fellow Indo-European Skyfathers. Others might, with far more justification, say Thunor, but this conclusion comes with it’s own problems which are beyond the scope of this writing. But here, it is interesting to consider the ancient Vedic belief that Indra killed Dyauspitar by pulling him out of the sky.

At the end of the day, while pan-Indo-European research is very enlightening and valuable, there is no shoehorning specific beliefs into a theoretical Proto-Indo-European model. And if Woden’s nature and place in the later pantheon is any indication, this goes double with Germanic belief.

It might very well be that there is no memory of the P.I.E. Skyfather in the Germanic beliefs of some 4,000 years later; that their perceptions had evolved away from that concept. It might be, as we see with his offspring the Divine Twins in relation to the Eddic lore, that he was dissembled, Ymir-like, and his attributes shared throughout the pantheon, living on only implicitly (or in minor form) in the surviving lore, eg. Daeg (Day).

This author continues,

There simply isn’t any proof that points to a major change of religion in Northern Europe between the time of Indo-European unity (before they branches off to become the Teutons, Greeks, Slavs, Mediterraneans and East Indians) and the coming of Christianity.

In fact, the variety and variance found within and between concrete Indo-European cultures (Persian, Greek, Roman, Celtic, etc.) provides us with ample evidence of change/evolution between the time of Indo-European unity and the coming of Christianity. This is why Germanic belief is not Celtic belief is not Slavic belief is not Greek belief is not Hindu belief, etc. It is also why the relationship between these cultures had to be deduced to begin with.

The study of the Indo-Europeans is as much a study of change as it is of continuity.

Within the context of Germanicism we have the end of the Nordic Bronze Age (c.500 BC); which witnessed a fouling of the climate, the breakdown of the trade networks that linked southern Scandinavia to the Mediterranean and the Near East, and of course the highly peculiar “bogging” of highly prized ritual paraphernalia associated with the cult of Sunne and her brothers, the Divine Twins. See Kristian Kristiansen’s and Thomas Larsson’s work “The Rise of Bronze Age Society: Travels, Transmissions, and Transformations“. These acts find parallel in only one instance in all of the lore; the conversion of Iceland and the casting of the idols of the gods into the waterfall that has since become known as “the Waterfall of the Gods”.

And in the wake of these profound changes, in what might by this point be called “Proto-Germanic” culture — where populations continued to burgeon, but both land and trade resources shrank — we have the migrations that would eventually give rise to Germania; spread out over what was once Celtic territory. And also the custom, no less peculiar than the offering of high quality ritual gear, of the mass disposal of the spoils of war.

Why is the “sun cult” so diminished in the Eddas (or the archaeology of the Viking Age) as compared to what we see in the archaeological evidence of the Nordic Bronze Age?

The reason why, once again, is change. Things changed. As per the nature of Wyrd.

The author continues,

It is most likely that Tiwaz, or Tiva was once a name of Odin that was also given to his son.

In line with the basic etymology of the name Tiw, Snorri Sturlusson’s own assertions regarding the usage of the word relate that any god could be called a tyr. The word could be used poetically to refer to some god other than the god named Tyr by affixing some attribute of the intended tyr with the word itself, eg. Hangatyr or God of the Hanged (Odin).

As such, tyr was once a word that could be used of any “god”. Woden included. But when we look out across the vast landscape of the Indo-Europeans, the gods whose names bear some semblance of the name Tiw do not at all resemble Woden.

The belief that Tiw was “most likely” a name of Woden seems almost as reaching as the casual presumption of Tiw’s Eddic ancestry. Certainly, Woden is the father of all the gods in Snorri’s Edda, but in the older poetic material one finds the etin Hymir named as his father.

That being the case, there really is nothing substantive that makes this theory “most likely”. From a more speculative point of view — looking at the issue less as one of Tiw and Woden, and more as one of hero (Tiw) and poet (Woden), or even of tiv/sacral glory (Tiw) and ve/sacral mystery (Woden) — one can see how sound arguments can be made in either direction, representing something of a Germanic yin-yang equation. A riddle that is intended to be entertained, but never solved. An honouring of the mysterium tremendum even as we happily engage in the inevitable product of the et fascinans.

Similar theories have been proposed in the past, that Woden and Tiw are in fact not separate deities at all, but one and the same; which of course runs counter to everything we know from the Norse-Icelandic Eddas to the interpretatio romana and interpretatio germanicum, to Tacitus’ clear delineation of the Germanic Mercury (Woden) from the Germanic Mars (Tiw) in terms of sacrifice, and his placing them side-by-side in his Annals as the two gods at the heart of the aforementioned custom of the mass disposal of the spoils of war.

I can appreciate an argument that Tiw is the son of Woden. Afterall, do we not know what we know of him because he is extolled in language and song? The very gifts of the appropriately named Allfather Himself? But as for one and the same — neither here nor there in the subject of this critique I suppose — that’s just not palatable. Not without more evidence and stronger reasoning anyway.

The author continues,

One of the favored ideas related to Tyr as sky-father is the connection between him and the Irminsul, because it looks like his run, Tiwaz.

The author goes on to refute this connection via his own line of reasoning; which I won’t get into as a result of the fact that I entirely agree with the sentiment that Tiw is not identified with the Irminsul. By my own line of reasoning , the god Irmin is associated with the Irminsul as per Widukind of Corvey. And of course, the Old Norse form of the name Irmin is Jormun, which is itself listed as one of the by-names of Woden in the Prose Edda. Furthermore, Widukind of Corvey also described Irmin, in so many words, as a “Marslike Mercury”. That is, he described him in terms very much befitting what we know of Woden. And finally, even as the Irminones were the predominant people of Tacitus’ Germania, so to does Snorri relate (Prose Edda) that Woden was first known in Germany and only from there made his way up into (Ingvaeonic) Scandinavia.

Now, if people like the bent palm tree image found on the Extersteine relief in Germany and want to use that image as an expression of their beliefs in modern times, no problem. But this image does not match the terms Rudolph of Fulda used to describe the Irminsul, and it is not likely that the actual Saxon Irminsul resembled this. This is not to say that the monk who carved the image did not intend it to represent the Irminsul, which is another argument altogether, only that the Saxon Irminsul did not look like this “palm tree”.

The author continues,

If you really… still think Tyr is the original sky-father and was once the highest god of our pantheon, just consult the lore. Odin is the creator of Midgard and of humans, teacher of runes, the one who grants wishes and gives success in all endeavors. Could there really be a higher duty than these? You can’t usurp the role of creator-god, you either created the earth and our folk or you didn’t. If we had to accept that Tyr once held all of these positions then Odin, who many have named our faith thereafter, would be a fraud and a liar and Tyr a defeated weakling subservient to the god that stole his position.

There is a lot to unpack in this statement. Such as the conflation of the Skyfather with the creation of “Midgard and of humans”. Our lore is certainly clear that Woden (and his two “brothers”) engaged in the killing and dismemberment of Ymir, from whose body parts the world was formed. And yet, from a broader Indo-European perspective, while we certainly find likenesses of Ymir, eg. Atlas, Purusha, we do not see those gods whose name literally translates to and gave us the title Skyfather (Dyaus, Zeus) engaging in it’s death and dismemberment. Such Skyfather gods tend to unite with an “Earthmother” so as to produce the flora and fauna and to populate the heavens with stars. And ultimately, this seems to occur/continue as a collective effort. This is reflected in the Voluspa,

“Then gathered together the gods for counsel, the holy hosts, and held converse; to night and new moon their names they gave, the morning named and mid-day also, forenoon and evening, to order the year.”

The same can be said for the creation of man, ie. is not definitive of the role of Skyfather. In the Greek belief this was the role of Prometheus and only indirectly of Zeus, while more poignantly, in Indic belief the first men came from their namesake Manu rather than Dyaus. And of course, according to the AD 1st century Irminonic beliefs of the tribes of Germania, mankind issued, not from Woden, but from their own divine namesake, Mannus, whose name is of course cognate to that of Manu.

Once again, we find that the achievement of the creation of man is not requisite to the role of Skyfather.

And this is to say nothing of the runes.

The notion of a single creator god simply is not at all apparent in the greater cultural weave of Indo-European beliefs; though once again Germanic belief cannot be shoehorned into a theoretical proto-Indo-European model and as the god of language, I see every reason to be sympathetic to the notion of Woden as “creator-god”, for all that all gods would seem to also engage in the ongoing process of Creation. Nevertheless, that is speculative and not evidence of an ancestral belief.

As for the notion of some god usurping the position of another, and how that would make one a fraud and the other a weakling; this is just coming at the matter from entirely the wrong perspective. This as a result of a very poor use of semantics on behalf of the scholars that first advocated the theory of Woden’s ascension. And also a lack of awareness of the evolution of human knowledge; in which one thing can seem primary for an extended amount of time only for it ultimately to be discovered that it is in fact secondary and itself a mere product of a formerly unknown primary. And so, the theory, the myth, grows to encompass the new awareness, as though it had ever been. Because human ignorance aside, it had ever been. Now, one could call that a “usurpation”, but on that note, this is like calling a king’s successor a usurper, or more appropriately, like calling Konungr a usurper of Jarl’s position, ie. Rigsthula, when in fact he just reached more encompassing heights than his predecessor; such as an Allfather in contrast to a Skyfather. More encompassing, more “irminic” one might even say. There is no weakening required on anyone’s behalf, only an acknowledgement of the stronger or more able, and so a strengthening of the overall whole.

Whether the issue is one of Tiw having been the original Skyfather that gave way to Woden and/or Thunor, or one of Tiw, Woden and Thunor all being the mutual heirs of the functions of the original P.I.E. Skyfather, I see less a Veda-like usurpation involved, ie. Indra and Dyaus, and more of a passing of the torch and an acknowledgement of the better suited. Even as we see in the myth of the war between the AEsir and Vanir, in which the Vanir reduced the walls of Asgard to rubble and ruled the field, and even beheaded one of the hostages sent by the AEsir as part of the truce, but, without any subsequent hostilities, the AEsir still ended up as the ruling powers, the one’s calling the shots.

There is no usurpation. Ultimately, there is only the natural evolution of mortal understanding of the “divine mystery”; a thing our mortal minds are entirely unfit to deduce the ultimate reality of.

As the Havamal states, “the minds of men are small, and not all men are equally wise”.

The author continues,

Tyr is the god of war, period. We know this from the Prose Edda, mainly. As Snorri attests (Gylf.25), the story of his hand lost as a pledge so Fenris could be bound is a testament to his bravery, and that is it. All sorts of guesswork has been used to give him several other duties among the gods based on this story alone, but the passages in Gylfaginning simply relate to us the divine image of what military generals should aspire to: cleverness and bravery.

Certainly, the Romans equated their Mars to our Tiw, and our ancestors accepted and maintained that association. But we know from Tacitus that Woden was also associated with warfare as the recipient of sacrificed battle captives; and directly in conjunction with Tiw in regards to the custom of the mass disposal of the spoils of war, which of course battle captives were a part of. We must assume, given the attribution of Mars to Tiw (and Mercury to Woden) that Tiw was the primary “god of war” among the peoples of Germania at that time. Woden it would seem existed as a secondary figure within the Irminonic cult of warfare. We might imagine the relationship between the two, in the context of war, being one of the *teuta (Tiw) to the *koryos, of glory and martial aesthetics (Tiw) to death and martial necessity (Wod).

According to Kris Kershaw (The One-Eyed God),

Razzias (raiding) was the business of the adolescent boys, who functioned as highly mobile guerrilla bands and at the same time learned hardiness, self-control, stealth and strategy, and other warrior qualities … The *koryos was the band of these warrior-novices. It was a cultic warrior-brotherhood, that is, the youths’ formation was as much religious as it was martial, and the ties that bound them were as strong as blood.


In opposition to the *koryos is the *teuta, “stamm”, the tribe, the totality of the people. And who are “all the people?” Why, the adult males of course! In other words, the *teuta are also warriors, adult warriors

Of course, as we move into the Migration Age, our descriptions of the “Germanic Mars” become increasingly Wodenic (ie. associations with human sacrifice, kingship, etc.), while by the Viking Age, and despite the veritable horde of data we have at our disposal in comparison to earlier centuries, Tiw is virtually absent in the overwhelmingly Wodenic martial lore. There is the Sigdrifumal reference, that counsels one to carve the Tiw rune upon their weapon and call twice upon Tiw for victory, but even here, the physical evidence for such a custom is virtually non-existent or, at best, subject to considerable doubt.

If indeed Tiw was “the god of war, period”, the evidence, such as it is, would seem to leave him all dressed up with no place to go. Little more than a mythic figure. As much an obsolete product of a by-gone era as the P.I.E. Skyfather himself. But the evidence, such as it is, shows us that this is certainly not the case.

While Snorri credited Tiw with both great boldness and great wisdom; and while the story he related, regarding the binding of the Fenriswulf, while it certainly demonstrates boldness, I don’t think you could use it as testimony to any sort of cleverness on Tiw’s behalf. It was afterall the collective gods that came up with the idea to meet deception with deception (ie. Loki, the Father of Lies) and bind Fenris with a magical fetter. And it was the svartalfar that forged that fetter. Both very clever. Nor was it Tiw that spelt out the terms of the contest, ie. that if the Wulf could not break the fetter either the gods would remove it or one of then would pay with a hand. And once the fetter was laid upon the Wulf, and it proved unbreakable, ie. mission accomplished, Tiw, who alone of all the gods stepped up to do what was necessary for the sake of honour, did not display even the simple “cleverness” of pulling his hand out of the maw of the Wulf.


The Gloryfather was not at all concerned with demonstrating any sort of cleverness. Rather, he lost his hand. As per the stipulations of the contract that was drawn up between the gods and the Wulf. He anted up the “wergild”, paid the fine, as per the basic functioning of crime and punishment within the context of the Thing system.

If the myth could be said to reveal any one association of Tiw — and there is a lot to unpack in the Fenriswulf myth — it would be found in the by-name for him that grew out of this myth (or vice versa, ie. that this myth grew out of), the “Leavings of the Wolf”. The meaning of this by-name becomes evident when one understands the association of the wolf with death and the grave in Germanic thought.

And so, to paraphrase the Havamal,

Cattle die, kinsmen die, and the wolf of the grave shall eat it’s fill, but I know one thing that shall endure, the righteous renown of each man dead.

The by-name, as we see reflected in the etymology of the very name Tiw, means nothing other than Glory itself. The Leavings of the Wolf. And as already been noted, Tiw shares his  name with both gods and exceptional men alike. This might gives us some insight as to why he is praised, not only as the Leavings of the Wolf in the Old Icelandic Rune Poem, but also as as the “ruler of the temple”.

To my thinking, whatever the origins of Tiw in ancient times, we see less of a diminution of him in the Eddas and more of an ascension of his own; taking on a likeness similar to what is known of the Baltic Dievas, and best known himself, in the fullness of his glory, when “the gods gather together for counsel” to shine their collective light on existence. He personifies the quality of tiv that is part and parcel with godhood and heroism, even as Woden personifies the quality of ve that is suggestive of mystery and used similarly to tiv in reference to god and the collective gods, ie. Ve (god), Vear (the gods).

The author continues,

There is only one piece of hard evidence I have seen that could possibly link Tyr to the Thing. This is an inscription from the 3rd century C.E. on a votive altar set up by Frisian legionares stationed at Housesteads on Hadrian’s wall (North England). The inscription mentions a god by the name of Mars Thingsus (Deo Marti Thingso). Of course, Mars is typically identified with Tyr, but I believe there is reason to suspect that, in this instance, another deity is intended.

The connection between Tiw and the Thing stands, primarily, on three legs. The first is Tacitus’ reference in Germania in which the doling out of capital punishment (as well as imprisonment or flogging) was pronounced “in accordance to the will of the god they believe accompanies them to the field of battle.” In other words, the “Germanic Mars”; of who the same author if we recall makes a clear and present delineation of in relation to the “Germanic Mercury”.

The second is of course the Frisian votive stones mentioned in the quote above, which links the “Germanic Mars” to the Thing. Also of peripheral interest here is the inscription’s grouping of Mars Thingsus with two female spirits, as there is a recurrence of “twos” in the lore regarding Tiw. We see this is the Hymskvidha, where Thunor and Tiw are paired up in a duo — while the gods generally travel alone or in groups of three — and also in the two attempts Tiw made to lift the cauldron of Hymir. We also see it in the Sigdrifumal and the counsel to call twice on Tiw. More philosophically, we see it in the dualistic, adversarial nature of martial and legal conflicts, as well as in competitions of all forms. 

It is indeed very fair to say that Tiw is both “no peacemaker” and ultimately “the onehanded of the gods”, as there are always two parties to any competition, but only ever one winner.

He is not a peace-maker, but rather an “edge-whetter”.

The third leg that Tiw’s association with the Thing stands on is the name given to dies Martis in German, which alone of the Germanic tongues did not name this day after Tiw, as per the standard interpretation. Rather, it is, for whatever reason, named Dienstag, which is generally interpreted as “Day of the Thing”.

A fourth leg could be added via Tiw’s ancient association with warfare among the Germanic peoples. Particularly his association with the *teuta, the men of which, beyond comprising the body of the army, also comprised the body of the Thing; which is also were they were recognized as men.

All of that said, it is worth pointing out here that, in variance to what Tacitus had to say about capital punishment among the 1st century tribes of Germania, it was upon the “Rock of Thor” that capital offenders had their backs broken in Viking Age Iceland; which, if indicative of a general phenomenon among the Viking Age Norse (which it need not be), could point to Thunor taking over aspects of Tiw’s old portfolio in terms of legal judgement, much as Woden did in terms of war.

The author continues,

There is a deity known among the Frisians who is particularly devoted to law and justice, by the name of Fosite

There is no doubting the role of Fosite in relation to the Thing. All we know of him speaks towards this. He is however no Mars of the Thing. And he has no martial associations other than those we might find among any of the gods, and even among more than a couple of the goddesses.

The author continues,

The idea was that conflicts were ended and peace was restored by the Thing, even if a dispute had to end in battle. The holmgang, or “island-going”, was a form of single-combat that may or may not have ended with the death of the defeated. No matter who won, the case was then settled, with the victor having his way in the proceedings. This use of battle to settle some disputes has been used as a justification for Tyr being considered the god of the Thing. But Tyr is the god of war, not of duels.

This estimation fails to note the Germanic martial aesthetic, the ideal mode of combat, as being precisely that of the duel, engaged in by equals; even where two opposing forces road out to the battle en masse. This ideal continued to be preserved long after it’s practical limitations were shown up — by the martially collectivist Imperial Romans in their conflicts with the martially individualist Celts — in the Viking Age name for the denizens of Woden’s Valhalla; the einherijar or single combatants.

That a martial god was associated with the Thing is demonstrated in the title Mars Thingsus, while Tacitus relates that a martial god was associated with divine judgement in cases involving life and liberty. The implication would seem to be that even as Tiw acted as divine judge of warfare, he also acted, via direct appeal, as divine judge within the Thing (in regards to exceptional cases and their punishments), and perhaps also associated in a more general sense with the institutions fundamentally adversarial nature, and even the general judgements of the Thing in regards to it’s more usual functioning, ie. cases involving fine.

That the judge of warfare, who is also the judge of capital offenders, might also have been considered the judge of judicial combats is of course completely reasonable.

And one need but read through a couple of the Icelandic sagas to know that, not only was there was a poignantly adversarial aspect to Thing disputes, but moreso that the settlement of a case did not always ensure any sort of peace; though peace was of course the overall, long term purpose, not to mention the clear historical achievement, of the Thing-based system of law, crime, and punishment. Call it a “nurturing adversarialism”, the fruits of which might be less evident in the details of any particular case — and of course the sagas only relate to us the most prolific and dramatic of cases and feuds — and more evident in the organic evolution of the community over the long term; as the community works through it’s internal problems, organically, to inevitably come to organic solutions that make for a sincere and lasting peace, and a strengthening of a common identity.

That the spirit of judgement and adversarialism and mediation all exist within the context of law seems to me a moot point. No big surprise. Each play a role in it’s overall function and mission. Likewise the common purpose of both law and war in preserving the peace of the community is fairly evident. These things are not mutually exclusive.

The author continues,

If we were going to label a god as a representative of duels, it would have to be Thor. After all, in the myths Tyr is never known to actively participate in or represent duels, whereas Thor engages in them time and time again, making up the bulk of his adventures.

A fair argument, made much more poignant by the fact of Thunor’s Viking Age Norse-Icelandic association with divine judgement in the context of the Thing. And of course his possible association with legal oaths under the ambiguous by-name “Almighty Asa”.

Nevertheless, as far as our evidence goes, Thunor was never a god that mortal men looked to for victory in martial conflicts of any kind. He was always looked to as a defense against the hostile forces of nature, ie. the thursar and etins. As a result, none of Thunor’s mythic duels took place within the context of the Thing and/or the presence of the collective gods at council, ie. none represent a trial by combat.

Indeed, as far as the evidence goes, the Prose Edda states of the obscure North Germanic god UllR that, “It is also good to call on him in duels”.

This UllR is said to be the step-son of Thunor via his wife Sif and an otherwise unnamed god from a prior union. It is a curious fact that his name, not unlike that of Tiw, means glory.

In the Danish sources, Ollerus (Latinized UllR) was said to have taken Woden’s place while he was in exile.

While there is no mention or indication of Ullr, places name included, outside of Viking Age Scandinvia, the word that forms his name can be founded in such deific titles used by the Anglo-Saxons as wuldorfæder (gloryfather).

Some have speculated that UllR is another name for Tiw. And certainly the association between the two, ie. glory, is clear and evident. Alternately, he might have taken up part of the mantle left by Tiw as he shed his martial (and perhaps his legal) associations of other times and/or places. Perhaps as much Tiw’s son as Thunor’s step-son?

From here the author’s arguments either become fanciful or circle back around to the case of Fosite. An example of the former can be found in the argument,

No other deity better exemplifies this ideal than Balder. It may seem romantic to have the valiant god of war representing the Thing, but consider the possibility of being a defendant in a criminal case brought against you. Would this be a time when you would want to pray to a god of war, or a god of compassion?

One might well reason the same in terms of an invading army (rather than a law suit) being brought against one; in which case a god of compassion could conceivably be, by the same merit, equally preferable. That merit, in either context, presumably being a conviction in one’s own inferiority and inability to adequately defend one’s self. But our ancestors show no signs at all of any such inclination, be it in law or war or any endeavor, to concede victory to another without proofs of superiority, as provided by the best judge of all… competition, adversity, ordeal.

As the Bard said, “Bid them achieve me and then sell my bones.”, itself echoed in the Old English poem the Battle of Maldon centuries prior, “It seems a great shame to let you go to your ships with our treasures unfought — now you have come thus far into our country. You must not get our gold so softly. Points and edges must reconcile us first, a grim war-playing, before we give you any tribute.”

And truly, would you want compassion, beyond that implicit in the very nature and functioning of the Thing (ie. alternative to feud, predominantly fine oriented) shown to a man proven to have stolen or otherwise damaged your property or person or people? Should they pay less than the law stipulates you are owed? As a matter of mercy or compassion? Should you leave yourself impotent and reliant upon nothing more than “mercy” in the case of false accusations brought against you? Should we have compassion for the slanderous? Is that really the god you want to pray to? Or do you want to pray to a god that inspires you to rise to the righteous defense of you and yours, no matter the personal costs, able and confident that when the harsh fires of ordeal subside, only the truth shall remain? A god who yields, perhaps not the “compassionate” judgement, but rather the RIGHT judgement, in which you get your due, even in the most unclear and precarious of situations, as we see in Tiw’s righteous dealings in the dispute that existed between the AEsir and the Fenriswulf?

By the Tiwic ideal, rooted as it is in warfare, the very act of bringing a matter before the community, before the Thing, even if only to invoke the trial by combat, was an act of mercy and compassion in one regard or another.

The mediation of Fosite was always a remedy available to those involved in disputes, be it socially prior to filing suit or legally after filing suit, but such mediators played a largely reactive role and had no right to impose itself on men. One need but look to the official conversion of Iceland, where a mediator was chosen to decide the matter out of fear that the dispute would tear the country apart.