Tyr

In Norse mythology, Tyr was the god of war and also the sky god. He was the bravest god of all the Norse gods. Tyr Brave God was likewise the god of Justice and Honor. He was the Lawgiver of the Gods. Tyr in Norse myth was depicted as a war god with only one hand and holding his sword.

Image of Tyr holding his sword
God Tyr

Tyr and Binding Wolf Fenrir

The image of Fenrir swallowing Tyr's hand
Tyr sacrificed his hand in binding Fenrir

Yes, Tyr only had one hand. Tyr sacrificed one of his hand during the binding of Wolf Fenrir. When the gods had the dwarves-made magical fetter to chain Fenrir, they decide to trick Fenrir into testing the wolf’s strength with the fetter. But Fenrir was smart enough to figure out there was something wrong with this test. So the wolf demanded the gods make their oath and put one hand in Fenrir’s mouth.

No one dared to even come close, let alone put one hand between the monster’s jaws. There was only Tyr who had enough courage to approach Fenrir to feed him when Fenrir was still a pup. And this time, Tyr volunteered to put his hand in Fenrir’s mouth as a pledge.When the wolf was sure of the god’s ruse and became angry, he brutally bid and swallow the hand of Tyr. This story in the modern sense is interpreted as a token of Tyr Brave God and his sacrifice for the good of the whole clan.

 

 

 


Tyr’s Death

When the Ragnarok days broke on the horizon, Tyr joined the army to defend Asgard. In his last combat, he and the hound Garm – the keeper of Helheim’s gates – killed each other.

Image of Tyr Brave God and Tiwaz Rune
Tyr and the Tiwaz rune

 

In the runic alphabet, there was one symbol of Tyr – the Tiwas. This symbol looks like an arrow pointing upward. This rune is the balance and justice. It stands for the sacrifice of one individual for the whole community.


Lesson from Tyr Brave God

Overall, Tyr Brave God was one of the most beloved gods in Norse mythology due to the valuable qualities that he embodied. The tales of Tyr offered us the lessons of justice and sacrifice.

Image of Fenrir biting Tyr's hand in front of him and other gods
Tyr sacrificed for his clan

We might think of self-sacrifice of Odin the Allfather to get the universal knowledge and the meaning of runes. Yet, this was primarily to satisfy his own desire which was seeking knowledge. Sure, others later knew the meaning of runes thanks to Odin but his original motive was purely gaining knowledge for himself. Tyr was different. Though Tyr sacrificed physically, it was mainly for the sake of the whole community. And yes, Fenrir binding would also grant Tyr security, but his primary motivation was to help his peers and the humans who lived in Asgard and Midgard. Sacrifice for bettering yourself is good. However, sacrifice for bettering the society is much better.

As Tyr knew he broke his words with Fenrir in Binding Wolf Fenrir, he voluntarily let the wolf chew his hand. Many people interpreted this detail as Tyr was ashamed for his oath-breaking deed and the values he presented did not allow him to do such things. That is to say, not only was Tyr disciplined but he was also a kind of person who valued his promise.

 

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