Norse Mythology

The Norse Creation Myth and Wars in Heaven

What is the myth of the binding of Fenrir?

Fenrir was the terrifying and dangerous wolf born to the evil Loki and the giantess Angrboda. The wolf’s siblings were Jormungand, the world serpent, and Hel, the ghastly mistress of Hel itself. Fenrir lived in Asgard, where the gods could keep an eye on him, but only Tyr dared to feed him. The wolf swallowed his meat, bones and all, in huge hunks. Finally, the gods decided that Fenrir must be removed from Asgard. To remove him they would have to bind him. The gods realized they would have to do this surreptitiously by pretending to hold a contest which would appeal to Fenrir’s vanity. In so doing, they challenged him to break whatever bonds they could devise. With no trouble, the beast broke the first two sets of bindings. But the gods enlisted the dwarfs to make ropes of magical power. The dwarf-made ropes were made of the noise made by a moving cat, a woman’s beard, a fish’s breath, a bird’s spit, and other unlikely ingredients. Fenrir now agreed to be bound by these ropes only if a god would place his arm in his mouth as a sign of good faith; Tyr agreed to what was, in effect, a noble act of self-sacrifice. After Fenrir struggled unsuccessfully to break the binds of the dwarfs’ ropes and failed, he bit off Tyr’s arm. The gods nevertheless gagged the wolf with a sword through its jaws. But Fenrir and his father, Loki, would continue to oppose the gods even in the events of Ragnarok at the end of the world.


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