Tyr Fitness: Myth and Meaning
Tyr is a fairly recognizable name among Scandinavian people and Norse enthusiasts, but doesn’t have much mainstream recognition. This is likely due to the fact that he hasn’t starred in a Marvel movie (yet), and that there’s really only one prevailing myth about him (which we’ll get to in a bit). This lack of surviving Tyr-centered tales is surprising, as he’s the “guarantor of justice” and sometimes even called the boldest of the Norse gods — one who inspires heroism and courage. With that pedigree, you’d think there would be more myths surrounding him. Well, at one time, there probably was. Loki — the wily trickster — was father to three great and terrifying beings: Jormungand — the world-encircling serpent, Hel — the death goddess, and Fenrir — the great wolf. The other gods had a terrible foreboding about these offspring of Loki, and took action to keep them at bay. They threw Jormungand into the ocean, relegated Hel to the underworld, and kept Fenrir in Asgard so they could keep a close and watchful eye on him. To get Fenrir to consent, the gods would tell him that these bindings were merely competitions of strength; they even clapped and cheered when the wolf broke through each attempted constraint. Desperate for a solution, the gods sent down word to the dwarves — the greatest craftsmen in the universe — to create something that not even Fenrir could wrestle free from. They forged Gleipnir — a rope which was made from the sound of a cat’s footsteps, the beard of a woman, the roots of a stone, the breath of a fish, and the spittle of a bird. Since these things don’t exist, it’s futile to struggle against them. When the gods presented Gleipnir to Fenrir as yet another challenge of strength, he grew suspicious. The rope was too light and silky; how could it possibly hold him? Something was afoot. So he insisted that he would not be bound unless one of the gods placed a hand in his jaws as a sign of good faith. Tyr — knowing full well the ramifications of his decision — was the only god to step forward. Fenrir was bound, and of course took Tyr’s hand as retribution. From thence on, Tyr carried a permanent disability and scar which spoke of his bravery for the sake of the entire world.