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    The mighty Fenris Wolf, also known in many sources as Fenrir, is the ultimate in canine fury, a wolf with a godly level of power.  He is one of three monstrous offspring of Loki, the Norse god of mischief, and the female Jotun, or giant, known as Angrboda. He is full sibling to two other freakish beings of astounding power begot by Loki and Angrboda:  Jormangand the Midgard Serpent, the ultimate dragon; and Hela, the fearsome goddess of death. Fenris went off to carve a memorable niche for himself in the lore and legendary of the Northern world.  Some sources have claimed that Fenris is the father of two other wolves that featured prominently in Norse mythology, Skoll and Hati. Upon reaching adulthood, Fenris ran freely across the terrain of Asgard, rapidly growing in size and strength. Certain prophesies known to the deities foretold that Fenris would become a major threat to the deities upon reaching his maximum size and strength, so it was decreed by Odin, king of the gods, that the majestic wolf was to be bound so that he would be unable to eventually wreak havoc on the godly realm as predicted by prophecy. However, this goal turned out to be easier said than done, as every single time a chain was forged for the purpose of binding Fenris, the powerful creature would break free. On several occasions, larger and stronger fetters were created, but each time the supreme lupine broke them. Growing fearful of Fenris' obviously increasing power, the deities went to the diminutive, subterranean humanoid race known as the dwarves, natives of the realm of Nidavellir who are the masters of the forge.  The dwarf smithies were commissioned by the deities to construct a tether that would actually hold the grandiose beast. Out of the dwarvian forge came a a thin, fragile looking tether they christianed Gleipnir.  This rope, the dwarf smithies insisted, would successfully bound the Fenris Wolf.  To succeed in getting Gleipnir around Fenris, a contingent of the warrior deities chose the strategy of appealing to the giant wolf's ego by daring him to prove his prowess yet again by allowing himself to be bound by the thin cord and then extricating himself from it, which the deities insisted he would not be able to do. Suspecting a trick upon seeing the fragile-looking string, Fenris allowed himself to be bound by Gleipnir, but with a stipulation:  one of the deities must place their hand in the great wolf's enormous maw; if the tether did indeed prove to hold, then Fenris would bite. Of all the deities, only Tyr, the god of war, had the courage to make this sacrifice.  True to the words of the dwarf smithies, Fenris discovered that he could not break free from the enchanted cord, as the harder he pulled, the tighter it seemed to bind him. True to his word as well, Fenris proceeded to bite off Tyr's right hand.     






   As a result of being successfully bound by the deities in this manner, Fenris swore vengeance. He acquired the opportunity to enact that revenge when he was fated to be freed from bondage at the onset of Ragnarok, the final cataclysmic battle between the Asgardians and their enemies, the giants, which would lead to the total destruction of all the Nine Worlds with few survivors. The forces of the giants were led by none other than the also vengeful Loki, Fenris' father, who had all three of his children by Angrboda at his side during the epic battle.  As the conflict ensued, the surviving version of the tale of Ragnarok (possibly revised by the Northern Christian monks who wrote them down for the purpose of preserving this portion of their literary heritage following the fall of Pagan dominance in Scandinavia) has Fenris playing the major role of attacking and devouring Odin himself, leading to the demise of the All-Father, thus proving how truly dangerous and formidable the lupine lord could be. After this deed was done, Fenris was then soon slain in turn by Odin's son, the reclusive and rarely seen warrior god Vidar (a.k.a., 'The Silent One').     






    Though some may wonder why Fenris was given a page on this shrine amongst the deities when he wasn't an actual deity himself (at least not per se), he was nevertheless the offspring of a god, and he retained sufficient strength and power to demonstrate a prominent standing among them. Though many may think of Fenris as little more than a particularly powerful animal of destructive potential who is not worthy of the honor I am giving him here, one should consider the importance of the archetype he represents.  The connection between the primal world experienced by members of the animal kingdom outside the fully sentient human race, a reminder to us of our ancient genetic roots and previous way of life before we evolved to the point where the creation of civilization was possible, and our present status in the world was achieved, is a powerful one that humanity constantly struggles - with some difficulty at times - to suppress. This is the basis of the folklore and magickal practices surrounding werewolves and other therionthropes (people who shape-shift into various animal forms), which constitute a reintegration of modern humanity with the physical might and sensory perceptions they left behind in exchange for sentience enabling the creation of civilization, a restoration of the instincts and savagery that is the guiding force behind virtually all members of the animal kingdom extant in nature except for contemporary humanity. There may be a strong subliminal instinct inherent in the human psyche that, on some level, has a desire to return to the primal way of living, to experience the world the way our fellow but more feral members of the animal kingdom on this planet do, and to take the physical and sensory abilities they possess as our own for many purposes that range anywhere from combat to stealth. Fenris epitomizes this powerful archetype, taking the form of a creature whose might and majesty terrified our ancestors in the days of yore, and who obviously harbors a close but as yet undefined ancient history with the human species.  Fenris may in many ways represent the ultimate example of the lupine aspect of the animal force that is well known to those who practice the mystic arts in any way, shape, or form. This force of nature was well known to those of the Pagan faiths of the past, and continues to exist among those who practice the "old ways" today.  This is why werewolves, werebears (i.e., the berserkers), and other were-creatures were so prevalent in the Norse myths (as well as the mythological foundation of many other pantheons). Several of the deities mastered the art of shape-shifting, and this explains why those who sometimes spent extended periods of time in animal form - most specifically Loki - birthed some offspring in permanent animal form, which was most likely the forms that Loki and the shape-shifting giantess Angrboda were in when they conceived their respective animal-like offspring (i.e., Fenris and his brother, Jormangand the Midgard Serpent).  Considering its strength within the human consciousness, I have often felt a bond with this primal force, along with a desire to harness its potential uses so as to give me a closer degree of spiritual union with the animal kingdom. Further, I have long considered the wolf to be my official totem animal (as Native American spirituality and mysticism would put it), thereby making this the animal whose attributes I would most like to acquire as my own for periods of time if I was able. All of the above gives me the purpose and impetus to honor and occasionally call upon Fenris so as to access the force of nature and its remaining threads in the human psyche that he personifies.









Below: Fenris' battle with Odin at Ragnarok.