Giant Wolves/Wargs of Norse Mythology

Early beginnings for the pups Sköll and Hati. Odin caught them and held them in the kennels in Asgard in order to keep their father and an enemy to the Aesir, Hróðvitnir, at bay. According to Norse folklore, wargs are mythological giant wolves such as Fenrir, Sköll, and Hati.
In the Hervarar saga, King Heidrek is asked by Gestumblindi (Odin),

What is that lamp
which lights up men,

but flame engulfs it,

and wargs grasp after it always?

Heidrek perceives the answer is the Sun, explaining,

She lights up every land and shines over all men, and Skõll and Hati are called wargs.

Those are wolves, one going before the sun, the other after the moon.

Wargs are large, dangerous wolves.

Trundholm-Sun-Chariot

Above: The Trundholm sun chariot from Bronze Age Denmark.

Hati, (meaning hateful) is a large Warg and the son of Hroðvitnir. He desires to ensnare the moon Máni the brother of Sól which he will eventually wolf down. Sköll (meaning mockery) is his accomplice. He is named after one of Saturn’s moons Saturn XLVII. Sköll chases Sól through the sky and will devour her and her horses at Ragnarök

Wolves in folklore also served as a symbol for menacing anthropoid beasts. For example, Gunnr’s horse was a kenning for “wolf” on the Rök Runestone, in the Lay of Hyndla, the völva (witch) Hyndla rides a wolf and to Baldur’s funeral, the giantess Hyrrokkin arrived on a wolf.
Once the wolves gobble up the Sun and moon the end of the world will begin with the eclipse to launch the apocalyptic event, Ragnarök.

1503328956115

Picture of the wolves Sköll meaning (revenge or mockery) and Hati meaning (hate) chasing Sól also known as Sunna (the sun goddess) and Máni (moon god). Public domain.

Máni and Sól were giants according to Norse Mythology. The solution to devour them is to take them out with giant wargs.

Do giant wolves exist in contemporary times? Today palaeontologists have discovered the Dire Wolf meaning ‘Fearsome dog”  Dire wolves roamed North and South America 125000-9500 years ago in the Late Pleistocene, early Holocene eras. They are similar in size to the Grey wolf and Yukon wolf.

A discovery of a giant wolf’s head dating back to 40000 years ago was found near the Tirekhtyakh River in Yakutia, Siberia.

Read the article in the link below, courtesy of Live Science by staff writer Yasemin Saplakoglu

https://www.livescience.com/65677-severed-head-ancient-wolf-russia.html

The Pleistocene wolf’s head measured 40cm in length, half the size of a modern wolf’s body which varies from 66 to 86cm.

Pleistocene wolf head

Above: The giant wolf with its fur and fangs still intact aged 2 to 4 years old when it perished. Photo by Albert Protopopov courtesy of strangesounds.org.

 

Source & References:

Encyclopedia of Norse Germanic Folklore, Mythology, and Magic. by Claude Lecouteaux copyright ©2005,2007,2014  English translation by Inner Traditions International. ©2016 ISBN 9781620554807

Featured image: Odin and Fenris (1909) by Dorothy Hardy

 

Author: Nifty Buckles

Nifty Buckles folklore writer shares Folklore from around the World

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