Norse God: Tyr ((Other names: Tiu, Ziu))
Tyr, according to various sources, was the son of Odin and Frigga (though some stories will say his mother was a giantess who was a personification of the sea itself). He is the God of various things: war, courage, victory. The Romans tended to try and identify him with Mars, who was their God of War, but Tyr was more than just that: some say that because his name is a derivative of the root word that made up Zeus, he was a sky God. Some sources, such as Germano-Roman dedications, see him as a God of both sovereignty and order. He was known as well as a God of honor, and was one of the twelve main deities of Asgard. Tyr even had a throne in the council hall of Glads-heim.
If you couldnt guess, Tyr is the God who gives his name to Tuesday. He is also one of two Gods for whom a rune is named: Tiwaz (Tir). The Anglo-Saxon Rune Poem reads, " Tir is a guiding star, keeps faith well with princes: it is on course over nights mists, never failing " This, as well as the sources that suggested him to be a sky God, both go together. It would make sense then that his holy places were often on mountain tops, close to the sky.
Patron of the Sword
Different cultures and traditions had separate ways of worshiping or calling upon Tyr. For instance, under the name Ziu, Tur was the main principle of divinity of the Suabians. Here, they worshiped him by the use of swords (one of his main symbols) and often would hold sword-dances, make oaths on swords, as well as occasionally point their swords together and have brave men leap over them. Its been said that sometimes these people would join all their swords closely together to allow their chief to stand and be carried on a flat bed of blades. Among the Franks and other northern nations, there were human sacrifices made to Tyr upon his alter. If you wish to look into that, I suggest you do so on your own. Its a bit too mature in content to write here.
Being the patron God of the sword, as mentioned, it was common to see signs/runes representing him engraved upon blades that were used in battle." Sig-runes thou must know. If victory thou wilt have, and on thy swords hilt rist them; Some on the chapes, some on the guard, and twice name the name of Tyr " Lay of Sigdrifa. Tyr is briefly seen in the Lay of Hymir, in which he plays a very minor role. However, he is most famously known for another (which I will include below).
Tyr: The One-Armed God
As Odin was one-eyed, Tyr was one-armed. The most commonly accepted reason for this is as follows (from the Prose Edda): Loki and Angur-boda, a giantess, bore three children. One child was a giant wolf called Fenris. As the children grew large they attracted attention, despite Lokis best efforts to keep them hidden. Odin, once aware of these offspring, determined it was logical to get rid of them, due not only to their size but to their strength. Hel, one of the offsprings, was placed in Nifl-heim and became the guardian of the dead. Iormungandr, who was a large and terrible serpent, was cast into the sea where he stretched to encompass the Earth and bit his own tail. Fenris, however, was taken to Asgard. Odin had originally hoped that Fenris would be able to be tamed and made gentle through kind treatment.
However, once in Asgard, all the Gods (except for Tyr) avoiding Fenris with a passion. Each day Fenris grew in size, strength, speed, and the Gods became increasingly worried. They gathered in council and decided that their only option was to bind him, as they thought it would go against their peace-steads if they were to simply slay him. A chain, called Laeding, was made and the Gods took it to Fenris and dared him to let them bind him with it to see if his strength could tear it apart. He easily broke it in to itty bitty pieces. After praising him of this feat, the Gods met again (more concerned this time) and ordered a stronger chain, called Droma, to bind him again. Going along with them, Fenris let himself be bound by this chain, then stood and easily broke it apart as well. The Gods (now increasingly alarmed and coming to the realization that ordinary binds would not do the trick) bid the dwarfs to fashion a bond that could not be severed.
Through magick, the elves made a silken rope out of strange material: a womans beard, the roots of a mountain, the sound of a cats footsteps, the longings of the bear, the voice of fish, and the spittle of birds. When this was finished and given to the Gods, they were told no strength would be able to break it- as the more it was strained the stronger it would become. This new bond, named Gleipnir, was taken to Fenris on the Island of Lyngvi (in the middle of a lake) and once again was put around Fenris, who was still under the impression this was a dare. Fenris did not trust the Gods this time, and demanded that if he was to be bound a God would have to put their hand in his mouth and leave it as a pledge of good faith. Tyr, seeing that the others were wary of this, boldly put his right hand into Fenriss mouth. When Fenris realized he had been tricked, he snapped his teeth together in rage and bit off Tyrs hand at the wrist ( which has since been called the wolfs joint ).
This tale is important because it presents interesting points: Tyr, being the God of the sword, was now deprived of his main sword hand and was forced to use his maimed arm to hold his shield and use his left hand to wield his sword. There are some who take different lessons from this: The God of honor participated in deception and had his hand taken from him (teaching us the value of consequences). The God who raised the wolf was the one who bound him (teaching us to handle the problems and issues we create, taking responsibility). Tyrs courage and sacrifice is honored for this act. Diana Paxson suggests that this teaches us the important lesson of Finding the courage to bind the wolves within ourselves .
Aside from having only one arm, there are no descriptions of Tyrs physical appearance. Paxson says, " I usually visualize him as being rather lean, with grizzled dark hair and gray eyes and a somewhat grim or thoughtful expression, wearing a mail shirt and a cloak of dark red wool "' This is commonly how he is represented in drawings, paintings, etc.
Calling Upon Tyr
Many honor Tyr as a disciplined and talented warrior, but he is also honored as a fine example of integrity and self-sacrifice for the common good. He is seen as a God of justice, and it is thought that those in need should call upon Tyr to help them in an area where they are in the right, as true justice is what is received from him. He teaches the lesson of honoring oaths, promises, etc.
Those who make alters to Tyr tend to cover them in a dark red cloth. The horn is filled with red wine. Food at these types of rituals/feasts includes dark breads and rough meats. Symbols are often placed around the altar, such as something depicting a severed hand, a glove, a star, etc. At these types of rituals/feats/blots he is called for many different purpose. Some seek his help in protection of warriors (such as those serving in the military), legal cases, protection by the law, encouragements of courage and bravery to overcome an obstacle, etc. " Tyr, we praise these on this day, protection grant from those who slay: Fetter fear, the victory win, bind the wolves without/within! "(Paxson)
Essential Asatru by Diana Paxson
Living Asatru by Greg (Dux) Shetler
Prose Edda trans. Snorri Sturluson
Nordic Gods and Heroes by Padraic Colum