Norse mythology is perhaps one of the most colorful universes when it comes to the variety and number of characters and monstrous creatures. Gods of Aesir are the most famous “good guys,” but there are plenty of other important good or even neutral characters as well.
We shouldn’t forget the evil ones like the great wolf Fenrir and the sons of Fenrir Hati and Skoll (old Norse Hati Hróðvitnisson (pronounced haht ee old) and Sköll - (pronounced roughly “SKOHL”; Old Norse Sköll, “One Who Mocks”), translated from Old Norse as “Hater” and “Treachery.” All of them make the Norse Universe as something people around the world like to read about.
You should know that among the most famous Gods and giants, there are also numerous, mostly magical creatures within the Nordic Universe. Most of these creatures are depicted as many creatures and animals we have even today.
Sleipnir, for example, was Odin’s horse, but not a regular horse since Sleipnir had eight legs. A snake-shaped creature like Jörmungandr (Fenrir’s sibling) was one of them as well as the messenger of Gods Ratatoskr that is depicted as a squirrel-like creature, along with many others.
The Norse mythology itself became so much popular in recent decades that numerous blockbuster movies, TV shows, and various books have emerged. People always loved this kind of fantasy fiction genre, but is it all fiction?
The common belief among Nordic tribes was that all these characters were more than real. Hati and Skoll represented their culture, way of life, and, most importantly – their beliefs. They are two wolves who pursue Sol and Mani , the sun and moon. (source: Snorri Sturluson - https://historyofvikings.com/hati-and-skoll/ )
The Iron Wood was located east of Midgard and is well-known to be a home to troll-women that was also referred to as the Ironwood-women (old Norse Lárnvidjur). The most famous one was a witch by the name of Angrboda (old Norse Angrboða) that roughly translates to “she who brings sorrow” or “the grief-bringer.”
It’s interesting to know that the witch bore many wolf-like giants as her sons, and the most famous one she bore to Loki was Fenrir, who later fathered them. It is said that Fenrir’s children had the same mother as Fenrir, but it was never confirmed as a fact.
One of the Prose Edda’s poems Völuspá explains that from this race of canines, there will be the ones that will swallow the Moon, the Sun (see Snorri Sturluson poet) and all the stars while sprinkling the blood of heavens and bringing the world to an end. This refers to both Fenrir and his two sons (old norse hati) since all three of them had their roles in Ragnarök.
During Fenrir’s imprisonment, his parents Loki and Angrboda didn’t want to interfere in any way since Sköll and Hati (mentioned as passing references) were well-aware of how important it is that for their son to remain in chains.
The only ones that tried to free Fenrir were his sons. The young pups didn’t manage to free their father from his bindings, and sköll and hati were captured and imprisoned by the Allfather Odin.
When they were small pups, the Allfather Odin captured both of them along with capturing their father, Fenrir. Fenrir’s pups were kept within the Asgard’s kennels, and Odin kept them close so he could control their father, the mighty wolf. When pups finally grew up, Odin decided to put them to use.
That’s when Odin used ancient magic to cast the young wolves into heaven, where Sköll and Hati (pronounced “HAHT-ee”; Old Norse Hati, “One Who Hates”)would pursue Sól and Máni, the sun and moon.The Sól and Máni were the chariots personifying the Sun and the Moon.
Sköll and Hati weren’t always in the sky chasing the chariots. When both the Sun and the Moon weren’t late, the wolves could visit the earth below them. But, in case one of the chariots was late, the wolves were sent back to the sky to continue their chase.
Skoll was known as the quiet wolf who doesn’t speak much, and he never liked that he was forced to chase the chariots, but he felt that his punishment was a far better one than of his father, Fenrir. Although it’s believed that he liked his job of chasing after the Sun.
Unlike his brother Skoll (one who mocks), Hati Hróðvitnisson was the outgoing wolf with a bad temper. He was believed to be very cheerful, but he also loved to perform various mischief and even lay down his wrath when needed. Hati (one who hates) hated the spell he was under, but he knew that both he and his brother will be free of it when the day of Ragnarok comes.
The Gods of Aesir knew that they wouldn't be chasing the chariots indefinitely since it was foreseen that they will eventually catch them, which will be the sign of the beginning of the end known as Ragnarok. By controlling the wolves, the Allfather Odin thought he’ll be able to control Ragnarok as well, but apparently, he was wrong.
The young wolves were also mentioned in one of three Prose Edda books. In chapter 51 of Gylfaginning, there’s more to their story. Chapter 51 says that after these wolves do what was foreseen to happen, the end will come. Skoll (one who mocks) will be the one that will devour the Sun while his brother Hati (one who hates) will swallow the Moon. All the stars will disappear from the night sky because Surtr (translates from old Norse as The Black One), the fire jötunn, will set the entire Norse cosmos ablaze.
Their father Fenrir is the almighty wolf that will bring the ultimate destruction to the entire Norse cosmos alongside his brother Jörmungandr at the battlefield known as Óskópnir or Vígríðr. However, Fenrir’s sons had their role to play in the prophecy as well. The parts that they had to play was to empower the start of Ragnarök. The devouring of heavenly bodies (the Sun and the Moon) signifies that the end begins.
Since the entire Norse universe is vast and incredibly creatively imagined (or was it imagined?), every story and part of the world was described into small details. If the monstrous creature Fenrir was the one who was destined to bring Ragnarok and end all existence, someone else had to start the prophecy and help him achieve his destiny.
It’s interesting that the more sources we find about them in Norse mythology, the more we realize their roles were essential for Fenrir to fulfill his destiny successfully. The two wolves finally caught the prey they were chasing for many years, and when they did, it was a sign that their father will finally be free of his bindings, and the ultimate destruction can begin.
Although they aren’t as famous as they should be, people around the world that are into Norse mythology find them intriguing. Norse mythology enthusiasts that enjoy discovering more details about this long-gone universe are fascinated by the wolves’ part in the ending of the Norse cosmos.
Like many old mythology creatures, they have their place in the Norse mythology universe, and for a good reason. They will always be remembered as Fenrir’s sons who started Norse apocalypse that allowed their father to escape and to bring great destruction to Asgard and the entire universe.
People should always remember that they were the sons of Fenrir, and grandsons of Loki. Therefore, their roles are somewhat more critical than of some other characters in Norse mythology.
In the past, the wolf symbolized something horrific like destruction, greed, death, and many other harmful and terrifying things. However, today, the wolf symbolizes the life cycle. The symbols this animal represents are something new that’s incoming, the birth, the growth as well as the destruction.
They also represent the natural life cycle, which means that when something reaches its peak, it will be destroyed so the balance can be maintained. That’s what happened to the Norse Pantheon during Ragnarök. Fenrir only sped up the process, ensuring the arrival of new generations like sköll and hatii (old norse hati)
Some cultures see them as symbols of Yin & Yang - the keepers of the balance in the universe. Although the bad wolves in this story were the ones who lit the spark that helped their father to end the Norse cosmos, they symbolize something righteous and good.
Interestingly, modern-day movies about werewolves were inspired by some of these legends and myths. The Iron Wood, where both Fenrir and his sons were born, is also home to numerous werewolf creatures, and they weren’t the only ones of their kind. While some beliefs about werewolves also come from different cultures, the base one comes from the wolves of the Iron Wood in Midgard.
Along with their father Fenrir, they were the most famous wolves in Norse myths, and also among the most dangerous creatures in the universe. Why do you think Fenrir was destined to destroy everything and to eat the mightiest God that ever existed in Asgard? Was there anything that could’ve prevented this from happening?
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