Tuesday Is Named for a One-handed God Named Tiw. Who Is He?

Yes, it’s true. Tiw’s remarkable myth involves women with beards (more on that in a bit.) Regardless, the past 1,000 years or so have not been kind to this Northern European divinity. To make a long story short, it seems that Tiw used to be a big shot, up there with Odin and Thor in Norse mythology. He may even have been chief of the gods. But culture can be fickle and cruel. Nowadays it’s not clear who he was exactly, or how to pronounce his name. We just have hints. There’s a lot to like about Tiw: He’s a war god, associated with courage and combat. He may have had a female companion named Zisa. And listen to how he lost his hand: There was a huge wolf named Fenris who was prophesied to eventually kill Odin, king of the gods. Understandably, the gods decided to restrain the beast while he was still growing. Fenris kept breaking his tethers, so the gods asked the dwarves to use their magic to craft a super leash called Gleipnir.

There are also bearded women: “It was made of six things: the noise a cat makes in foot-fall, the beard of a woman, the roots of a rock, the sinews of a bear, the breath of a fish, and the spittle of a bird. And though thou understand not these matters already, yet now thou mayest speedily find certain proof herein, that no lie is told thee: thou must have seen that a woman has no beard, and no sound comes from the leap of a cat, and there are no roots under a rock.” (From the Prose Edda.)

Fenris wouldn’t let the Gods bind him with Gleipnir unless one of them stuck his or her hand in the wolf’s mouth. Only Tiw was brave enough to do it. Snap! That’s how Tiw lost his hand. But at least the poor guy still has the day between Monday and Wednesday.


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