In one of the previous posts, I have shown how the Norse creation myth described in Eda revolves around the winter sky. I also stated that the giant Ymir is in fact, Orion. Here is that illustration again:
The binding of the Fenrir
This time we will go deeper into Norse mythology and analyze the story called – “The binding of the Fenrir”, from the Prose Edda.
Fenrir was a gigantic wolf who bothered even the gods themselves. To subdue it, they try to make him wear a fetter, under an excuse that they want to test his might. But Fenrir manages to break it. After two failed attempts, they decide to craft a magical fetter. Suspecting a trap, the Fenrir accepts to try it, but only if one of the gods puts his hand in Fenrir’s mouth. Only Týr accepts this proposal, and as a consequence, he loses his hand.
For this reason, Týr, one of the most popular gods of the Nordic pantheon was usually depicted with one hand.
Could it be that this story originated in the ancient star lore?
The constellation Lupus – the Wolf, was definitely known to the ancients. Ptolemy mentions it around 150 AD. But Lupus could be much more ancient than that.
During the period of 4700-2500BC, this constellation was marking the fall equinox. This is the time when wolves are the most dangerous, as they need to obtain large amounts of food before going into winter hibernation. It is clear how useful this information would be for primitive societies. They needed to be alert in order to protect their livestock and their own lives.
Moreover, the creators of this constellation clearly came from the region where wolves are abundant and the winters are harsh.
But can we relate Lupus to Fenrir? I believe that we can.
Fenrir – the constellation Lupus
While browsing the sky map, I noticed that the constellation of Scorpius can also look like a (severed) hand. Moreover, the constellation of Centaurus, traditionally depicted as a wolf slayer, can also look like a person pointing his hand towards the wolf. (Although sometimes Týr rides a horse, carrying a spear as well)
Here is an illustration of the stars, compared with some Nordic art, ranging from the ancient times to the 19th century:
For me, this is pretty convincing evidence of ancient Nordic sky-myths. It is perfectly normal that Scorpius was seen as a hand since there are no scorpions in this part of the world.
But for this popular myth to make sense in relation to the stars, we need to assume that it was tied to an important astronomical event, and the only option we have is the autumn equinox. And as you just saw, in that case, the dating would be roughly 4700-2500BC.
Indeed that was a very important age for the star lore, as I already illustrated in the following picture.
The above picture also shows how the Scorpio sometimes gets replaced with another image. Sometimes it was an eagle, as the constellation of Aquila – the eagle stands right behind Scorpio.
But I am bringing this image back in order to go deeper into the subject.
Norse – Maya parallels
Mayan mythology also had a hero with a severed hand. The story goes like this.
The gigantic bird, known as Vucub Caquix, was pretending to be the Sun and the Moon. He adorned himself with metal ornaments and false teeth made of gemstones. (These are obvious allusions to the stars.) In fact, this bird is already identified as the constellation of the Big Dipper, although I believe that it was rather Aquila.
In the Mayan myth, there is also a story of a hero who loses hand while fighting a monster. It was one of the Maya hero twins. Trying to defeat the vain god Seven Macaw, they attack him with the blowgun. But he only falls from the tree wounded. As one of the twins, Huanpu, tries to escape, his arm is torn off.
Here is a representation of how this story might look in the stars:
Maya and the classical zodiac
I find it really interesting that the image above depicts a Scorpio, right next to the hero who lost his arm to a demon. Both the Nordic and the Mayan parallels with the stars are my own interpretations, but they seem to match perfectly.
In fact, the kneeling Hunahpu could easily be the Lupus constellation, shooting at Aquila, with Scorpio in between.
But there is much more that connects Maya with the classical zodiac, a topic way too long to fit this article. Let us just say that the hero twins are probably the representation of Gemini. After they descend into the underworld, they put on the masks – symbols for Sun and Moon.
The adventures of the Mayan twins are in fact the story of the movement of the Sun and the Moon through constellations. And besides Gemini and Scorpio, we also see them in other familiar scenes – for example, pouring water from the jug – a representation of Aquarius.
Since the Nordic myth relates to the period of 4700-2500BC, the influence through the Bering Strait Crossing migration is out of the question. But the fact is also that the Mayan myth could be a few thousand years older than the Nordic IF it relates to the equinox. Mayan story revolves around Aquila and not Lupus. And the Sun is moving in the opposite direction, being presently between Virgo and Leo during this time of the year.
The Mayan myth starts with the Gemini, and the spring equinox was in Gemini around 6480-4320BC. (beginning of the New Year, new cycle) It was during this same period that the autumn equinox would have been around Aquila.
However, the later influence is also not out of question. Especially if we take into consideration the knowledge of the classical zodiac. (and numerous other parallels between the old and the new world, starting with the pyramids) My personal belief is that the influence came through the so-called “sea people”, somewhere in the second millennium BC. There are many articles on this blog that describe how it could have happened.
I will continue to write on this topic, and in the meantime here is a video from Penn University. It inspired me to write this article.