There are times when major questions prove to be unanswerable by past experience, common wisdom, science or academic research. Currently many of us have questions concerning the confusing state of the world we live in. Many people seem to be sensing a shift or transitional process underway although its scope and meaning vary with individual lenses and perceptions. Some people have reported that they sense the presence of something dark and mysterious prowling the world creating chaos, confusion, division, and strife. And fear. Frank Herbert’s statement in Dune (1965) that “Fear is the mind killer” is remarkably accurate, and especially resonant in this time. In our confusion we would not be amiss to look toward mythology’s ancient wisdom for some context
The myth of the fearsome wolf Fenrir in the Edda (the epic Norse saga of creation, destruction and re-creation) seems to have particular resonance with our current time. Fenrir is the son of the god Loki and the giantess Angerboda (Sturluson, 1995). According to the Edda Fenrir was pure evil and would bring about the end of the world. For that reason the god Tyr bound him with a magical chain, losing a hand in the process. According to the myth, Fenrir would remain chained until doomsday at which time he would break free, swallow the sun, set upon the gods and devour Odin. Fenrir would ultimately be vanquished by Odin’s son, Vidar, paving the way for re-birth out of the destruction of the old world.
As we enter the period of the dark – the winter solstice when the darkness waxes and appears to devour the sun – we might do well to remind ourselves that the perceived triumph of darkness is the harbinger of the return of the light as Fenrir is ultimately defeated. By framing current uncertainties as the transient effects of Fenrir’s un-chaining we can begin to dream into being the new creation of our personal and collective realities as the sun re-emerges from the jaws of December’s wolf.
And too, we might remember that we are currently perceiving the cyclical manifestation of macrocosmic forces on our microcosmic waking, material consciousness. As Mircea Eliade repeatedly demonstrated in The Myth of the Eternal Return, or Cosmos and History (1954) “Man only repeats the act of the sacred…” (1954, p. 22).
From a mythological perspective we can remind ourselves that this season of darkness is part of the eternal dance of balance and that the light will return. It always does.