Canid Eschatologies in Irish and Norse Myth

  • Phillip A. Bernhardt-House Skagit Valley College, Whidbey Island Campus


While medieval Irish literature does not preserve any pre-Christian sources on eschatology, other Indo-European cultures do, notably that of the Norse cosmology and its end in Ragnarök. In the stories of Ragnarök, various canids (including the Fenris Wolf) are heavily involved. There may be traces of some eschatological canid-connected imagery in certain Celtic sources, but nothing seems definite. However, the Fenris wolf’s role in Norse cosmology is delayed by his binding by the other gods. The story of Fenris’ binding has similarities to the death-tale of Cú Chulainn. The author suggests that not only might there be something eschatological in the similarities discernible in this comparison, but it also may be possible to understand the Irish hero’s death as his being taken into reserve, so to speak, for a final eschatological battle at some later date by either Lug or The Morrígan, in a similar fashion to how Odin and Freyja take great warriors to their halls in advance of Ragnarök.

Dec 5, 2018