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TYRIAN SPIRITUALITY

By Gamlinginn


(This article first appeared in MOUNTAIN THUNDER magazine, issue #10, Autumn 1993.)

Spirituality can be defined as sensitivity or attachments to a particular set of religious values. What this means, is a particular path to one or more Deities. A persons spirituality is that individual person's path to the Deity or Deities to whom she or he is drawn. A path, perhaps, composed of many parts---but all pointing in the same direction, down the same pathway toward Asgardh.


There are many spiritualities within Asatru. Some are better suited for some individuals, and others are better suited for other individuals. It is important that each person find the spirituality that is best suited for them---and then try to follow it at all times. The idea is to bring Asatru fully into one's life. Otherwise, people are in danger of letting their religion become simply a series of social gatherings, toasting the Dieties (and occasionally asking them for their favors) but nothing more. And there is so much more.


At this time, the best known spirituality within Asatru is Odhinnian Spirituality---the Spirituality of Odhinn. (Do not confuse Odhinnian with Odhian or Odhinnist---each of these three words has a completely different meaning.) Also popular at the present are the various Vanic Spiritualities, centered around one or more of the Vanir. The Spirituality of Thorr has some staunch followers, although---for some reason---not as many as one might expect.

Tyrian Spirituality is a spirityality within Asatru that emphasizes the virtues and characteristics associated with the God Tyr and the Goddes Zisa (who are counterparts of each other). In basic terms, Tyrian Spirituality involves always trying to do what is right, what is fair, what is just, and what is honest, with special stress on service to, and protection of, the community---both the Asatru community and the general community in which one lives.


To understand Tyrian Spirituality, one must first have at least some understanding of the God Tyr. Tyr is known as the one-handed God. In the Prose Edda (Gylfaginning), Snorri tells the story of how Tyr lost his right hand to the Fenris Wolf. This story is very symbolic of all that Tyr stands for: self-sacrifice in order to maintain the safety and stability of the community. Tyr is the God of justice and true law, the God of keeping one's word and upholding that which is right.


Some people have though of Tyr as a God of War, a confusion that has existed as far back as the days of pre-Christian Rome. The Romans called the third day of the week the Day of Mars, and it is still called martes in Spanish. This was translated to Tyr's Day in northern Europe---Tuesday in modern English. However, it is not that simple. Those who call upon Tyr before going into combat do so because they want to draw attention to the rightfulness of their struggle, not simply for strength against their opponents.


Thorr helps those who call on him and are sincere. Odhinn helps those who call on him if he wants to. Tyr helps those who call on him if, and only if, their cause is just.

Tyr is not as exciting as Odhinn, but without Tyr everything would quickly fall apart. It is Tyr who holds it all together and keeps it all running smoothly.


Tyrian symbols are: Tiwaz (t) the Tyr Rune, the Irminsul, the Hand of Tyr, the Bound Fenris Wolf, and the North (Pole) Star---the Constant Star. It might be useful at this point to say a few words about Zisa, the female counterpart of Tyr. (I do not like to use the term "wife" because the relationships of the Gods and Goddesses to and with each other are very different from those of humans.) There is a reference to her---although not by name---in the Poetic Edda (Lokasenna, verse 40). Jacob Grimm devotes several pages to Zisa in his work: Teutonic Mythology. Freya Aswynn also mentions Zisa in her book: Leaves of Yggdrasil.
We know that Zisa exists because theologically all of the Deities have both a female and a male form. Unfortunately, very little has come down to us from ancient times.


Tyrian Spirituality is often called a Code of Honorable Conduct. Tyr and Zisa can give us one great strength, but it comes with two great responsibilities:
(1) It must never be used for evil, and
(2) The strong must always protect the weak.


Those who follow the path of Tyrian Spirituality are called Tyrians. Before doing anything, Tyrians ask themselves what are called Ty'rs Three Questions: "Is it moral?" "Is it legal?" "Is it beneficial to all concerned?" If the answer to any of these questions is "No" then they do not do it. The Tyrian exists to serve, to help. The Tyrian asks no reward, and excepts no reward in turn for service. The service itself is its own reward.


The Tyrian lives in Midhgardh, and is very much a part of it, but learns not to worry about the trivia of Midhgardh. Tyrians often work to build things they know they will never see completed. But that does not matter to a Tyrian. If the work is good, it is worth doing.


Tyrians say: "The glacier knows where it is going and when it will get there.
It does not matter if others know or not," Some who study comparative religion have remarked that there are some similarities between Tyrian Spirituality and the Zen form of Buddhism---that Tyrian spirituality is "the Zen of Asatru"---but there are also many differences.


Asatru is a polytheistic religion. There are many paths within Asatru. Each path has a purpose. All are needed and all work together. Different people chose to follow different paths. Some pursue the path of Frigg and Odhinn, seeking always to discover and change things. Others take the path of Thorr and Sif, defending all they feel should be defended. Still others find the Vanir path, basking in the warm friendship of Freyja and Freyr. The path of Tyr and Zisa is one of calm. It does not attract many. It brings no magical discoveries, no feelings of great strength and power, no material blessings. It brings only calma dn the reward of service.

 


BOKSAFN:

Aswynn, Freya
Leaves of Yggdrasil
Llewellyn, St. Paul, 1990.

Dumezil, Georges (translated by Alf Hiltebeitel)
Destiny of the Warrior
University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1970.

Dumezil, Georges (translated by Einar Haugen)
Gods of the Ancient Northmen
Univ. of California Press, Berkeley, 1973.

Dumezil, Georges (translated by Derek Coltman)
Mitra Varuna
M.I.T. Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1988.

Ellis Davidson, Hilda R.
Gods and myths of Northern Europe
Penguin, London, 1964

Ellis Davidson, Hilda R.
Myths and Symbols in Pagan Europe
Syracuse University Press, Syracuse, 1988.

Grimm, Jacob (translated by James Stallybrass)
Teutonic Mythology
Peter Smith, Glouchester, Mass., 1976.

Sturluson, Snorri
Snorra Edda (The Snorri Edda)
Islendingasagnautgafan, Akureyri, 1954.

Turville-Petre, E.O.G.
Myth and religion of the North
Weidenfield & Nicolson, London, 1964.

Eddukvaedhi (the Poetic Edda)
Islendingasagnautgafan, Akureyri, 1954.


NOTE
An Odhian seeks to emulate Odhinn.
An Odhinnian Follows the Spirituality of Odhinn.
An Odhinnist worships Odhinn. Unfortunately the word Odhinnist has become
associated with certain racist groups and is therefore best avoided.

**(this is Gamlinginn's opinion, not everyone in Asatru/Heathenism agree with it)**