Sunday, 20 November 2016

Tyr - the slayer rune - opens Wardruna's album Ragnarok

The album Ragnarok (2016) finishes Wardruna's trilogy Runaljod (sound of runes). In three albums Einar Selvik and his band interprets the 24 runes of the elder futhark (the old rune alphabet). Prior to Ragnarok, they have released Gap var Ginnunga (2009) and Yggdasil (2013), and in each album, they present melodies interpreting eight runes - plus extra melodies, like the popular Helvegen (the road to Hel).

John Snow aka Terje Hillesund (author of The Slayer Rune) at Eidsivablot waiting for Wardruna to play
John Snow aka Terje Hillesund (to the right) at Eidsivablot
waiting for Wardruna to play.

In Norse mythology, Ginnungagap is the name of the deep chasm or gap in which the world was created. Yggdrasil is the name of a huge ash tree, the world tree, and Ragnarok is the end of the world; the final battle in which gods and humans will perish.

Tyr is the name of a rune and the title on the first song in Wardruna's last album. Tyr is originally a Norse god of war. He put his right hand in the mouth of the wolf Fenrir who bit the hand off after the gods had bound him with an unbreakable ribbon.

Einar Selvik from Wardruna interprets the rune Tyr in Ragnarok, 
the third album in the Runaljod trilogy.
Einar Selvik from Wardruna interprets the rune Tyr in Ragnarok,
the third album in the Runaljod trilogy.

The Old Icelandic Rune Poem says about the Tyr rune, that "Tyr is a one-handed god / and a wolf's leftover / and the temple's chief." In The Lay of Sigrdrifa (in The Poetic Edda) Sigurd the Dragonslayer wakes up a valkyrie, Sigerdrifa, who starts giving him words of wisdom and advice. In the sixth stanza of the lay, she tells Sigurd how to use the Tyr rune:

Victory-rune you must cut if you want to have victory,
and cut them on your sword-hilt;
some on the blade-guards, some on the plates,
and invoke Tyr twice.

In my book The Slayer Rune, this is exactly what the young hero Sigurd Haraldson does. Sigurd (who is later called Sigve the Awful) carves Tyr on his sword-hilt and gives it magic powers, but without knowing the consequences. Tyr, of course, is the slayer rune.

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