Tyr's Bride

There's a line in verse 40 of the Lokasenna that indicates Tyr's wife bore Loki a son. In this poem the son becomes a daughter - and a werewolf.
In ancient times in Ironwood cold, two ettins and their dam
Ran free in wood and snow and ice, far from the gaze of man.
And one had hair as pale as stars, and one was red as fire;
And both ran wild beneath the moon, beside their shaggy sire.
Oh rose-red maid, Oh snow white maid; they ran beside their sire.
And two came riding through the wood, not fearing its foul gloom.
They stopped to rest and drink, and saw: the ettin maids at noon.
The dark one swore he'd wed the pale; the other kissed the roan
Whose laurel eyes and vixen locks were so akin his own.
Oh mocking eyes, Oh magic eyes; that were so like her own.
On horseback held, the pale one heard: "We'll pledge our troth this night!"
But Loki's eyes ne'er left that maid, until they passed from sight.
And they were far upon the road that took them to Asgarth,
When Loki turned to spend his days at Angreboda's hearth.
Oh days of love, Oh days of lust; at Angreboda's hearth.
In Asgarth's halls the pale Isyn was now of the Aesir.
Each night she slept on eiderdown, held in the clasp of Tyr.
But once a month, for three long nights, she slipped her human skin
And ran with paws on snow again, out hunting with her kin.
Oh stirring hunt, Oh sensual hunt; once shed of human skin.
And once a month, for three long nights, her friend the Shore-God's wife
Runs with her and her kin at night, sharing their secret life.
For three years past, each midwinter, fair Isyn howls her pain
For another barren year that's gone, while her sister births again.
Oh idle womb, Oh addled womb; pale Isyn howls in pain.
While Angreboda was confined and Skadhi was elsewhere,
One full moon Isyn ran alone, heart heavy with despair.
A stranger wolf joined her lone hunt, his playfulness a game
That scattered loneliness and grief, and touched her with its flame.
Oh rousing fire, oh razing fire; that touched them with its flame.
Three nights that month they ran and played, but soon as it grew light
She slipped back to her husband's arms, with eager appetite.
Their bodies twined til sun was high, and then they broke their fast.
And that was when fair Isyn felt life in her womb at last.
Oh wanted child, Oh welcome child; within her womb at last.
Before their joy was fairly shared a doom crouched at the gate;
Deep in the roots of Yggdrasil the Norns perceive this fate:
That Loki's love for Isyn has created Ragnarok;
As Angreboda's vengefulness to wyrd renders a shock
Oh bitter gall, Oh utter gall; to end in Ragnarok.
Tis Frigg's beloved tells a tale, of walking by moonlight
And seeing two wolves sport and play: thought it a wondrous sight.
For one was white as though a ghost, and one was red as flame;
And ghost departed silently, as soon as sunrise came.
Oh breathless play, Oh blissful play, dispelled when sunrise came.
 So following the russet wolf, to Angreboda's hall
Balder saw Loki shed his skin and answer to her call.
And now all Asgard heard his tale, they looked at Tyr's pale bride.
Her burning cheeks betraying shame, she turned her head aside.
Oh flaming red, Oh shaming red, she cast their play aside.
But Tyr embraced her so she wept her painful tears on him.
And promised her he would keep faith; his love would never dim.
And Skadhi swore her cold revenge, to see her dear friend grieved
And Loki, in his turn, said he'd remember Balder's deed.
Oh vowing words, Oh vengeful words; spoken when Tyr's wife grieved.

And in due course, when months had passed, and Isyn's child was born,
All saw her double nature not confined to just her form.
For during those three nights and days, their own essence had fused
With that of hers - a threefold ferth* - upon the child incused.
Oh trusty ferth, Oh trickster ferth; with wilder ferth had fused.

* an Anglo-Saxon term that may have been used to describe what we call the 'self'

© Alexa Duir 2005

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