Tyr and Heimdall: Two Gods Really Just One?

I am trying to build a relationship with Tyr. Since I’ve never been the first one to try and start a relationship where gods are concerned, this is new to me. But I think I’m on the right track.

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Tyr and Fenrir, John Bauer

I’ve been aware of Tyr for a while. I remember the first time I felt Him. I was meditating on the sky, for Heimdall, as I often do, but instead of Heimdall I felt Someone Else. Very distinctly not my fulltrúi. Somehow, I knew it was Tyr. Stern. Focused. Not quite as diffuse as The Ram.

After that, nothing for a few years. I’d always associated Tyr with the bright blue sky, similar to how I associate Heimdall with a cloudy blue sky. So when I decided to forge a connection with Tyr, the sky was where I started. It was hard to sort the feelings I had for Tyr from the feelings I have for Heimdall. I’m so used to tuning myself to Heimdall’s frequency that I had a hard time finding Tyr in the one place I knew I could find him – like having two friends who live in the same apartment building, but only knowing the apartment number of one of them, and ringing the same buzzer every time.

So I’ve branched out. I know Tyr is a god of justice, honour, right action. These things have always been foremost to me. Big surprise, Heimdall is all those things to me, too, especially honour. They resonate, a lot. Tyr seems to be more about direct action, whereas Heimdall has a focus on thought and being. Attention. Perception.

Tyr is also obviously a god of war, battle, and victory. These resonate with me much less, but I’ll talk more about these aspects of Tyr in another post.

Now, the other similarities:

  1. They are both liminal gods. Heimdall, who is descended from giants, became an Ás. His job is to guard the border between worlds. His home is on a cliff, between the land and the sky (and the sea, in my UPG). Tyr is also descended from giants, and is one of the oldest gods (that we know of), and he also became an Ás. He is part of two cultures. It could be said that he witnessed the ‘changing of the guard’ when Odin became chief god, and Tyr took a back seat.
  2. They are both sky deities. Apart from being associated with the literal daytime sky, they might be associated with space and the cosmos, as well. (Heimdall certainly is, but more of that in another post, perhaps.)
  3. They both have to do with honour and duty. It is Heimdall’s duty to stand watch, no matter how cold and bitter it gets. It was Tyr’s duty to give up his hand so that Fenrisúlfr could be contained. They do their duties silently and resignedly, and the gravity of their actions speaks for itself.
  4. They both have very strong links with the World Tree. Heimdall, who sees high and low across the universe, who has nine mothers, has been compared and even equated with the World Tree. As god of perception and awareness, his consciousness is all-encompassing, as is Yggdrasil, and his nine mothers echo the nine worlds. Tyr’s symbol, the Irminsul, is a symbol of the World Tree also, the axis of the universe. Granted, worship of the Irminsul is a more Germanic occurrence than Scandinavian, and that makes it less valid to link the two, but Tyr-as-Irminsul is a very strong link to Tyr as the World Tree.

The thought I had while researching Tyr was this: given these similarities, is it plausible that Heimdall and Tyr were once one deity, or that Heimdall developed out of an offshoot from an earlier Tyr?

Honestly: there’s not tons of evidence, but since the historical record is spotty, we have no idea. It could be true.

It’s obvious to me now why I’m drawn to Tyr, even though I have a hard time with his warlike aspects. If Heimdall and Tyr are descended from the same god, or if Heimdall is an offshoot of Tyr, that would certainly explain my attraction. I’m a sucker for liminal figures and figures of honour and duty.

I personally think they are distinct deities – they certainly were in the Viking Age and later. They have distinct presences to me, even considering the similarities. But Heimdall is not about war, and they have distinct roles within the pantheon that tells me they have long been separate beings, if they were ever once the same.

This was not what I wanted my first post about Tyr to be, but it was the thought that occurred to me while doing research. More on Tyr soon.

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Fearing the Silence

I haven’t heard from my god in nine months. I thought this would bother me, but it doesn’t, mostly. Constant divine communication is not a must, and at some point, one must learn how to accept long silences.

I haven’t heard from Heimdall since January. When I do hear from him, I usually get vibes. I don’t usually hear words, since I don’t get a good signal. I also suspect that he doesn’t talk very much. Of course, there are lots of issues with actually hearing words from your gods: bad signal, bad translation, garbled lines, miscommunication, discernment, so on. But every once in a while, I’ll get some very clear words ringing through my head, and I don’t think I’m the one that put them there. The last time I heard him, all he said was, “Do you trust me?” and I thought for one split second before thinking “Yes” in response. That was the last I heard. Then I was handed over to Baldr, sort of officially, until whatever there is to be done is done. I have no idea what the plan is, but I haven’t heard from Heimdall since January.

Back to what I was saying at the beginning of this post. It doesn’t bother me that I haven’t heard from him. I figure he’s there. I figure I just need to continue with what I’m doing, and make some progress. I haven’t needed his help and I haven’t asked for it.
But I am bothered. It’s not the silence per se that bothers me. I’m afraid – terrified, actually – that I’m growing apart from him, that I’m losing touch. I’m afraid if I stray too far, I won’t remember how to get back to him. I’m afraid I’ll forget what he feels like. I’m afraid of doing something that will be the last straw with him, and I’m afraid he won’t have me back.

These are the fears I always have regarding him. They come when I haven’t meditated in a while, or when I ignore my better judgment and do foolish things. When these things happen, it’s my fault, and I’m capable of fixing it myself. It’s on my head. But right now, I’m doing well. I’m using my common sense and I’m fighting the fight. Granted, I should be meditating more. But I’m wondering whether it’s me this time or not. Is he pulling away? Is he moving on somewhere else? I didn’t think I’d be in his path forever. But I hoped it would be a long time.

I’m afraid. I’ve had these fears before. I’ll have them again. If the lack of connection is my fault, then that’s okay. I can fix that. If the lack of connection means he’s not dealing with me any longer, well…I’ll feel his absence sorely. But whatever happens, I won’t stop honouring him or living my life with his ideals in mind. I won’t leave him.

And this is the important thing about dealing with silences: you have to be able to carry on just fine when they happen. It’s hard work, but otherwise, you might fall apart. Or stumble. Or get lost. If you, like me, don’t have a strong god signal, you’ll need something else in your spiritual life to sustain and even drive you through the silences.