Sunday, May 17, 2015

Creature Feature: The Garmr

Hello everyone!

I decided recently that I would do something new and, anyone who watches my FaceBook knows this, I wanted to do something to bring back a little bit of old folklore. Everything is becoming so obscure that I wanted them to be brought back into the spot light. I have decided to start with some Norse mythology today for our first creature feature, and this creature is called  GARM (or GARMR).

GARM is a dog or wolf that has been associated with Hel and Ragnarok. He is described as a blood-stained watchdog that guards the gates of Hel, much like Cerberus from Greek mythology. GARM is mentioned in a couple places, but the name does not make its way into these sources. The Poetic Edda poem Grimnismal as well as the Prose Edda book Gylfaginning.

The Poetic Edda Grimnismal:
The best of trees | must Yggdrasil be,
Skíðblaðnir best of boats;
Of all the gods | is Óðinn the greatest,
And Sleipnir the best of steeds;
Bifröst of bridges, | Bragi of skalds,
Hábrók of hawks, | and Garm of hounds.

Now Garm howls loud | before Gnipahellir,
The fetters will burst, | and the wolf run free;
Much do I know, | and more can see
Of the fate of the gods, | the mighty in fight.

Then Óðinn rose, | the enchanter old,
And the saddle he laid | on Sleipnir's back;
Thence rode he down | to Niflhel deep,
And the hound he met | that came from hell.
Bloody he was | on his breast before,
At the father of magic | he howled from afar;
Forward rode Óðinn, | the earth resounded
Till the house so high | of Hel he reached

Hel by Johaness Gehrts (1889)

The stanza below is repeated during this Poetic Edda and is one of the few sources left that hints at GARM:

Now Garm howls wildly
Before Gnipa Cave.
Chains will snap
And the wolf will run

While we can't say definitively that GARM is the one being described, it is safe to assume that the only other mythological hounds that could be associated with this description are Fenrir and Hel. We can assume this because all three of these beings are canines associated with the Underworld while the forces of chaos break free at the world's end as foretold to aid in the world's destruction. 

GARM has been used in multiple places like video games such as Skyrim, as well as many others. He has even made his way into my own work, bringing brought back into the spotlight in "Follow the Screams: Book 2 of the Executioner Trilogy" as a guardian in Hell. Hopefully, with this blog and my own works, we can bring ancient mythology back to the forefront and make sure we don't forget the stories of our ancestors. 

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