This is a work in progress, I will return to finish it soon but it has taken far too long already and it is good enough for the moment.
Name, Pronunciation, & Meaning:
Tiw, pronounced /tiːw/ (IPA), carries a meaning of “god”. Tiw comes to Old English by way of the Proto-Germanic *Tīwaz which comes from Proto-Indo-European *deywós (“god”).[i] Proto-Indo-European *deywós (“god”) is a direct derivative from *dyew- (“sky, heaven”), it having undergone metathesis (swapping of sounds as a language evolves).[ii] This means that Tiw is then a linguistic cognate of not only *deywós terms but also *dyew- derived terms. In light of this, this meaning of “god” for *deywós terms is itself likely originally derived from “light” in some way via “sky”, this brings to mind things like “bright one” or “shining one”.[iii]
Tiw is a main god, he therefore had many more attestations than other less well-known deities. For this reason it is not within the scope of this reconstruction guide to attempt to outline every single instance in which he appears but more to provide a way to view Tiw in context. I will categorize the attestations based primarily upon the culture and label them.
Tuesday comes from the Old English Tiwesdæg which meant Tiw’s day.[iv] (I briefly discus the interpretatio germanica in the Roman section what related to this.)
The Rune Poem
ᛏ Tir biþ tacna sum, healdeð trywa wel
wiþ æþelingas; a biþ on færylde
ofer nihta genipu, næfre swiceþ. (original text)
T. ( ? ) is a (guiding) star; well does it keep faith with princes; it is ever on its course over the mists of night and never fails.[v] (Dickins 1915)
Tiw is one of the signs, holds faith well /
with noblemen, on a journey
is always / above night’s gloom, never fails (Pollington 1995)[vi]
The north star is one signal, it holds faith well
with nobles, it is always on track,
throughout night’s darkness it never deceives. (Albertsson 2011)[vii]
I would likely translate this a little differently:
ᛏ beeth a starry sign, holds true well
with everyone; it beeth on journey
over night’s darkness, never failing.
Despite choosing to translate this somewhat differently, I would not rock the boat on the generally accepted interpretation that is given for this poem, I entirely believe that this rune poem is referencing the North Star. It is the only starry sign in the sky which never fails and can be faithfully counted on to keep its faith or keep true with everyone. Here I chose to translate æþelingas as everyone in general, which is different to be sure but not as odd as you might think; while the first meaning is “nobles” or something like that, you should also check out the second meaning in Bosworth Toller on this one because people in general is an accepted meaning and honestly makes far more sense in the context of the poem than to merely have it keep faith with the nobility.[viii]
Now, if this is the North Star as is generally accepted, which is the only one that is so faithful and true, and it is linked to Tiw through the symbol and the name Tir they give for the symbol, then it is reasonable to associate the North Star with Tiw. This position could be interpreted as a very important, guiding position he would occupy then. One might even say it’s a leadership position.
There is a curious temple that had been built at one of the very farthest edges of the empire of Rome, the northernmost boundary, Hadrian’s wall. This temple was dedicated to Mars Thincsus, or Mars of the Thing.[ix] This “Thing” that it is referencing is not a Latin word at all but is of Germanic origin and was Latinized to suit the Latin inscription. We can then gather that this is not Mars as the Romans knew him, the Mars of Rome, but instead this was a Germanic god that had been equated to Mars through the interpretatio romana. Tiw was correlated to Mars by the Romans in intperpretatio romana and later by the Anglo-Saxons who did this the other way in reverse correlating their own gods to the roman gods called interpretatio germanica. This is actually why we have the days of the week that we currently have, they correspond to the Roman days of the week and so Tuesday or Tiwsdaeg correlated to diēs Mārtis or the day of Mars.[x]
It is however important to know about the Thing then if we are to understand the relevance of Mars Thincsus. This text is taken from Tacitus’ Germania and does a fair job of explaining the purpose of the Thing and the nature of kingship among the Germanic peoples of that time:
They choose their kings by birth, their generals for merit. These kings have not unlimited or arbitrary power, and the generals do more by example than by authority. If they are energetic, if they are conspicuous, if they fight in the front, they lead because they are admired. But to reprimand, to imprison, even to flog, is permitted to the priests alone, and that not as a punishment, or at the general’s bidding, but, as it were, by the mandate of the god whom they believe to inspire the warrior.[xi]
About minor matters the chiefs deliberate, about the more important the whole tribe. Yet even when the final decision rests with the people, the affair is always thoroughly discussed by the chiefs. They assemble, except in the case of a sudden emergency, on certain fixed days, either at new or at full moon; for this they consider the most auspicious season for the transaction of business. Instead of reckoning by days as we do, they reckon by nights, and in this manner fix both their ordinary and their legal appointments. Night they regard as bringing on day. Their freedom has this disadvantage, that they do not meet simultaneously or as they are bidden, but two or three days are wasted in the delays of assembling. When the multitude think proper, they sit down armed. Silence is proclaimed by the priests, who have on these occasions the right of keeping order. Then the king or the chief, according to age, birth, distinction in war, or eloquence, is heard, more because he has influence to persuade than because he has power to command. If his sentiments displease them, they reject them with murmurs; if they are satisfied, they brandish their spears. The most complimentary form of assent is to express approbation with their weapons.[xii]
In their councils an accusation may be preferred or a capital crime prosecuted. Penalties are distinguished according to the offence. Traitors and deserters are hanged on trees; the coward, the unwarlike, the man stained with abominable vices, is plunged into the mire of the morass, with a hurdle put over him. This distinction in punishment means that crime, they think, ought, in being punished, to be exposed, while infamy ought to be buried out of sight. Lighter offences, too, have penalties proportioned to them; he who is convicted, is fined in a certain number of horses or of cattle. Half of the fine is paid to the king or to the state, half to the person whose wrongs are avenged and to his relatives. In these same councils they also elect the chief magistrates, who administer law in the cantons and the towns. Each of these has a hundred associates chosen from the people, who support him with their advice and influence.[xiii]
Within this text we get a few important understandings. Firstly and perhaps most interesting and important to me personally is the understanding that the ancient Germanic peoples had priests and a priesthood who had civic and religious roles; I find this important because the existence of a Germanic priesthood has been argued against by some early historians with biased agendas (I’m looking at you Jacob Grimm). The next thing that I find important is that there were generally kings that oversaw these councils of chiefs, and this is not a mistake because the original Latin gives the term “rex” which indicated that Tacitus is indeed talking about kings here.
This passage is discussing the basics of the Thing as seen during the time of Tacitus, the Thing was a council convened to determine resolutions to conflicts, punishments for breeches of the law, or other matters which concerned the chieftains, king, and what today we would consider to be matters of state. In many cases historically we see examples of these deciding matters of war, but this is not always the case as can be seen in Tacitus and in the later adaptations. The thing is though that the Thing was overseen by the leaders, in this case the Kings. And that is meaningful for Mars Thincsus.
Mars Thincsus and the Thing
If Mars Thincsus is the interpretatio romana name for the god that would become Tiw, and if kings in general were intended to overee the Thing, and Mars Thincsus is the god of the Thing, then it would follow that this is good evidence that Tiw is the King of the gods. Now you might be thinking “but, but, but, Odin…” except we’ll see this becomes even more secure looking elsewhere and elsewhen.
Some more credence to the connection between the Thing and Tiw can be found in German. The German Tuesday is generally Dienstag, descended from the Day of the Thing (Ding at that point in that language branch) or perhaps the day of Thingsus, the water is murky but either way it is associating the Thing with Tuesday which further links Tiw to the Thing by this association. I say generally here though because there was also another alternative way of saying Tuesday in German that seems to have not survived to modernity, Zistag, or the day of Ziu who would cognate out to Tiw. (Zistag may have survived as late as the 1870’s.[xiv] [xv])
But the importance of this is that here once again we have associations between Ziu and the Thing and Tuesday, all correlating to Tiw and bringing into focus this aspect of the god.
People often point to Tacitus and mistakenly believe he says Odin was the chief god among the Germanic peoples. That is not at all what he says. He says “Deorum maxime Mercurium colunt…” which doesn’t at all mean Mercury was the highest god but instead that he was worshipped more often than other gods.[xvi] If I were to translate this it would mean “Mercury is the god most worshipped”. “Of the gods, Mercury is the principal object of their adoration” is how Oxford chose to translate it.[xvii]
However, of importance is the fact that this same exact phrase is used by Julius Caesar in his Commentarii de Bello Gallico; he says “Deum maxime Mercurium colunt” which is translated as “They worship as their divinity, Mercury in particular…”.[xviii] Caesar is certainly not saying that Mercury is the highest god, why then should we presume Tacitus would be? No, in fact there is no indication that Mercury was the highest god but instead the most often worshipped. The funniest matter of this though is that Caesar is here talking about the Gauls and not about the Germanic peoples. So here we have two disparately different peoples who are described in the same terms.
And Tacitus mentions that the Germanic peoples did worship Mars and Hercules in a more conventional fashion that was recognizable to the Romans.[xix] Mars we can surmise is likely the placeholder name for an earlier Germanic version of Tiw for that time, a name likely related to either *Þingsaz or *Tiwaz rooted terms in Proto-Germanic.
In Tacitus there is an interesting story about the origins of the earth that could have implications and links to Tiw’s ancient counterpart. Tacitus says “In their ancient songs, their only way of remembering or recording the past, they celebrate an earth-born god, Tuisco, and his son Mannus, as the origin of their race, as their founders.”[xx] This word, Tuisco, is likely etymologically related to *Tiwaz. I say likely because spelling is found in one of the manuscripts that has come down to us, the other spelling is Tuisto which would not be etymologically linked to *Tiwaz. Which one is strictly correct is impossible to determine so we must keep an open mind. However if it is indeed linked to *Tiwaz through Tuisco, then it is likely that this Earth-born god is the child of *Tiwas (here likely the sky-father) and the Earth-Mother. This is because Tuisco carries a likely meaning of son of Tiwaz and it designates him as earth-born already. This is a theory that we must leave open though as the certainty of Tuisco over Tuisto is not absolute.[xxi]
“regnator omnium deus”
Now while we have no evidence that Mercury is the highest god among the Germanic peoples, Tacitus does give us the understanding that there is a highest god, at least among one group. This god is referenced among the Suevi and is titled “regnator omnium deus” or the god who controls all, translated by Alfred Church as “the supreme and all-ruling deity”. I will include an English translation of the pertinent passage:
The Semnones give themselves out to be the most ancient and renowned branch of the Suevi. Their antiquity is strongly attested by their religion. At a stated period, all the tribes of the same race assemble by their representatives in a grove consecrated by the auguries of their forefathers, and by immemorial associations of terror. Here, having publicly slaughtered a human victim, they celebrate the horrible beginning of their barbarous rite. Reverence also in other ways is paid to the grove. No one enters it except bound with a chain, as an inferior acknowledging the might of the local divinity. If he chance to fall, it is not lawful for him to be lifted up, or to rise to his feet; he must crawl out along the ground. All this superstition implies the belief that from this spot the nation took its origin, that here dwells the supreme and all-ruling deity [regnator omnium deus], to whom all else is subject and obedient. The fortunate lot of the Semnones strengthens this belief; a hundred cantons are in their occupation, and the vastness of their community makes them regard themselves as the head of the Suevic race.[xxii]
One reason that it is believed that this could be a god linked to Tiw is that the grove that this ritual took place in had the peculiar association with being fettered and bound. It is a tenuous link, but Tyr has associations with the binding of the Fenris wolf. This link is certainly not the best as there is very little connecting these two besides the idea of bindings. But what it does do is give us the understanding that it is not outside the realm of Germanic belief even at this early point to have a high god. Further, the presence of a wolf and probably Tiwaz is found on several bracteate from the migration period which would indicate that there was some concept of the myth that would involve fetters. I will cover these later.
This is a very short link but one that could be seen as important. The Goths were a group of Germanic peoples who spoke the now extinct branch of Germanic languages that we call gothic. De origine actibusque Getarum, or the Getica for short, was written by Jordanes, a roman, who sought to give a history of the Goths. It is an interesting piece but for our purposes there is only one relevant passage:
Moreover so highly were the Getae praised that Mars, whom the fables of poets call the god of war, was reputed to have been born among them. Hence Virgil says:
“Father Gradivus rules the Getic fields.”
Now Mars has always been worshipped by the Goths with cruel rites, and captives were slain as his victims. They thought that he who is the lord of war ought to be appeased by the shedding of human blood. To him they devoted the first share of the spoil, and in his honor arms stripped from the foe were suspended from trees.
This would give us the understanding that Mars was the chief god of the Goths, father gradivus being an epithet of Mars. This would in interpretatio romana the gothic god Teiws, etymologically related to Tyr and Tiw.
Under the Norse peoples, it is generally to be understood that we do not have much in the way of evidence for Tyr as the ruler of the gods. Instead, Oðinn was seen as the high god.
This makes the Norse lore somewhat of an outlier as most of the previous lore we have and indeed the etymology of Tyr indicates the primacy of Tiwaz (Tyr to the Norse and Tiw to the Anglo-Saxons).
Even within the Norse though, references to Tyr are few. In the Poetic Edda Tyr only appears in Hymiskvitha, the Lokasenna, and the Sigdrifumol. This is rather few references, and of these the only ones of great importance seem to be in the Hymiskvitha and are not elaborated on at all.
In this story Tyr is portrayed as the son of Hymir (odd because in other versions he may be seen as Oðinn’s son) but he is going on the trip to retrieve the cauldron of Hymir.
Almost nothing of note happens in the story. Certainly nothing that could give us a better understanding of Tyr. However, there is an almost throw-away line in the poem which points towards a very different version of the story of Utgard Loki.
38. Not long had they fared | ere one there lay
Of Hlorrithi’s goats | half-dead on the ground;
In his leg the pole-horse | there was lame;
The deed the evil | Loki had done[xxiii]
This is a reference to the story in which Thor’s goat had a broken leg on the way to Utgard. But in this version instead of Loki as a traveling companion of Thor we would have see Tyr as the traveling companion. In this version we would have seen Loki as an antagonist of Thor and Tyr instead of a traveling companion of Thor. This is likely indicative of a different or perhaps an older version of the story which is now lost.
He harms not maids | nor the wives of men,
And the bound from their fetters he frees.”
38. “Be silent, Tyr! | for between two men
Friendship thou ne’er couldst fashion;
Fain would I tell | how Fenrir once
Thy right hand rent from thee.”
39. “My hand do I lack, | but Hrothvitnir thou,
And the loss brings longing to both;
Ill fares the wolf | who shall ever await
In fetters the fall of the gods.”
40. “Be silent, Tyr! | for a son with me
Thy wife once chanced to win;
Not a penny, methinks, | wast thou paid for the wrong,
Nor wast righted an inch, poor wretch.”
41. “By the mouth of the river | the wolf remains
Till the gods to destruction go;
Thou too shalt soon, | if thy tongue is not stilled,
Be fettered, thou forger of ill.”
This passage is from the Lokasenna and honestly tells us very little about Tyr besides that Loki is poking fun at his ability to seal friendships, which could be a reference to his inability to shake hands more than it is anything of note. Loki also seems to brag that he slept with Tyr’s unnamed wife.
Unfortunately this does little to help us understand Tyr to any great extent in any way that is meaningful.
6. Winning-runes learn, | if thou longest to win,
And the runes on thy sword-hilt write;
Some on the furrow, | and some on the flat,
And twice shalt thou call on Tyr.
This passage is the last mention of Tyr in the Poetic Edda and it is more related to the Tyr rune than anything else. There is then this magical association to victory and this particular god. It also links this specifically to swords as it mentions them in exclusion of all other forms of weaponry.
Hárr said: “Yet remains that one of the Æsir who is called Týr: he is most daring, and best in stoutness of heart, and he has much authority over victory in battle; it is good for men of valor to invoke him. It is a proverb, that he is Týr-valiant, who surpasses other men and does not waver. He is wise, so that it is also said, that he that is wisest is Týr-prudent. This is one token of his daring: when the Æsir enticed Fenris-Wolf to take upon him the fetter Gleipnir, the wolf did not believe them, that they would loose him, until they laid Týr’s hand into his mouth as a pledge. But when the Æsir would not loose him, then he bit off the hand at the place now called ‘the wolf’s joint;’ and Týr is one-handed, and is not called a reconciler of men.
The Wolf the Æsir brought up at home, and Týr alone dared go to him to give him meat. But when the gods saw. how much he grew every day, and when all prophecies declared that he was fated to be their destruction, then the Æsir seized upon this way of escape …
The Wolf said: ‘If ye bind me so that I shall not get free again, then ye will act in such a way that it will be late ere I receive help from you; I am unwilling that this band should be laid upon me. Yet rather than that ye should impugn my courage, let some one of you lay his hand in my mouth, for a pledge that this is done in good faith.’ Each of the Æsir looked at his neighbor, and none was willing to part with his hand, until Týr stretched out his right hand and laid it in the Wolf’s mouth. But when the Wolf lashed out, the fetter became hardened; and the more he struggled against it, the tighter the band was. Then all laughed except Týr: he lost his hand.”[xxiv]
This story is one of the few that we have of Tyr that has any substance at all and unfortunately it solely appears in the much-maligned Prose Edda.
Beyond this, there are only two other mentions of Tyr in the Prose Edda unrelated to this story. They are his death at Ragnarok by being eaten by Garmr and a few kennings: “How should one periphrase Týr? By calling him the One-handed God, and Fosterer of the Wolf, God of Battles, Son of Odin”.[xxv]
These are once again not particularly useful as they either tell us things that we already know or they tell us things that conflict with other information that we have.
The Strange case of Seaxnēat:
It is frequent in heathen groups to correlate the god Seaxnēat or Saxnot with Tyr. Yet among these two there is no etymological link as Saxnot is not in the slightest etymologically related to Tyr. And yet it is worth exploring briefly because sometimes things are more intertwined than merely with etymology.
This theory was first explored in any great extent and entered into the academic sphere through Jacob Grimm who elucidated the theory in his Deutsche Mythologie.[xxvi] He would not be the last to make this case though and indeed he does not discuss the best evidence of the potential link here. Grimm’s focus is on Tyr and Saxnot being sons of Odin and gods of the sword.
The unfortunate, or perhaps fortunate, thing though is that the ancestry of Tyr is very much in question. The links of Saxnot being the child of Odin come through Old English genealogies which showed a pretty clear point in which Saxnot was the source of the dynasty and in which Woden was later added above him at a later point. This edit was likely done to bring the genealogies more in line with the growing influence of Woden rather than any idea of what the actual divine genealogy might have been.
So while Grimm relied on the genealogical link and the sword link, the genealogical link is not at all secure. Even within the Norse sources we have Odin and Hymir both filling this role of father of Tyr. So really only the sword link remains from Grimm. Yet there is another more interesting link.
The etymology of the “nēat” part of Seaxnēat is actually fairly interesting. It seems to track back and apparently lines up with the etymology of Nodens and Nuada, this having been explored by Professor J. R. R. Tolkien[xxvii] (of Lord of the Rings fame) and also Professor Heinrich Hans Wagner.[xxviii] Both of these men being linguists and having immense experience in historical linguistics or philology.
The story of Nuada himself is far too interesting to not explore as it has some striking parallels to Tiw / Tyr. To begin with, Nuada was the first king of the Tuath Dé (The Irish Gods). In a great battle, Nuada was disarmed, literally, by Sreng who hit him with his mace. The etymology of Sreng is likely related to “string”, “cord”, “wire”, or “chains”.[xxix] This seems to have made Nuada unfit for leadership and he stepped down from his role as King. But this did not last long because he had a godly silver arm created for himself to take the place of his previous one. At this point he could regain his kingship which he held until he passed it off to others. This being where the story bleeds into historical kingly genealogies.
Nodens is a god about whom we know very little of any great substance. But one thing that we do know for certain is that the Romans corelated Nodens to Mars. We have several inscriptions that link Nodens with Mars. [xxx]
Nodens, Nuada, Seaxneat, Tiw
When you look at all of these together they sort of knit themselves together. Nuada and Nodens and Seaxneat share an etymological link. But Nodens and Tiw were both corelated to Mars by the Romans. Sexaneat and Tiw were both sword-gods. Seaxneat may have been one of the original founding deities before being replaced by Woden in the Essex genealogies. Tiw was likely the original king of the gods. Nuada was the original king of the gods in Ireland. Nuada and Tiw both lost their hands to a being associated with bindings, chains, fetters, string. There is simply a lot going on there and these all kind of compliment each other.
To break it down into something manageable: Since Seaxneat cognates etymologically to link to Nodens and Nuada it makes them relevant to study for understanding Seaxneat. Nuada brings to Seaxneat a kind of original kingliness as well as a lost hand. Nodens brings to Seaxneat a link to the Roman god Mars. These are all things we already find within Tiw. It is therefore more likely that Seaxneat is indeed another name for Tiw.
Due to all of this, I find myself falling on the side of Seaxnēat or Saxnot likely being a byname of Tiw / Tyr / Tiwaz. The rest of it however points to something about the story being incredibly ancient, ancient enough to have ended up in disparately removed cultures. But I will return to some of these thoughts in more depth in the Reconstruction section.
“Thy Father Dyaus esteemed himself a hero: most noble was the work of Indra’s Maker,
His who begat the strong bolt’s Lord who roareth, immovable like earth from her foundation.” (Rigveda 4.17.4)[xxxi]
“10 Let Agni -for he knows the way- conduct us to all that he enjoys of God-sent riches,
What all the Immortals have prepared with wisdom, Dyaus, Sire, Begetter, raining down true blessings.
11 In houses first he sprang into existence, at great heaven’s base, and in this region’s bosom;
Footless and headless, both his ends concealing, in his Bull’s lair drawing himself together.
12 Wondrously first he rose aloft, defiant, in the Bull’s lair, the home of holy Order,
Longed-for, young, beautiful, and far-resplendent: and seven dear friends sprang up unto the Mighty.” (Rigveda 4.1.10-12)[xxxii]
“Heaven is your Sire, your Mother Earth, Soma your Brother, Aditi
Your Sister: seeing all, unseen, keep still and dwell ye happily.” (Rigveda 1.191.6)[xxxiii]
“33 Dyaus is my Father, my begetter: kinship is here. This great earth is my kin and Mother.
Between the wide-spread world-halves is the birth-place: the Father laid the Daughter’s germ within it.
34 I ask thee of the earth’s extremest limit, where is the centre of the world, I ask thee.
I ask thee of the Stallion’s seed prolific, I ask of highest heaven where Speech abideth.
35 This altar is the earth’s extremest limit; this sacrifice of ours is the world’s centre.
The Stallion’s seed prolific is the Soma; this Brahman highest heaven where Speech abideth.
36 Seven germs unripened yet are heaven’s prolific seed: their functions they maintain by Viṣṇu’s ordinance.
Endued with wisdom through intelligence and thought, they compass us about present on every side.” (Rigveda 1.164.33-36)[xxxiv]
“Sweet be the night and sweet the dawns, sweet the terrestrial atmosphere;
Sweet be our Father Heaven to us.” (Rigveda 1.90.7)[xxxv]
4 May the Wind waft to us that pleasant medicine, may Earth our Mother give it, and our Father Heaven,
And the joy-giving stones that press the Soma’s juice. Aśvins, may ye, for whom our spirits long, hear this.
5 Him we invoke for aid who reigns supreme, the Lord of all that stands or moves, inspirer of the soul,
That Pūṣan may promote the increase of our wealth, our keeper and our guard infallible for our good. (Rigveda 1.89.4-5)[xxxvi]
“Like a dark steed adorned with pearl, the Fathers have decorated heaven with constellations.” (Rigveda 10.68.11)[xxxvii]
By the period in which the Rigveda more or less crystalized, Dyaus was both incredibly important but also not that important. These represent the hymns he is mentioned in in the Rigveda that give some context for him but I have not included any of them in full simply because in none of these hymns was he the main focus. I also have not included every reference to Dyaus as I know he appears in other hymns but generally with even less context as is given here. This lack of a large number of hymns should not necessarily give too much evidence to his waning importance though as most gods received very little praise yet remained important. From the hymns themselves though, what we do have for him shows he is of immense importance.
Dyaus was the Sky Father, he is translated here also as Father Heaven, and he was the father of all and the Earth was the mother of all. He was the father of Surya (sun god) and the Asvins (divine horse twins) and of Ushas (the dawn goddess) among many other gods and goddesses.
Dyaus is from the above passages seen to be pictured with virile imagery of a bull or of a stallion. Very little imagery is otherwise noted. It should also be said that Dyaus was mentioned many times in the Rigveda not as the god but merely as the sky, leading to other comparisons like to the a dark horse covered in pearls. The potential issue with this would tend to be that it seemingly runs contrary to the aspect of Dyaus the god personified as being associated with the light of day. But we also have the North Star reference for Tiw so maybe we’ll throw this one in there too for consideration.
One of the key pieces for Dyaus though is his relationship with the Earth mother, in this case Prithvi. It is because of her that the virile imagery exists. There is an agricultural element here with the grains being the seeds of the Sky father that he impregnates the earth mother with. The bull and stallion imagery too connects with this as well.
I often see it argued that Tiw (or Tyr) does not connect to *dyew- but instead links to *deywós. This however ignores how language shifts. *deywós is derived from *dyew- through the process of metathesis, metathesis being defined as the “transposition of two phonemes in a word (as in the development of crud from curd or the pronunciation \ˈpər-tē\ for pretty)”.[xxxviii] Which means it’s all just as connected as anything could be. Due to this, it is perfectly reasonable and academically viable to validate the study of other *dyew- related gods to help understand those descended from the related and derived *deywós. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s reconstruct.
There is a lot pointing towards Tiw being the ruler or the leader of the gods. That has been the general theme that has developed over the past pages. The etymology is one single point, an extremely important one but still only a single point. You have the Germanic Thing being under Mars Thincsus, the thing being presided over by the kings and rulers. This would be a hefty piece of evidence by itself too but it is further reinforced by other pieces of evidence. You have the Gothic attestation of Mars being the ruler of the gods among the Goths. You have the North Star reference in the Anglo-Saxon rune poem which is the foremost star in the heavens. You have Seaxneat who quite nicely seems to fall into place as being another probable name for Tiw as we examine the etymological links to Nodens and Nuada that occur through Seaxneat they are both correlated to Mars (through Nodens) and both lost their hand (through Nuada) and both are associated with the sword (Seaxneat). But more still because Nuada was the original king of the Irish gods and also Seaxneat was the head of at least one English genealogy before a later edit slapped Woden over him. The case becomes more and more certain with every piece of evidence.
As far as the Norse go, Tyr is not the king for them. Tyr exists in only a few small sentences to begin with, it is clear he has been relegated within their lore to a lesser role. Perhaps that is due to the rise of Christianity and the attempts to raise up Odin and Balder as God and Christ figures. Perhaps it is due to natural deviation of their beliefs. But I am not a Norse heathen and I am not bound to raise their one piece of evidence above all the others I see present. When I examine the other sources, I cannot help but think the Norse way is not the way I will be taking my reconstructions as it is the outlier. Of all these other points of evidence between etymology, a gothic attestation, a few Roman attestations, an understanding of how the Thing worked, and Anglo-Saxon attestations, I cannot help but conclude that Tiw should be reconstructed as the Sky Father.
If Tiw is the sky father, as the evidence points to, then a whole new world opens up. He would be the father of Sunne and Mona if the PIE evidence bears up. He would also be Eostre’s father and the father of Hengist and Horsa. He would or should also be in a relationship with Eorthe or Folde as the Earth Mother.
He would be seen as the ruler of the gods, perhaps this being more like the Germanic rule exemplified in the Thing in which the King was only marginally higher than the chieftains. But being among the gods, it is unlikely to perfectly mirror any system of rulership or justice we have here on earth regardless.
How does this change things in practice? Perhaps we should afford him more honor than we have tended to give him. It would also potentially neaten up some of the issues present elsewhere if you have a wholesome justice-oriented god in charge. It would give us room to explore the celestial family between Tiw and Eorthe and their children. Perhaps it would bring greater focus to time, seasons, the turning of the sun and moon, the coming of the summer and winter, the stars in the sky. Perhaps it might bring a focus on the order of the universe that was put into place by the gods and which allows us to function here on earth. But practices will likely not be upended in any large way from adopting this reconstruction.
- Sky, especially the daytime sky or sources of celestial light.
- Light in general
- North Star
- Tir / Tiw / Tyr / Tiwaz rune
- Goose (via Mars Thincsus)
- Horse or potentially a donkey (via Mars Thincsus)
- Hat with long ear flaps (via Mars Thincsus and a couple bracteates)
- Wolf biting hand (via Tyr and a couple bracteates)
- One handed (via Tyr and Nuada)
- Bull (via Dyaus)
- Stallion (via Dyaus)
- Dark horse speckled all over with bright starry constellations (via Dyaus)
- Justice or even rulership
- Planting, agricultural things
The one that is truly new for this would be “fæder” or Father. In most every instance in which you find a *dyew- derived god their name comes attached to what we would know as father. So Tiw-fæder would not be out of place. Other potential bynames might be one-handed, leader, Thingsus (or Thincsus), Sky father. You could also bring in wolf-related names like binder of the wolf, or leavings of the wolf.
Tiw, one handed god,
God of the North Star,
Guide and guardian,
Leader and warrior,
God of the Thing,
Binder of the wolf,
Truthful and honorable,
I ask you this night to lend our leaders wisdom and reason
That their decisions should be for the good of the many and not just a few
And that those who rule unjustly be bound as surely and tightly as the wolf
So that they will be unable to harm those they are supposed to protect
So let it be.
[v] Bruce Dickins ed., Runic and Heroic Poems of the old Teutonic Peoples (Cambridge University press, 1915), 18-19. https://archive.org/details/runicandheroicpo00dickuoft/page/18/mode/2up
[vi] Rudiments of Runelore
[xiv] https://books.google.com/books?id=6yA_CwAAQBAJ&pg=PA1118&lpg=PA1118&dq=Zistag&source=bl&ots=eYOK_VrTqz&sig=ACfU3U3D7Yv_vwlXPV_6sUfWgf2HLJQpGg&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjjrZiS2sD0AhW9TjABHZl6A-MQ6AF6BAgUEAM#v=onepage&q=Zistag&f=false page 1118
[xv] I found this in an obscure word-book from the 1870’s. I cannot say for sure it hasn’t survived in some obscure dialect as I am only proficient in Hochdeutsch and I am not a linguist.
[xxi] If you would like to read more about this theory, it is put forth at different times both by Jacob Grimm and Josef Lindauer.
[xxvii] J. R. R. Tolkien, “The Name Nodens”, Appendix to “Report on the excavation of the prehistoric, Roman and post-Roman site in Lydney Park, Gloucestershire”, , 1932
[xxx] There were four such inscriptions I could verify but there were at least a couple more listed that I could not find before I simply decided that four is enough: https://romaninscriptionsofbritain.org/inscriptions/305 , https://romaninscriptionsofbritain.org/inscriptions/307 , https://romaninscriptionsofbritain.org/inscriptions/617 , https://romaninscriptionsofbritain.org/inscriptions/616 .
[xxxviii] https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/metathesis and https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Reconstruction:Proto-Indo-European/dyew- and https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Reconstruction:Proto-Indo-European/deyw%C3%B3s