Tuesday, May 19, 2015
The Hand in the Wolf's Mouth, Norse and Celtic
The wheel is a sun sign, and may allude to the role of wolves in the Norse stories about the sun and the moon; according to our Icelandic sources, the sun and moon were always moving because they were chased by wolves across the sky. When wolves finally caught and ate the heavenly lights, Ragnarok would begin.
But what is it doing on a Celtic coin? The story does not appear in any Celtic source. But then most of the Celtic sources are Irish, and perhaps Gallic druids picked it up form Germans they met on the Rhine. Or perhaps it is a very ancient Indo-European story, once widely known in Europe, that either never made it to Ireland or was omitted from the stories the monks happened to write down. Certainly the coin shows that the story was at least 1300 years old when Snorri Sturluson made it part of the Younger Edda.