Now that you have the basics of the story, let’s turn away from that issue and look at Narvi and Vali’s brotherhood. First, what is brotherhood? It’s the relationship between brothers. It is the relationship between men who consider themselves to be brothers such as in various organizations. Brotherhood is also termed to mean a feeling of closeness in a group that considers themselves to be family.
“It snowed last year too: I made a snowman and my brother knocked it down and I knocked my brother down and then we had tea” ~Dylan Thomas
We’ve all grown up in families. Even if we didn’t have a brother or brothers we have had friends with brothers. They can be close or distant. In either instance, brothers know each other intimately. They know the minute details of each other’s emotions and reactions. Great joys and pains can be inflicted by one brother on another.
The Aesir turned Vali into a wolf. Wolf symbology is varied but there is a large portion of folklore that is directed towards wolves being greedy, ferocious, vengeful, and monstrous. Vali was turned against his brother; I see this as being driven insane. He ripped into Narvi and killed him. Though horrific, there is a poetic sense to this. Who best to rip into another’s very innards than a brother? Who best knows how to truly inflict pain and horror than our own family?
We also can’t forget the rest of them. The events between the brothers destroyed the family. The sire, Loki, bound in grief and pain by the murder of one son by the other. Sigyn, wife and mother, forever trying to keep what is left of the family together, trying to protect Loki from the pain. A whole family ripped apart by two brothers.
Diehard lorists won’t agree with this paragraph. But let’s think on this a moment anyway. When we look at collective UPG on Narvi and Vali, what is often experienced is two brothers who greatly love each other. Narvi is usually seen as more open and very protective of his brother Vali. Shyness, reluctance to come forward, and a sense of vague horror is seen of Vali. We can only imagine what goes through Vali’s mind reliving the horror of what he committed in his memory. Yet at the same time we can feel a serene joy at the forgiveness Narvi exhibits. He seems protective of his brother, he doesn’t place the blame for his pain on Vali. If anything, Narvi strives to protect Vali from the pain of his actions.
This side of the story is often overlooked by those who study the lore. It is a sidelight, the brothers are merely collateral damage. They aren’t. Their story has its own importance. We can see what happens to communities and families when personal, intimate details (the guts) are drug out into the open. We can see what happens when man turns against man, often for no reason other than external events that actually don’t have anything to do with the two.
We also forget the prophecy regarding Ragnarok. Before that horrible event, it is said siblings will turn against siblings. Here we have two siblings set against each other in order to gain the bonds which will hold Loki till the day of Ragnarok. The war is set in motion here, sib against sib.
We can tell our sons stories of Thor and the value of protecting the weak. We can share stories of Tyr and his tale of honor. But let’s not forget Narvi and Vali. Two children our own offspring can relate to. Two brothers who show the dangers of insensibly turning on each other. Two brothers who can teach of forgiveness.
Narvi and Vali can be used as models for our own sons. Heathen children need role models, they need stories to learn from. Here we have, combined between lore and gnosis, a story of two brothers. One becomes enraged, the reason isn’t important and could be applied to anything going on within our child’s life. The enraged Vali then uses the family tie and destroys his brother Narvi.
But there is hope. Brothers are brothers, through thick and thin. Narvi goes on to forgive Vali. They never forget what happened, but they can move on, they can be brothers again. This is what brotherhood is about. They knock each other down and then go have tea.
My sons know of Narvi and Vali. I hope they can remember them when they experience that crazed anger that only brothers can have for each other. I hope they can remember the damage that can be inflicted at those times and will temper themselves. If they don’t, I pray they remember the forgiveness which is within them.
"We are all brothers under the skin- and I, for one, would be willing to skin humanity to prove it." ~ Ayn Rand