A Þyrs (Pronounced “Thee-ers” with a rolled, rhotic “r”) is a malicious being and is believed that the name relates to a large being that is prone to eating large amounts of food and also to perhaps have deviant magical and sexual practices. In some Scandinavian sources, the Þyrs is said to be able to bring on menstruation or menopause and is referred to as “Þurs” in the Norweigian and Icelandic rune poems in place of “Þorn” in the Anglo-Saxon version (Which appears to have replace Þyrs) where the reference to women has also been removed and replaced with “warrior”. The Norwegian and Icelandic versions refer to the “Þurs” causing or controlling sickness in women.
The Exeter Book of Riddles (40, 1.62-3) reads:
“I can dine more mightily
And eat as much as an old þyrs”
Thus, it implies that Þyrse were known to over-eat or certainly to eat very well indeed and an inference can be drawn of the Þyrs being larger than normal as a result, perhaps not unlike the eotenas (ettin, giant). Grendel is referred to as a Þyrs in Beowulf but is also referred to by many other named throughout the saga. There is no mention of the sexual element in Beowulf but as is pointed out, the poem has very little sexual content so this is perhaps not surprising.
A Þyrs is usually male, powerful and solitary and thus a masculine counterpart to the tröll. It is this physical attribute that led me to characterise the Cerne Giant in my myth concerning Helið as a Þyrs, given that the Cerne Giant is famously “aroused” and in my tale he is ravenously hungry. Therefore this ties in well with what little is known of the Þyrs.
Women who suffer from severe period pain or endometriosis have been known to make offerings at the Cerne Giant, perhaps as a means to placate the mighty Þyrs that continues to inflict such pain upon them long after his defeat…