The sky clouds over, rumbling can be heard from the distance. There is a lightning and power can be sensed from the air. The powerful Thor has returned to the Earth, the most powerful of all the Nordic gods. The son of the highest god Odin holds the legendary hammer Mjolnir in his hand. We can find this iconic weapon in the Viking stories, in comic books or films. Where does its magic come from?
Thor, the thunder god, is one of the most important Nordic gods. He is usually represented with red hair and beard, with a belt with a power Megingjörð, iron gloves Járngreipr and with a hammer. He often used to come in a carriage drawn by a team of horses. The first records of Thor go back to Rome, by a historian named Tacita to be precise. He associated the god with Jupiter, the Roman god of the lightning or with the fabled Hercules. He became popular in Greece, exactly because of a similar weapon. The only difference between these two was that Thor used a thunder hammer while Hercules held an ordinary club.
A Powerful Armour
The belt multiplied Thor´s power, which was quite significant all by itself and thanks to the gloves he could hold the hammer. According to the legend, an accident occurred by the forging of the hammer. Eddu, one of the dwarves who forged the hammer, was bitten in his eye by a fly, which was sent by Thor’s spiteful brother Loki.
Thanks to the thunder hammer, Thor is called the “Lord of Thunder”. The weapon works in the same way as Odin’s lance. If the god throws it, he never misses the target and it always comes back to his hand. Anytime Thor uses the hammer, a thunder can be heard.
Thor Had to Outwit the Giants
Even the powerful hero was once outwitted so well, that he lost his hammer. It was in winter, that is why there is no thunder in winter till today. According to the legend, it was the giants who provoked the usually quick-tempered Thor. In rage he decided to attack their settlement and get the hammer back. But without the hammer, he had no chance to win, and he was defeated. This time, his brother Loki helped him and came up with a trap for the giants.
One of the giants was planning to get married, which Loki learned by a complete coincidence and decided to use this information to his advantage. He dressed up Thor into a wedding dress and covered his beard with the veil. The giant wondered, why his bride is constantly covered, but he believed the rumours of her beauty and decided to trust her. To show off his power, he showed the hammer to the bride. He even put it into her lap. But he should not have done that because in this moment Thor tore the dress off himself, took the hammer and beat each one of the giants.
A Huge Snake Who Terrified Even Thor Himself
A god had no enemies, thanks to his powerful armour and thunder hammer he could defeat almost any enemy. The most terrifying of his enemies was a huge sea snake called Jörmungandr. At the same time, he was Thor’s nephew, because the snake is together with Fenrir and Hel one of the three descendants of the god Loki.
The snake was brought down to the sea by Odin himself. But the creature grew in water so intensely, that according to the legend, it wound itself around the whole world and bit its own tail. As soon as it lets go of its tail, the world stops holding together and simply falls apart. At this point, Ragnarok, the end of the world comes. When this happens, Thor has to face the snake and defeat it. But as soon as he takes nine steps, he falls on the ground and dies, poisoned by the snake’s poison.
Thor is Thursday!
Even in our world, Thor and his hammer play a big role according to legends. He is associated with the storm and thunder. People really used to believe that the sound of thunder is the proof of a battle between the powerful Thor and his enemies. The hammer became one of the most significant symbols of the Nordic mythology. Thor is still present today, even though many are not aware of it. It is because his name stands for Thursday in the English language.
Was Mjolnir Really a Hammer?
Archaeologists have been discovering amulets in the shape of a hammer for years across Scandinavia. Thousands of surviving jewels do not however proof the existence of the weapon. The Vikings were skilled blacksmiths, therefore it is not surprising that they wore amulets in the shape of a hammer. Despite all the effort, no proof has been found yet that it is exactly the depiction of the famous Mjolnir.
The Vikings Took their Hammer to the Other World
The motive of Thor’s hammer is found in a big part of the Nordic history. Men wore an amulet on their necks, small decorative hammers were put into the graves with the dead ones. With the help of the hammer, the dead was supposed to find the way into the next spheres more easily. Given the amount of the discovered amulets, we can presume that this fabled weapon was very popular in the north.
The Danes and Norwegian did not find it difficult to combine their faith with the new coming wave of Christianity. They accepted the new faith with respect and a cross began to emerge on their necks, right next to the hammer. But after some time, the Christianity pushed their genuine religion away and around the 11th century we talk about a pagan minority. Nevertheless, the legends about Thor and other gods never disappeared.
Thor as a Comic-Book Character
Nowadays, everybody knows the symbol of the hammer, just like the story of the Nordic god with a beard. He experienced his revival thanks to comic books. His story became popular mostly in the recent years, when people watch it regularly in the cinema. Thanks to the film industry, the fabled god regains his long-lost popularity.
We can watch the story of Thor in separate films or in collective hero stories of the Avengers group. But in these films, Thor has no ginger hair or beard, the film makers made a likeable blonde out of him. Even the weapon was improved. The hammer radiates energy sparks, influences the weather and the gravity, it can even bring back the dead.