Thor god of thunder

Thor, An Ancient Norse God:

Thor god of thunder

Fig.1 Mythical Portrait of Ancient God Thor

Thor is prominent and significant figure of Norse mythology. He is considered as god of thunderbolt, scared groves, lightning and storm. He is portrayed as hammer- wielding in Germanic art. He was associated with Thursday in German and Scandinavian countries. As, the word Torsdag and Donnerstag stands for Thursday. The word was modified later with old English word Þunor and Donar in German which means “thunder”. He is also associated with fertility and is a sacred figure. He is the son of Odin, who is god of wisdom and magic. He belonged to Aesir tribe of deities.

Thor god of thunder

Fig.2 Thor god of thunder as furious God

Thor’s In Vikings Age (793-1000 CE):

Thor was the god of all Germanic people before Vikings conversion to Christianity. He became popular in late Vikings Age. Archaeological studies have proved that Thor existed even in bronze age. Although, his role had changed over time and space but he served as major deity in Bronze and Viking age. He also functioned as a major warrior and military encourager.

Thor god of thunder

Fig.3 Norse god Temple in Iceland during Vikings age

As Viking was great era of innovation and social development. So, his function as fecundity and farmer got importance. This led him to grow his popularity as prominent god of Viking colonies and common people of Scandinavia. At that time, Odin was the god of elite and rulers and was associated with magical power and creative knowledge. It can be explained by Odin’s comment. As “Odin’s are the nobles who fall in battle, but Thor’s are the thralls.” This proved that Odin and Thor were contemporary gods despite being son and father. This struggle between Thor and Odin continued for some time. Thor became the most principal authority among Aesir in late Vikings age.

Fig. 4 Thor god of thunder on his way from Asgard

A German medieval chronicler Adam of Bremen confirmed his presence. He called a mightiest of tri throne was sitting in Sweden at Temple at Uppsala. He added, “Thor, they reckon, rules the sky; he governs thunder and lightning, winds and storms, fine weather and fertility” and “Thor, with his mace, looks like Jupiter”. He was offered services and gifts in the days of famine and plague. This confirmed his status as god of thunder and lightning. In 11th century, two runic inscriptions from Sweden and England showed that Thor was called for healing of wounds. Other asked for protection by Thor and his hammer. After a century, Bryggen inscriptions provoked help from both Thor and Odin. The people asked Odin to own them and Thor to receive them.

Thor’s physical and personal Information:

He is portraited as god of great courage, brave, righteous and strength. He has great physical power along with his hammer. Most Scandinavians pagan believed his hammer is the personification of lightning and he is of thunder. His hair and beard color are red perhaps signifying blood or war. While, he is considered as strongest god but not wise one. There are many myths in which he was fooled by giants. On one hand if he is bold, the other side, he is ill tempered. Giants love to tease him which invites his rage and fury. When he became furious, he attacks on giants with his hammer resulting in thunder and lightning. He and his golden hair wife Sif live at Thrudheim. She is the symbol of grain of fields. Thrudheim is the place of 540 rooms on Asgard which means mighty place. He lives at Asgard with his wife, two children and servants. Whenever, he moves out of Asgard he rides over two goats’ chariot.

Thor god of thunder

Fig. 5 Sif the wife of Thor god of thunder

Two dwarfs Brokrr and Eitri designed his terrifying hammer. The name of his hammer is Mjölnir. It is capable of sending lightning and breaking mountains with its striking power. It has power to tore other but is also used by Thor for bringing life in animals and people. His hammer is symbol of death and life and is used in sacred celebrations. There are other magical and sacred items of him as magical belt and iron gauntlets.

The Thor’s Goats Interesting Myth:

If he rides out of Asgard, he is witnessed by the people of Midgard. The noise and thunders of chariot create fear among them.

Thor god of thunder

Fig.6 The two eternal goats of Thor god of thunder

If he spends more time away from Asgard. He kills his goats Tanngrisnir and Tanngniost and eats their meat. While on his way back to home, he stuck them with his hammer. Thus, bringing them towards life as healthy and vital as earlier they were.

His Servants from Midgard:

Once, Thor stayed at his farm in Midgard. His goats were served for meal by a peasant. He offered the meal to peasant and his family. Tragically, the child of peasant Thialfi broke the bone in order to get bone marrow. On next morning, when Thor revived his goats. One was limping and he bought the siblings Thialfi and Roskve as his servants.    

Thor god of thunder

Fig. 7 Thor god of thunder, Loki and his servants Thialfi and Roskve

Thor and Jörmungandr:

Thor and his worst enemy Jörmungandr was on various battles. Jörmungandr was among monstrous children of his adopted brother, Loki and his wife Angrboda.  Loki and his family were living in underworld. Odin (Thor’s father) dashed the monstrosity of giants resulting in the spread of giants over Midgard. The poems Hymiskvida presented the stories of their meetings. Once, Thor was looking for great cauldron to brew beer for gods. He was informed that giant Hymir had the great cauldron.

Fig.8 Thor god of thunder with his serpent enemy

Thor set out to find him. He found him and they went out for fishing where he asked Hymir for Jörmungandr. The ending of fight between Jörmungandr and Thor is unpredictable. Some says that Thor won it but others disagree. Later, another fight between Hymir and Thor took place resulted inn the sly of Hymir.

Thor god of thunder

Fig. 9 Thor god of thunder and Jörmungandr at their last battle

The fate planned another meeting between Thor and Jörmungandr at Ragnarök. The event of Ragnarök started when Jörmungandr separated its tail. It wiggled its tail onto dry mouth. In this way it along his monster brother would poison air. Thor stood against them and competed his foe and killed it forever.

“Nine paces fares the son of Fjorgyn,
And, slain by the serpent, fearless he sinks.”

A Warrior God:

He is painted as brave and honorable warrior. His warrior capabilities made people to aspire him as loyal warrior. He defended Aesirs gods and their forts from the intrusion of Norse Giants. He and Jormungand (a sea serpent across Midgard) are worst enemies. He protected pre-Christian northern Europe against entropy, destruction and chaos. His mother was of giant ancestry and his father, Odin was half giant but he is three-quarters giants.

His Divine Services:

He is associated with hallowing because of his services. He healed the people of Midgard and bestowed protection, comfort and blessing over them. He was remembered by his followers for hallowing of places and things. Many runic inscriptions suggested that he was remembered at marriage ceremonies to hallow weddings. There is famous mythical tale Thor Disguised as a Bride about it. He was appealed by his followers at the time of plantation. His hammer was used for hallowing and at the same time for destruction.

Fig.10 Thor god of thunder having hammer in his right hand

Thor’s as God of Agriculture and Fertility:

He served earlier Icelanders in their fertility and agriculture. Since then, he was appealed for promotion and growth of agriculture. He also helps in rain thus bringing healthy crops. His wife Sif is earth goddess and he is sky god. European people believe that union of earth and sky brought fruitfulness and prosperity of them and their land. He was famous for his sexual lust and impregnating women and so is aligned with fertility.

Thor in 19th Century and 20th Century Literature and Fiction:

Many Germanic and Scandinavian people reinforced the character of Thor as top and popular one. He was placed on forefront in Western and Northern European countries national cultures. Many writers and poets like Adam Gottlob, Rudyard Kipling and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow also referred Thor in their writings. They admired the bravery and his warrior nature and promoted it Marvel comic book franchise and the Marvel Cinematic Universe also popularized the Thor character through fiction.

Thor god of thunder

Fig. 11 Thor in Marvel comics and movies

As, in Norse mythology he is man of red hair and beard. Marvel series presented a blonde hair and beard character of him. Loki and Thor were portrayed as nephew and uncle in Marvel series while their relationship in mythology is confusing as brothers. Although, the personal attributes of Thor and his mythical character are similar. Both are bold, violent, powerful and dutiful. In short, Marvel comics and movies are true depiction of Thor’s character on one hand. On the other, these are strengthening and promoting the Norse mythology character of Norse hero, Thor.

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