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Thor: The God of Thunder | Myths & Folklore From Norse Mythology

Thor is the god representing thunder in Norse mythology. However, it’s beyond that and represents many more natural elements such as storms, lightning, protection of mankind, abundant fertility as well as greenery or trees.

There are several stories and myths woven around this combatant god (Aesir), the fearless protector of Asgard, and we will see them in this article.

Thor The God of Thunder Myths & Folklore from Norse Mythology

Note – Asgard in Norse mythology is synonymous with and enjoys equal respect and reverence as given to Mount Olympus in Greek mythology. It’s where all the Norse gods lived. Thor defended Asgard from the attack of Aesir’s ancient enemies belonging to the race of devourers or monsters, called the Jotun.

Thor’s Family

  • Mother – Jord/Fjorgynn
  • Father – Odin
  • Wife – Sif
  • Other relatives – Frigga, Loki

Odin was the god of wisdom and the supreme ruler of all gods who coached and trained Thor to secure Asgard. Jord was the representation of the earth, and Sif was the earth goddess.

In the extended family, Frigga was Thor’s stepmother, who was primarily responsible for his upbringing. She was the goddess of marriage. Loki was the cunning, younger blood brother of Thor who had the ability to trick others by entirely modifying his shape as well as his sex.

Thor’s Appearance

Thor wears a Megingjord, which is a belt and a physical representation of extreme power or strength wherein the term Megin stands for mightiness and Gjord indicates the word “Belt.”

He is also believed to brandish a hammer at all times. It is called the Mjölnir, and he also wears gloves called the Jarngreipr, meaning the iron gauntlets.

Thor’s hammer was the chief weapon in his arsenal, and it was by no means a piece of ordinary fighting equipment. It was hefty and huge, so much so that it could only be picked and carried around effortlessly by Thor. He was also very agile enough and never missed his target with his hammer. Thor was capable of destroying everything with the Mjölnir, including the hills and the mountains. The lightning was the result of Thor hurling his Mjölnir to demolish things.

According to Norse mythology, it’s also said that Thor rides a chariot in the sky drawn by two ginormous goats named Tanngrisnor and Tanngnjostr.

Did you know why Thor is the god of thunder?? It’s because legend has it that Thor was riding his chariot, moving across the sky, resembling the sound of thunder.

The ancient representation of Thor depicts him as a powerful warrior with red hair and thick, fuzzy eyebrows, a voracious eater with a massive appetite, and a connoisseur of a special drink called mead which was a mix of honey and alcohol.

Thor’s Myths and Folklores from Norse Mythology

Talking about his temperament, Thor was known to be tremendously quick-tempered or petulant only when provoked. However, he was largely a cheerful, magnanimous god by nature. Let’s know about the various aspects of his life.

1. Thor’s Adventure to Get Back His Hammer

Thor’s Adventure to Get Back His Hammer

According to the Thrymskvida poem, which is a part of the Poetic Edda, Thor’s precious hammer was stolen by the giant Thrym, who buried and concealed it extremely deep under the ground. This posed a major threat to the home of all Norse gods and goddesses; as the protector, Thor lost his primary weapon.

The cunning Loki, Thor’s younger brother, approached Thrym to negotiate an agreement and offer something else in return for the hammer. Thrym agreed but demanded to get married to one of the most popular and powerful Norse goddesses of Asgard, Frejya, who represented love, battle, death, and fertility. However, it angered Frejya, who turned down the proposal and became furious, so much so that the Asgard gods had to think about other ways to get back Thor’s hammer.

It was then decided by Heimdall to defeat Thrym using treacherous ways. So, Thor was asked to be the bride in disguise by wearing Frejya’s necklace called the Brisingamen. He wasn’t happy with this decision of the gods as he had to go undercover by dressing himself as a woman. But eventually agreed when the gods managed to somehow persuade him.

On judgment day, when the weather was quite bizarre and was characterized by windy thunderstorms. Thor, disguised as Frejya, the bride, and Loki, the bridesmaid, entered the kingdom of giants called the Jotunheim. All of them joined the lavish feast where Thor, with his monstrous appetite, managed to devour one entire ox, eight salmon fish, and finally even gulped down several barrels of his favorite mead to end the huge meal.

Surprised by seeing Frejya having such an enormous appetite, Thrym asked Loki for an explanation. Loki told him that the bride had been fasting for all these days in the excessive excitement to meet Thrym, so she was incredibly hungry.

He lowered down a bit to adore her face but instead was horrified by what he saw, to which Loki said that the bride spent sleepless nights looking forward to this meeting with Thrym.

Convinced by this act put together by the clever Asgardians, Thrym then unearthed the hammer from its secret place underground as agreed upon. And placed it on his would-be bride’s lap as a present or gift given conventionally before marriage.

This was when Thor shows himself, comes into full action, and violently smashes the skull of Thyrm, emerging victorious, regaining the complete control of his hammer, and eventually saving Asgard from the giants of the Jotnar realm.

2. Loki Messing with Thor’s Married Life

Given the overemotional nature of Thor, Loki was always successful in provoking Thor by playing unnecessary mischiefs and asking for more trouble. According to Prose Edda, Loki chopped off Sif’s gorgeous golden-colored hair (Thor’s wife) in order to tease him. The story goes this way. Sif was sleeping peacefully one day caught Loki’s attention, who immediately decided to drastically trim her beautiful, long locks, which made her an iconic goddess.

After Thor came to know about this incident, Loki tried everything in his power to calm him down and decided to compensate by gifting him the hammer, also called the Mjöllnir which later went on to become one of his best possessions in terms of weapons owned by him. Thor also came back with a bonnet made of golden-colored hair for his wife, Sif.

Legend says that the only god that Loki feared was the god of thunder, Thor. Another tale involving Loki and Thor believes that Loki deliberately hurled expletives and abuses at the revered gods who were invited to the great feast organized by the giant of the ocean.

It is said that Loki even murdered some of the servants working at the event, just for fun. When Thor reached for the feast as invited, he was furious and frightened Loki with his threats of jeopardizing his life by severing his head off. Loki, sensing that he had been exposed to immense danger, flees the event to escape Thor’s violence.

Also Read: Top 10 Best Norse Mythology Books

3. Thor Versus Ragnarok

The Ragnarok battle is considered the last battle in Norse mythology, which involved the Aesir gods fighting against the monsters led by Loki. Although Thor manages to defeat the Jörmungandr, he eventually dies because of the poison or venom of the snake tightly coiled around the earth. Thor successfully kills the serpent but unfortunately becomes a victim of the serpent’s venom leading to his death.

4. Thor Killing Creatures to Death

Thor Killing Creatures to Death

He enjoyed killing monsters and giants belonging to the umbrella of Jotnars and pursued it like a hobby. In the poem of Hymiskviða and the books of Skáldskaparmál and Gylfaginning of Prose Edda, the accounts of very popular battles have been mentioned.

One of them involves the monster named Hrungnir, who was welcomed in Asgard and offered drinks. However, Hrungnir took advantage of his stay after getting totally drunk, refused to leave Asgard, and threatened that he would attack and destroy the kingdom. So, Thor was summoned to get rid of this giant. In the battle between them, Thor unleashed the power of his hammer by throwing it at Hrungnir. Hrungnir, in retaliation, hurled a ginormous piece of rock made of a whetstone. Thor’s hammer struck the rock, dividing it into two parts and killing Hrungnir.

Contemporary Relevance

Thursday, one of the modern-day working weeks, is derived from Thor on account of Thor’s Day, inspired by Old Norse mythology.

Regarding the worship of Thor, there are no specific pieces of evidence indicating the avid devotion of people. But some pendants and engravings depicting his cult have been found that point to the fact that he might have been worshipped.

Pagan worship in Norse mythology was fully integrated into the daily lives of the people, and religious rituals were not performed separately by priests in dedicated temple-like places, unlike in the religion of Christianity. But legend says that a temple was built in honor of Thor, Freyr and Odin called the Temple of Uppsala in today’s Sweden. As a mark of respect, sacrifice-based rituals were performed in the temple after every nine years, wherein only males belonging to different groups of living beings were killed and offered to the Asgard gods. Later with the spread of Christian beliefs, this tradition was discarded.

In the 21st century, Thor is represented in Marvel comics and Hollywood films as a god with yellow or blonde hair, which is not true. There are several differences or discrepancies when it comes to the portrayal of Thor in the current world of fiction, such as movies or comics. For example, according to the original Norse mythology, Loki was Thor’s real brother. However, this too is misrepresented and depicted differently in modern films and Marvel comics.

Bonus Read – 9 Amazing & Astonishing Creatures of Norse Mythology 

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