Mjolnir - the Mighty Hammer of Thor

artistic representation of hammer of thor mjolnir

It is safe to say that of all the symbols in Norse Mythology, Mjolnir is the most recognisable. The hammer was the primary weapon of the god of thunder, Thor, and it was no ordinary hammer. Every time Thor fired the weapon at an enemy, it would always return to his hands like a boomerang. It should come as no surprise that the name Mjolnir is thought to translate from old Norse to “lightning” in modern English, quite complimentary to the thunder god.

The roles of Mjolnir

Mjolnir was without doubt the best weapons that the Aesir had in their possession, but it was more than just a weapon. It also played a key role in rituals of hallowing and consecration. Mjolnir was used to bless marriages, funerals travelling, fasting, weapons, cremations and births. It was said that with his hammer, Thor once killed and ate his goats, before restoring them by hallowing the leftover bones. The weapon was not only a symbol of the destructive power of the storm, but it also symbolised protection against evil and darkness, for without it, Asgard would no longer be guarded against the giants of Jotunheim, and the men of Midgard relied on it to provide security and to support the rule of law.

Once, the giants successfully managed to steal Mjolnir from under Thor’s nose, and Thor devised a cunning plan to retrieve it. He dressed as a bride, to be married to one of the giants, knowing that the hammer would be present during the ceremony. Immediately once it was presented, he quickly seized it and smashed the skulls of every giant in attendance. Some historians theorise that the hammer’s blessing of weddings imparted fertility to the couple, which is consistent with Thor’s association with agriculture and fertilisation of fields. As soon as someone or something was blessed, or consecrated by Mjolnir, he/she/it was transported from the realm of chaos and into the cosmos, which basically meant that they were shielded from the ill-effects of chaos and those associated with it. They became sanctified.

The creation of Mjolnir

According to legend, Mjolnir was conceived as a result of the trickster god Loki cutting off the long golden hair if Thor’s wife Sif. Naturally, Thor’s rage was thunderous, and he was about to kill Loki in his wrath, when the latter swore to travel down to the realm of the dwarves, Svartalfheim, where the greatest smiths in all of the nine realms resided. He promised that he would obtain a full head of hear even more beautiful than the one which he chopped off. Thor agreed to this offer. While he was there, Loki used his cunning to trick the dwarves into competing with each other to prove who was the greatest smith. The dwarves produced several outstanding treasure as a result of this challenge, including Mjolnir, which resulted in having a short handle, because Loki transformed into a fly and bit the dwarf crafting it on the eyelid. Despite the short handle, Thor was overjoyed with the hammer, and because of it, he spared Loki’s life.

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