All  
Thor and the Midgard Serpent, by Emil Doepler, 1905.

Thor: How a Norse Warrior God of Thunder Handles a Predicament

Thor is one of the most important gods in the Norse pantheon. He’s normally depicted as a middle-aged man with a red-beard wielding his famous weapon, a magical hammer known as Mjollnir. Unsurprisingly, Thor is a warrior who possesses great strength. He is also associated with thunder.

Apart from the Norse, Thor was worshipped by other early Germanic peoples as well. As a warrior god, stories about Thor often involve his battles with the jotnar, though his most prominent enemy is Jormungand, the world serpent, whom he is prophesized to face during the Ragnarok.

God of Thunder

Thor is one of the most significant gods in the Norse pantheon, arguably second in importance only to Odin. Thus, much has been written about this god, and he appears in many of the well-known Norse myths. Whilst the Norse know him as Thor, other Germanic peoples refer to this deity (or a deity similar to Thor) by other names. For example, the Teutonic god, Donar, and the Anglo Saxon Thunor, are also storm gods, and their names are said to be the Germanic word for ‘thunder’.

To the left, Frigg with sword and bow. In the middle Tor (Thor) with crown and spire sitting on a throne. To the right, Oden (Odin) heavily armed. (Public Domain)

To the left, Frigg with sword and bow. In the middle Tor (Thor) with crown and spire sitting on a throne. To the right, Oden (Odin) heavily armed. ( Public Domain )

In terms of appearance, Thor is commonly described as being an immense middle age man with a red beard and red eyes. The Norse believe that Thor was the son of Odin and Fyorgyn, the earth goddess. His wife, though seldom mentioned in the myths, is Sif. Although considered to be strongest of the Norse gods, Thor is not known for his intelligence, and is therefore often teased about the lack of it, especially by the jotnar. As Thor has a short-temper, he would be furious when subjected to such mockery, and grabbing Mjollnir, would strike them on their heads. The Norse believe that it is Thor’s hammering that causes the thunder and lightning during storms.

Magical Items to Aid a Norse God

Thor is best known for his magical hammer, Mjollnir, which was forged for him by the dwarves. This weapon has several supernatural properties, one of which is that when it is thrown, it would return to its owner, like a boomerang. Thor also has several other magical objects in his possession. One of these is a belt of great strength called Megingjard. When Thor uses this belt, his strength is said to double.

Closeup of Thor with Mjolnir depicted on the Altuna stone. (Gunnar Creutz/CC BY SA 3.0)

Closeup of Thor with Mjolnir depicted on the Altuna stone. (Gunnar Creutz/ CC BY SA 3.0 )

Another useful possession is his pair of goats, Tanngniost and Tanngrisnir. According to Norse mythology, these goats pull Thor’s chariot. More incredibly, however, is that these goats may be killed and eaten. As long as their bones are not damaged, and returned to their skins in the proper positions, they would regenerate overnight, and return to live the next day.

‘Thor’s Fight with the Giants’ (1872) by Mårten Eskil Winge.  (Public Domain)

‘Thor’s Fight with the Giants’ (1872) by Mårten Eskil Winge.  (Public Domain )

Thor in Norse Mythology

As a major god, there are many tales about Thor. In one particularly comical myth, Thor’s hammer goes missing, and it was Loki who finds out that it was being hidden by a jotunn named Thrym. The jotunn would only return Mjollnir to Thor if the hand of the goddess Freyja was given to him in marriage.

Thor and Loki hurried to Freyja’s abode, and demanded that she marry the jotunn. It goes without saying that the goddess was furious and did not go with them. Subsequently, the gods assembled to discuss the situation, and it was Heimdall who proposed that Thor disguise as Freyja in bridal attire. Reluctantly, the warrior god agrees to this. Loki dresses up as a woman too, serving as a maid of ‘Freyja’. Thanks to his lovely disguise, Thor succeeded in retrieving his hammer, and the furious god proceeded to kill Thrym and his wedding guests.    

"Ah, what a ugly maid it is!" by Elmer Boyd Smith. The god Thor is dressed to appear as the goddess Freyja by two maidens, while the god Loki laughs. Two cats watch. (Public Domain)

"Ah, what a ugly maid it is!" by Elmer Boyd Smith. The god Thor is dressed to appear as the goddess Freyja by two maidens, while the god Loki laughs. Two cats watch. ( Public Domain )

Finally, Thor is said to be one of the many Norse gods who will perish at Ragnarok. It has been prophesized that Thor will fight Jormungand, the World Serpent, and defeat his foe. The god, however, will also perish soon after, as he would succumb to the monster’s poison.

Top Image: Thor and the Midgard Serpent, by Emil Doepler, 1905. Source: Public Domain

By Wu Mingren

References

Black, J., 2014. The story of Ragnarok and the Apocalypse. [Online]
Available at: http://www.ancient-origins.net/myths-legends/story-ragnarok-and-apocalypse-001352

McCoy, D., 2018. Thor. [Online]
Available at: https://norse-mythology.org/gods-and-creatures/the-aesir-gods-and-goddesses/thor/

MythicalRealm.com, 2012. Thor - Norse God of Thunder. [Online]
Available at: http://mythicalrealm.com/legends/thor.html

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2018. Thor. [Online]
Available at: https://www.britannica.com/topic/Thor-Germanic-deity

www.Norse-Mythology.net, 2018. Thor: The God of Thunder. [Online]
Available at: http://norse-mythology.net/thor-the-god-of-thunder-in-norse-mythology/

Register to become part of our active community, get updates, receive a monthly newsletter, and enjoy the benefits and rewards of our member point system OR just post your comment below as a Guest.

Next article