The Mjolnir Hammer – the story of Thor’s amazing hammer!
Viking mythology is full of many legends and fantastic stories. This folklore reflects the perpetual struggle of good against evil and order against chaos. The gods, endowed with mystical power, are accompanied by magical creatures and fantastic weapons to fight the giants, the incarnation of evil.
The god Thor, armed with his famous hammer Mjolnir, is the strongest god in the pantheon of Norse deities. His hammer, which is considered the most formidable weapon of the gods, is the secret of his greatness.
It is thanks to this that the god Thor became the protector of the kingdom of the Aesir and of men. He stands against the giants who tremble at the mere mention of Mjöllnir: the hammer of thunder and protection.
In this article you will discover the history and origin of the hammer Mjöllnir, one of the most prominent Viking symbols. You will learn its hidden meaning and the source of its enchantment.
The Mjollnir hammer: the ultimate Viking weapon against darkness
The most famous Viking gods in the pantheon of Norse deities are :
- The god Odin: god of protection and father of all
- The god Thor: god of thunder and symbol of strength
- The god Loki: the god of cunning, deceit and chaos
Between them, they are the origin of the most fantastic Viking legends. In the course of their many adventures, each of them has acquired unusual objects and surprising powers.
No fabulous object in Viking folklore equaled Thor’s: the hammer Mjöllnir. It is the most powerful object possessed by the Aesir people, inhabitants of the kingdom of Asgard. According to Viking legends, it is the ultimate weapon to fight the forces of evil.
Indeed, the hammer Mjöllnir is the most feared and considerable weapon of the whole Nordic universe. Thor never took it off his back when fighting against the giants, the enemies of gods and men. Moreover, one of the meanings of the term “Mjöllnir” is “destroyer of giant’s head” as he killed many by crushing their skulls.
All this to say that Mjöllnir is no ordinary weapon! Its immense power was the envy of all creatures in the universe. That’s why Thor’s hammer “Mjöllnir” has always been so popular.
Whether in Viking civilization, after the advent of Christianity, or in modern culture: it feeds many myths and legends. The most popular adaptation of our time is that of Marvel Studios.
The creation of the hammer Mjöllnir : the powerful hammer of the god Thor
Mjöllnir, Thor’s hammer, gave him the ability to control lightning and thunder. This devastating property comes from the magical creation process of this hammer. Only the unique skills of the dwarves of “Svartalfheim” could have been responsible for its creation.
Why did the dwarves offer such power to the gods? The answer to this riddle lies in the malice of the god Loki. Using his deviousness and trickery, he lures the dwarves into creating several magical objects, including the hammer Mjöllnir. They will later be known as the fantastic attributes of the Viking gods of Asgard.
The legend of Snorri’s Edda: the malice of the god Loki
According to Snorri’s Edda, the goddess Sif, Thor’s wife, was known to have the most beautiful hair in Asgard. Loki, bored and in need of mischievous ideas, decides one day to cut off all her beautiful hair.
Upon hearing the news, Thor becomes enraged and decides to kill Loki. Fortunately for him, the god of mischief is known to save his skin and get out of the worst situations. He managed to calm him down by promising to create a golden hair even more beautiful than the old one, and which will grow like ordinary hair.
To keep his promise and appease Thor’s anger, the god Loki goes to Svartalfheim: the land of dwarves, dark elves and jötnar (giants in old Norse).
Loki’s journey to Svartalfheim: the birthplace of Mjöllnir
Being legendary blacksmiths, the reputation that dwarves can create anything extends beyond the 9 kingdoms! Loki is resigned to convincing them to make him golden hair for Sif. However, the dwarves are known to charge exorbitant prices, and he fears he will not be able to pay them.
To remedy this, Loki has the devious idea of pitting two rival families of prestigious dwarf smiths against each other. He organized a competition to determine the best silversmiths. The rules were simple: they each had to make 3 fabulous objects to present to the Viking gods.
This duel was once again a ruse by Loki to get his way :
- The two dwarves, sons of Ivaldi, feared for their reputation and saw nothing in it. They accept the challenge and create a golden hair for Sif, the famous spear of Odin “Gungnir”, and the boat “Skidbladnir” that can sail on the earth and in the sky and even change size.
- The two brothers Brokk and Eitri know the malice of Loki, and are wary of him. They accept this challenge on one condition, which he reluctantly accepts: Loki must put his head on the line. It will come back to them if they win the duel.
The creation of Thor’s hammer “Mjöllnir
Loki could not bring himself to fail, at the risk of losing his head. He transforms himself into a black fly to hinder the two dwarfs Brokk and Eitri.
The creation of fabulous objects requires extreme precision. Eitri asks Brokk not to release the bellows under any circumstances before removing the object from the forge.
Eitri places in the forge:
- First, pigskin: while Brokk is operating the bellows, Loki bites him on the hand to stop it. Brokk resists, and from the furnace comes out a magic boar: “Gullinbursti”, which has golden hair, and is even faster than a horse.
- Then, gold: Brokk succeeds in activating the bellows a second time, despite Loki’s sting in the neck. The object that comes out of the forge is Odin’s “Draupnir” ring, a golden ring that multiplies into 8 copies every 9 days.
- Finally, iron: Loki stings Brokk this time at the level of his eyelid, and he stops using the bellows for a moment. This last object that comes out of the furnace is the Mjöllnir hammer. Unfortunately, this moment of interruption is enough to make it imperfect: the hammer had too short a handle.
The incorrigible god Loki was proud of this mischief. He presented himself with the fabulous objects before the gods, certain that he had won the challenge. Odin and the rest of the Aesir gods were of a different opinion: Mjöllnir is the most wonderful and impressive object of the 6 gifts!
This legend begins with a prank by Loki, and ends with the Viking gods possessing the most powerful weapon against the giants: the hammer Mjöllnir.
The power of Mjöllnir: hammer of thunder and lightning
Thor’s hammer Mjöllnir is the most fantastic object in the myths of Scandinavian folklore. It has been the source of many legends and stories about its powers and its origin. The most widespread is that of the Edda of Snorri, where the power of Mjöllnir comes from the mystical know-how of the dwarf smiths Brokk and Eitri:
- It is unbreakable and can resist all shocks: nothing can damage Mjöllnir
- It increases tenfold the strength of the one who wields it
- It never misses its target, and always returns to the hand of the thrower
- It allows to control the elements and the weather, especially lightning and thunder
There is another legend according to which Odin asks the dwarves Brokk and Eitri to create Mjöllnir using a magic forge. This forge of immeasurable power is located at the end of the nine worlds and uses the energy of a star.
The power of the hammer Mjöllnir is said to come from the heart of a star, an ability so devastating that it almost destroyed the earth. This legend is very popular, because it is the one that inspired the Marvel comics in their comic “Thor”.
In both legends, Mjöllnir is described as the greatest asset of the Viking gods against the forces of evil: an artifact with mystical and unlimited power.
The god Thor and the hammer Mjöllnir
The god Thor is the most popular and powerful Viking deity after the god Odin. He protects the worlds against the terrible giants whose skulls he smashes with his hammer Mjöllnir.
- According to Snorri’s Edda, the process of creating Mjöllnir is incomplete. Thor’s hammer is imperfect because its handle is too short. To handle it properly, Thor must always put on iron gloves “Járngreipr“. Mjöllnir is also very heavy. To be able to lift it, he wears the belt “Megingjord” which increases his strength tenfold.
- According to another legend, the god Odin has placed an enchantment on Thor’s hammer: only a pure being with noble intentions can wield Mjöllnir. This prevents any creature who is not worthy of it from lifting it.
Thor did not use Mjöllnir only as a weapon, it also allowed him to master the elements and control lightning and thunder. Mjöllnir in other Viking legends, and especially in the Marvel comics, allows Thor to fly.
The hammer Mjöllnir: the story of the theft of Thor’s hammer
A poem in the poetic Edda called “Thrymskvida” tells how Thor had his hammer stolen. To find it, he asks for help from Loki, who flies to the world of the ice giants “Jötunheimr”.
Loki discovers that it is the king of the giants “Thrym” who has stolen Mjöllnir, and that he has hidden it deep in “Jötunheimr”. To give it back to him, “Thrym” asks in return for the hand of the goddess Freya in marriage. Loki returns to Asgard and warns the Aesir gods.
They met to come up with a plan. Heimdallthe guardian of the passages between the worlds found the solution: Thor and Loki had to disguise themselves as Freya and her handmaiden to lure “Thrym” and recover Mjöllnir.
At first reluctant to the idea, Thor is reasoned by the wise words of Loki. Thus, they set out for “Jötunheimr”. The giants do not realize the subterfuge and they give Mjöllnir to Thor disguised as Freya as a wedding gift.
The Viking god, taking back all his powers thanks to his hammer Mjöllnir, kills all the giants present that day.
Mjöllnir: its significance in the Viking civilization
Thor’s hammer “Mjöllnir” held a central place in Viking civilization and culture. Indeed, Mjöllnir was more than a simple weapon since its symbol was used in various Nordic religious practices.
Even today, amulets and pendants of the Mjöllnir hammer are still being discovered, dating back to the Viking Age. The symbol of Mjöllnir had many meanings:
- Purity: one of the meanings of the word “Mjöllnir” in Old Norse is lightning or white snow; signs of purity. It is said that the soul of the one who wears the symbol of Mjöllnir is purified, that is why it was used in some Viking birth ceremonies.
- Strength: Viking warriors used to get a tattoo of the symbol of Mjöllnir, or to wear its pendant. According to the legends, it offers them the power of the god Thor to defeat their enemies.
- Fertility: in wedding ceremonies, Vikings used to offer a statue of Thor with his hammer Mjöllnir. Being often described as the god of fertility, this custom is also related to the famous legend of the theft of Mjöllnir.
- Protection: Thor uses Mjöllnir to protect the human kingdom against the forces of darkness. Mjöllnir is thus a symbol of protection, and that is why many Vikings had an amulet of Mjöllnir.
By now you know some of the mystical power and history of Thor’s hammer “Mjollnir”. But there are still many secrets to be discovered about its hidden abilities and meaning. One thing is for sure, it is without a doubt the most important symbol of the Nordic mythology!
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