Interesting facts about the Norse god Thor

Thor is one of the three main gods of the Norse.  The other two were Odin and Frey.

Thor is described as the “strongest of all gods and men”.

Thor is the son of Odin and Iord.  It is also said that he is the son of Odin and Frigg.

Thor’s wife is called Sif.

His children are Magni (his mother is Iarnsaxa), Modi, and Thrud.

He is a stepfather to Ull.

He is the foster son of Vingnir and Hlora.

He lives in a place called Thrudvanger.

His hall is called Bilskirnir.  It’s said there are 540 rooms.  It is supposed to be the biggest building ever built.

Thor is best known for his hammer, which is called Mjollner (which means the ‘crusher’).  It is best known for being used to kill frost-giants.  Thor would throw the hammer at the frost-giant.  The hammer would then kill the frost-giant (often described as ‘breaking their skull’) and automatically fly back into Thors hand.

Thors hammer was often used for other things.  One tale tells how he would eat his goats.  Then he would raise his hammer to bless the bones and skin and they would come back alive.  Other tales tell how he would consecrate and bless things with it as well, such as feasts and weddings.

Thors hammer is actually flawed.  It’s handle is too short.  While the dwarf called Eitri was forging the hammer Loki, a trickster who always caused problems for the gods, turned himself into a fly.  He landed on his eyelild and nibbed at it causing blood to go into his eyes.  Eitri quickly lifted his hand to sweep the fly away, distracting him from his forging.  This caused the defect of the handle being too short.

The hammer is said that it will never fail at whatever it is struck at.  If it is thrown at something it will never miss.  Once thrown it will come back to the hand that thrown it.  The hammer also had the ability to become so small that he could put it in his shirt.

The hammer was one of six treasures that Loki  had dwarfs make.  Loki had originally cut off the hair of Sif, the wife of Thor, which infuriated Thor.  He made Loki replace the hair.  Loki had black dwarfs, called Ivaldi’s sons, to make the hair.  In addition, they made Skidbaldnir (a ship that went wherever it was intended and could be folded up and put in ones shirt), and Gungnir (Odin’s spear).  He then made a wager that they could not make better treasures, so he made the dwarf Eitri make three more:  a boar with bristles of gold, draupnir (a ring that, every ninth night, dropped eight rings of the same weight), and Thor’s hammer.  Of these six treasures it was decided that Thor’s hammer was the best.

Thor has a pair of iron gloves.  He has to wear these when he wields Mjollner.  Not even Thor can handle the hammer barehanded!

Thor has a girdle of might.  When he buckles it on his strength is doubled.

Once, in a fight with the frost-giant Hrungnir, a whetstone got imbedded in Thors skull.  Hrungnir threw it at his head as Thor threw his hammer.  Hrungnir’s skull was shattered, but the whetstone knocked Thor down.  He got up and went home, with the whetstone still embedded in his head.  They got a sorceress called Groa to chant spells over it til it began to get loose.  Thor was so thankful he hurriedly wanted to repay her.  She got so overjoyed that she could not recall her spells.  And so the whetstone remained in Thor’s skull.  As a result of this, it was taboo to throw a whetstone, as it made the whetstone in Thor’s head ache. 

Its said that Thor has a red beard.

Thor had a terrible temper and would often fly into rages (particularly when frost-giants were concerned).  Often, he would get so mad that it is described that his “brows would sink down over his eyes”.

Thor has two goats which drive a chariot.  The goats name are Tanngniost (gnash-tooth) and Tanngrisnir (snarl-tooth). 

Because of his riding a chariot he is often called Oku-Thor or driving Thor.

One tale tells how his goats were replaced by two peasant children, the boy Thiafli and his sister, Roskva.  He was travelling with Loki where he stopped at a farm.  There he killed his goats so they can eat them.  Thiafli split open the bone to get at the marrow.  When Thor raised the hammer to bring to life his goats one was lame due to Thiafli splitting open the bone.  To recompensate Thor the farmer gave him the two children and the goats remained at the farm.

The rowan is spoken as Thor’s saviour.  This is because, while crossing a strong river, he grabbed onto a branch of a rowan tree to prevent himself being swept away.

Thor dressed up as a bride once to deceive a frost-giant who had stolen his hammer.  The frost-giant had demanded that he will return the hammer if he could marry Freyja.  Thor dressed up as Freyja and, when they pulled out the hammer to bless the wedding, Thor picked it up and killed the frost-giant.

Thor will die at Ragnarik.  He will fight the Midgard Serpent, which surrounds the whole world.  He will succeed in killing it but will walk 9 paces from it and die from the poison it had spewed out onto him.

Thor had his own rune symbol.   It is shown below:

Many soldiers and people in Viking times wore a small hammer around their neck for good luck.

Many Norse temples had a ceremonial hammer in them.  They would use them to bless various things, such as feats and weddings. 

Some accounts say that in the temples of Thor was a statue of Thor in a chariot being driven by his his two goats.

Thor was a very dominant god in Norway.  In other places it appears that Odin was very prominent.

At one time, there were supposed to be thousands of stories of Thor.  Now only a handful have survived.

Much of what we know about Thor comes from the Icelander Snorri Sturluson.  There is a lot of information written in his ‘Edda’. 

There are also tales of Thor in the ‘Prose Edda’ and in various Viking tales and contemporary accounts.

When children were given their name and blessed they were often given the sign of Thor above them.  If this sign is the rune sign (shown above) drawn in mid air (much like Christians with the cross) is not exactly clear.

Often, when there was a feast they would give the sign of Thor over the food much like Christians do the sign of the cross.

Many names of places have Thor in it.

Many peoples last name have Thor in it.  Examples are Thorson, Thorgood, etc.  Generally, these signify Norwegian ancestry.  It appears that many people claimed descent from Thor in the Viking era.


Copyright by Mike Michelsen

This entry was posted in Historical stuff, Religion and religious stuff, Vikings - Odin, Thor, the Norse, and such and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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