Mjölnir ( // ; Old Norse : Mjǫllnir, IPA: [ˈmjɔlːnir] ) is the hammer of Thor, the Norse god associated with thunder. Mjölnir is depicted in Norse mythology as one of the most fearsome and powerful weapons in existence, capable of leveling mountains. The Prose Edda relates how the hammer's characteristically short handle was due to a mistake during its manufacture.
Old Norse Mjǫllnir [ˈmjɔlːnir] (later [ˈmjœlːnir] ) is normally written miollnir in Old Icelandic early manuscripts from the 13th and 14th centuries. The modern Icelandic form is Mjölnir, Norwegian and Danish Mjølner, Swedish Mjölner.
The name is derived from a Proto-Germanic form *meldunjaz, from the Germanic root of *malanan "to grind" ( *melwan , Old Icelandic meldr, mjǫll, mjǫl "meal, flour"),yielding an interpretation of "the grinder; crusher".
Additionally, there is a suggestion that the mythological "thunder weapon" being named after the word for "grindstone" is of considerable, Proto-Indo-European (if not Indo-Hittite) age; according to this suggestion, the divine thunder weapon (identified with lightning) of the storm god was imagined as a grindstone (Russian molot and possibly Hittite malatt- "sledgehammer, bludgeon"), reflected in Russian молния (molniya) and Welsh mellt "lightning" (possibly cognate with Old Norse mjuln "fire").
In the Old Norse texts, Mjölnir is identified as hamarr "a hammer", a word that in Old Norse and some modern Norwegian dialects can mean "hammer" as well as "stone, rock, cliff", ultimately derived from an Indo-European word for "stone, stone tool", h₂éḱmō ; as such it is cognate with Sanskrit aśman , meaning "stone, rock, stone tool; hammer" as well as "thunderbolt".
One account regarding the origins of Mjölnir, and arguably the most well known, is found in the Skáldskaparmál which is the second half of medieval Icelandic historian Snorri Sturluson's Prose Edda. The story depicts the creation of several iconic creature(s) and objects central to Norse mythology.
In this story, Loki the trickster finds himself in an especially mischievous mood and cuts off the gorgeous golden hair of Sif, the wife of Thor. On learning of Loki's trickery, Thor is enraged and threatens to break every bone in his body. Loki pleads with Thor and asks for permission to go down to Svartalfheim, the cavernous home of the dwarves, to see if these master craftspeople could fashion a new head of hair for Sif. Thor is convinced and sends Loki to Svartalfheim.
On his arrival, Loki is able to complete his promise to Thor as The Sons Ivaldi forge not only a new head of hair for Sif, but also two other marvels: Skidbladnir, the best of all ships, and Gungnir, the deadliest of all spears. Having accomplished his task, Loki remains in the caves with the intention of causing mayhem. He approaches the brothers Brokkr and Sindri and taunts them, saying that he is sure the brothers could never forge three creations equal in caliber to the sons of Ivaldi, even betting his head against their lack of ability. Brokkr and Sindri, being prideful dwarves, accept the wager and begin their creation of three marvels.
The first begins with Sindri putting a pig's skin in the forge and telling Brokkr to work the bellows nonstop until his return. Loki, in disguise as a fly, comes and bites Brokkr on the arm to ensure the brothers lose their bet. Nevertheless, Brokkr continues to pump the bellows as ordered. When Sindri returns and pulls their creation from the fire, it is revealed to be a living boar with golden hair which they name Gullinbursti. This legendary creature gives off light in the dark and runs better than any horse, even through water or air.
Next, Sindri puts gold in the forge and gives Brokkr the same order. Loki comes again, still in the guise of a fly, and bites Brokkr's neck, this time twice as hard to ensure the brothers lose the bet. Brokkr, however, continues to work the bellows despite the pain. When Sindri returns they draw out a magnificent ring which they name Draupnir. From this ring, every ninth night, eight new golden rings of equal weight emerge.
Finally, Sindri puts iron in the forge and repeats his previous order once more. Loki comes a third time and bites Brokkr on the eyelid even harder, the bite being so deep that it draws blood. The blood runs into Brokkr's eyes and forces him to stop working the bellows just long enough to wipe his eyes. This time, when Sindri returns, he takes Mjölnir out of the forge. The handle is shorter than Sindri had originally planned which is the reason for the hammer's iconic imagery as a one handed weapon throughout Thor's religious iconography. Nevertheless, the pair are sure of the great worth of their three treasures and they make their way to Asgard to claim the wages due to them.
Loki makes it to the halls of the gods just before the dwarves and presents the marvels he has acquired. To Thor he gave Sif's new hair and the hammer Mjollnir. To Odin, the ring Draupnir and the spear Gungnir. Finally to Freyr he gives Skidbladnir and Gullinbursti.
As grateful as the gods were to receive these gifts they all agreed that Loki still owed his head to the brothers. When the dwarfs approach Loki with knives, the cunning god points out that he had promised them his head but not his neck, ultimately voiding their agreement. Brokkr and Sindri contented themselves with sewing Loki's mouth shut and returning to their forge.
Though most famous for its use as a weapon, Mjolnir played a vital role in Norse religious practices and rituals. Its use in formal ceremonies to bless marriages, births, and funerals is described in several episodes within the Prose Edda.
Historian and pagan studies scholar Hilda Ellis Davidson summarizes and explains the significance of Mjolnir in these rites, particularly marriage, stating:
The existence of this rite is assumed in the tale of Thor as a Transvestite, where the giants stole Thor’s hammer and he went to retrieve it by dressing as a bride to be married to one of the giants, knowing that the hammer would be presented during the ceremony. When it was presented, he seized it and promptly smashed the skulls of all of the giants in attendance. A Bronze Age rock carving from Scandinavia apparently depicts a couple being blessed by a larger figure holding a hammer, which indicates the considerable antiquity of this notion.— Hilda Ellis Davidson, Gods and Myths of Northern Europe
Historian Gabriel Turville-Petre also suggests that Mjolnir's blessing was a possible means of imparting fertility to a couple. This is based on Thor's association with both agriculture and the fertilization of fields.
Modern Pagans have emphasized the role of Mjolnir in their religious rituals and doctrine, though its primary function is to publicly signify faith (similarly to the way Christians wear or hang crucifixes).While Norse in origin, Mjolnir's modern usage is not limited to Nordic pagans and has been utilized in Dutch pagan marriages, American pagan rituals, as well as the symbolic representation for all of Germanic heathenry.
Thor possessed a formidable chariot, hreggs váfreiðar or “storm's hovering chariot”, which is drawn by two goats, Tanngrisnir and Tanngnjóstr. A belt, Megingjörð, and iron gloves, Járngreipr, were used to lift Mjölnir. Mjölnir is the focal point of some of Thor's adventures.
This is clearly illustrated in a poem found in the Poetic Edda titled Þrymskviða . The myth relates that the giant, Þrymr, steals Mjölnir from Thor and then demands the goddess Freyja in exchange. Loki, the god notorious for his duplicity, conspires with the other Æsir to recover Mjölnir by disguising Thor as Freyja and presenting him as the "goddess" to Þrymr.
At a banquet Þrymr holds in honor of the impending union, Þrymr takes the bait. Unable to contain his passion for his new maiden with long, blond locks (and broad shoulders), Þrymr approaches the bride by placing Mjölnir on "her" lap; Thor rips off his disguise and destroys Þrymr and his giant cohorts.
As of 1997, about seventy-five early medieval Scandinavian pendants in the form of hammers had been found,and more have since come to light. Archaeologists have long inferred that these pendants are images of Thor's hammer. Supporting evidence for this emerged for the first time in 2014, when the Købelev Runic-Thor's Hammer was found on the Danish island of Lolland. This is so far the only pendant bearing an inscription, which reads "hamr × is": here the mark × is a word-divider, making clear that the inscription means "[this] is [a] hammer".
A fairly large number of pendants in the 'Thor's hammer' style show a convergence with Christian crucifixes and therefore stand as evidence for the adaptation of traditional 'Thor's hammer' pendants to Christian culture as medieval Scandinavia converted to Christianity.Hilda Ellis Davidson interpreted such images as signs of defiance, as unwilling Scandinavian converts to Christianity maintained their traditional symbols.
Prominent examples include:
Some early medieval image stones and runestones found in Denmark and southern Sweden bear an inscription of a hammer. Runestones depicting Thor's hammer include runestones U 1161 in Altuna, Sö 86 in Åby, Sö 111 in Stenkvista, Sö 140 in Jursta, Vg 113 in Lärkegapet, Öl 1 in Karlevi, DR 26 in Laeborg, DR 48 in Hanning, DR 120 in Spentrup, and DR 331 in Gårdstånga.Other runestones included an inscription calling for Thor to safeguard the stone. For example, the stone of Virring in Denmark had the inscription þur uiki þisi kuml, which translates into English as "May Thor hallow this memorial." There are several examples of a similar inscription, each one asking for Thor to "hallow" or protect the specific artifact. Such inscriptions may have been in response to the Christians, who would ask for God's protection over their dead.
A precedent for Viking Age Mjolnir amulets have been documented in the migration period Alemanni, who took to wearing Roman "Hercules' Clubs" as symbols of Donar.A possible remnant of these Donar amulets was recorded in 1897, as it was a custom of the Unterinn (South Tyrolian Alps) to incise a T-shape above front doors for protection against evil (especially storms).
Similar hammers, such as Ukonvasara, were a common symbol of the god of thunder in other North European mythologies.
In the early-modern Icelandic tradition of books of magic, the label Þórshamar ("Thor's hammer") is given to the image known in English as the swastika.
It is uncertain whether this association existed earlier in Scandinavian culture, however. Images of the swastika are found fairly frequently in Scandinavia from as early as the Bronze Age (when they are commonly found alongside sunwheels and figures sometimes interpreted as sky gods).The use of the symbol continued into the Viking Age, appearing for example on the Sæbø sword and the Snoldelev Stone. Some scholars have suggested that such swastika images are linked to ancient Scandinavian hammer images. In the words of Hilda Ellis Davidson, "it seems likely that the swastika as well as the hammer sign was connected with" Thor; some nineteenth-century scholarship suggested that the hammer symbol was (in origin) a form of the swastika; and this claim is repeated in some later work. Thus Henry Mayr-Harting speculated that "it may be that Thor's symbol, the swastika, originated as a device of hammers", while Christopher R. Fee and David Adams Leeming claimed that "the image of Thor's weapon spinning end-over-end through the heavens is captured in art as a swastika symbol".
Although these scholars do not discuss the basis for their association of the swastika with Thor and his hammer clearly, Ellis Davidson implies that the association was because, as she supposed, both symbols were associated with luck, prosperity, power, protection, as well as the sun and sky.
The idea that Thor's hammer and the swastika are connected has been adopted by Neo-Nazis keen to link Nazi symbolism with medieval Norse culture;both symbols feature, for example, in the logo of the explicitly Neo-Nazi band Absurd.
Most practitioners of Germanic Heathenry have adopted the symbol of Mjölnir as a symbol of faith, most commonly represented as pendants or other small jewelry. Renditions of Mjölnir are designed, crafted and sold by Germanic Heathen groups and individuals for public consumption as well as religious practice.
In May 2013 the "Hammer of Thor" was added to the list of United States Department of Veterans Affairs emblems for headstones and markers.
Some Neo-Nazi groups have adopted the symbol and as such it is designated as a hate symbol by the Anti-Defamation League.However, there is a movement among many Viking/pagan enthusiast groups to take back Mjölnir and other Norse symbols from the neo-nazis, and have said insignia removed from the Anti-Defamation League's listing.
In the adventures of the Marvel Comics character Thor, based on the Norse god, a magical hammer similarly based on the original Mjölnir plays a major role. The hammer also has a spell written with Runic inscriptions engraved on it.
55 – Hammer of Thor
In Norse mythology, Mjölnir (which means "crusher" or "grinder") is a fearsome weapon that can destroy entire mountains with a single blow.... On May 10, 2013, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs quietly made an update to its official list of approved emblems, adding Thor's hammer, Mjölnir.
In Norse mythology, Brísingamen is the torc or necklace of the goddess Freyja. The name is an Old Norse compound brísinga-men whose second element is men "(ornamental) neck-ring, torc". The etymology of the first element is uncertain. It has been derived from Old Norse brísingr, a poetic term for "fire" or "amber" mentioned in the anonymous versified word-lists (þulur) appended to many manuscripts of the Prose Edda, making Brísingamen "gleaming torc", "sunny torc", or the like. However, Brísingr can also be an ethnonym, in which case Brísinga men is "torque of the Brísings"; the Old English parallel in Beowulf supports this derivation, though who the Brísings may have been remains unknown.
In Norse mythology, Freyja is a goddess associated with love, beauty, fertility, gold, and seiðr. Freyja is the owner of the necklace Brísingamen, rides a chariot pulled by two cats, is accompanied by the boar Hildisvíni, and possesses a cloak of falcon feathers. By her husband Óðr, she is the mother of two daughters, Hnoss and Gersemi. Along with her brother Freyr, her father Njörðr, and her mother, she is a member of the Vanir. Stemming from Old Norse Freyja, modern forms of the name include Freya, Freyia, and Freja.
In Norse cosmology, Jötunheimr is a location associated with the Jötnar, entities in Norse mythology.
Loki is a god in Norse mythology. Loki is in some sources the son of Fárbauti and Laufey, and the brother of Helblindi and Býleistr. By the jötunn Angrboða, Loki is the father of Hel, the wolf Fenrir, and the world serpent Jörmungandr. By his wife Sigyn, Loki is the father of Narfi and/or Nari. By the stallion Svaðilfari, Loki is the mother—giving birth in the form of a mare—to the eight-legged horse Sleipnir. In addition, Loki is referred to as the father of Váli in Prose Edda, though this source also refers to Odin as the father of Váli twice, and Váli is found mentioned as a Son of Loki only once.
Týr, Tíw, and Ziu is a god in Germanic mythology. Stemming from the Proto-Germanic deity *Tīwaz and ultimately from the Proto-Indo-European chief deity *Dyeus, little information about the god survives beyond Old Norse sources. Due to the etymology of the god's name and the shadowy presence of the god in the extant Germanic corpus, some scholars propose that Týr may have once held a more central place among the deities of early Germanic mythology.
In Norse mythology, Sif is a goddess associated with Earth. Sif is attested in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources, and the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson, and in the poetry of skalds. In both the Poetic Edda and the Prose Edda, Sif is the wife of the thunder god Thor and is known for her golden hair.
In Norse mythology, Brokkr is a dwarf, and the brother of Eitri or Sindri.
In Norse mythology, Eitri is a dwarf and the brother of Brokkr.
In Norse mythology, Þrymr was king of the jǫtnar. In one legend, he stole Mjǫlnir, Thor's hammer, to extort the gods into giving him Freyja as his wife. His kingdom was called Jötunheimr, but according to Hversu Noregr byggðist, it was the Swedish province Värmland, then a part of Norway.
In Germanic mythology, Thor is a hammer-wielding god associated with thunder, lightning, storms, sacred groves and trees, strength, the protection of mankind and also hallowing and fertility. Besides Old Norse Þórr, extensions of the god occur in Old English as Þunor and in Old High German as Donar. All forms of the deity stem from a Common Germanic *Þunraz.
Germanic mythology consists of the body of myths native to the Germanic peoples. The category includes Norse mythology, Anglo-Saxon mythology, and Continental Germanic mythology. It was a key element of Germanic paganism.
Old Norse religion, also known as Norse paganism or Ásatrú, is the most common name for a branch of Germanic religion which developed during the Proto-Norse period, when the North Germanic peoples separated into a distinct branch of the Germanic peoples. It was replaced by Christianity during the Christianization of Scandinavia. Scholars reconstruct aspects of North Germanic religion by historical linguistics, archaeology, toponymy, and records left by North Germanic peoples, such as runic inscriptions in the Younger Futhark, a distinctly North Germanic extension of the runic alphabet. Numerous Old Norse works dated to the 13th century record Norse mythology, a component of North Germanic religion.
In Norse mythology, the Sons of Ivaldi are a group of dwarfs who fashion Skidbladnir, the ship of Freyr, and the Gungnir, the spear of Odin, as well as golden hair for Sif to replace what Loki had cut off.
Þrymskviða is one of the best known poems from the Poetic Edda. The Norse myth had enduring popularity in Scandinavia and continued to be told and sung in several forms until the 19th century.
Hilda Roderick Ellis Davidson was an English antiquarian and academic, writing in particular on Germanic paganism and Celtic paganism. Davidson used literary, historical and archaeological evidence to discuss the stories and customs of Northern Europe. Gods and Myths of Northern Europe is considered one of the most thorough and reputable sources on Germanic mythology. Like many of her publications, it was credited under the name H. R. Ellis Davidson. Davidson was a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, and was president of the Council of the Folklore Society from 1974 to 1976, and served on the council from 1956 to 1986. Davidson has been cited as having "contributed greatly" to the study of Norse mythology.
The Norse mythology, preserved in such ancient Icelandic texts as the Poetic Edda, the Prose Edda, and other lays and sagas, was little known outside Scandinavia until the 19th century. With the widespread publication of Norse myths and legends at this time, references to the Norse gods and heroes spread into European literary culture, especially in Scandinavia, Germany, and Britain. In the later 20th century, references to Norse mythology became common in science fiction and fantasy literature, role-playing games, and eventually other cultural products such as Japanese animation.
Norse mythology is the body of myths of the North Germanic peoples, stemming from Norse paganism and continuing after the Christianization of Scandinavia, and into the Scandinavian folklore of the modern period. The northernmost extension of Germanic mythology, Norse mythology consists of tales of various deities, beings, and heroes derived from numerous sources from both before and after the pagan period, including medieval manuscripts, archaeological representations, and folk tradition.
The Stenkvista runestone, designated as runic inscription Sö 111 in the Rundata catalog, is a memorial runestone located near the church at Stenkvista, which is two kilometers east of Skogstorp, Södermanland County, Sweden, which was formerly part of the historic Södermanland, and which features a depiction of Thor's hammer, Mjöllnir. This runestone is one of several runestones in Scandinavia that has a dedication to Thor. While the tradition of carving inscriptions into boulders began in the 4th century and lasted into the 12th century, most runestones in Scandinavia date from the late Viking Age.
This Viking Age runestone, designated as G 181 in the Rundata catalog, was originally located at a church at Sanda, Gotland, Sweden, and is believed to depict the three Norse pagan gods Odin, Thor, and Freyr.
The swastika design is known from artefacts of various cultures since the Neolithic, and it recurs with some frequency on artefacts dated to the Germanic Iron Age, i.e. the Migration period to Viking Age period in Scandinavia, including the Vendel era in Sweden, attested from as early as the 3rd century in Elder Futhark inscriptions and as late as the 9th century on Viking Age image stones.
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