Many people today are familiar with Thor's hammer either because they have read a book or seen a movie.
What is the meaning and significance of wearing Mjolnir, Thor's hammer necklace?
In Norse mythology, the thunder god's hammer, known as Mjölnir (Myol-neer), is both a deadly weapon and a divine tool for bestowing favors and blessings. In the Scandinavian cultural, the hammer was frequently worn as a pendant during the Viking Age, and other artifacts from the archaeological record feature Thor with his hammer. The sign is once more worn as a pendant nowadays.
The Nordic people believed that thunder was caused by the deity of the skies, Thor, striking Mjolnir. In Norse mythology, Thor defended Asgard from giants who relentlessly tried to intrude into the gods' domain.
The hammer appeared in numerous Norse stories not as a weapon but as a tool to grant blessings on various significant occasions, such as weddings, funerals, and births.
The Mjolnir is similar to the solar cross in that Thor's hammer also represented the forces of cosmic order. Ancient symbols include the solar cross and sun wheel, with Stonehenge serving as a notable example of one.
Thor's hammer became a popular and significant emblem for the Nordic peoples as a result of its significance in the protection and blessing of both divine and human societies. It was frequently seen on amulets and necklaces worn by people in the Early Middle Ages, as well as on gravestones and in temples.
What Does It Mean to display Thor's Hammer?
The Vikings wore Thor's hammer amulets as representations of divine protection and well-being since Thor used Mjolnir to save Asgard and the entire world from malicious giants and serpents. Some wore it as a sign of defiance toward Christianity, while others joined the cross and the Thor's hammer symbols to invoke the blessings of both deities.
The History of Thor's Hammer
In the second and third century, Hercules' club-shaped amulets were popular throughout the Roman Empire. According to one idea, Thor's hammer amulets are descended from this older custom.
The earliest Thor's hammer amulet was discovered in Kent, England, and is made of bronze. It dates to the sixth century AD.
According to certain sources, Christians would wear crosses in public to set themselves apart from pagans around the year 200 AD. The Catholic crucifix, on the other hand, did not appear until AD 629 and would not become well-known until later in the Middle Ages. It depicted or represented Christ's crucifixion and death in cleansing the sins of man.
As a result, the use of the Roman Hercules clubs and Thor's hammer amulets as symbols of opposition against the Christian cross is partly responsible for their widespread use. Notably, these amulets were most prevalent during the Viking Age, when Christianity was expanding throughout Scandinavia.
Charm bearing the Hammer of Thor
A person wears an amulet as a charm to gain magical defense against many types of evil. For instance, jewelers would write magical incantations on such an ornament to protect the wearer.
Over a thousand instances of Thor's hammer amulets or the Mjolnir shape are currently known to anthropologists. There are roughly 100 examples of excellent craftsmanship among these often straightforward iron or silver patterns. However, discoveries have also been made in Germany, the British Isles, and Iceland. The majority of instances have come from the Scandinavian countries of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden.
Devotees of Norse mythology would wear these pendants around their neck. The pendant, which was typically made of silver, bronze, iron, or amber, had a loop through the "handle" of the hammer at the top from which it could hang from a string or chain. Some pendants were basic and unadorned, while others were elaborately carved. Some of them featured the mysterious or magical runes, an ancient Germanic alphabet.
These Mjolnir amulets range in age; some are as old as the sixth century AD, but the majority first appear in the tenth, at a time when Christianity and Norse religion were at odds. In the second to third century, Hercules' club-shaped amulets were popular throughout the Roman Empire.
Thor as a Symbol in Conflict with Christ
A Mjolnir amulet distinguished its user as believing in the Norse gods rather than the Christian God because of its shape, which is similar to but distinct from that of a crucifix. Additionally, the Norse god Thor gained popularity as a representation of opposition to Christ.
By the late eighth century, the Frisians had increased the Norse's exposure to Christianity south of Denmark. Around the same period, trading hubs started to appear all over Europe, including those in Denmark, such as Hedeby and Ribe.
From AD 772 until 804, the Frankish King Charlemagne engaged in a protracted war with the pagans of Saxony in an effort to convert them to Christianity. During these battles, the Danes sided with the Saxons and became particularly hostile to Christianity.
By AD 797, Alcuin of York was able to persuade Charlemagne to stop such forced conversions, but the harm had already been done. In Denmark in AD 826, missionary efforts were not very successful.
Among the amulets of Thor's hammer from this time period is a silver hammer from Rmersdal, Denmark, which dates to around 800. However, the majority of occurrences appear between AD 793 and 1066, particularly in the 10th and 11th centuries.
The Norse were closer to Christian civilization as a result of Viking raids across Europe, particularly in England and the Frankish Kingdoms.
Cross versus Hammer.
Following the baptism of the Viking Guthrum in England in AD 878 following his defeat by the English King Alfred the Great, the large-scale "conversion" of the Danes began. Even a Dane named Odo was named the Archbishop of Canterbury by the English king Edmund in 942. Harald Bluetooth, King of Denmark, embraced baptism later and worked to convert his people around the year 960.
Crucifixes began to appear in Scandinavia around the same time, such as the Danish gold crucifix, which dates to between AD 900 and 950. Thor's hammer amulets were most prevalent during the Vikings' resistance to conversion, but by the eleventh century, most of Denmark had embraced Christ.
Neo-pagans have recently brought back the sign in protest against Christianity. Asatru, which translates from Old Norse as "believing in the gods," is the name they give to their religion.
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The result of such quick "conversions" was a high level of religious syncretism, among other things. The endeavor to combine several ideologies or religions into one is known as syncretism. Early on, Viking tradesmen would only accept the cross as a sign of trade with those who claimed to be Christians.
They could consent to the cross's sign without consenting to baptism. Many people kept their Norse gods like Thor and Odin and merely added Christ to their pantheon by adopting this middle-ground strategy. As a result, there was a lot of fusion in terms of religious symbolism at this time, some from gnostic sects and others from the Norse.
For instance, Danish and Swedish researchers discovered soapstone molds that jewelers could use to create Christian cross necklaces or Mjolnir amulets, respectively. It might be an example of religious syncretism or an unethical trader trying to make a profit on both sides.
York was a significant center of learning before the Viking invasion of Northern England.
There was definitely interest among researchers in discovering commonalities between pagan Celtic, Norse, and Anglo-Saxon religions with Christianity because Celtic monks from Ireland had carried their understanding of ancient Celtic religion with them to Anglo-Saxon Northumbria.
Thor's hammer served as a representation of safety, blessing, and prosperity for the Norse. The sun wheel and the swastika, two symbols that were initially connected to the agricultural cycle and good fortune, are also intimately related to Thor's hammer.
Mjolnir as a Charm of Protection
Thor's hammer was a representation of protection because he used it as a weapon to defend both gods and mortals from giants. Even runic writings specifying the specific type of security the bearer desired were found on certain Mjolnir amulets. The giants, on the other hand, represented the disorder and dangerous elements of nature. The Norse therefore thought that by wearing a representation of Thor's hammer, they would be shielded from the same energies.
Jormungandr vs. Thor
Hymir killed three of his bulls to provide meat for Thor's visit since he was aware of the rumors about the thunder god's voracious hunger. To his dismay, though, Thor devoured two of the creatures in a single supper. Hymir then makes the decision to go fishing because he has run out of cattle to give to the thunder god.
Hymir, who is annoyed with Thor, asks him for assistance and sends him to retrieve the bait. He anticipates that Thor will go hunting for some small animals to use as bait, but instead, Thor kills the bulls that are still alive and uses their heads as bait. Although Hymir is upset by this, the heads do make great bait, and the enormous king manages to catch two whales that will undoubtedly be enough to feed the god.
Norse legend claims that Thor did not assist Hymir with his fishing but instead only stood and watched the ocean. However, Thor's true feelings are revealed when Hymir asks him to row the boat back to shore because he intends to go deeper in search of bigger fish.
Knowing that Jormungdar resides here and being aware of the prophecy regarding the encounter that Thor and Jormungandr will have during Ragnarok causes Hymir great anxiety. He advises Thor not to fish in these waters, but the god ignores him.
Eventually, a powerful force pulls on Thor's line, almost tipping the god over. Hymir can tell right away that it is Jormungandr because no other creature could possibly stand a chance against the god.
Hymir's words do not dissuade Thor, who begins to hoist the beast up and prepares to strike it with his hammer. Hymir, who was terrified by the idea, cut the fishing line as the serpent's body was about to surface and allowed it to relapse into the water.
Thor throws Hymir overboard and leaves him there because he is so furious with him. Because of his efforts to prevent the world from ending prematurely due to the haughtiness of the deity Thor, he was probably eaten by Jormungandr.
Hammer of Thor for Blessing
In addition to being the gods' and humans' defender, Thor also serves as a blessing-giver. In Norse mythology, for instance, Thor blessed people on significant occasions like weddings, births, and funerals using his hammer. The most frequent event when the hammer represented blessings seems to be weddings.
Thor is said to have used Mjölnir as a hallowing or sanctifying tool in addition to a terrifying weapon in the Old Norse tradition. Gylfaginning's bride was to be sanctified using a hammer. Thor uses his hammer to resurrect his goats Tanngrisnir and Tanngnjóstr, and in Skáldskaparmál, Thor blesses Baldr's ship during his and Nana's ship burial. Numerous artifacts from the archaeological record invoke the healing power of Thor, with some specifically referencing or invoking his hammer.