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Thor was a powerful and popular Norse god in Viking life and culture. He was an important god among all branches of the Germanic peoples prior to their conversion to Christianity, however his popularity peaked among Norsemen and women in the late Viking age. A Hammer of Thor necklace was the most popular piece of Norse jewelry worn in the late Viking age. It was the symbol worn by his followers to show their loyalty to Thor and the other Norse Gods when Christianity was encroaching on the Norse traditions.
One of the most interesting finds regarding Mjolnir are soapstone molds found in Denmark and Sweden that could be used to forge both Thor's hammer and Christian crosses. Other finds include a pendant that appears to mix both the Christian cross and Thors hammer in one piece. It is generally accepted that the Vikings were often more accepting of Christianity than the other way around. They could see similarities between, God, Jesus, Odin, Thor and other Norse Gods. The Norse people were also great traders and makers of jewelry and probably saw nothing wrong with offering items for both pagans and Christians. It is interesting that Viking pagans were exposed to Christianity as early as the 8th century but many resisted conversion until around the 10th century or later. Long after the vast majority of Europe had become Christianized. The Norse sometimes worshipped both Jesus and their own Gods. They were accustomed to many Gods and wanted all the protection they could get in dangerous and uncertain times. Gravesites have been discovered that included both the Crucifix and Thor's Hammer. Maybe they were hedging their bets on Valhalla and Heaven.
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Thor, the God of Thunder, is the model of a trustworthy and honorable warrior, the ideal to whom the average Viking warrior and shield maiden aspired. He is the unflappable guardian of the Aesir gods and their realm from the encroachments of the giants, who are usually (but not always) the gods' foes.
Thor is the only one who is capable of performing these great feats of strength and prowess. His sense of responsibility and courage are unwavering, and his physical power is unrivaled. He even has an unnamed strength belt that increases his power by double when he wears it, but his hammer, Mjöllnir ("Lightning"), is his most famous possession. The Hammer of the Thunder God was forged by the great dwarf blacksmiths at the request of Loki who was trying to appease Thor after cutting off his wife’s beautiful golden hair. Thunder was the essence of Thor for the pagan Vikings, and lightning was the manifestation of his hammer slaughtering giants as he rode across the sky in his goat-drawn chariot.
Jormungandr, the giant sea snake that encircles Midgard, the world of human civilization, is Thor's main foe. In one legend, while on a fishing excursion, he tries to drag Jormungandr out of the sea, but is only stopped when his huge partner cuts the fishing line out of fear. However, at Ragnarok, Thor and Jormungandr finally meet, and the two put an end to each other in an epic battle at the end of time.
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