I have had a special request in my guestbook for the story of Thor. This was truly an enjoyable challenge for me to write and I hope that it brings a moment of pleasure to all those who read it. Tom, this one's for you!
Thor, who was also called Donar was the son of Odin and his first wife Jord. The boy was known for his strength and stature, and amazed the other gods by playfully tossing about piles of heavy bear skins shortly after his birth. He was usually a good natured child, but was occassionally prone to fits of uncontrollable anger. This combined with his size made the young god very dangerous. Feeling that she could not manage her son, Jord sent him away to be raised by Vingnir and Hlora. He grew up to be a wise young man, and to show his gratitude took on the names of Vingthor and Hlorridi to honor his foster parents. When he reached adult age, Thor was admitted into Asgard, the house of the gods. There he occupied one of the twelve seats located in the great judgement hall. He was also given the realm of Thrud-heim where he built for himself the most spacious palace in all of Asgard.
He named his new abode Bilskirnir which means lightning. It contained 540 halls, all of which were used to house the souls of serfs who had passed on. Because he was the patron god of peasants and the lower classes, Thor gladly welcomed these thralls into his home with open arms.
The northern gods held their daily council under the branches of a sacred ash tree called Yggdrasil. It was reached by crossing a rainbow bridge known to all as Bifrost. Bifrost was composed of fire, water and air and only the gods were permitted to cross her. Thor alone was forbidden to set foot upon Bifrost as he was the god of thunder, and the other divinities feared the heat of his lightning would bring about its demise. Instead he was forced to wade through the rivers Kormt and Ormt and the streams of Ker'laug when he wished to join his fellow gods beneath the boughs of Yggdrasil. Thor was said to be a man of solid build and pronounced muscles. He donned a thick head of red hair and a bristling red beard from which sparks flew during his moments of anger.
He is often shown wearing a crown which supported a shining star or flame on the end of each point. This encased the god's head in a perpetual halo of fire, the element of which he ruled.
Thor possessed a magic hammer called Miolnir, which menas "the crusher". Miolnir was equipped with the power to always return to Thor's hand regardless to how far of a distance it was thrown. This hammer was a great destructive force against Thor's arch enemies the Frost Giants.
Because his hammer was usually red hot to the touch, Thor wore an iron gauntlet called Iarn-greiper. He also owned a magic belt called Megin-giord, which would double his already powerful strength when it was placed around his waist.
The hammer became a sacred symbol in the northern lands, with the people often making the sign of the hammer over themselves in the same way the future Christians would make the sign of the cross.
This was done to keep away evil influences and to bestow blessings upon oneself. In Sweden, it was common for Thor to be shown wearing a wide brimmed hat, which is why to this day storm clouds are often referred to as "Thor's Hat". The roar of thunder was attributed to his chariot passing by, for he was the only god who chose never to ride on horseback. His chariot was drawn by two brazen goats who threw sparks from both their teeth and hooves. Thor was married twice, first to a giantess by the name of Iarnsaxa who bore him two sons, Magni (strength) and Modi (courage). His second wife was named Sif, and she was the mother of Thor's two daughters, Lorride and Thrud. Sif was given the named "golden haired" after her beautiful yellow tresses. Her hair covered her like a golden veil and was said to represent the grain that covered the northern harvest fields.
Though he was a storm god, Thor was never viewed as being intentionally destructive. He was usually depicted as being a helpful god who was not beneath using force in his missions of good will. Such was the case of the giants of Jotun-heim. These ice giants took mischievous pleasure in sending out cold blasts of wind to freeze the tender young flower buds, thus hindering their forthcoming blooms. Thor decided he would pay them a visit and put an end to this behavior. Together with the god Loki, Thor climbed into his chariot and started on his journey. After a day of driving, the two arrived in the giant's land. Seeing a peasant's hut, the weary travelers stopped to refresh themselves and spend the night. Their hosts were very hospitable but Thor saw that they were also very poor. Knowing they had not nearly enough food to satisfy his huge appetite, the god released his two goats from his chariot and slew them for the meal.
He invited the two peasants to join in the feast, and told them to carefully place all bones onto the animal skins that were spread out on the floor. It was very important that none of the bones were broken or damaged in any way.
The family ate heartily, but before long Loki who was always looking to cause trouble enticed the children to break open a bone and suck out the marrow. In the morning Thor made ready to depart. He took out his mighty hammer and struck the skins where the bones were placed the night before. Immediately, the two goats sprung up alive and well, but after a more careful inspection it was evident that one of them appeared to be slightly lame. Knowing his instructions had been disobeyed, Thor flew into a fit of rage. Before he imposed punishment on the enire family, the youth came forward and confessed that it was he who ate the marrow from the bone. In order to compensate the angry god for his loss, the boy's father offered Thor both his son and daughter as slaves. The god accepted the offer and proceeded on his journey together with Loki and his newly acquired attendents. They walked until nightfall, eventually arriving in a barren country surrounded by a thick gray mist.
Through the fog, the outline of an oddly shaped house began to appear in the distance. The doorway was so wide, it was as if it took up the entire side of the house. Finding the home dark and empty, Thor and his companions stretched out on the floor and went to sleep, but it was not long before they awoke to strange sounds and the feeling of the ground trembling beneath them.
Fearing that an earthquake was upon them, the group fled to the other side of the house and retired for the night. At daybreak the travelers awoke to find themselves in the company of a sleeping giant. It seems that it was not an earthquake but his loud snoring that interrupted their rest the night before. In the sunlight, it became apparent to Thor that he and his companions were not inside a house at all, but had taken shelter in the thumb hole of one of the giant's mittens. After greeting his guests, the giant whose name was Skrymir volunteered to be their guide to the land of Utgard.
After walking with the group all day Skrymir offered Thor the provisions in his wallet and then laid down to take a nap. With the sounds of the giant's snores once again filling the air, the god unsuccessfully tried to unwrap the knot that held the wallet together. Brimming with frustration, Thor grabbed his hammer and angrily dealt three blows to the head of the slumbering Colossus.
Skrymir paid little notice and continued to enjoy his nap. In the morning the giant kept his promise and pointed out to Thor the shortest route to the palace of Utgard-loki, the King of all the giants. Amused by the small size of his visitors, King Utgard-loki challenged the gods to a contest to prove they could live up to the grand stories that where told about them.
To begin the festivities, a great trough of meat was set out with Loki seated at one end and the King's cook Logi at the other. The object was to see which could eat the most meat in the least amount of time. Loki made his way to the center picking the bone clean, but to his dismay his opponent not only devoured the bones but also the trough. The King arrogantly declared that he was not at all surprised that Loki lost the contest, and after quite a needling, Thor proclaimed that his unquenchable thirst would easily allow him to drain the largest vessel in the house.
Immediately a horn was brought in for the god to drink from. Though Thor drank and drank until he felt as though he would burst, he was hardly able to put a dent in the liquid. After three attempts he finally gave up.
Next, Thor proposed to show off his strength by lifting great weights. When challenged to lift the king's cat, he managed to only raise one paw from the ground, even though he was wearing his magic belt Megin-giord. Last of all, the god attempted to wrestle the king's old nurse but once again he was beaten. With this the group finally admitted their defeat.
In the morning, Thor and his entourage were escourted to the confines of Utgard where they were politely asked by the King never to visit again. To the group's surprise, he then removed his magical disguise to reveal his true idenity. As it turned out, he was none other than the giant Skrymir who had previously offered his services as the god's tour guide. It seems that the crafty giant escaped death by placing a mountain between his head and the heavy blows administered by Thor's hammer. The giant confessed that he had indeed used his magic against Thor more than once, revealing that Loki's opponent had been Logi (wild fire), and Thor's drinking horn was directly connected to the ocean.
The King's cat was actually Midgard, the snake which encircles the world, and the old nurse was in reality old age which none can resist. With that the image of Skrymir disappeared.
Angrily, Thor waved his hammer to destroy the castle, but such a mist developed around it that it was no longer visable to the god. The hearvy hearted Thor was forced to return to Thrudvang without fulfilling his task of ridding the world of it's race of giants.
The principal festival of Thor was celebrated at Yule-tide. It was the custom to burn a great log of oak, the tree most sacred to the god. As the flame burned, the people asked Thor to bless their forthcoming year and drive away the darkness and cold of winter. Brides dressed in Thor's favorite color red and wedding rings were usually set with matching stones. Thor's statures and temples were primarily made of wood but unfortunately most of these were destroyed during the reign of King Olaf. Known to use force in converting his subjects to Christianity, Olaf brought about the end of Thor's worship in 1030 AD.
It seems that Olaf became furious over a certain providence's practice of worshipping a wooden image of Thor. The statue was dressed with golden ornaments and each night a plate of food was set before it.
Because nary a crumb was ever found in the morning, the people were convinced the image had come to life and refreshed himself with the meal. Olaf called upon the people to renounce this practice and turn there attention to the one true God.
The people stated they would comply only if the sun did not shine the following day. Olaf spent the night in prayer, and in the morning the clouds blocked out the sun's rays. Still not convinced, the townspeople declared they would only agree if the sun would return the following day. Again Olaf spent the night in prayer but in the morning the sky remained overcast. Determined to have his way, Olaf assembled the people in front of Thor's statue and began to speak to them. As he talked, the sun slowly began to make it's way through the clouds that surrounded it.
As those gathered turned to look at the sky, one of Olaf's attendents smashed the statue in half with a battle axe. This sent a band of mice scattering in all directions and left the hollow statue lying before the startled crowd.
Seeing that their offerings were being eaten by vermon and not the god, the townspeople gave up their worship of Thor and accepted King Olaf's views on Christianity.
Medea's Lair Of Greek Mythology © 1999-2015.