Let's start with a question. What is the name of the most popular, the strongest, and the coolest of all Norse Gods? Thanks to Marvel's comics and movies, most of us will inevitably say the mighty Thor, and in truth, we won't be mistaken.
Even though Odin was the king of Asgard, the homeworld of the Gods, Thor might have been a bit more popular. As per historians, there are a few reasons for Thor's popularity.
First of all, it is believed that Odin, the All-Father, demanded human sacrifices on some occasions, and Thor did not. Moreover, the mighty Thor stood for and protected everything that was pure and good. Even though Thor wasn't the wisest of the Gods, he was strong and righteous (and he enjoyed drinking ale).
Besides, while Odin was disguised as a wanderer roaming across the nine realms in seek for wisdom, Thor was riding his goat-drawn thunder chariot wielding his hammer and smashing giants along the way. Thor was a fearsome warrior, and every single Viking would have died for a chance to raise an ale horn with the God of Thunder.
And who can blame them?
Thor God of Thunder wields Mjölnir, one of the most powerful artifacts in Norse mythology. His iron gloves Járngreipr and his belt Megingjörð increase his already immense powers. Two goats named Tanngrisnir and Tanngnjóstr draw Thor's chariot on his exploits. And lastly, Thor's arch-enemy is the fierce Serpent Jörmungandr, who he will face during the Ragnarök.
But let us slow down a bit, and rewind.
Thor's Name Explained
Let us begin with the origins of the name Thor.
The name Thor (Old Norse Þórr (ᚦᚢᚱ) originates from the Proto-Indo-European word (s)tenh, meaning thunder.
Additionally, one day of the week got its name because of Thor. In Old English, this day is called þurresdæg, while today we know it as a Thursday (Thor's Day).
The Mighty Thor's Family
Thor God of Thunder is a son of Odin and Jörð. He has four half-brothers Höðr, Baldr, Váli and Viðar.
Thor himself has four children. With his wife, the Goddess Sif, he has a daughter Trud (Þrúðr). With his lover Járnsaxa he fathered a son Magni, and he adopted the god Ulldr. With an unknown partner, the mighty Thor got one more son called Móði.
Thor and Sif live together in Asgard, at a place known as Thrudheim (meaning "Place of Might"). It is the biggest house in Asgard, with more than 540 rooms. Sif and the mighty Thor have two servants: a girl named Röskva and a boy named Thialfi.
Thor's Thunder Chariot
As we have already mentioned, two goats pulled Thor's chariot. Their names were Tanngrisnir ( meaning teeth grinder) and Tanngniost (meaning teeth barer). The sound of thunder followed the chariot wherever it would pass. The Gods feared that Thor's chariot might damage the Bifrost rainbow bridge, thus Thor was not allowed to go through it with his chariot.
Double goats quickly became the symbols of Thor. Today, tattoos of Tanngniost and Tanngrisnir are very popular. Moreover, countless pieces of Viking jewelry features goats.
The Three Main Artifacts in Thor Mythology
Let us say a few words about the three of the most precious artifacts in Thor mythology. We will start with the "less important" ones (if there is such a thing as "less important" when it comes to these things).
Mighty Thor's Belt of Power
Thor is equipped with a belt of power called Megingjörð. Its Old Norse name derives from the words megin (meaning power) and gjörð (meaning belt).
It is believed that the belt is so powerful that when worn, it doubles Thor's already immense powers.
Thor's Iron Gloves
The second of Thor's precious possessions are his iron gloves, Járngreipr. In Old Norse, Járngreipr means iron grippers. They are so very important as Thor needs them to wield his hammer (according to Gylfaginning).
The Story of Thor’s Hammer
Last but not least is Mjölnir. Today the most famous of all hammers in the world, thanks to Chris Hemsworth, who used it to destroy countless foes in Marvel movies over the last decade.
However, the movies did not tell the story about how Mjölnir was made, and we are going to fix this part.
It all started with Loki, being as mischievous as he is, cutting off the beautiful golden hair of Thor's wife, goddess Sif. Thor was so angry that he captured Loki and wanted to end his life. To save his life, Loki offered to go to the realm of Svartalfheim, the homeworld of the dwarves, where he will find a master craftsman to fashion a new hair for Thor's wife. Thor accepted, and Loki was on his way to Svartalfheim.
Loki quickly managed to get what he came for, and more. Sif's new head of hair was forged by the sons of the dwarf called Ivaldi, along with two other artifacts of incredible power.
The first one was Gungnir, the most powerful spear ever to be made. The second one was the ship, which had a favorable wind in all situations and was designed so it can be folded up and placed into the pocket of its owner. The ship's name was Skíðblaðnir.
Even though Loki has completed his mission, he wouldn't be the God of Trickery and Mischief if he just went back to Asgard. Definitely not. Instead, he came across two brothers, Sindri and Brokkr, and taunted them. Loki said that he was sure they do not possess the skills needed to make three new artifacts of the equal power to those that Ivaldi's sons had forged. He proposed a wager, betting his own head on their lack of skills. The brothers accepted the wager and started working.
Although Loki tried to prevent them from forging those artifacts, he did not succeed.
The first thing Sindri and Brokkr forged was a living boar called Gullinbursti. Gullinbursti had golden hair and was able to create light in the darkness and to run faster than any horse. Furthermore, the boar could move over air and water.
The next piece the brothers forged was Draupnir, a magnificent ring. Eight golden rings of equal weight would fall from it on every ninth night. Isn't that cool or what?
Lastly, Sindri forged a hammer like no other. The hammer would never miss its target and would get back to its owner's hand after being tossed. The hammer's name was, of course, Mjölnir. Even though Mjölnir had one flow (its handle was short), the dwarf brothers went to Asgard to claim their wages.
Loki arrived in Asgard before the dwarves and showed the artifacts he had acquired on Svartalfheim to the Gods. Odin received the spear Gungnir and the marvelous ring Draupnir. Freyr got Gullinbursti and Skíðblaðnir, while Thor took Sif's new hair and the mighty hammer, Mjölnir.
The Mighty Thor's Demise During Ragnarök
If we think about Thor mythology chronologically, naturally, the tale of Ragnarök comes at the very end.
In Norse mythology, Ragnarök represents the end of the days. It is a myth foretelling the destruction of the universe and all living things, including the Gods. Norsemen believed that Ragnarök would begin once Jörmungandr the Serpent, joins its brother, Fenrir the Wolf. The two of them would set the world aflame and fill the air with poison.
In the end, the mighty Thor will get his chance to kill his arch-enemy, Jörmungandr the Serpent. Eventually, after the fierce battle, Thor's hammer will bring death to the monster. However, the Serpent will cover Thor with too much venom, and the God of Thunder will fall. Thor will manage to take nine more steps before dropping dead.
Thor's Popularity Today
Now, let us take a look at Thor's influence in modern-day culture.
Nowadays, the status and popularity Thor have enjoyed over time can be clearly seen in Iceland. Over a quarter population of Iceland has some variation of Thor's name within theirs (Thorgest, Thorkill, etc.).
Also, hundreds of Mjölnir pendants have been found among Norse archeological sites. The Norsemen kept on wearing Mjölnir amulets even after accepting Christianity. This tells us that Thor's influence as a hero and protector did not vanish.
Let Us Wrap It Up
Even though there are many powerful Gods and Goddesses in Norse mythology, the mighty Thor is the most popular Norse God today, without a doubt.
This is mainly because of Marvel movies and comics. Those portrayed Thor quite true to the Thor mythology. The God of Thunder was super powerful, incredibly brave, and violent. Additionally, Thor's love for his hammer, Mjölnir, could only be compared with his love for ale.
In conclusion, if we say that Thor was a hero both during the Viking era and today, we won't be mistaken.
We hope that you had a great time reading this article. Moreover, it would be great if you can let us know what do you like the most about Thor, the God of Thunder, in the comments below.