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Deities & Heros >> Nordic & Germanic
funeral pyres, riddle contest, fighting giants, son of odin


Author: The Troth

Copyright © 1994 by The Troth.

"Thunder", son of Odin and Earth. The most beloved god of the Viking Age, perhaps seen as the chief god at that time, and often known now as "god of the common man", Thor is best-known for his ceaseless battle against the giants. He is not a bloody-minded reaver, however, but a warder who protects the folk of Midgard and Asgard against the menacing beings who would destroy the world; unlike Odin, he never involves himself in the battles of men, but the gods often seem to rely wholly on his protection. He is the only god that Loki seems to respect. Although Thor is sometimes shown as being slow-witted in comparison with Odin or Loki, he is a practical god whose solutions to problems are usually swift, effective, and show the common sense the other two sometimes lack. He is also called the "Deep-Thinker", and in one Eddic poem, outwits the clever dwarf Alviss ("All-Wise") by engaging him in a riddle contest until dawn turns the dwarf to stone.

Thor's weapon is the Hammer Mjöllnir, images of which are worn by true folk today as a sign of troth, as was also done towards the end of the Viking Age when Red Thor was called on to battle the White Christ. As well as fighting giants, Thor also uses his Hammer for hallowing both brides and funeral pyres, and several runic inscriptions from late Viking Age Denmark call on him to hallow the runes. Thor was worshipped most by the free farmers (who were also warriors at need) and by those who "trusted in their own might and main". Today, he is also seen as the warder of his mother Earth against those who would harm her for their own gain. He is able to raise great rages in himself, in which he summons up more strength than any being in the worlds can match. Thor appears as a big, muscular man with red hair and beard and huge fiery eyes. He drives a wagon which is drawn by two goats, Tanngrísnir (Teeth-Barer or Teeth-Gnasher) and Tanngnjóstr (Tooth-Gritter). When he travels to Jotunheim, Loki often goes with him; Thor is the only god that Loki really seems to respect. He is married to Sif, and had a daughter named Thrud (Strength) by her; he also has a giantess-concubine, who bore him his sons, Modi (Courage) and Magni (Main-strength). It is said that "Thor will help you if your prayer is sincere".