The Family of Thor
(From the Norse Eddas)
Father: Odin – god of battle and magicians
Mother: Jord – the earth mother
Wife: Sif – the golden-haired goddess.
Children: Modi, Magni, and Thrud
Thor’s Role in the Cosmos
Thor controls the weather, both fair and stormy, his weapon is the thunderbolt which is described as a hammer in Scandinavia. He is also a fertility god because of the strong link between weather and the harvest (and the old superstition that summer lightning ripens crops).
Thor is a warrior god, but not especially a patron of warriors, he fights to defend the world from hostile forces, brought to life in the myths as dragons and giants. Historically Thor’s worshippers were the peaceful farmers, laborers, and artisans which give him the image of a peasant’s god, but his cult had a huge following compared to the better-known cult of Odin of the professional Viking raiders.
A high opinion of Thor is shown in the Norse myths where it is Thor who gives blessings and his name can be found consecrating runic memorial stones. He is a trustworthy God who disapproves of oathbreaking and is therefore also a God of justice and law.
Thor is described as a strong red-bearded man with blazing eyes. In artwork, he is often shown with a hallow of fire and stars. Picture of Thor
Symbols of Thor
Thor’s main symbol is the hammer Mjolnir (probable meaning – lightning). He uses the hammer as a thrown missile, it never misses its mark, never breaks, and always returns to his hand. The hammer seems to be a memory of the stone axes of the Stone Age.
Historians are often keen to associate the swastica with Thor, especially in England where it appears frequently on burial urns and metalwork. The only definite link is a magical sign recorded in Iceland called the ‘Thor’s hammer’, it is possible but not certain that the two signs were interchangeable across Northern Europe. The swastica was very widely used in the ancient world and would have had several meanings.
Various items connected with fire and thunder folklore were connected with Thor including whetstones, stone axeheads, belemnites, and sea urchin fossils (known as thunderstones).
The Names of Thor
(From the Norse Eddas)
Atli – Terrible One
Asabrag – The Lord of the Aesir
Ennilang – The One with the Wide Forehead
Eindridi – The One who rides Alone
Biorn – Bear
Hlorridi – The Loud Rider
Hardveur – The Strong Archer
Vingthor – Battle Thor
Sonnung – The True One
Rym – Noisy One
Midgard’s Veurr – Protector of the World
Veurr – Guardian of the Shrine
Almattki Ass – Almighty God
Oku Thor – Driving Thor
The Temples of Thor
Temples seem to have been uncommon among the Norse and Anglo-Saxon peoples, most worship was done in sacred groves or by burial mounds. Places of sacrifice were marked by carved posts or piles of stones (horgs). Offerings of animals, food, ale and precious metals were given to Thor, while human sacrifice was limited to criminals whose execution was offered to the god of justice (in Iceland anyway).
There are several temples to Thor recorded, the most famous being the great temple of Uppsala in Sweden. Other temples are mentioned in the Norse Sagas but the descriptions may be partly based on Christian churches. The Sagas describe luxurious buildings decorated with tapestries with life like figures of the gods ornamented with gold and fine fabrics.
Sacred Beasts of Thor
The animal most connected with Thor is the goat, two of which pull his chariot across the sky. He is also connected with the eagle which appears on some depictions of his hammer, the eagle is also sacred to Jupiter and has strong connections with lightning across the world. Thor is linked to the bear, one of his many names is ‘Bjorn’ and the infant Thor is said to have proved his strength by hurling bearskins
Sacred Plants of Thor
The oak tree is held sacred to thundergods across Europe and Thor is no exception. The famous pagan oak tree destroyed by St. Boniface was dedicated to him. The rowan is known as ‘Thor’s salvation’ and is the name of his wife in Finnish mythology. The houseleek (Sempervivum Jovisbarda) was also held sacred to Thor because it was believed to protect against lightning.
The Thundergods of Europe
England: Thor / Thunor
Scandinavia : Thor
Germany : Donar
Rome: Jove (Jupiter)
In Christian tradition the sky god is replaced by Jehova, but there is also a strong connection between Thor and St. Michael.
Thor in England
These are villages which may be named after Thor:
Thunderfield ? (Surrey)
Thundersbarrow ? (Sussex)
Thureslege ? (Rutland)
Thurstable ? (Essex)