Mjolnir

Thor’s Hammer

mjolnir2One thing I have always toyed with at the various Ren Faires that I have attended is getting a Thor’s Hammer pendant.  Seeing as Thor is much more mainstream now, we can call the hammer by its name:  Mjolnir.  Of course, to discuss this symbol, you have to know about the hammer and about the guy that used the hammer in the Norse pantheon.

Thor

Thor is the Norse god of thunder, lightning, storms and strength.  He is the son of Odin, the father figure in Norse Mythology.  He is the husband of Sif and father several children that became gods in their own right.  Thor, for the purpose of this article is the wielder of the enchanted, mountain crushing hammer Mjolnir.  Thor figures heavily into end-times prophecy as he is the one that stands against the Midgard Serpent.  Midgard of course, tin this sense is earth and the serpent is one of the features of Ragnarok – the Norse version of Armageddon. In the Norse end of times story, Thor takes on the Midgard Serpent with his trusty hammer.

Mjolnir

So, now on to the actual piece of symbolism for the day: the enchanted, mountain-crushing hammer Mjolnir.  Mjolnir , formed during a bet between the dwarves and Loki – the god of mischief – was a gift to Thor.  This hammer, though it has varied in exact depiction  is usually seen as a short handled maul or hammer, though it has been depicted as an axe or club at times as well.  My first experience with the idea of the hammer was through the Marvel comic Thor.  And though the Thor comic took some liberties, the mythology was relatively solid in the old days.  Here is what one of the mythologies says about the hammer and its qualities:

MjollnirProse Edda

 would be able to strike as firmly as he wanted, whatever his aim, and the hammer would never fail, and if he threw it at something, it would never miss and never fly so far from his hand that it would not find its way back, and when he wanted, it would be so small that it could be carried inside his tunic.

It is the last concept, that the hammer could shrink down and become small enough to be worn in the tunic that has made this such a versatile symbol over the years.  Warriors and other wore the symbol of Thor to signify their stature in the clans of the north and of course to signify their prowess on the battlefield.  Tombs of great warriors would be emblazoned with Thor’s hammer and there are still some towns and areas of the Scandinavian countries that use Thor’s hammer in their iconography.

At Ren Faires, you will find Thor’s hammer, Mjolnir, in the runes from the northlands.  You can get it stamped on a coin, you can get it is a stand alone piece or if you look hard enough you can probably find a version of Mjolnir to carry with your garb.  If you are rocking the Viking garb, then a Thor’s hammer pendant is a must.