Thor is the Norse god of thunder, also associated with oak trees, strength, protection and fertility. ‘Thor’ comes from the Germanic word for ‘thunder’, thus he is associated with thunder, lightning and storms. He is often viewed as a fierce warrior with red hair, a red beard, and eyes like lightning. He is likened to the Greek hero Heracles through his strength and skill in battle, as well as the Roman god Jupiter and Teutonic god Donar.
Thor was the son of Odin through the jötunn (giant) Jord, however his mother was also thought to be the earth goddess Fjörgyn. He was married to fertility goddess Sif, whose long golden hair was cut by the trickster god Loki. Thor’s mistress was the giant Járnsaxa (“iron cutlass”), which whom he had sons Magni and Modi, and daughter Thrud.
Thor’s home was Bilskinir, located in the region of Asgard called Thrudheim / Thrudvangar (“place of might”).
It was thought that Thor rode through the heavens on his chariot pulled by two goats, Tanngrisnir and Tanngnjóstr, which was responsible for the sound of thunder during a storm. The lightning bolts, called Thorsviggar, were produced when Thor threw his large hammer Mjölnir. Thor also wore a belt of strength named Megingjardir, iron gloves named Járngreipr, and carried the staff Gríðarvölr.
Thor was responsible for the protection of mankind as well as protecting the Aesir gods from the frost giants. He was involved in several fierce battles, especially with his greatest enemy, the Midgard serpent named Jörmungandr. On the day of Ragnarök, the end of the world, Thor will finally defeat his enemy, however later die from its poison.
Thor is very popular in Germanic and Norse mythology, and his hammer was seen as a symbol of defiance of the Christianization of Scandinavia. He was worshipped especially in Uppsala, where his father Odin can be seen standing at his right side. Some suggest that Thor surpassed Odin in popularity due to the fact that worship of Thor did not require human sacrifice.
The modern days of the week were named after Norse gods, or their Saxon equivalents. Tuesday comes from ‘Tyr’s day’ (Tiu), Wednesday from ‘Odin’s day’ (Woden), Thursday from ‘Thor’s day’, and Friday from ‘Freya’s day’.
© A Year And A Day (2013)