Read on to learn more about Mjölnir, the hammer that gives Thor many of his powers!
In the Nordic world, not only people and places had names. Items of value have also been named, and many of these items are almost as famous as the people who used them.
One of the most powerful and well-known artifacts of the Norse gods was Mjolnir, the warhammer wielded by the god of thunder. Thor used this remarkable weapon to such an extent that it became his primary distinguishing feature.
Over time, Mjolnir became a symbol of more than just Thor. He became the symbol for the entire Norse faith and everything they believed in.
So how did a hammer become such an important part of culture?
Thor's thunder weapon
Thor was an example of an archetype common to many religions. Like Zeus, Indra and Jupiter, he was a thunder god.
These gods had many things in common, including their short tempers and relationships with rulers. Another commonality was that they often used guns as part of their storms.
For Zeus and Jupiter, the thunderbolts themselves were weapons. They hurled them like javelins at those they angered, hitting them with great power and precision.
In Hebrew, the Bible describes the Old Testament God as using "arrows" against his enemies.
Thor possessed one of the most famous and awe-inspiring thunder weapons in mythology. He wielded a powerful hammer called Mjolnir.
Many linguists believe that the name Mjolnir was derived from the word for a whetstone, perhaps to conjure up the sound of thunder. Also, some believe that Mjolnir's origin was not the kind of tool that is commonly imagined.
Mjölnir is usually depicted as a large warhammer, a weapon used to crush enemies on the battlefield. In Scripture it is referred to as hammar.
While hammar was the word for a hammer, it could also be used in reference to different types of stone. In both Old Norse and some modern Norse languages, it can mean "stone" or "rock".
This dates back to a time well before the Viking Age, when early Europeans' tools and weapons were made of stone rather than metal. While materials changed over time, the language still reflected Neolithic technology.
So it's possible that an early version of Mjolnir wasn't a hammer at all. Instead, it could have been a stone tool or weapon whose name, derived from the word for whetstone, would have suited both its shape and its sound.
How Mjolnir was made
While the marriages and births of the Norse gods are sparsely documented, how they acquired their most famous weapons is much better known.
The legend of the creation of Mjolnir, like many Norse myths, began with a trick by Loki.
Thor's wife Sif was known for her beautiful flowing blonde hair. One night as she slept, Loki cut off her magnificent curls.
When Sif awoke to find her hair cut short, Thor was outraged. He threatened to break all of Loki's bones if he didn't find a solution.
Loki said he could go to Svartálfheim and have new hair made for the goddess. It would grow like real hair but be even better because it's made of real gold, he said.
Thor agreed to let Loki go, but the impostor knew the punishment would be harsh if he failed to keep his promise.
A group of dwarves, the sons of Ivaldi, created new hair for Sif that was as beautiful and realistic as Loki had promised. They also gave him two more gifts on his way to the gods of Asgard.
Loki, always trying to get the upper hand, realized that maybe he could bring back more gifts from the dwarves. The more miracles he could bring to the gods, the more favor he would receive from them.
So the cheater went to two brothers, Brokkr and Sindri, with the three remarkable items he received. He bet the two that they could not create gifts for the gods equal in quality and beauty.
Loki was so confident that he once again bet his own head against the dwarves' abilities. Of course he intended to cheat Brokkr and Sindri out of their jobs.
When Brokkr was working at the forge, a fly stung his arm. Undeterred, he made a wild boar with golden hair.
When the brother was making a magic golden ring, the fly stung one of them in the neck. Though the bite was painful, he didn't let it distract him from his work.
As the two began to craft their final gift, the fly bit Brokkr's forehead. Blood dripped into his eyes, blurring his vision as he worked.
The fly was Loki in disguise. Since she had blinded Brokkr, he was sure he had won the bet.
Mjölnir, her last creation, was an amazing weapon. Able to hit any surface without breaking, it always hit its target and, if thrown, would return to the user's hand after the blow.
However, since Brokkr had been blinded by the fly's bite, the hammer's handle was a bit too short. The weapon was powerful and infused with strong magic, but it was a bit out of balance.
Loki returned to Asgard and joyfully presented his gifts to the gods. Thor accepted Sif's new hair and Mjolnir and forgave Loki for his previous crime.
Soon after, Brokkr and Sindri came to Asgard to collect their loot. They were sure that the gods would be pleased with their gifts and they would gain the right to cut off Loki's head.
Loki argued that Mjolnir was a little imperfect and that's why the brothers lost the bet. The gods disagreed; Thor was so pleased with Mjolnir that he gave the dwarves Loki's head.
One last ruse saved Loki from being beheaded. He said he told the dwarves they could take his head but not his neck.
The dwarves and the gods had a long discussion about how to tell where Loki's head began and his neck ended, but there was no clear separation. Unable to take even part of his neck, the dwarves were forced to relinquish their claim to Loki's head.
As a compromise, the gods allowed Brokkr and Sindri to sew Loki's lips together with a piece of leather. While keeping his head, Loki learned that his wise words could have serious consequences.
Theft of Thor's hammer
Another poem shows the value Thor placed on his hammer. When Mjolnir was stolen from him, the god went to great lengths to recover it.
When Thor woke up one morning to find his hammer missing, he and Loki immediately went to Freyja for help. They borrowed her feathered cloak and flew to Jötenheim to find it.
There they met a giant named Thrym (Þrymr). He claimed that he hid Mjölnir and would only return it if Freyja came to him in Jötenheim and became his wife.
Thor told Freyja to prepare for the wedding but she got angry. The other gods agreed that they would not trade a goddess for Thor's weapon, but that they must have it back before the giants used their power against them.
The gods met to find a solution, and Heimdall, who, like the Vanir, could predict the future, suggested that Thor go to Thrym's hall in disguise. He told Thor to disguise himself as a woman and pretend to be Freyja to get the hammer.
Thor refused because such a ruse would lead to ridicule, but Loki agreed to accompany him. The con artist would disguise himself as a maid to accompany the "goddess".
Thor reluctantly agreed to the plan, and he and Loki were welcomed into Thrym's hall. They wore heavy veils and jewelry to hide their faces from the giants.
Thrym held an elaborate wedding feast in Freyja's honor. However, he became suspicious when he saw the "bride" eating eight salmon and draining three barrels of mead.
Loki claimed Freyja was so excited that she didn't sleep for eight nights. He also explained Thor's angry look by saying that Freyja's eyes were bloodshot because she hadn't slept out of sheer anticipation.
Thrym's sister asked the "bride" for gifts, while the giant ordered Mjolnir to be brought out. He would place it in Freyja's lap to consecrate the wedding ritual.
As soon as Mjolnir was brought into the hall, Thor immediately jumped into action.
When Thor saw the hammer, his heart laughed and he took heart. First he slew Thrym, ruler of the giants, then crushed all the giant's kin. Finally he killed the old giantess who had begged for a bridal gift. Instead of coins, she received the hammer blow. Instead of rings, she received the mark of Mjollnir. This is how Thor regained his hammer.
-Poetic Edda, þrymskviða (translated by Ashliman)
In Norse culture, "feminine" behavior among warriors was taboo. Dressing up as Freyja for a mock wedding was an extreme feat for Thor, especially as a god who was generally quick to challenge others to battle.
The story illustrates how important Mjölnir was in Norse mythology. All the gods of Asgard sought a solution, fearing that such a powerful weapon could be used against them if Thor did not recover it.
Other famous weapons of the gods
Mjölnir was important to the gods, but it wasn't the only magical weapon they possessed.
In Norse mythology, many magical artifacts and even animals were named. They helped the gods get out of trouble, increased their powers and increased their wealth.
Odin's ring Daupnir, for example, was one of the items crafted by Brokkr and Sindri. Every nine nights he made duplicates of himself and brought more and more gold to Odin.
The chains that bound the wolf Fenrir were given names, including those that broke when he tugged. The last band, Gleipnir, was as light as a band but crafted with dwarven magic.
However, the most notable and powerful artifacts of the gods were their weapons. Mjölnir was cited as the best when Loki brought her out of Svartálfheim, but other items were notable as well.
- Gungnir - Odin's spear was made by the sons of Ivaldi. Like Mjölnir, he always hit his mark. It was also used to inaugurate battlefields, making the fighters who died blood sacrifices to its owner.
- Hofuð - This was Heimdall's sword and meant "head".
- Mistiltainn - Since Baldr could not be harmed by conventional weapons or any living thing, Loki fashioned an arrow from the only plant that had not sworn to protect him. The magical mistletoe arrow was shot by the blind god Hóð.
- The Sword of Freyr - Though unnamed, the sword was known for its ability to slay any enemy. Frey traded it to marry the giantess Gerðr, and without the help of his abilities he would die in his fight against Loki at Ragnarök.
- Meginjörð - Though not a weapon, Thor's belt was crucial to his ability to fight. It doubled his already impressive strength and gave him the power to fight otherwise impossible opponents.
The Fate of Thor's Hammer
Thor's hammer was his primary distinguishing feature, the most powerful weapon in Asgard and the source of the thunder he created. However, it was not intended to be his forever.
When Ragnarok began, Thor charged into battle with his hammer. There he would face an enemy he had met before.
In at least one other myth, Thor had attempted to kill Jörmungandr. The great world serpent was so large that its body completely encircled Midgard, but Thor had once managed to drag its head onto a small fishing boat and smash it with Mjolnir.
However, Thor was unable to kill the monster because his companion in this adventure was too scared of him. Hymir cut the fishing line that Jörmunganðr had caught and the snake escaped.
As the final battle of the gods began, Thor and the World Serpent faced one another once more.
This fight would be one of Ragnarök's fiercest and most brutal. Thor possessed remarkable strength and a powerful weapon, but Jörmungandr's sheer size made him a deadly opponent.
Eventually, Thor and Mjolnir would prove stronger. The serpent fell on the battlefield and Thor set out to help his father Odin fight Fenrir.
However, Thor would only take nine steps. On the last step, Jörmungandr's poison would overwhelm him and he too would lie dead on the battlefield.
But not all gods would die in this fight. Two of Thor's sons, Magni and Móði, found Mjölnir on the ruined battlefield and took possession of it.
The brothers parted Mjolnir as the surviving gods rebuilt Asgard and slowly repopulated the human world. Thor did not survive the Twilight of the Gods, but his hammer survived it unscathed and became a symbol for a new generation of gods.
The symbolism of Mjolnir
Mjolnir was a practical weapon carried by a thundering warrior like Thor, but historians believe it served a symbolic purpose as well.
Across Scandinavia, archaeologists have found small amulets in the shape of Thor's hammer. They are numerous enough to show that they were widespread in the Viking world.
These amulets are probably some kind of protective charms. By carrying the effigy of Thor's weapon, the people of northern Europe hoped to gain the god's favor and perhaps a portion of his power.
As the god of storms, Thor was also associated with the idea of fertility. The rain that accompanied its thunder fertilized the soil and allowed crops and wild plants to grow.
Because of this, some historians believe that Thor's hammer also served as a fertility charm. Whether to ensure a good harvest or in the hope of having children, the Northmen may have believed that Thor could aid them in peaceful endeavors as well as in battle.
Mjolnir may have been associated with fertility concepts long before Thor's legends were written.
Neolithic carvings in northern Europe show two figures standing in front of a larger one holding a hammer. It would be impossible to decipher this scene accurately unless there is a parallel in a well-known Norse myth.
When Thor disguised himself as Freyja, Thrym said he would use Mjolnir to consecrate the effigy. The divine weapon should be placed in the bride's lap to complete the wedding ceremony.
Some historians believe that the hammer, as a symbol of a god, was used in this way throughout European history. The Stone Age image may be the first depiction of a religious ceremony mentioned by a medieval poet thousands of years later.
Mjölnir was such an important symbol in Norse religion that it became emblematic of paganism itself.
During the Viking Age it was common for Christians in Europe to wear a cross on their neck or belt as a symbol of their faith. There is evidence that the pagan Norwegians who lived with them used Thor's hammer in a similar way.
A 10th-century jeweler's mold found in Denmark has three sections for making amulets. Two of them are Christian crosses, the third is in the shape of Thor's hammer.
This is evidence not only that pagans and Christians lived side by side and artisans served both communities, but also that Thor's hammer was used in a similar way and with similar claims to the Christian cross.
Larger artifacts show a similar use of the hammer symbol. As Christianity spread, the cross began to appear on many rune stones in Scandinavia. Around the same time, others featured Mjolnir in the same position.
Historians believe that the pagans used Mjölnir as a visible symbol of their faith, just as the Christians around them used the cross. During the relatively brief period that pagans and Christians coexisted during the Middle Ages, both used prominent symbols to signify their beliefs.
Of course, Germanic paganism died out in Europe during the Middle Ages. While some elements of folklore and tradition remained, belief in the Norse gods gave way to Christianity.
Mjolnir was one of the symbols that survived, at least in part, the Christianization of northern Europe. While people there no longer worshiped the Norse gods, in some areas hammer marks continued to be placed next to the first seeds sown each spring to ensure fertility.
In recent years, however, Thor's hammer has regained prominence as a religious symbol.
While not all modern Neopagans worship Norse or Germanic gods, more and more people are professing their ancestral pantheon. Again, people use Mjolnir as a symbol for their religion.
In the Nordic countries, Thor's hammer is both an expression of modern paganism and national heritage. In parts of Germany, the Thor's hammer is used as an official symbol of local paganism, although it originally developed outside of the region.
Mjölnir is used as a symbol by a small number of pagans today, even in lands that never belonged to the Danelaw. For example, in the United States and the Netherlands, some pagan groups name Thor among their gods
The meaning of Thor's hammer
In Norse mythology, Thor's hammer was one of the most important objects owned by the gods.
It was called Mjolnir and was made by two dwarves named Brokkr and Sindri. Since Loki distracted them in the form of a fly, the hilt was a little too short to be perfect, but Thor and the other Aesir gods nonetheless claimed that it was the most wondrous and powerful item they possessed.
Mjolnir was strong enough to hit any object or surface without ever breaking. It always hit its target and then flew back into Thor's hand when thrown.
The hammer also produced lightning. Thor was a sky and storm god and, like many others of this archetype, used his weapon to summon storms and destroy his enemies.
Mjölnir played an important role in many of Thor's myths. For example, when he was stolen, he was willing to risk shame and ridicule by disguising himself as a woman and enduring a wedding feast with a giant in order to recover it.
Thor last used his famous hammer on Ragnarök when he used it to finally slay the great world serpent. He succumbed to Jörmungandr's poison moments later, and his two surviving sons adopted Mjolnir as they helped rebuild Asgard.
Thor's hammer was an important symbol in the Norse world. It was used to invoke the blessings of the god in combat and warfare as well as peaceful endeavors. As a sky god associated with fertility, Thor's symbol was used to sanctify marriages, promote fertility and ensure a good harvest.
In the Christian era, the hammer, like the cross, was used as a symbol of faith. This continues today, with a small number of Neopagans using Thor's hammer as a symbol of their religion in both casual and official contexts.
Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor.Is anyone strong enough to lift Mjolnir? ›
In the Marvel Handbook Entry on Mjolnir:
No living being can lift Mjolnir unless he (or she) is someone who Odin himself, would deem worthy of possessing the hammer! A lot of pretty powerful people, some of the strongest in the Universe, have tried to raise it...but they all failed!"
In this story, we find three elements of worthiness as far as Mjolnir is concerned: selflessness, sacrifice, and “doing without thinking,” or acting without self-awareness.How do you know if you are worthy of Mjolnir? ›
TL;DR: What makes someone worthy to wield Mjolnir isn't measured on an objective worthiness scale, but is based upon whether one believes in their heart that they are worthy. We all tend to limit ourselves, but what if we recognized that we are all worthy, we just need to believe that ourselves.What is Thor's famous line? ›
Thor: Brother, however I have wronged you, whatever I have done that has led you to do this, I am truly sorry. But these people are innocent, taking their lives will gain you nothing. So take mine, and end this.What is Thor's most famous quote? ›
- "You Seek Love. ...
- “Thank You, Sweet Rabbit.” ...
- “I'm Only Alive Because Fate Wants Me Alive.” ...
- “DO I LOOK TO BE IN A GAMING MOOD?” ...
- "You Made Me Worthy." ...
- “HE'S A FRIEND FROM WORK!” ...
- “YEAH, IT'S CALLED THE… ...
- “One Time My Brother Transformed Himself Into A Snake...” Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
- 1 Red Skull Would Mistakenly Believe He's Worthy.
- 2 Iron Man Isn't The Most Heroic Hero. ...
- 3 Doctor Doom Is Too Selfish To Lift Mjolnir. ...
- 4 Professor X Is As Duplicitous As Any Villain. ...
- 5 Sabretooth Is A Mass Murderer. ...
While many believed Thanos lifted Mjolnir during the Battle of Earth in Avengers: Endgame, a detail shows he knew he wasn't worthy of it. Avengers: Endgame saw all the heroes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe come together to fight Thanos and his armies and stop him from wiping out half of life in the universe again.Can Spider-Man lift Mjolnir? ›
Or found a loophole. But what about someone who was mostly out for themselves? Yes, even Spider-Man has been worthy of holding the hammer of Thor.What are the rules of Mjolnir? ›
Mjolnir is enchanted by Odin, requiring any person who lifts it to be "worthy" and grants the user "the power of Thor" if they are able to do so.
For example, Marvel – which publishes the Thor comics – issued a “Thor's Hammer” trading card in 1991 that states Mjolnir is made of Uru and weighs precisely 42.3 pounds. That's lighter than a herd of 300 billion mice, much less a herd of 300 billion elephants. But it raises a different science question.Can Batman lift Mjolnir? ›
Surprisingly, the answer is almost certainly, “No.” Although Batman's will and moral compass do make him a worthy candidate for Thor's hammer, his track record with super powers is less than stellar. In several storylines, Batman has acquired genuine superpowers but frequently becomes corrupted by them.Why is Peter Parker not worthy of lifting Mjolnir? ›
If fans wait to see Peter Parker lift and use it in MCU, they may be disappointed. Despite his strong moral sensibility and strength of character, Peter lacks the ruthlessness that destroys all evil. For this slight defect in character, Mjolnir will never find this Spider-Man worthy of it.How many people are worthy to lift Mjolnir? ›
Both in the comics and the MCU films, many characters other than Thor himself, both heroes and villains, have been able to lift Mjolnir. Only a select few, however, have been able to do so out of worthiness. From Throg to Beta Ray Bill, these heroes have proved that they have a heart as pure as the God of Thunder's.Is Deadpool worthy of Mjolnir? ›
In the end, Deadpool wasn't worthy. While he seemingly had control of Mjolnir and the strength of Thor, it was all a mirage put on by Loki to distract Thor. It's a shame because Deadpool looked pretty cool with the enchanted hammer. But, it makes sense that Wade Wilson - of all people - isn't worthy.What is written on the side of Thor's hammer? ›
The Triquetra is shown on Thor's hammer, Mjölnir, in the 2011 film Thor. After Odin utters to Mjölnir the words "Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor", the Triquetra vanishes. It represents Asgard, Midgard, and Utgard.What is the trivia about Thor's hammer? ›
Odin Enchanted The Hammer
It ended up on the hammer courtesy of Odin, who actually enchanted it. Odin was the first to utilize the hammer after its creation, but because of the power of the Mother Storm, Mjolnir was difficult to control, so Odin decided to make sure only those worthy of its power could use it.