Easily the prime and most beloved god of the Nordic pantheon is Thor, son of Odin the Valfather. His matron is debated; some sources indicate Erda, but most agree it is Frigga, the queen of Asgard. His physique is described like those of the thralls whom he was patron: a strapping man, in the prime of life, with a great mane of red hair and a bristling red beard. Vingnir and Hlora (the winged and heat, respectively) are supposed to be his foster parents; he was sent away from Asgard as a child, for none could control the rage he was apt to fall into.
He is the god of thunder; the personification of good fire: one of the two primary elements in Nordic mythology, the other being ice. This may be why Thor was the primary vanguard against Jotunheim, and why so many of his ventures took him to the realm of the frost giants. Loki accompanies Thor many times in his ventures towards this land (see; Loki), who was also personified as fire, although not with the same reverence as Thor.
To battle his enemies, Thor used the legendary hammer, perhaps the symbol of the religion, Mjolnir. Because of its heat, Thor wore the gauntlet Iarn-greiper. This enabled him to throw it surely; no enemy could survive the wrath of Mjolnir, which always returned to its thrower. Thor is also believed to have worn the girdle Megin-giörd, which doubled his already considerable strength. Mjolnir was forged by the skilled dwarven smith, Brock, in a wager against Loki. This hammer was also the parallel of the Christian cross for the Norsemen, and was invoked at ceremonies, for protection, and blessing.
He accompanies the gods at the highest hall, where Odin sits at Hlidskjalf with only twelve gods. His realm at Asgard, Thrud-heim, contains the mighty hall of Bilskirnir, where thralls join Thor after death, in as much splendor as the warriors of Valhalla. Thor is the only god who cannot use the divine bridge Bifröst; it was feared that he would tremble and burn it to the ground. Instead, to pass over certain areas of Asgard, he must ford rivers and streams by foot.
Thor travels the sky by his bronze chariot, whose steeds are two goats: Tanngrisnr and Tanngniostr. If, on a journey, Thor cannot find any food, he may slay these goats, which are bountiful. By burying their bones carefully that night, they will be resurrected by morn, and in good health.
The lineage of Thor is smaller than Odin, but by no means less impressive. His first wife, Iarnsaxa, gave him two sons: Magni and Modi (strength and courage). Both will survive the Ragnarok, and Magni helps his father defeat Hrungnir, the most fearsome of all giants. By his second wife, Sif, he gained two daughters: Lorride and Thrud. Thrud was the most sought after giantess in nine worlds, second only to Skadi, and had a dwarf suitor, Alvis. Unimpressed by his daughter’s dark elf paramour, Thor questioned him for an entire night, promising his daughter’s hand if Alvis was wise enough. Eventually dawn came, and, Alvis, not guessing the trick, was paralyzed into stone.
At the Ragnarok, Thor will charge Vigrid, the battle plain. He locks in combat against the Midgard serpent, killing the serpent son of Loki with his fatal hammer. However, he drowns in the spent poison of his foe’s fangs. Magni and Modi inherit their father’s hammer, which they will use in the world after the battle.
Myths of the Norsemen From the Eddas and Sagas by H.A. Guerber
The Norse Myths by Kevin Crossley-Holland
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