Tuned in: Garth Brooks, The Thunder Rolls
Last month, I wrote about Loki a god mentioned in my novel, On the Edge of Sunrise, set in 5th century AD (CE). Generally, it’s considered reasonable that the Germanic barbarian tribes, such as the Salian Franks—characters in my story, followed Continental Germanic gods who share counterparts with some of the Scandinavian Norse gods. At times, all are included in the term ‘Germanic Gods.’ In some cases within my book, I’ve used the more familiar Norse terms to make it relatable to the reader. Last month, I featured Loki. This month it’s the God of Thunder—Thor.
Thor (Germanic-Donar) is considered the strongest of the Norse gods. He’s thought to be the son of Odin (Germanic-Wodan/Wotan) and either Jord or Frigga. As a baby, he demonstrated his amazing strength by playfully tossing around ten massive bales of bear pelts, causing the gods in attendance for his birth to ‘gape in astonishment.’
As a young boy, Thor showed fits of rage and was sent to live with the keepers of lightening until he was a man and could exercise better control over his temper. Once he was allowed back into Asgard, he sat in one of the twelve seats of Gladsheim (the meeting hall of the gods). Thor was described as a powerful man ‘in his prime, tall and well formed, with muscular limbs and bristling red hair and beard, from which, in moments of anger, the sparks flew in showers.’
Thor was considered a patron god of peasants and slaves, and ‘associated with healthy crops and weather.’ The gods feared that Thor’s thunderous footsteps would destroy the incredible bridge, Bifrost, while crossing into Asgard, and was forced to enter in a circuitous way by crossing several rivers and streams. Thor possessed three magical weapons. The first, his hammer, Mjolnir, could destroy mountains with one blow. Mjolnir when hurled would return back to Thor. The second, a girdle, Megingjord, doubled the god’s power when worn. The third was an iron gauntlet, Iarn-greiper, to catch the hammer without harm when it returned to him.
Thor never went on horseback, but walked or rode in a chariot. The rumble and roar of the thunder was believed to be the roll of his chariot pulled by two goats from ‘whose teeth and hoofs the sparks constantly flew.’ Because Thor drove from place to place, he was referred to as Thor the charioteer. In Southern Germany, the people called him the ‘kettle vendor.’ They thought that a chariot alone could not make so much noise and believed it held copper kettles.
Thor had two wives throughout his existence. Iarnsaxa, a giantess, gave him two sons: Magni (strength) and Modi (valor). Later, he married Sif. She had magnificent, golden hair ‘as long and as full as the bountiful grain of the field.’ She also became the object of Loki’s trickery. Sif and Thor had a son, Lorride and a daughter, Thrud.
One story about Thor that appeared in my sources is the tale of Thor’s daughter, a beautiful giantess named, Thrud, and a dwarf named, Alvis. The dwarves had to avoid the sunlight or they’d be turned to stone. Conveniently, Alvis courted Thrud in the dead of night, while Thor slept unaware of their relationship. The dwarf knew that Thor wouldn’t be pleased. Thrud soon favored Alvis, who presented himself one evening in Asgard. Alvis asked the gods for Thrud’s hand in marriage. Those assembled gave their consent. Thor, not in attendance at the time of the engagement, suddenly appeared. He cast a contemptuous glance at the ‘puny’ Alvis, and declared that before winning his bride, the dwarf must prove his knowledge was greater than his stature. Testing Alvis, Thor questioned him in the languages of the gods and the world late into the night, prolonging the examination until sunrise. Alvis completed the test successfully, but the unfortunate dwarf had forgotten to keep track of time. As he reached for Thrud’s hand, a first ray of light touched his skin and he turned to stone. Alvis had also underestimated the wrathful Thor.
The stories of the gods often imitate the stories of men. Trickery and the might of the influential or powerful over those of lesser status or means is a predominant theme in life on earth and not just in the heavens.
Guerber, H.A., Myths of the Norsemen: From the Eddas and Sagas
Roberts, Morgan J., Norse Gods and Heroes
The Principal Germanic Gods. http://library.flawlesslogic.com/grimm