You’ve seen Thor wield it in the movies and the power of Thor’s hammer Mjölnir (pronounced mi-yol-nyr), but what does Norse mythology tell us about Mjölnir and how widespread was its use as a talisman?
After Loki (the God of mischief) cut off the hair of Thor’s wife Sif, Loki, Thor threatens to break every bone in Loki’s body. To make amends Loki travels to Svartalfheim, home of the Dwarves (who are master craftsmen) to forge a new head of hair for Sif. Not only does he fulfill his promise, but among other things they forge Mjölnir, almost by accident. As the dwarf Sindri puts iron into the forge, under threat from Loki, Loki bites Sindri’s eyelid causing him to stop working the bellows whilst he wipes blood from his eye. When Sindri returns, the hammer he has forged has a much smaller handle than he intended and Mjölnir is brought into existence. Loki presents Sif’s new hair and Mjölnir to Thor. Mjölnir is one of the most fearsome and powerful weapons ever created, capable of levelling mountains.
Mjölnir played a vital role in Norse religious practices and rites. It was used formally to bless marriages, births and funerals. Its main use, however, was to publicly signify your faith. Whilst Norse in origin, it is used widely by modern pagans and is a symbolic representation of German Heathenry. Over 50 Mjölnir pendants have been discovered throughout Scandinavia and many more in lands occupied by Vikings. Square cross-like pendants, featuring images of Christ on them, have also been found and dated to the same time period and areas as the Mjolnir pendants. The popularity of these Mjolnir alongside Crucifix pendants is seen by many as a firm stand by pagan Vikings against newly converted Christian Vikings.
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