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The Hammer of Thor

290px-Mårten_Eskil_Winge_-_Tor's_Fight_with_the_Giants_-_Google_Art_Project

For Heathens, this is one of our holy symbols. It may, in fact, be our holiest of symbols and it’s certainly the one that the majority of us wear to indicate that we are Heathen (in much the same way a Christian might wear a cross or a Jewish person a star of David) (1). I’ve been meditating a lot on what the Hammer means, especially since it seems I cannot wear it these days without questions and occasionally direct hostility. The more I think about it, the more I realize that this gift, crafted by the duergar, given by Loki, wielded by Thor for the good of the worlds is the most important symbol we will ever bear.

Thor is a God Who brings holiness. There is nothing foul or polluted, wicked or spiritually wrong that He cannot conquer. He renders His protection without contract or stipulation. For this reason, He is called “Friend of Man.” More than any other God, He watches over Midgard – the human world, our world – ensuring that it maintains its integrity (despite our own depredations of our home). He travels with Loki, the God most gifted at finding loopholes. I think this is particularly important. I think that very special care must be taken when the Gods act directly in our world, that doing so promiscuously threatens to weaken the very scaffolding They seek to maintain, and perhaps Loki is Thor’s favorite traveling companion because between the Two of Them, They can find all those loopholes too, never missing an opportunity to drive back evil and entropy threatening existence (2).

I often think that Thor is one of the Gods most often underestimated. Despite one of His by-names being “Deep-Minded,” despite the fact that He is the Son of Odin, despite the fact that He is the son of the earth (Fjorgyn), the Goddess Who provides all we need to sustain our world, He’s quite often dismissed as … a dumb jock. He’s pigeon-holed in a way that I also see with Goddesses like Freya. We reduce Him in our minds to a one-dimensional character in a book. I don’t think this is purposeful or intentionally disrespectful, I think it’s what we’ve been programmed to do by popular culture, by the way our Gods are treated in academic writing, by the way they’re treated in comparative lit., and by the way They were treated by the working-class founders of American Heathenry.  But our Gods are not characters in a set of stories. They are living Holy Powers, Immortal Beings, the Creators of our very existence and the space in which it plays out.

Consider a few of His by-names (heiti ): Atli (The Terrible), Einriði (One Who rules alone – in other words, I interpret this to mean that He is more than capable in and of Himself of purifying and rendering holy, and carries the blessing of the sovereignty of the land through his Mother), Harðhugaðr (strong spirit, fierce soul), Rymr (noise, which makes me think of how sound, like rattles, drums, bells, chanting, etc. is often used to clear spiritual pollution and purify people, places, and things), and last but not least Veurr (Hallower, Guardian of the shrine). Thor hallows. Wherever He is, whatever He touches, wherever He chooses to make Himself manifest, there He hallows and in hallowing creates space where the enemies of the Gods simply cannot exist.

Thor’s hammer, then, is a sign that the Gods are engaged with us in the ongoing process of creation. It is a sign that They guard us, that Thor girds the world against dissolution, against entropy, against all that would threaten the cosmic and divine architecture. Like His mother, Thor provides. He sustains. Like His Father, He battles back the enemies of the Gods. Like He, Himself alone, He renders holy those places He has been, those spaces through which He has passed. When we wear the Thor’s hammer, we are signaling that we too are aligned with divine order. We are signaling that we stand with Him in maintaining, protecting, and most of all nourishing that which the Gods have created.

So, wear the hammer proudly. When people ask you about it, or the ruder ones challenge you for wearing it, explain exactly what it means and hold your ground. We must not give up a single inch of space, not in mind, not in body, and not in soul. That hammer signifies that we are hallowed ground, reclaimed, rededicated, consecrated to our Gods, committed to Thor’s protection. Wear it proudly, wear it mindfully, and every time you touch it, give thanks to this God Who sustains His Father’s creation.           

Notes:

  1. Some Scandinavians will wear it as a cultural symbol and then of course it’s endlessly misappropriated by individuals who have no faith in the Gods, but you see the same thing with other religions’ symbols too, at least the latter use by the godless.
  2. I think there are cosmic rules that the Gods adhere to, blocking how directly They may act in our world. This is hinted at most fully in the Homeric corpus but I believe it holds true amongst our Gods as well, that the more they violate those structures They Themselves have put into place, not only the more They weaken the cosmic architecture, but more importantly, They provide openings for the Nameless, that unnamed force – the Kemetics called it Isfet, Native Americans had different names for it – that ever hates and threatens divine creation to also come in. I think there’s a cosmic détente and no God is better at finding ways to act without violating that détente than Loki.

Pre-Order is Live for my new book, A Modern Guide to Heathenry

Modern_Guide_to_heathenry_circleAn accessible yet in-depth guide to this increasingly popular pre-Christian religious tradition of Northern Europe

Heathenry, is one of the fastest growing polytheistic religious movements in the United States today. This book explores the cosmology, values, ethics, and rituals practiced by modern heathens.

In A Modern Guide to Heathenry readers will have the opportunity to explore the sacred stories of the various heathen gods like Odin, Frigga, Freya, and Thor and will be granted a look into the devotional practices of modern votaries. Blóts, the most common devotional rites, are examined in rich detail with examples given for personal use. Additionally, readers are introduced to the concept of wyrd, or fate, so integral to the heathen worldview.

Unlike many books on heathenry, this one is not denomination-specific, nor does it seek to overwhelm the reader with unfamiliar Anglo-Saxon or Norse terminology. For Pagans who wish to learn more about the Norse deities or those who are new to heathenry or who are simply interested in learning about this unique religion, A Modern Guide to Heathenry is the perfect introduction. Those who wish to deepen their own devotional practice will find this book helpful in their own work as well.

PRE-ORDER LINKS

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2wMnVtt
Barnes & Noble
: http://bit.ly/2IziCU0
Indie Bound: http://bit.ly/2Rcy4ZV

 

GIVEAWAY TIME

This giveaway is designed for FACEBOOK, so that means entries must happen on facebook. Here’s the direct link to the appropriate post: ( http://bit.ly/2WMLxNs ) . Deadline is end of the month, I wanted to give people a chance to get their copies in.

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In case anyone is having problems viewing the image with the giveaway information above, I’m also including it below as text.

 

GIVEAWAY!

To celebrate the release of Living Runes: Theory and Practice. I’ve decided to run a giveaway. The prize consists of a set of 20 prayer cards featuring Frigga and her retinue (Saga, Eir, Gefion, Fulla, Sjofn, Lofn, Hlin, Syn, Snotra, Gna, Var, and Vor), as well as Odin and his sons (Thor, Baldr, Vidar, Bragi, Hermod, and Vali). I will select one US winner, and one International winner randomly from all valid entries. Each winner not only receives all those cards, but actually receives a duplicate set of those cards that they can gift to one very lucky friend or divvy up the awarded prayer cards to share among as many friends as they like. So, this is actually one giveaway that entering with your friends can increase your chances of coming away with something.

Here’s how to enter:

Take a picture to share of Living Runes: Theory and Practice. This can be you reading it, or for those that don’t like to post pictures of themselves you can show it on your bookshelf, in your reading nook, posed with your cat, beside a cup of coffee, with your runes–you get the idea. For those of you with ebook copies, just show the cover on your chosen electronic device. I’ll even accept pictures in bookstores, or in libraries (for bookstore and library pic entries please be sure to list the name of the establishment and the city/state/country you found it in). Once your pic is ready:

  • Like and Comment on this giveaway post on the Galina Krasskova – Wyrd Ways FB Page: http://bit.ly/2WMLxNs

    • include your Living Runes: Theory & Practice picture
    • tag at least one friend
    • include the name of the country in which you currently live
  • Share this post on FB (toggle the “include original post” option)

  • Deadline: June 30, 11:59pm EST

 

 

The Hammer of Thor

Yesterday was my birthday and my husband gifted me with an iron Thor’s hammer pendant. I haven’t been wearing a lot of jewelry of late, but this feels good, a solid, comforting weight at my throat and it’s got me really thinking about what the Thor’s hammer stands for and why so many Heathens choose to wear it as a symbol of our tradition.

For those of you who may not know the story, Mjölnir (the name means ‘crusher’ or ‘grinder’) is one of the key attributes of the God Thor. It is often associated both etymologically and folklorically with the thunderbolt. Thor is the son of Odin and the earth Goddess Fjörgyn. He is a God of strength and power, thunder, lightening, and is above all else, the Protector of Midgard. Midgard is our human world. Thor, with His hammer wards the world against destruction and dissolution. He protects it from the forces of entropy and unproductive chaos. Likewise He protects the realms of the Gods against attack.

Thor received His hammer thanks to the machinations of Loki. The story is told in the Skáldskaparmál, part of the “Poetic Edda,” and involves quite a bit of back and forth between Loki and the Duergar, the best craftsmen in all the nine worlds. In many respects the hammer is the repository and symbol of Thor’s protective might and is as strongly associated with Him as Brisingamen is with Freya.

So what does all of that mean?

It is grounding power. Thor’s presence is one of a vital, fierce rootedness, massive and crackling with energy. That’s how it always seems to me at any rate. When I think on what it means to call upon the power of this God, it’s that grounded strength, the ability to remain unmoved no matter what the incoming storm. He is the God Whose presence shatters the force of an attack before it even finds its target. Not only is He fierce enough to ward off and repel harm, but His very presence wards and protects oneself and one’s space from harm, by its very nature. When He is present that which would do us harm cannot be.

The strength of Thor, for that is what the hammer symbolizes, contains the Holy. It readies the space and protects the space in which the Holy may root itself and grow. It protects the viability and integrity of our tradition. It ensures its growth just like the thunder ensures the growth of the grain*; and like that, it stands for our commitment to our tradition, to our Gods, and to the next generation. It is the emblem of perseverance regardless of difficulty or struggle. It is an emblem of vitality, the smoldering warmth of the hearth fire of devotion that, well tended, can blaze into a bonfire that nourishes us even through the most difficult of times.

Finally, it is a symbol of unity, connecting us all, regardless of our denominations and whatever infighting we may have within our tradition, to the Gods with we honor.

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*thunderstorms are almost indispensible for grain to ripen—I don’t understand the alchemy but it apparently fixes the nitrogen and this is important in the growth process of grain. Yada yada yada because science. ^___^ I am not a farmer but I do think this is neat.