In Heathenry, Intro To Heathenry

While Odin is considered the father of all the Gods and men, Thor, his first son, is quite possibly the most popular. His mother Jord, the earth, is well known and worshipped in modern times. It is truly a sign of the heathen worldview that earth is a mother figure for she is greatly revered among heathens and is considered one of the Aesir (Gylfaginning, 36):

Earth, the mother of Thor, and Rind, the mother of Vali, are counted among the Goddesses.

Asa-Thor, which means Thor of the Aesir, is the strongest of the Aesir. His main weapon is Mjollnir, a hammer that was forged for him by the dwarves Eitri and Brokk. He has great strength even without his hammer and dwells in Asgard at a place called Thrudvangar, or the Plains of Strength, in a hall called Bilskirnir. His two male goats, Tanngniost – Tooth Gnasher, and Tanngrisnir – Snarl Tooth, often accompany him on his travels, pull his chariot and even provide meals for him. In Gylfaginning 44, Third recounts the resurrection of the goats after they were eaten the night before at farmer’s house they lodged at for the night.

Thor stayed the night and just before dawn he got up and dressed. He reached for his hammer Mjollnir and, lifting it up, consecrated the goatskins. The goats stood up, but one of them was lame in its hind leg. Thor noticed this and suspected that the farmer or one of his household had mistreated the goat’s bones.

Turns out the farmer’s son Thjalfi had broken open one of the bones to get at the marrow. He ends up becoming Thor’s servant as payback for the mistreatment.

There are several poems in The Poetic Edda that depict the different aspects and adventures of Thor including Hymiskvitha and Thrymskvitha, but the one that describes his personality the best, I think, is Harbarthskjoth. In it, Thor attempts to get the ferryman, who is in fact Odin disguised as ‘Graybeard’ to pick him up and take him across the fjord. He offers the ‘ferryman’ some very good herring and goat that he had for breakfast if he will pick him up and Graybeard taunts him instead

You’re boasting
about your breakfast.
Bu you don’t know
if your homecoming will be glad:
I think your mother is dead.

Thor is a little surprised but doesn’t understand so Graybeard taunts him again

You don’t look like a man
who owns good farms.
There you stand,
barefoot like a beggar,
not even a good pair of pants on.

Thor defends himself but responds fairly patiently if not slightly irked. They go on to verbally spar with each other and I was initially surprised at Thor’s patience and with Odin’s bragging about the number of women he’d seduced

We had girls who liked to kick,
but sometimes they would act docile.
We had wise women, too;
and sometimes they were loyal.
Some of them wound some thread from a valley,
out of the sand.
I made them all submit to my will.
I slept with seven sisters,
had all their charms to myself.
What were you doing meanwhile, Thor?

Thor, still thinking he is speaking with Graybeard responds

I killed Thjassi,
the bold giant;
I threw the eyes
of that son of Allfaldi
into the clear sky.
Those are the greatest
monuments to my deeds,
which everyone can see ever since.
What were you doing meanwhile Graybeard?

They go back and forth like this throughout the poem with Odin’s jests about his prowess with women, his trickery among men, and his ability to do magic, and Thor just threatening to lambast him if he were to get across the fjord. It very nicely gives an outline to both their personalities; Odin’s cleverness, and Thor’s sincerity.

Thor is sometimes considered less intelligent than others, but he doesn’t get tricked through lack of intelligence, in my opinion. His focus on deeds and worth leave little room for cunning and manipulation of others. For this reason, I consider myself a Thorswoman. I value this simplicity and clarity of judgement. When I first learned of Thor and his authentic and protective personality, I was drawn to Heathenry like I had finally come home after a long and arduous journey. It was Thor that inspired me to explore the art and design of the pre-Christian and Viking age Europeans. My first design, done in 2011 was of Thor, which I called Thunor. I sell this design on T-shirts and other products at Red Bubble.

Thunor Thor image


Thor, as he is known to the Scandinavians, or Thunor as he is known to the Anglo-Saxons, is the Germanic God of thunder. He is defender of both gods and humans alike. A symbol of Thunor’s strength and might is the hammer, Mjöllnir, which produces thunder and lightning as he rides across the sky in his chariot pulled by his two goats named Tanngrisnir and Tanngnjóstr.

For a greater and more complete description of Thor’s qualities see the Germanic Mythology website page on Thor’s Strength.

Lesson Two of the Intro To Heathenry course primarily introduces the divine beings that were worshiped during pre-Christian times. Part 1 dealt with Odin and a few of the Poetic poems which feature him. I felt he was the right one to start this lesson with, but not to mention the Vanir, there are at least twelve Aesir in total, according to High in Gylfaginning

Then Gangleri said, ‘Which Aesir ought men to believe in?’
High answered, ‘There are twelve Aesir whose nature is divine.’
Then Just-as-High added: ‘The goddesses are no less sacred, nor are they less powerful.’

Since I am attempting to do at least one lesson per month and I have only 4 weeks allotted for Lesson Two, I’m going to cover only four of the Aesir during this month; Odin, Thor, Loki, and Heimdall. I will find a way to fit the others in among future lessons.

By the way, my new website is coming July 1, 2018 (I hope)! I will be moving these lessons over to it. I’ll leave the old blog up for a while and provide links to the new lessons on my website!

Waes Hael! Let me know what you think of the course!

Sources / Reading:

Gylfaginning and Skaldskaparmal in The Prose Edda, Snorri Sturluson, translated by Jesse L. Byock, Penguin, 2005
Harbarthsljoth in The Poetic Edda, translated by Jackson Crawford, Hackett, 2015
Gods and Myths of Northern Europe by H. R. Ellis Davidson, Ch3, Penguin, 1990
Teutonic Religion by Kveldulf Gundarsson, p. 50-56, Llewellyn, 1993
Our Troth: History and Lore Vol.1, Ch14, BookSurge, 2006

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