The Symbolism Behind the Viking Hammer

Thor’s Hammer (Ancient Norse Mjöllnir) is the most significant symbol historically in Norse mythology and is perhaps the most well-known today.

Furthermore, Thor was one of the ever-vigilant Norse gods who protected Asgard, the mythological strength of the Aesir, Norse mythology’s principal group of gods. The chaotic forces, the giants, were constantly attempting to ruin Asgard and murder the Aesir; thus, it was Thor’s job to stop them.

His main weapon was a Viking hammer. It wasn’t just any hammer; when Thor swung it at opponents, it swung back to him.

Thor was the god of thunder, and this was thought to represent the sound of the hammer smashing his opponents (his name comes from a Proto-Germanic word that means “Thunder”). It should be no surprise, then, that Mjöllnir, the Old Norse term for the hammer, means “Lightning.”

Mjöllnir’s derivation is unknown, but most researchers believe it stems from Indo-European roots identified in the Old Slavic term mlunuji, Welsh mellt, and Russian molnija, meaning “lightning.” It could also be connected to the Icelandic phrases mjalli, which means “white” and  mjöll, which means “new snow,” which is lightning’s color and a possible sign of purity.

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Thor’s Hammer: A Symbol of Protection, Consecration, and Blessing

Thor’s hammer was a fearsome weapon; however, it was more than that. It was the best Aesir weapon. It also played a key role in hallowing and consecration procedures.

The Viking hammer was used to bless births, marriages, and most likely burials in official rituals.

Large hammers were stored in one of Thor’s Sweden temples, according to Saxo Grammaticus, a medieval Danish historian, and individuals would conduct a rite there every so often that entailed bashing the hammers against a type of thunder-like drum. This could’ve been a blessing and protection ceremony for the town, as well as a warding off of evil spirits.

Using the Viking hammer to bless marriages is the most well-known of all the consecration procedures. The story of Thor as a Transvestite assumes the reasoning behind this rite, in which the giants stole Thor’s hammer, and he proceeded to rescue it by disguising himself as the bride and marrying one of these chaotic creatures, being fully aware that the Viking hammer would be shown at the wedding. When the hammer was delivered to him, he grabbed it and broke the heads of all the giants present.

E.O.G. Turville-Petre, a historian, speculates that specific part of Thor’s blessing was to bestow fertility on the marriage, which makes sense given Thor’s ties to field fertilization and agriculture.

These functions of the Thor hammer were inextricably linked to its employment as a powerful weapon to protect Asgard from giants. The idea of the cosmos, a world defined by holy space and time, and chaos, a kingdom described by profane space and time, is one of the universal patterns in human awareness, as Mircea Eliade describes in his book The Sacred and the Profane. The cosmos is often shown as a circle, an island in the midst of chaos.

When someone or something was sanctified with the Thor hammer, he, she, or it was absorbed in the universe and removed from the domain of chaos. It was sanctioned and sanctified by the divine models and social order, and it was safeguarded from the destructive consequences of chaotic behavior and its inhabitants. The ‘ordinary’ was exiled, and the ‘sacred’ took its place.

This pattern can be seen in the usage of the Viking hammer as a fearsome weapon as well as in its form of protection, consecration, blessing, and healing instrument. Thor was guarding the cosmos and expelling the chaotic forces when he smashed giants with his Viking hammer head.

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How the Thor Hammer Was Made

The legend of The Creation of Thor’s Hammer tells the story of how Mjöllnir came to be. To summarize briefly:

Loki, the trickster, was feeling particularly “tricky” one day and chopped off Thor’s wife Sif’s golden, long hair. When Loki pledged to travel to Svartalfheim, the dwarves’ home, who were famed as the best smiths in the Nine Worlds, Thor was furious and was prepared to murder him. There, he’d get Sif a full head of lucious hair that was more magnificent than the previous one he’d shaved off. This bargain was accepted by Thor.

Loki managed to obtain his prize while in the dwarves’ vast smithies, and he also won several other jewels for the gods by slyly challenging a few dwarves to see who the greatest smith was. One of these was the Thor hammer, which had a short handle since Loki, disguised as a fly, bit the dwarf creating it.

Thor agreed to let Loki live after seeing the Viking hammer, the best weapon in the cosmos despite its weakness.

A Symbol in the Viking Age: The Hammer of Thor

People wore amulets of the Viking hammer on their necklaces to show their belief in Thor during the Viking Age, similar to how people wore cross symbols to show their trust in Christ. These amulets could’ve been worn before the Viking Age – we don’t have enough information to determine either way – but they appear to have gained popularity about the same timeframe as cross amulets. The use of the hammer as jewelry throughout this time period was most likely a copy of – or a response to – Christian practice.

It’s logical to assume that those who wore a replica of the Viking hammer thought they were providing the same blessings as Thor’s hammer in mythology: protection, general blessing, and consecration.

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Importance of the Viking Hammer

The fact that the Norse pagans picked the magic hammer of Thor over the spear of Odin, the necklace of Freya, the ship of Freyr, the horn of Heimdall, or any of the other possible choices to represent their loyalty to their ancestral gods demonstrates how widespread Thor’s veneration was at the time.

You can still find a custom replica of the Viking hammer amulet today. They are often made of iron, wood, or stainless steel and come in various shapes and sizes. Keep in mind that the original price and shipping time varies depending on where you purchase the hammer.


Did Vikings Use Hammers?

Some modern fantasy accounts claim that Vikings fought with war hammers, maybe inspired by Mjöllnir, the hammer of Thor.

Why Did Vikings Wear the Hammer of Thor?

The ancient pagans believed in many gods and goddesses with extraordinary abilities. One of the most important Norse gods was Thor. He was the deity of storms, the weather, and the sky, according to the Vikings. He used his Viking hammer to fight giants.

What Does the Viking Hammer Symbolize?

Thor’s Hammer is an ancient Norse symbol. His hammer has the power of lightning. Miniature Thor hammer symbols were frequently used as holy amulets during the Viking era.

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