Mjolnir, the hammer of Thor, has many diverse interpretations in the modern world. Most of them are connected to the symbol’s earliest history, rooted in Norse mythology, a widely practiced religion in Scandinavia. Numerous interpretations of the emblem may also be discovered during the Nazi era because the faith was considered a Germanic religion.
Even though Mjolnir’s are worn by many individuals, the custom was first introduced to the world by the Vikings, the first colonizers of Europe. Most Vikings were mariners who used their ships to visit other lands.
The Origin of Mjolnir
According to Norse mythology, Loki, the God of mischief and “The Trickster,” gave Mjolnir, as a present to Thor. Loki planned the present as a way to get back at Thor for a practical joke gone wrong.
Loki once chopped off the stunning golden hair of Sif, Thor’s wife, when everyone was sound asleep. Thor was furious and threatened to kill Loki. However, the troublemaker God assured him that he would make things right and restore Sif’s hair.
Loki gave the order to two distinct dwarf households to work on the Gods’ presents, including Sif’s hair. The dwarf factions were pitted against one another, nevertheless. Loki challenged Brokkr and Etiri, the sons of Ivaldi, in a contest of excellent artistry. This way, the brothers from the dwarven dynasty renowned for their skill were pitted against each other.
The mischief and duplicity of Loki were well known to Brokkr and Etiri, who also saw through it. As a result, they added Loki’s skull as an additional prize for winning, refusing to back down from the challenge. Loki did all in his power to agitate the brothers and destroy their goods to avoid the danger of death.
It was well known that Loki could change his shape. He used this ability to become a fly to bite down on the makers and cause chaos. Loki bit the brothers multiple times, but his last try on Brokkr’s eye gave him the desired outcome.
The Sons of Ivaldi successfully gave Sif her thick, golden locks and gave Thor a battle hammer. However, this one had a much smaller handle than previous fighting hammers.
Loki believed his plan had been successful, but then the brothers explained what made this fighting hammer special: it would always come back to him. Thor fell in love with it. The brothers triumphed in the competition, delighted with their presents, but Loki survived thanks to his cunning.
The competition’s most notable result was the creation of Mjolnir, also known as Thor’s hammer and translated as the grinder in other Nordic languages. Mjolnir is said to be used by Thor to control lightning.
The most potent God, Thor, utilized Mjolnir in several conflicts to defend Asgard, the home of the Gods, and Midgard, the land of mortals.
Why Vikings Wore Mjolnir
There are no first-person stories in the past to draw from, so it is still being determined precisely why Vikings donned Mjolnir. However, there are several ideas about how Mjolnir was worn as pendants when Christianity quickly expanded throughout Europe. The most prevalent religion in Scandinavia then was Norse, although Christianity brought about several changes to the region’s religious landscape.
Viking Symbol of Protection
Thor was known for his role as the protector of humans and gods. Vikings followed the Nordic religion, also known as paganism, in later years. Hence, Vikings believed in Thor and that his protective powers will always be with them.
As a result, Mjolnir is frequently viewed as a Viking emblem of protection. Burying Mjolnir with the deceased, especially ladies, is also a ritual widespread among today’s pagans as it’s considered to give protection to the people.
Vikings also saw Mjolnir as a symbol of protection against the chaotic elements people encountered. This symbolism implies that Mjolnir’s significance and association extended beyond the battlefield and throughout the rest of one’s life.
Thus, Mjolnir symbolizes protection, connected with Thor, the most potent Norse deity.
Viking Symbol of Courage
Mjolnir is a symbol of protection, but it also represents the capacity to do so, which ultimately comes from having guts (aka “intestinal fortitude”, that is, quite simply, courage or bravery).
The legendary bravery, fortitude, and combat prowess of the Vikings were well recognized. Some evidence points to Mjolnir as the Viking symbol of bravery. The intrinsic capability and resolve to defend one’s people were strongly tied to this symbolism.
The hammer of Thor also represents this, as the Vikings have long admired Thor’s courage and independence. To represent their courage, power, and honor, Vikings wore Mjolnir pendants.
Viking Religious Identity
Vikings followed the Norse religion at a period when Christianity was swiftly expanding over Europe. Christians wore crosses as a symbol of their religion and belief. However, there was no such symbolism among the Vikings.
Pendants bearing the Mjolnir were worn by Vikings throughout that time. The Mjolnir pendants symbolized the Vikings’ chosen religious identity, as they had rejected Christianity. The sign also separated the people according to their religion and demonstrated unity in their shared identity and religious convictions.
Religious Identity Change
During Christianity’s spread in Europe, not all Vikings upheld their moral convictions. Remarkably quickly, several individual Vikings converted their faith. However, the rapid conversion and abandonment of the previous religion stunned many.
At that time, many Norse Vikings adopted Mjolnir as a necklace symbolizing their progressive conversion to Christianity. The folks found embracing the newly introduced faith simpler because of the similarities in the designs, and wearing Mjolnir until they were ready to wear a cross made the transition smoother.
Mjolnir and the Triquetra Symbol
As different historians reported their findings through drawings and varying narratives of their discoveries over the years, the shape and patterns of Mjolnir evolved. However, the Mjolnir motifs carved on the amulets for the Mjolnir have made some of the ancient symbols well-known designs.
Some of the newer and even some older Mjolnir have symbols etched on them, like the triquetra rune. As a way to portray the Holy Trinity, Christians frequently utilize this emblem. Asgard, Midgard, and Utgard are the three significant Norse mythological realms represented by overlapping arcs.
The triquetra represents both eternal spiritual life and this as well. As there was no beginning, there was no end to the spirit. It follows that the cycle of life never ends.
Why Was Mjolnir Listed as a Hate Symbol?
One of the most well-known engravings on the Mjolnir, along with the triquetra ruin, is the swastika. Despite not having any inherent negative connotations, the swastika emblem has become associated with many undesirable things because of its affiliation with Hitler’s Nazi flag.
A swastika has several meanings, but its primary connotations are protection and good fortune. In early Norse mythology, the sun wheel and Thor’s hammer, also known as Mjolnir, were the emblems for the sun and the sky.
Thor was also known as the Sky God, primarily because of his ability to control lightning and thunder. Due to the duality frequently seen in Norse symbols, he also possessed the ability to shield humans from turmoil and disaster. Thus, the same God who used thunder to bring catastrophe also delivered humanity from the disorderly life force.
Consequently, Mjolnir has several swastika markings that represent the sky.
The Nazis’ usage or abuse of the swastika as their primary emblem shed unfavorable light on the design. Thor’s hammer was hated because of its use on Mjolnir and other amulets with similar appearances.
In addition, several white supremacists and neo-Nazis, particularly the racists, have used Mjolnir as their emblem and engaged in racism under the guise of Odinism. Even though they were just a tiny portion of the population, they had already harmed the symbol’s meaning on a large scale.
Therefore, Mjolnir was considered a hate symbol by the Anti-Defamation League, or ADL, a significant Jewish NGO with headquarters in the US for many years. Mjolnir was eventually removed from the list when people learned more about its history. It became clear that racists and non-racists are co-opting the symbol, but Mjolnir doesn’t symbolize racism or hatred.
Why Is Mjolnir Used in Marriages?
A lesser-known detail about Thor is that he was the patron saint of farmers. Thor is famous for being the world’s guardian due to his power and talents. The numerous crops that might be grown on the land area were grown there thanks to his inventive capacity to manufacture rain.
As an extension of Thor’s ability to contribute to fertile soil and an abundance of rich, green crops, many saw Mjolnir as having similar powers. Therefore, Mjolnir also symbolizes conception and procreation.
That’s also one of the explanations for people utilizing Mjolnir as a symbol of fertility and well-being during wedding rituals for the happy couple. The sign further stands for the newlyweds’ defense against evil spirits.
Mjolnir is also used to bless a newborn as they enter the community.
Why Is Mjolnir Used in Death Rituals?
Early memorial stones found from the Viking Age suggest that Mjolnir was also used as a protective symbol in individuals’ afterlife. Therefore, Mjolnir amulets are also buried with the dead to protect their graves from grave robbers who mainly look for weapons buried with them.
Another myth where Thor reincarnates his goats is associated with Mjolnir’s use in death rituals. Hence, many view Mjolnir as a symbol of resurrection.
Mjolnir Used as a Headstone in the US for Military Soldiers
“Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor.”
This inscription is seen on Thor’s hammer in the famous Marvel comics. It suggests that individuals can possess Thor’s power and hammer if worthy. Being worthy of holding Mjolnir signifies showing true character strength.
Mjolnir has long been associated with strength, virtue, and honor. Soldiers try to emulate similar characteristics to become the ideal solider. Hence, when they fight on the battleground like warriors, they become worthy of the Mjolnir.
Therefore, in the US, the popularity of the Hammer of Thor headstone has increased since 2013. As a result, soldiers who die in the line of duty might request a Mjolnir in place of a crucifix for their tomb. The US Department of Veterans Affairs has also approved the logo as a grave marker.
Mjolnir’s Magical Powers in Marvel Studios Movies
According to Norse mythology, Mjolnir’s powers were limited to Thor. However, its depiction in Marvel Cinematic Universe or MCU has extended its representation. In the MCU movies, characters besides Thor can also bear the Mjolnir if they are worthy, which means they possess a pure heart and a noble mind.
Therefore, there are various magical powers that Mjolnir possesses. The bearer of Mjolnir can command storm, rain, lightning, and wield. Additionally, it also opens portals in different dimensions. In the movies, the Mjolnir opens the path to Asgard.
Mjolnir Pendants in Today’s Era
Mjolnir is still in use in some parts of the world today. Mjolnir amulets are a common symbol of paganism among today’s followers. They can be distinguished from other religions by their emblems.
Pagans typically wear amulets called Mjolnir, modeled after the four most popular versions of Thor’s hammer. Besides serving as a deterrent to evil spirits, these necklaces symbolize protection from other chaotic life energies.
As a symbol of their inner fortitude, many pagans wear Mjolnir pendants. When they wear these pendants, they are reminded of their bravery and the necessity of practicing protecting others who are in need.
In today’s society, Mjolnir is often viewed as a fashion statement. The insignia is highly popular and printed widely on t-shirts. It is also becoming more common to see people with tattoos of the sign. Young people also like to wear Mjolnir pendants as fashion accessories.
The usage of Mjolnir has also been seen among those who are inclined to convert from Christianity to paganism. The transition is simple, and similarities in appearance make the change not very noticeable. Some people wear their Mjolnir pendants under their clothing to conceal them from prying eyes.