the dictionary of norse mythology


MJOLLNIR The hammer of the god thor. It was made by the dwarfs brokk and eitri. The hammer was a symbol of Thor's strength and of the thunder-bolt he personified.The hammer had a massive head and a short handle and was shaped somewhat like a cross. The trea-sures of the dwarfs tells the reason for its peculiar shape. While Eitri was shaping the hammer in the foundry, loki, who had changed himself into a gadfly, pestered Brokk, who worked the bellows for his brother. At a crucial point in the making of the hammer, Loki stung Brokk on his eyelid the dwarf was distracted and let go of the bellows. The fire died and Eitri did not have enough heat to finish the handle. For many centuries Norsemen wore the hammer's likeness as an amulet. Many of these amulets have been discovered in archaeological digs in scandi-navia and England. Many ancient gravestones and rune stones also depict Thor's hammer.The gods considered Mjollnir to be their greatest treasure, for it alone could be used to defend asgard against the giants. When Thor hurled it, it always struck its mark and returned instantly into his hand, like a boomerang. Although mighty in size, it could be magically shrunk to fit inside Thor's shirt.The hammer was a symbol of fertility. In The Theft of Thor's Hammer, Thor dressed himself as a bride when he went to visit the giant thrym, who had stolen the hammer. Thor knew that at some point in the wedding ceremony a hammer was always placed in the lap of the bride, for such was the custom of the Norse. When Thrym placed Mjollnir in Thor's lap, Thor retrieved his hammer.Mjollnir was also a symbol of resurrection. In Thor's Journey to Utgard, when Thor waves Mjoll-nir over the skin and bones of his dead goats, the goats spring back to life.Mjollnir was used at funerals as well. When balder lay on his funeral pyre, Thor consecrated the funeral with his hammer.With Mjollnir, Thor killed the giant hrungnir and also the giant master builder, who built Asgard's wall.The only time that the hammer seemed to be ineffectual was when Thor struck the giant skrymir with it. Skrymir said that he thought he was being assaulted by delicate leaves and twigs. However, it turned out that the hammer had made huge dents in a hillside instead of in Skrymir's head, thanks to the giant's clever magic.After ragnarok, the end of the world, Thor's sons, magni and modi, inherited Mjollnir.

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