Friday, March 16, 2012

How Thor got his Hammer

This post is the first of a series derived from Norse Mythology Revisited. The point of the series is to fold out the mythology originated from my own culture and hopefully sort out some of the misunderstandings promoted by movies and TV-series.

Digging into this, I have found that my memory (or supposed knowlegde, whatever you prefer) seems to have been a bit off.

This means that both the original post and the story beneath has some errors. Of course I could delete the whole thing and start over, but in the name of truth I´ve decided to leave it as it is in order to show the development in my studies of Norse Mythology, which has proven to be even more complex than I imagined.

I´ve rewritten the story about the making of Thor´s Hammer. You can read it here and perhaps go back and forth between the two versions to get an idea about the development.

Thors Hammer is perhaps the most known concept in Norse Mythology, but how many really know the story of how Thor got his hammer?

Well, now is the chance to learn about it. Sit down in your favorite chair with your preferred beverage and read the story of:

Mjolner - A Hammer cut short...
(please keep in mind, that this is the first edition - there will soon be a re-write, since I wasn´t pleased with the result of this)
Sif when angry - (Usually Sif is kind, gentle and chest, but it can get to a point...)

Sif was furious! Her hair! Her beatiful, beautiful hair had been cut off while she was sleeping and for someone who didn´t know her, it would be impossible to determine if her tears were mostly coming from grief or angry, but for those who knew her temper there was no doubt that she was steaming! If from this description you find yourself understanding but a tenth of her anger, the endeavour of describing Thor´s reaction is hopeless. His face a gleaming red he knew that there was only person in the entirety of all three worlds who would even think to dare such a thing. "Looookeeeeee!" his roar sounded and everyone in Asgard knew, Thor wasn´t in a good mood. His roar reached the far lands of Outgard, where some Yetten are said to have hidden in their caves that day, thinking that they were at the verge of beginning Ragnarok. 

Heimdal, the guardian of Bifrost

It also reached Heimdal at the Mountain of the Sky covering his ears in pain, but since his sensitive ears could hear the grass grow, this doesn´t tell us much about how much power Thor´s voice had. Bifrost, however, was vibrating with his cry shaking Midgard in such a manner that the ground opened it´s mouth and swallowed trees standing the closest to the frozen bridge.


Needless to say, Loke was in no particular hurry to go see his friend and had he the courage to admit it even to himself, he was probably more afraid of Sif than of Thor. Some say he even took the time to visit a Yetten cousin for a few days. But in the end he had to face the consequences of his actions and went to the house of Sif and Thor. The moment he arrived, Thor grabbed him by the throat and commanded him to compensate Sif for the loss of her hair. Loke tried talking himself out of it, since he didn´t have a clue as to what could possibly be a fitting compensation, but Thor had an idea. He and Sif had already talked about it and they agreed that if Loke could replace Sif´s hair, they would let him off the hook. But it couldn´t be just any kind of hair. No, for Loke to truly compensate for both the loss of her hair AND the pain involved, the replacement hair had to be made of the finest gold. Still, the hair had to be able to grow and to be easily cut and in general be treated as ordinary hair.

"Thor," Loke snake toothed, "as you know, I would do anything to make up for the grief my unintended mischief has caused. But what you´re asking is just not possible. Surely there must be another way I can bring happiness to your most beautiful wife."

When Thor reminded him, that it was either Golden hair or Thor would strike him down where he stood, Loke revised his word. "Did I really say it was not possible," he replied, "what I meant was 'difficult' and I think I know who to turn to." So Golden Hair it was.

Loke went to the mountain dwarfs who were well known for their craftsmanship and there he met the sons of Ivalde.

The two brothers, Brokk and Sindre agreed to make not only the golden hair, but in addition the ship Skidbladner and the spear Gungner.

All three objects were marvellous wonders. The ship Skidbladner always had wind in its sails, no matter in which direction it sailed and when folded it was the size and weight of a handkerchief. The spear Gungner was a mighty weapon that could penetrate anything and then of course there was the beautiful golden hair to which the dwarfs had even added special magic, so that Sif could use it to enforce her magical skills. Loke was very impressed with the three objects.

"What wonders you have made, sons of Ivalde," he said and decided to try tricking the dwarfs into doing some extra work without payment, "Never from this day will there be forged objects as wonderrous as these. In fact, I will bet my head on it."

The dwarfs taking much pride in their work and always being keen on developing their skills further were angry. How could he say such a thing? Did he really believe that this was as good as it gets and that they would not continously improve their work and skills? So, they took the bet. Loke was quite pleased with himself, but when the dwarfs started talking about the three new objects they would make, he realized he had placed himself in a difficult situation.

Sindre placed Brokk at the bellows and instructed him to never cease working them while Sindre was crafting. If he did stop, even for a short moment, Sindres work would turn out as a failure. This gave Loke an idea to win the bet. As Sindre put a pigs skin in the fire, Loke sneaked out of the mountain cave, transformed himself into a mosqouito and returned to the cave where he stung Brokk in the neck. Brokk ignored the pain and continued working the bellows and moments later, the Boar Goldenbrush was made. It had the ability that whereever it was, it could light up the whole world.

Again Sindre placed Brokk at the bellows and instructed him to keep working with no delay. sindre tossed a gold bar into the fire and started working. This time Loke stung Brokk in the neck even harder, but the dwarf still managed to control the urge to wave away the mosquito and soon Sindre drew out the golden ring, Draupner from the esse. From the ring every 9th night 8 new rings would drip, equally valuable to the original ring.

For the third time Sindre instructed Brokk to keep working the bellows and then he threw in an iron bar. Loke knew that if he was to have any chance of winning the bet, this was it, so this time he stung Brokk right in his eye and though Brokk was still able to ignore the pain, he had to wipe away the blood to see and in doing so, he stopped for just a short moment.

Thor with his Hammer, Mjolner
When Sindre pulled out the object, which was supposed to be a war hammer, the handle was way too short making it useless. Loke was thrilled, but just for a moment, because these dwarfs quickly came up with a solution. They decided to craft the magic in such a way that instead of being a war hammer to be held in your hands while fighting, it was to be a throwing weapon. They induced on it a spell and now the hammer would always hit it´s target and it would return to the owner after each throw.

Loke hoped to the last moment that the Ases judging the objects would deem Mjolner worthless, but in the end they decided that the latter three objects were better than the first. Loke had to accept that he had lost the bet and made himself ready for losing his head to the dwarfs.

But then, as he crouched with Sindre right behind him ready to strike his sword, Loke realized something.
"Stop!" he cried. The dwarf stopped for a moment but as the astonishment faded away he began taunting Loke. "As a dwarf I have no means to force you to give me your head, but we made a bet and I expected you to be honest about it. Are you not man enough to hold your end of the bargain?"

"Of course I am, dwarf," Loke smiled, "A deal is a deal and a bet is a bet. I just wanted to caution you to keep the deal. We agreed and we bet my head. So when you strike, be very careful to only take the head. The neck is mine."

Realizing it wasn´t possible to take Lokes head without taking at least some of his neck, Sindre downed his sword. But the head of Loke was still his and he should not go unpunished for his arrogance. And since Lokes tounge was his main character flaw, Sindre took a needle and thread and sowed Lokes mouth together, so that he would not be able to speak for some time.

Such a peaceful time it would be for the Ases...