Friday, May 16, 2014

Thor's Hammer

How Thor Got His Hammer

Sif's Hair

Thor loved Sif without limits and was especially proud of her hair.  Before he left, he kissed his wife goodbye.  That night Sif slept alone in their bedroom, in Thor’s magnificent hall, Bilskirnir.

No one noticed a lone figure creeping through and into Bilskirnir that night.  The Shape-Changer Loki pulled out a knife and bent over Sif.  She continued to sleep, breathing deeply, unaware of the evil that the Trickster was about to perform upon her.  He ever so gently took the strands of hair in one and with the other, he quickly cut the locks from Sif’s head.  By the time he was done, Sif was bald.

Thor gasped in horror at the sight of his beloved Sif.  Raising his head to the roof and with arms stretched wide, he let out a cry of anguish so terrible that all the Gods and Goddesses throughout Asgard could hear it.  Her sorrow now pained him more than the lost of her hair that he loved so much, for he loved his wife more than life itself.

Loki heard Thor’s cries and tried to hide from him by changing his shape, but no matter what shape he took, there was no way he could hide from the anger.  Thor soon overtook the Evil-doer, and grabbing him by the throat he lift him off his feet.

With feet dangling in mid-air Loki begged for forgiveness.  "A harmless prank," Loki cried, as he tried to loosen Thor’s grip around his neck.  "Please, Thor, it was only a joke.  I meant no harm."

Loki looked at Sif for a moment.  His tongue licked his lips and his fertile mind search for a solution.  "I will replace the hair with hair that is even more noble and graceful,"  Loki finally said.

Thor loosened his grip.  "How?" he asked.

"With the help of my friends, the dwarfs," Loki said.  "If anyone has the skill to do it, it is the dwarfs."

"I hope so, for your sake," Thor said, as he dropped Loki to the ground.  "If you don’t make good on your promise," Thor growled, "I’ll hunt you down and crush every bone in your body with my bare hands."

Loki hid his fear and stood tall as he straightened his cloths and brushed off the dust.  "No need to worry," Loki said and winked at the Thunder God, and was off before Thor could say another word.

Loki wormed his way into the bowls of the Earth to Svartalfaheim until he found Ivaldi’s sons hard at work in their smith-shops.  "I immediately knew that only the sons of Ivaldi had the skill to help poor, dear Sif," Loki said in the most compassionate voice he could conjure up.  "I have come a long way to ask you if you would be so kind as to use your magical skills as smiths, to make such hair?" Loki said.

"But what will we get out of such a deed?" one of the dwarfs asked.

"Why, I’m sure you will receive the everlasting, undying appreciation of mighty Thor and his beautiful wife.  And, of course, I too will be in your debt.  "Then Loki smiled and with a twinkle in his eyes he said, "And everyone knows that the appreciation of three Gods is worth a hundred time more than all the gold in the nine worlds."

The dwarfs could see that though Loki was offering only promises, but they accepted to Loki’s request.

"But if you really want to win the good will of the great Gods of Asgard, you might want to consider a gift to the All-Father and Freyr as well," Loki said.  "It couldn’t hurt."

The dwarfs agreed once more and immediately went to work piling wood on their furnace deep in their cave.  When the dwarfs were finished, they placed the strands of gold hair over Loki’s outstretched hands.  So light and fine they were that even the slightest breath caused them to shimmer.

But the dwarfs did not stop when the hair was completed.  They continued to work the bellows and cause the fires to burn even brighter and hotter.  Loki was so pleased that he showered the dwarfs with a storm of thanks that seemed endless, even for the Master of Lies.  He declared the sons of Ivaldi the greatest smiths in all the nine worlds and promised to let all who he met know of their great gifts of magic and smith-working.

As Loki may his way through the underground passageways of Svartalfaheim a most wondrous idea popped into his nimble mind.  He quickly turned around and began to make his way through a long passageway that led to the hall of the two brother-dwarfs, Brokk and Eitri.

When the two dwarfs saw Loki they could see that he was holding three marvelous treasures, the golden hair, the ship and spear.  Loki could see into their hearts and knew they were filled with envy and jealousy at the marvelous craftsmanship with which they were fashioned.

"You have never see such exquisite workmanship as that which manufactured those items," Loki said, "because there is none that can come close to matching it."

"Not true," Brokk said.

"Oh?  Do you know of anyone who could match the skill that fashioned those treasures?" Loki asked.

"Yes, I do," Brook said.

"Who?" asked Loki.

"We can," Eitri said bluntly.

"Really?"  Loki said in a slow and methodical way, as if the thought was just now filling his mind.  "If your skill is greater, then you should be able to fashion treasures to equal - no, surpass these marvelous devices."

"We could," Brokk said.

"Easily," Eitri said.

"Then do so," Loki demanded.

"Why should we?" asked Brokk.

"To prove to the nine worlds that you two are the master craftsmen," Loki said shrewdly.

"Would you like to make a wager?" asked Brokk.

"Loki thought for a moment and then said.  "Yes.  I’ll wager my head against your heads that you could not possibly make three treasures the like of these."

The two dwarfs immediately accepted Loki’s wager.  They realized that if they were as good as their boost, they could not only rid themselves of Loki once and for all, but the treasures of the sons of Ivaldi would be their’s.

Brokk began piling wood into the furnace while Eitri place a lump of gold into the fire.  Brokk began pumping the bellows as hard as he could and the fires grew white hot.  Finally, Eitri finished his task and pulled Gullinbursti out of the forge.  Gullinbursti was a boar that possessed bristle of gold.

Next, Eitri fetched another block of gold, much larger than the first, and placed it on the forge.  Brokk continued to pump the bellows until heat made the gold was soft and malleable.  When Eitri finally pulled the treasure he was working on out of the fire, he held a gold arm-ring in his hand.

Finally, Eitri placed a large chunk of iron on the forge and told his brother to pump the fires until the iron was white hot.  Brokk did as he was instructed while Eitri hammered and pounded the iron, reshaping it over and over.  When Eitri finally pulled the iron from the fire he cried out in anger at what he saw.

He held a powerful iron hammer in his hand, but the handle was obviously too short.  He examined it carefully, and though he was disappointed by the misshapen handle, he was satisfied that the hammer was not entirely spoiled.  He called the hammer Mjollnir.  So massive and powerful it was, the two dwarfs stared at each other and nodded their approval that the hammer might be short in the handle, but it was still the most powerful weapon that anyone had ever created.

Loki and Brokk reached Asgard.  Word of their coming had reached Asgard before they arrived.  Brokk listened to Loki tell of how he was able to convince the dwarfs to create the gifts and finally said, "Talk it up, Loki, for soon you will lose your head and the power to speak."

"What do you mean?" asked Odin.

Brokk told the All-Father of his wager with Loki and it was agreed that the Gods, Odin, Thor and Freyr, would sit in judgement and decide which of the gifts were greater.  Loki began describing the gifts that the sons of Ivaldi created for the Gods.

"This spear is for you, Odin," Loki said.  "It is named Grungnir and when you throw it, it will always hit its mark."  Odin took the spear and examined it carefully.  "You can use the spear to stir up wars and make men keep their oaths."

Loki then turned to Freyr and gave him Skidbladnir.  "This is the most remarkable ship," Loki said.  "You can fold it small enough to place it in your pocket, and yet it is big enough to hold an entire army armed to the teeth.  As soon as you hoist its sail, it will sail over water and sky and never fail to find enough wind to propel it.

Finally, Loki turned to Sif.  "My third gift is the fulfillment of my promise to Sif and Thor."  He presented the long, flowing strands of gold hair to Sif.  "Place it to your head and it will take root and grow as if it were your own hair.  Your beauty will be restored and then some."

After Loki was finished presenting his gifts, Brokk stepped forward with his gifts.  "I have here a gold arm-ring," he said.  "It is a gift for the all-wise Odin.  It is known as Draupnir and it is not merely a ring made of gold.  Every ninth night, eight additional gold rings will drop from it."

Brokk next turned to Freyr and presented him with his gift.  "This boar of gold is named Gullinbursti.  He has the power to run faster than any horse or steed and he will never grow fatigued."

"My third treasure is for the mighty Thor," Brokk said "It is a hammer and its named is Mjollnir.  Within it is the power of the thunderbolt.  Nothing can break it and no weapon is as powerful as this hammer.  "The Storm God took the hammer and raised it.  It took all his strength to lift it.  "It will hit its mark every time you throw it," Brokk said.  "And it will always return to your hand, no matter how far you throw it."

Odin, Thor and Freyr did not need any time to consider their decision.  They were all of one mind and considered the hammer, Mjollnir, the most important gift of all.  It was more important than all the other gifts collectively because such a powerful weapon as the hammer could defend Asgard against any attack by the giants.

"We have decided in favor of Brokk," Odin said.  "Brokk has won the wager."

"Then I will have Loki’s head, just as we agreed," Brokk aid.

"Instead of my head, which is useless to you, I will give you its weight in gold," Loki said.

"I have all the gold I need and more," Brokk said.  "I will have your head."

"Then you will have to take it, if you can," Loki said, and he then raced away as fast as he could, running out of Gladsheim.  The Gods laughed at the way Loki tricked the dwarf.

Brokk turned to Thor.  "Where is the honor of the Gods?  I have been cheated by Loki and the Gods do nothing.  I thought honor was the essence of the Gods?"

Thor, who was still not pleased with Loki over what he did to Sif, agreed to bring Loki back to Asgard and make him pay the price he agreed to with Brokk.

It was not long after Thor stormed out of Gladsheim that he returned with Loki, dragging him by the neck.

"Now I will have his head," Brokk said.

"Wait just a moment," Loki said as Brokk reached for his knife.  "It’s true I agreed to surrender my head, and it now belongs to you, but my neck is still mine.  You may not touch any part of my neck."

The Gods laughed and nodded at Loki’s demand.  Brokk realized that Loki had tricked him once more.

"If your head is mine, then I will do with it as I please without touching you neck," Brokk said.  "If I can’t cut it off to stop your lies then I can as least sew your lying mouth shut."

Loki laughed at Brokk, but the dwarf was serious.  He then grabbed Loki by the head and began sewing up his lips with an awl.

~ Bilbo's World


Most practitioners of Germanic Neopagan faiths wear Mjollnir pendants as a symbol of that faith worldwide.  Renditions of Mjollnir are designed, crafted and sold by some Germanic Neopagan groups and individuals.  In May 2013 the "Hammer of Thor" was added to the list of United States Department of Veterans Affairs emblems for headstones and markers.



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