What Does Thor Mean?
Thor is one of the Norse gods of the sky. He is associated with the rainbow and rain. His rainbow is associated with the rainbow bridge he has constructed to link Asgard and Jotunheim, the places where his home, the heavens, reside. This bridge was meant to signify the cosmic divide between the two worlds of heaven and earth that was long believed to separate the world of the gods from that of the mortals.
Thor’s hammer Mjolnir is the hammer of the gods. It is so named because it was given to him by Odin as a gift in recognition of his prowess and service to the gods.
Thor’s other symbol is Mjolnir. He takes pride in wielding this mighty hammer and holding it above all others. This is particularly significant because Thor is identified with strength and the ability to endure.
Thor’s name means “the thundering one.” A combination of thunder and hammer can describe Thor’s stature and power. By extension, Thor is also associated with the sky.
As mentioned, Thor is known for his service to the gods and his participation in many myths, legends, and songs. One of his most famous tales is the story of the thunderbolt. One evening while drinking with the gods, Thor dreamed that he saw a great bolt of lightning. His eyes were opened to a beautiful girl who fell in love with him and told him she would marry him if he could perform the thunderbolt with his hands.
The next morning the goddess of love, Alvis, sent the fairy maid Gullveig (gullveig means “rainbow”) to find a lad who could perform the thunderbolt. The two boys were Thor and Loki. Thor was a warrior with a gift for throwing his hammer into the air and catching it in his hand before it touched the ground. He could not throw it in one motion, but he could catch it. He learned that the bowstring of a stringed instrument that needed to be pulled before it could be strummed was also strong enough to cause a bolt of lightning.
The first thing Gullveig did was tie a cloth over her eyes so she could not see what was happening as she was preparing to make a lightning bolt. She placed a pair of barley ears over her lap so she would not be injured in case the bolt struck the ground. She then put on a flowing dress, a skirt made of gold, and adorned herself with a crown. She arrived at the place where Thor was waiting and stood beside him.
Thor ran out of the house and onto the red carpet. He stepped onto the carpet and the lightning struck, lighting up the whole of Asgard.
This story tells us that the heavenly realms are close to Earth. We know that Odin, the god of heaven, dwells there as well as his brother Jormungand, the god of the earth.
The second part of the story tells us that the girl was named Idunn, or “cave-lady” as she was commonly known. She was a daughter of Loki and a mortal woman named Hysp and they lived in Uppsala, Sweden. She was destined to become the protector of the gods, as the lightning that struck the ground represented her goddess mother’s voice that commanded her to protect her son.
The third part of the story describes how the thunderbolt actually fell on the floor, not on the ceiling as it should have, so it struck Gullveig who, being a maiden, had no protection. The final part tells us that Thor raised the bright spark in the red robe and it grew into a beautiful child who was to become the mighty dwarf, Thor. It is this story that was handed down by the Norse people and later the Vikings and continues to be passed down to this day.
The most recent version of the story was written by Richard Milton, a Scottish writer, in his book, “The Norse Gods and Goddesses.” This is an excellent book to help you understand more about the origins of Thor and the myths associated with him.