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Thor seems to have always had close ties to the third function as well as the second, and during the Viking Age, a time of great social confusion and innovation, this connection with the third function seems to have been strengthened still more. This made him the foremost god of the common people in Scandinavia and the viking colonies.

From Thor to Odin: a guide to the Norse gods

This role can be made clearer by contrasting Thor with the god who was virtually his functional opposite: Odin. The Eddas and sagas portray the relationship between the two gods as being often uneasy as a result.

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Due to demographic shifts, whereby the second and third functions became largely indistinguishable from one another, the prominence of Thor seems to have increased at the expense of Odin throughout the Viking Age c. Late period sources describe Thor as the foremost of all the Aesir, [14] a statement that would have been rather ludicrous before the Viking Age, when Odin and his Anglo-Saxon and continental equivalents occupied this position.


Nowhere was this trend more pronounced than in Iceland, which was originally settled in the ninth century by farming colonists fleeing what they found to be the oppressive and arbitrary rule of an Odin-worshiping Norwegian king. When Christianity first reached Scandinavia and the viking colonies, the people tolerated the cult of the new god just like they tolerated the cult of any other god.

Top 10 Norse Gods

However, when it became clear that the Christians had no intention of extending this same tolerance to those who continued to adhere to the worship of the old gods, but instead wanted to eradicate the traditional religion of northern Europe and its accompanying way of life and replace it with a foreign religion, the northern Europeans retaliated. And who better to defend their traditional way of life and worldview from hostile, invading forces than Thor?

Norse mythology

One of the many areas of life in which this struggle manifested — and one of the easiest to trace by the methods of modern anthropology — was modes of dress. Archaeological discoveries of these hammer pendants are concentrated in precisely the areas where Christian influence was the most pronounced. Looking for more great information on Norse mythology and religion? While this site provides the ultimate online introduction to the topic, my book The Viking Spirit provides the ultimate introduction to Norse mythology and religion period. History of the Archbishops of Hamburg-Bremen.

Translated by Francis Joseph Tschan. Dictionary of Northern Mythology.

Translated by Angela Hall. My translation.

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The Politics of Neil Gaiman's 'Norse Mythology' - The Atlantic

The original Old Norse text reads:. The Warrior God Par Excellence Thor, the brawny thunder god, is the archetype of a loyal and honorable warrior, the ideal toward which the average human warrior aspired. Hallowing His activities on the divine plane were mirrored by his activities on the human plane Midgard , where he was appealed to by those in need of protection, comfort, and the blessing and hallowing of places, things, and events. References: [1] Orel, Vladimir. They traveled as far east as Baghdad and as far west as North America, which they discovered some five hundred years before Christopher Columbus.

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  • They spoke the Old Norse language, wrote in runes , and practiced their ancestral religion. The Vikings were motivated to sail from their homelands by timeless, universal human desires: wealth, prestige, and power. As in most human societies, those aims were intertwined for the Vikings; those who had more wealth typically had more prestige and power, and vice versa.

    Norse Gods: How Odin Created The World

    The Vikings sought wealth in both its portable form — gold, silver, gemstones, and the like — and in the form of land. We have the Vikings to thank for our present understanding not only of their own pre-Christian religion and mythology, but of that of the other Germanic peoples as well. But from the little that we do know about those religions directly, they seem to have been variations on common themes that were also shared by the Norse, so we can use the Norse sources to help us reconstruct those hoary religions, too.

    What is Norse Mythology?

    The Germanic peoples are one of the indigenous peoples of northern Europe, along with the Celts, Sami, Finns, and others. Their best-known representatives are the Vikings, the Anglo-Saxons, and the continental Germanic tribes, but they included many other groups as well.