Wyrd Designs: Understanding the Symbols Part 2 – Mjollnir

Wyrd Designs: Understanding the Symbols Part 2 – Mjollnir May 11, 2010

Probably one of the most popular symbols of our faith, if not the most popular symbol, is the mjollnir – Thor’s hammer. In the lore, there are many stories of Thor using the hammer in the defense of the Gods and people, killing the enemies of Asgard with his mighty hammer.


There are many runestones found in Denmark and Sweden, bearing both a depiction of mjollnir but also an inscription entreating Thor to hallow or protect. In the archaeological record, it’s one of the few symbols we do clearly see worn as pendants and necklaces by the ancient peoples. In fact during the period of conversion, it appears ancient jeweler’s were hedging their bets, there’s at least one example of the same mold holding both the ability to make crosses, as well as cast hammers. Some scholars theorize that the seeming popularity of such jewelry was in direct defiant or defensive response to he wearing of crosses by Christians during the tumultuous time of conversion. In fact the majority of such evidence of mjollnir necklace and pendants comes from lands that during the time the archaeological artifact dates to were in contention with Christianity.As such it may be possible that mjollnir’s were not worn until the ancient peoples had the ever-encroaching Christianity to contend with.

Etymologicaly, the word connects back to Icelandic verbs for crushing and grinding. In addition to this, there are two other theories with other possible connotations of meaning as well. It may root to the theorized Proto-Indo-European root word mele, which gives us the Latin maleus and the Slavic molot which mean hammer.  Or it may root to the Russian word molniya and the Welsh word mellt, both words can be translated as lightning. Since Thor is associate with Thunder and lightning this connection would make as much since as the other connections from the mythological standpoint of our lore.

Today, as then, the symbol is worn by us in the Northern Tradition as a symbol not only of Thor, and a symbol that invokes Thor’s protection, but also as a symbol of our faith when we are surrounded by other faiths.

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