Chris Hemsworth has made a career out of playing the Norse God of Thunder, but it's worth noting that people were revering Thor centuries before the Aussie actor ever appeared on the silver screen.

The most recent archaeological evidence shows that Germanic peoples worshipped Thor, or early approximations of him, during the very early stages of the first few centuries CE. 

During this era, Germanic peoples migrated all over Europe, and their religious beliefs became the foundation, throughout the Nordic and Baltic regions, of what modern historians call the Old Norse religion.

The most known, thanks in part to recent Hollywood movie adaptations, of the Norse gods is surely Thor. Whilst he is most known as the Norse God of Thunder, he is also associated with lightning, fertility, stormy weather, and sacred groves.

He is one of the sons of the chieftain of the Norse pantheon, has more than 15 names (it seems like he has a different name in each Norse saga that he stars in), and has fathered two children with different Norse goddesses. He also holds the role of a stepfather.

Scanning the sagas, one discovers that Thor is often hot-headed, short-tempered, and loves a good brawl, but is also a great protector of, and helper to, we mere mortals.

Whilst he certainly bordered on arrogance and a bit too much self-love, he was never exiled from Asgard for his hubris, as recent movie adaptations would have us believe. 

One thing Hollywood did get (relatively) right in their depiction of him was his three important and magical possessions. 

Beyond its destructive power, Thor's hammer Mjöllnir is a symbol of divine protection and justice in Norse mythology. Illustration: The Viking Herald

Mjöllnir - hammer of the gods

Walk down any street in the world, and the odds are that most people will know one fact about Thor. He wields a big hammer. 

Where would the sagas (or Hollywood movies) be without Mjöllnir, Thor's magical hammer? 

According to the sagas, which are, of course, the most entertaining look at Norse mythology, Mjöllnir was said to be fashioned by the dwarves, who were renowned for their metalworking and craftsmanship abilities.

Yet the dwarves did more than just create a deadly weapon when they imbued Mjöllnir with magical properties. Beyond its ability to summon thunder and lightning (quite beneficial for the god of both), it also had the knack of always returning to Thor's grasp when thrown.

It also granted Thor extra strength making him one of the most powerful, literally and figuratively, gods in the Norse pantheon.

In Viking societies, Thor's hammer was seen as a symbol of protection and authority. This is confirmed by small Thor pendants unearthed in recent archaeological digs.

The Járngreipr, Thor's iron-clad gloves, enable him to handle his powerful hammer with unmatched skill. Illustration: The Viking Herald

Járngreipr - giving Thor an iron grip

So we know Thor had a mighty magical hammer. I can hear you ask, however, how did he handle such an epic weapon? 

Well, long before Occupational Health and Safety was a thing, Thor was practicing it thanks to another magical possession, this time a pair of gloves called Járngreipr - Old Norse for Iron Grip. 

Unlike Mjöllnir, there is no specific origin story to these gloves lurking in any of the sagas. Still, contemporary historians and mythologists believe the gloves must have been part of a "package deal" when Thor received his hammer.

Like Mjöllnir, the gloves not only possessed an evident and practical purpose (to allow him to wield his magical hammer) and to help fend off any would-be attackers but also took on a symbolic meaning.

They were the ultimate symbol of his mastery of the heavens, his ability to summon lightning and thunder instantaneously.

Thor's belt, Megingjörð, was not just a fashion statement but a magical artifact that amplified his innate godly power. Illustration: The Viking Herald

Megingjörð - buckle up!

The final possession that was a crucial part of Thor's armory and wardrobe was a magical belt, Megingjörð. 

As its name in Old Norse suggests, this was a power belt that, when worn, doubled the physical strength and power of the already very strong and powerful Norse God of Thunder. 

When Thor was said to tighten his belt and buckle up, it allowed him an extra boost of power to battle with even more extraordinary strength. The belt helped to amplify his position as one of the most feared and formidable warriors in any of the Old Norse sagas. 

Remember that Thor needed all the magical help he could get when battling such evil creatures as the World Serpent.

These three crucial possessions of Thor, imbued with magical and symbolic properties, were seen as widely recognized representations of Thor's brute power and divinity. 

His role as a warrior, and protector of humankind, was further enhanced by these three fashionable accessories.

For more on archaeological artifacts depicting Thor and his possessions, read an article from The Collector here.

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