Thor, God of Thunder

Thor is the Norse god of thunder, also associated with oak trees, strength, protection and fertility. ‘Thor’ comes from the Germanic word for ‘thunder’, thus he is associated with thunder, lightning and storms. He is often viewed as a fierce warrior with red hair, a red beard, and eyes like lightning. He is likened to the Greek hero Heracles through his strength and skill in battle, as well as the Roman god Jupiter and Teutonic god Donar.

Thor was the son of Odin through the jötunn (giant) Jord, however his mother was also thought to be the earth goddess Fjörgyn. He was married to fertility goddess Sif, whose long golden hair was cut by the trickster god Loki. Thor’s mistress was the giant Járnsaxa (“iron cutlass”), which whom he had sons Magni and Modi, and daughter Thrud.

Thor’s home was Bilskinir, located in the region of Asgard called Thrudheim / Thrudvangar (“place of might”).

It was thought that Thor rode through the heavens on his chariot pulled by two goats, Tanngrisnir and Tanngnjóstr, which was responsible for the sound of thunder during a storm. The lightning bolts, called Thorsviggar, were produced when Thor threw his large hammer Mjölnir. Thor also wore a belt of strength named Megingjardir, iron gloves named Járngreipr, and carried the staff Gríðarvölr.File:Mårten Eskil Winge - Tor's Fight with the Giants - Google Art Project.jpg

Thor was responsible for the protection of mankind as well as protecting the Aesir gods from the frost giants. He was involved in several fierce battles, especially with his greatest enemy, the Midgard serpent named Jörmungandr. On the day of Ragnarök, the end of the world, Thor will finally defeat his enemy, however later die from its poison.File:Thor's hammer, Skåne.svg

Thor is very popular in Germanic and Norse mythology, and his hammer was seen as a symbol of defiance of the Christianization of Scandinavia. He was worshipped especially in Uppsala, where his father Odin can be seen standing at his right side. Some suggest that Thor surpassed Odin in popularity due to the fact that worship of Thor did not require human sacrifice.

File:Sö 111, Stenkvista.jpg

The day Thursday bears his name (“Thor’s day”), just as Týr/Tiu was the namesake of Tuesday, Odin/Woden was the namesake of Wednesday, and Frejya (or Frigg, according to some sources) was the namesake of Friday.

© A Year And A Day (2013)

Advertisements

Odin, All Father

Woden / Wodan / Wotan (Anglo-Saxon)

Odin was the chief god of Norse mythology, head of the Æsir gods.  He was also called Alfodr (All Father), Yggr (terror), Sigfodr (father of victory) or Valfodr (father of the slain).  Odin is thought to be the same as Woden, Wodan or Wotan in Anglo-Saxon and Germanic mythology.

Odin lived with the rest of the Æsir in Asgard, one of the Nine Worlds of Norse mythology.

File:Odhin by Johannes Gehrts.jpg

Odin was the son of Bor and Bestla, and with Frigg fathered Balder, Hod and Hermod.  By the goddess Jord, Odin is also father to the god of thunder, Thor.

Odin is associated with war, battle, victory, death, but also poetry, wisdom, prophecy, Shamanism and magic.  He was also known as ‘father of the slain’, as it is thought that brave warriors would be chosen to go to Valhalla after death.

File:Ardre Odin Sleipnir.jpg

From his throne Hlidskialf, Odin would gain knowledge from his two ravens, Hugin (‘thought’) and Munin (‘memory’), who would fly throughout the world every day and bring news back to Odin in Valhalla.

Odin is also associated with the spear Gungnir, which never misses its target, the ring Draupnir, which reappears every ninth night, and his eight-footed horse Sleipnir.  He also has two wolves, Freki and Geri.

File:Odin (Manual of Mythology).jpg

Odin was also a shapeshifting god, using the aliases Vak or Valtam amongst humans.

On the day of Ragnarök, the end of the world, Odin is killed by the wolf Fenrir, the offspring of the god Loki and the frost giantess Angrboda.

Odin is tied to the story of the Runes, as the Poetic Edda states he hung upside down from the world tree, Yggdrasil, for nine days and pierced himself with his spear in order to obtain their magical knowledge.

I know that I hung on a windy tree
nine long nights,
wounded with a spear, dedicated to Odin,
myself to myself,
on that tree of which no man knows from where its roots run.
No bread did they give me nor a drink from a horn,
downwards I peered;
I took up the runes,
screaming I took them,
then I fell back from there.

This story of sacrifice and physical tribulation in order to receive mystical wisdom is similar to a shamanic initiation, and tells how Odin became associated with shamanism.

The name Yggdrasil is thought to mean ‘Odin’s Horse’, since drasil means horse and Yggr is another name for Odin.  ‘Odin’s Horse’ is a reference to ‘gallows’, as Odin sacrificed himself by hanging from the world tree.

Odin still desired more knowledge, and later traded one of his eyes for a drink from the Well of Wisdom, gaining immense knowledge.  Also, the Vanir goddess Freya taught Odin the magic of Seidr in exchange for his knowledge of the Runes.

Sources say that every ninth year, during blóts, people made human sacrifices to Odin at the Temple at Uppsala.  It is thought that male slaves and males of each species were sacrificed and hung from the branches of the trees.

Romans equated Odin with the messenger god Mercury.  Some parallels can also be drawn between Odin and the Gaulish god Lugus, such as their association with the raven and the spear.  Some also say that Odin replaced the Proto-Germanic god Týr/Tîwaz during the Germanic migration period.

File:Georg von Rosen - Oden som vandringsman, 1886 (Odin, the Wanderer).jpg

Wednesday is named after Odin, in the form of ‘Woden’s Day’.  This is thought to come from the Latin dies Mercurii (‘Mercury’s day’), given the Romans compared Odin to their god Mercury.

Odin is often pictured as an elderly man with a long white beard, wide brim hat, and wooden staff or spear.  Tolkien based his character Gandalf from Lord of the Rings on an “Odinic wanderer”.  Odin is also thought to be an early version of Father Christmas in Scandinavian and Germanic countries.

Wiki – Odin
Wiki – Yggdrasil
Wiki – Runes
Pantheon – Odin
Ancient Mythology – Odin

© A Year And A Day (2013)

Lugh, Master of Skills

Lug, Lugus/Lugos (Gaulish), Lugh Lámhfhada (Irish), Lleu Llaw Gyffes (Welsh), Lugaid/Lugaidh, Lonnansclech

Lugh is a popular Celtic sun god known for his many skills.  Because of this, he was also called Lugh Lámhfhada (Lugh of the Long Arm), Lleu Llaw Gyffes (Lleu of the Skillful Hand), Samildánach (Skilled in All the Arts), Lonnbeimnech (fierce striker, sword-shouter) or Macnia (boy hero).

File:Autel tricephale MuseeStRemi Reims 1131a.jpg

Lugh is thought to be a form of the pan-Celtic/Gaulish god Lugus/Lugos.  The ancient Romans associated Lugh with the Roman god Mercury/Greek Hermes, as well as Apollo through his association with Lugus.  It is also possible that Lugh/Lugus was also a triple god, comprising the Gaulish gods Esus, Toutatis and Taranis.

Lugh was known as a sun god and a fierce warrior.  He is also known as a god of storms, particularly thunderstorms.  He was associated with the raven, crow, and lynx, and had a magic hound.  Lugh possessed several magical weapons, including an invincible Spear, one of the treasures of the Tuatha Dé Danann.  It is said that the Spear never missed its target and was so bloodthirsty it would often try to fight without anyone wielding it.

File:Lugh spear Millar.jpg

Lugh’s father was Cian, son of Danu and Dian Cécht of the Tuatha Dé Danann, and his mother was Ethniu/Ethlinn, daughter of Balor of the Fomorians.  It was said that Lugh’s grandfather, Balor of the Evil Eye, learned that he would one day be murdered by a grandson.  He tried to confine his daughter Ethniu, however Cian released her and she bore him three sons.  Balor arranged for the children to be killed, however Lugh was saved.  Lugh was later given to Tailtiu, a Fir Bolg, who raised him as her foster son.

Lugh had many wives, including Buí and Nás, daughters of Ruadri, King of Britain, as well as Echtach, Englic, and Rosmerta.  Lugh’s most famous son was the Irish war hero Cú Chulainn, some say through the mortal maiden Deichtine/Dechtire.

 

One story of Lugh explains how he travelled to the Hall of Tara to join the court of King Nuada of the Tuatha Dé Danann.  The guard at the door will not grant him access unless he had a skill that was of help to the King.  Lugh said he was a smith, wright, craftsman, swordsman, harpist, poet, historian, sorcerer, physician, and champion, however the guard tells him they already have experts with those skills.  Lugh then asks if any one man has all of those skills together, which the guard could not answer, and Lugh was allowed to enter the Hall.

It is during the Second Battle of Mag Tuireadh against the Fomorians that King Nuada is killed in battle by Balor. Lugh then faces Balor, who opens his poisonous eye that kills all it looks upon.  Lugh however shoots a stone from a sling-shot that drives his eye out the back of his head, killing Balor.

Lugh later finds Bres, the half-Formorian former king of the Tuatha Dé Danann, beaten and scared.  Bres begs for his life, and Lugh agrees to spare him if he shares his secrets of the land, including when to plough, sow, and reap.  At the end of the war, Lugh becomes High King of Ireland and rules for many years.

Cermait, the son of Dagda, later seduces one of Lugh’s wives.  Lugh kills him in revenge, however Cermait had three sons MacCuill, MacCecht and MacGrené/ Gréine, who avenged their father’s death by killing Lugh at Uisnech in Loch Lugborta.

Lugh held a harvest fair in honour of his foster mother, Tailtiu, which fell around the time of the first harvest in the Northern Hemisphere, August 1.  The festival was named Lughnasadh (“Festival of Lugh”) and celebrated corn, grains, bread and other symbols of the harvest.  Lúnasa is also the Irish name for the month of August.  In Christian England, this festival is known as Lammas (after the Saxon phrase hlaf maesse or “loaf mass”) also celebrating the first harvest of the year.  Even today, many people in Ireland celebrate Lughnasadh and Lammas with dancing, song, and bonfires.

Wiki – Lugh, Lugus
PaganWiccan About.com – Lugh
Timeless Myths – Lugh

© A Year And A Day (2013)

The Dagda, Father of All

The Dagda (Pagan Blog Project) 

  • The Dagda is a powerful Irish god, also known as Eochaid Ollathair (“All Father”), Ruad Rofhessa (“Lord of Great Knowledge”), or Lord of the Heavens.
  • His name means “good”, and is known as the god of protection, warriors, knowledge, the arts, magic, music, initiation, prophecy, weather, reincarnation, death, fire, the sun, healing, regeneration, prosperity and plenty.
  • Sources vary in terms of his family members.  In some sources, his father is Elatha and his mother is Ethniu/ Eithne.  Also Danu is either seen as his mother or his daughter, probably due to his association with Brigid.
  • The Dagda is thought to be the father of Bodb Dearg, Aed Minbhrec/Aed Cáem, Cermait Milbél, Midir, and daughters Aine, and Brigid.  He was also the father or brother of Oghma.
  • Through his affair with Bóand/ Bóann, he fathered a daughter Breg and son Óengus/Aengus /Angus Óg.

  • He was High King of the Tuatha Dé Danann, after his predecessors Nuada and Lugh.
  • The Tuatha Dé Danann were a race of supernatural beings who conquered Ireland from the mighty Fomorians, prior to the coming of the Milesians (Celts).
  • Prior to the battle with the Fomorians, he mates with the goddess of war, the Mórrígan, on Samhain in exchange for a plan of battle.

 

  • The Dagda was described as a huge and stocky man, with superhuman strength as well as superhuman appetite.  He possessed several magicaly objects.
  • One of them was a great treasure of the Tuatha Dé Danann, the magic cauldron from a magical city of Murias.  Known as the Cauldron of Dagda, the Cauldron of Plenty, or Undry, it was thought to be bottomless and left no man unsatisfied.
  • Another was a giant club or hammer that could kill several men at once with its head, and bring them back to life with its handle.
  • The Dagda also possessed a magic oak harp called Uaithne, or “the Four Angled Music”, used to change the seasons and weather, or to command the order of battle.  This is also the harp that is seen on many Irish flags (and Guinness beer!) symbolizing Ireland to this day.
  • He is sometimes likened to the Gaulish god Sucellus, the striker, who is depicted with a hammer and cup.

  • He is credited with a long reign as High King of the Tuatha Dé Danann before dying at the Brú na Bóinne, succumbing to a wound inflicted by Cethlenn/Caitlin during the Second Battle of Magh Tuiredh years prior in retribution for the death of Balor.
  • He was replaced as King by his grandson, Delbáeth, who fathered the famous matron goddesses of Ireland, Ériu, Banba and Fodla.

Wiki – The Dagda
Timeless Myths – Dagda
Celtic Deities

© A Year And A Day (2013)