Within Norse mythology, Thor is easily one of the most fascinating characters. He features in the majority of the major myths. Unlike his brother Loki, Thor does very little scheming and a great deal of fighting.
For this reason he is thought of as one of the major defenders of Asgard and the Aesir and Vanir gods. What follows are just some of the major myths in which Thor plays some role.
Myths and Stories about Thor in Norse Mythology
The Dwarven Gifts to the Gods
One day Loki decided to cut off Thor’s wife’s hair. Sif was known for her beautiful golden hair. She was in such a state when she realized what Loki had done. Thor was completely enraged. Loki said he would make things right and would go see the dwarves. Off Loki went to see the dwarves and ask them to craft Sif new hair that would magically attach itself to her head.
He went to the sons of Ivaldi and asked them to create Sif new hair. They asked what they would get out of it and Loki promised they would earn favor amongst the gods. The dwarfs didn’t trust Loki but they figured it was worth a shot at getting some favor with the gods. Once they had created Sif’s new hair, the forge was still hot. They decided to not waste it and instead crafted a ship called Skidbladnir and a spear called Gungnir. Loki took the items and promised to let them know what the gods thought of their gifts. While Loki was leaving the dwarfs, he had another idea. He went to two other dwarf brothers, Brokk and Eitri. He showed them the treasures he had just received and told them he doubted they could do any better and would even bet his head on it.
The dwarves accepted the challenge. They created a golden-bristled boar called Gullinbursti, an armband made of gold called Draupnir, and finally, a hammer called Mjollnir. All the while, Loki had been tormenting them as a fly, stinging and landing on them which made their crafting process quite difficult. While his antics didn’t affect two of the treasures, it did end up causing Mjollnir to have a very short handle. Once everything had been created, the dwarf Brokk and Loki went to the gods to see what they thought of their new treasures. Odin received the spear and the armband, Frey received the boar and the boat, and Thor received the hammer.
Most importantly, Sif received their hair that had been stolen from her. The gods decided Brokk and his brother had indeed won. Loki told the dwarf he had only promised his head and not his neck. The dwarves ended up sewing Loki’s mouth shut instead.
The significance of this myth is Thor gets his infamous hammer, Mjollnir. It is the weapon that protects the Aesir from giants and keeps Asgard safe.
Loki Steals Thors Hammer
Thor woke up one morning to realize his hammer was gone. He told Loki about it and Loki decided he would go out and find it. Dressed in Freya’s falcon skin, Loki made his way to the realm of the frost giants. He met with King Thrym and asked if the king had stolen Thor’s hammer.
He said he did and would only give it back to Freya was given to him as his bride. Loki traveled back to Asgard to tell the gods the news. Freya was so upset that this would even be considered. The gods held a meeting where Heimdall suggested Thor go to the frost giants dressed as a bride and pretend he was Freya. While Thor didn’t like this plan, it seemed like the best chance to get his hammer back. Together Loki and Thor went back to King Thrym who was beyond himself that he was actually getting to marry Freya.
He through a great feast in their honor and was quite taken aback with how much Freya could eat and drink. Loki, dressed as Thor’s bridesmaid told the king how Freya hadn’t eaten for eight days in order to get ready for her wedding night. The king decided it was time for them to get married right then and there. He called for the hammer to be brought so they could exchange vows.
As soon as Thor saw his hammer, he jumped up and lost his disguise. He grabbed Mjollnir and then killed King Thrym.
The significance of this myth is Thor is willing to do anything to get his believed Mjollnir back. It shows the importance of the weapon to both Thor and the Aesir gods, as their safety depends on Thor’s ability to weld the weapon.
Thor and Loki Journey to Utgard
Thor and Loki set off to Utgard one day because Thor wants to fight with the giants there. While they are traveling, they come across a little farm. Loki tells the farmer and his family they wanted shelter and food for the night. The farmer says they can give them shelter but they don’t have much food. Thor decides they can eat his goats but tells them they have to throw the bones back into the skin.
The farmer’s son doesn’t listen and instead drains the marrow from one of the bones before throwing it into the skin. The next morning, the goats have come back to life but one is walking with a limp. Thor is enraged and asked who had gone against his wishes. The family is so scared that it ends up calming Thor down. He decides to take the farmer’s son and daughter as his servants on their journey. They start off again and eventually reach the shores of Utgard.
Before they head to the city, they decide to spend the night. They find a giant hall and take refuge there. All is well until there is a terrible growling that shakes the hall. They all decide the safest place to be is in a small room where Thor can stand guard. In the morning, Thor goes outside and finds a giant sleeping. He realizes it was the giant’s snores that had shaken the hall and scared everyone. The giant wakes up and introduces himself as Skrymir. Thor then learns everyone had spend the night in the giant’s glove. Skrymir decides to travel with the group. Everyone is starving at this point but Skrymir says they will eat when they camp for the night. When they do reach their camping spot, the giant then tells them how tired he is and they can feel free to open his sack and get food.
No matter what Thor tries, the sack will not open. Thor got so furious he took his hammer and smashed it into the giant’s skull. The giant woke up and asked what that was. Thor tried two more times to smash the giant’s skull and kill him, but each time failed. Eventually, morning came and the group continued on their journey. Skrymir left them and went his own way. When the four finally reached Utgard the king told them they had to prove they were the master at a craft or pastime in order to stay at Utgard.
Each of them tries their best to beat the giant’s in different ways, but no one succeeded. The king let them spend the night anyways. In the morning, the king fed his guests and then walked them out of Utgard. The king asks how they think things have turned out. Thor responds that he is indeed second best to the giants. The king decides to tell Thor and everyone the truth. The king is actually Skrymir and has been using magic to mess with the four travelers the entire time.
He and the giants were actually very scared of what Thor was capable of and thought magic was their only real defense. The king vanished and Thor took his hammer and went to smash Utgard’s walls. But, the entire place had vanished.
The significance of this myth is it shows Thor’s anger but also kind nature. It also shows that Thor’s hammer can’t protect anyone when magic is used. It is a definite weakness that is exposed in this myth.
Thor Catches Jormungand
One day, the gods run out of mead. They were distraught by this. They made a sacrifice to the sea god Aegir so he would brew them some mead. Thor then goes to see Aegir and demands some mead is brewed for the gods. Aegir didn’t appreciate Thor’s tone, so he tells him he doesn’t have a cauldron that would be big enough for the task.
He then tells Thor to bring him a big cauldron and then he would make the gods mead. The god Tyr says his father has a giant cauldron they could use but they would have to be sneaky about it. He says they can’t reveal who Thor actually is. The two head off and when they reach Tyr’s parents’ home, they are greeted by his mother. Eventually, his father Hymir comes in and sees his son. They introduce him to Veur, who is actually Thor. Tyr and Thor are hiding under the gable. Hymir glared at where the two gods hid, and eight cauldrons fell to the ground.
The only one that didn’t break was the one under Thor and Tyr. He invites them to dinner and has three oxen slaughtered in their honor. Hymir then tells them if they want to have dinner again together, they need to go hunting. Thor says they should go rowing and see what they can catch. All Thor needs is bait from Hymir. Hymir tells him to go and get an ox. Thor and Hymir get into the boat and start paddling away from land. Thor keeps telling Hymir to go further but Hymir doesn’t want to.
The giant and god caught some whales. They then through their lines back into the water and ended up catching the Midgard Serpent. Jormungand refused to be captured, so he struggled and eventually got free from the hook. Hymir had seen enough and wanted to go back to shore. Thor ended up hauling the boats and cargo up from the sea. Hymir came off looking bad, as he had done nothing. He then tells Thor that a real man would be able to break his glass goblet.
Thor throws it against the wall but it doesn’t break. Hymir’s wife whispers to Thor that he should throw it at Hymir’s head. Thor does this and the goblet breaks. Hymir is very sad about this. He tells Thor that what is his is now Thor’s. He then says the last cauldron now belongs to Thor. Tyr grabbed the cauldron and him and Thor carried it off to Aegir.
The significance of this myth is Thor was able to gain the cauldron which appears in another important, future myth involving Loki. Had Thor not gotten the cauldron, Aegir would be unable to make the mead and throw a pivotal feast for the gods.
Thor Fights Hrungnir
Although Odin could see everything that was happening in the Nine Worlds, that wasn’t enough for him. He wanted to take part in it and experience it for himself. Odin decided to put on his armor, take Sleipnir, and ride to Jotunheim. Odin finally reached the hall of the giant Hrungnir. Hrungnir tells Odin what a strange and fierce horse he has. Odin claims Sleipnir is better than any horse that can be found in Jotunheim. Hrungnir asks Odin if he has ever heard of Gold Mane.
Odin bets his head that his horse is still better. The giant and Odin began to race. Odin ends up winning. He invites Hrungnir to drink with him in Valhalla. Together the giant and Odin began to drink. Hrungnir got incredibly drunk and said he would sink Asgard into the sea. The gods and goddesses keep feeding Hrungnir with more drink. Odin left the hall to go and find Thor. When Thor shows up, he is furious that a giant is drinking amongst them. The giant challenges Thor to a duel, but after he has retrieved his weapons and shield. Thor agrees. Hrungnir rides back to Jotunheim.
The other giants were worried Hrungnir might lose the challenge. They decided to create a huge man from clay and have it come to life and wait by Grjotunagardar. When the duel day finally arrived, Hrungnir was ready. Thor threw his hammer at the giant but Hrungnir held up his hone. The hammer hit the hone and broke it into pieces. One of the pieces landed in Thor’s head and injured him quite badly. Thor’s hammer continued on and eventually hit Hrungnir.
It ended up crushing his skull and Hrungnir fell dead, his heavy leg across Thor. When the gods came to try and lift the leg off of Thor, they couldn’t. Magni, the son of Thor was also there. His mother was none other than the giantess Jarnsaxa. Being only three years old, but part giant, Magni was able to lift the leg off of his father. Thor gifted Magni with Hrungnir’s horse, Gold Mane.
Thor and the Ferryman
One day Thor was out and about. He came across a deep channel and couldn’t cross it. There was a man across the way. Thor called out and asked if he could ferry him across the water and that he would pay him in food. The man told Thor his mother was dead. The ferryman then went on to insult Thor.
Thor completely outraged tells the ferryman to come over and face him. Thor then asks whose ferry it actually is. The ferryman says it belongs to Hildolf and he has been given strict instructions to only bring over worthy men. Asking Thor his name, Thor tells him he is Odin’s son. The ferryman says his name is Harbard. Harbard tells Thor he hasn’t met anyone like him since Thor fought Hrungnir.
Thor gloated that he had killed Hrungnir. The god and the ferryman then get into a fight with words, each bragging about something he had done. During the boasting contest, the ferryman ends up saying he was one of the people that came to Asgard to fight the gods. Thor is outraged and continued spewing words at Harbard. Eventually, Thor tells him just to ferry him across. It is the one case where his strength does no good. Harbard refuses to help him and Thor has to go back the way he came.
This myth is significant because it is the one situation where Thor’s strength can’t help him in any way. He is just like anyone else trying to cross a river. It is a myth that makes him more human than godly.
Thor, Loki and Gerirrod
Loki was bored one day. He asked Frigg to borrow her falcon skin and Frigg happily gave it to him. He then flew to Jotunheim and came to a circle of fields. The fields were enclosed by rocks and surrounded a hall. Loki looked in the hall window and saw a giant and two daughters eating. The giant, Gerriod, saw Loki as a hawk sitting on the ledge. He told his servants to bring him the hawk. Loki was hopping around and avoiding being caught by the servant.
He climbed high up on a rooftop and was about to fly away when he realized his feet were stuck. The servant grabbed him and brought him back to Gerriod. Gerriod wanted to train the hawk but then looked at its eyes and realized it wasn’t actually a hawk. He demanded to know who the hawk really was. Loki refused to talk. Gerriod decided to keep the hawk in darkness and not feed it anything until it said who it actually was. Loki sat that way for three months. Finally, Gerriod came to see the hawk and it said it was Loki.
Gerriod then went on to make a bargain with Loki. He wanted him to bring Thor to the hall without Thor’s hammer. If he did that, Gerriod would let him live. Loki had no choice but to agree. Loki was released. He went back to Asgard and he and Thor went for a walk. He asked Thor if he had ever heard of Gerriod. He had not. Loki then went on to tell him Gerriod had two beautiful daughters that he wanted Thor to meet. Thor didn’t have his hammer on him, so he wasn’t sure if he should go. But, Loki convinced him by saying he could spend the night with Grid. The two of them reached Grid’s where the spent the night.
Once Loki had fallen asleep, Grid told Thor the truth about Gerriod. She told him he didn’t have much love for the gods, especially the one who killed the giant Hrungnir. Thor says that was him and is in a state of worry. Without his weapon, Thor wasn’t very confident in his abilities to defend himself against the giant. Gird gave him her belt of strength, iron gloves, and an unbreakable staff to use against Gerriod. In the morning, Loki and Thor continued on towards the hall. Once they reached the hall, Gerriod was nowhere to be seen. Thor decided to have a rest. But, while he was resting, he was actually floating above the ground. He woke up and held tightly onto the staff to try and stop him from rising even higher. Thor broke the spell and fell to the ground.
Underneath the chair Thor fell on, both of Gerriod’s daughters were hiding. Thor ended up crushing them and killing them. Shortly after, Gerriod wanted to see Thor. Thor got ready with his belt of strength. When he met Gerriod, Gerriod threw a red-hot iron ball at Thor. Thor caught it with the iron gloves. Thor threw it back and Gerriod and it went right through his stomach, killing him instantly.
The importance of this myth is that it damages the relationship between Loki and Thor. Thor was double-crossed by Loki and brought to the hall with lies. It also shows how Thor used brute strength to overcome guile.
Ragnarok begins when a horrible winter comes to Midgard. Men will starve and become so desperate they will lose all their morals. The two wolves, Skoll and Hati will eat the sun and the moon. The stars will disappear and the world will be thrown into darkness. The tree of life, Yggdrasil will shake, while the mountains and trees fall. The wolf Fenrir will break free from his chains and his brother Jormungand will make his way to land.
The ship Naglfar will sail over the drowned earth with an army of giants and Loki as its captain. The sky will split apart and fire giants from Muspelheim will walk the earth. The Rainbow Bridge leading to Asgard will break apart and Heimdall will blow his horn, calling the gods together. Odin will see the fate of everyone when he consults the head of Mimir, but he and the other gods will still go into battle. Odin will fight Fenrir and fall to him. He will be avenged by his son Vidar. The wolf Garm and the god Tyr will fall to each other as well, and Heimdall and Loki will fight until both are dead. Thor will fight Jormungand and both will perish. And, what remains of the world will sink completely into the sea and all that will be left will be a void.
The significance of this myth is that Ragnarok is the end of everything. It is the final battle between the giants and the gods. Everyone is freed and meets their fate at each other’s hands. But, as the world dies, it will be recreated and a new reign of gods, and people will take it over.