Saturday, 12 September 2015

The Early Primacy of Thunor/Thonar/Thor

The Icelandic Eddas portray Thor as the son of Odin but this concept does not apply to all parts of the pre-xtian Germanic world. An example of Thor occupying the primary role amongst the Aesir is the account of the temple at Uppsala given by Adam of Bremen in about 1070CE:

"This people owns a very famous temple at Uppsala, not far from Sigtuna. In this temple, which is made exclusively of gold, the people worship the statues of three gods. Thor, the mightiest of them, has his seat in the middle of the room, and the places to the left and right of him are taken by Wodan and Fricco."

Wilhelm Waegner writing in his Asgard and the Gods states:

"In such manner people used, in the olden time, to call on the strong god of thunder, Thunar,- in the North, Thor. He was held in great reverence, and was pehaps even regarded as an equal of the God of Heaven. Traces of this are still recogniseable, for wherever he was spoken of in connection with the other gods, he was given the place of honour in the middle."

Chantepie De La Saussaye in his The Religion of the Teutons conjectures that the verbal contest in the Harbardhsljodh between Odin (Harbardh) and Thor is an expression of:

"the antithesis between the old and the new era. That in the time of the warlike vikings and the poetic scalds Odhin, the god who welcomes warriors to Walhalla and who won the poets' mead, gradually supplanted Thor, is a theory that was advanced long ago and which has found ready acceptance with many scholars. In Norway, Thor was doubtless of old the chief god, as he was in Sweden alongside of Freyr, but Eddic song as well still assigns him a high rank, and in Iceland he was zealously worshipped."

According to Dr Karl E. H. Siegfried:

"The surviving records of the continental form of the Thunderer are quite different from the later Scandinavian version.  He wears a golden crown that is alive with sparking electricity - a clear sign that he was once the primary tribal sky god with, perhaps, a crown of stars to signify his dominion over the heavens."

Karl Mortensen writing in A Handbook of Norse Mythology when discussing the wording on certain ancient rune stones states:

"Only on these two stones is the name of the god of thunder expressly given, but on others we find engraved trefoils, quatrefoils ('hooked crosses'), or hammers (Fig 14), which is an evidence of the fact that Thor at this time was the chief god of the Danes; and for the rest of the North also."

Jacob Grimm in his Teutonic Mythology Volume 1 affirms that:

He is the true national god of the Norwegians, landas (patrium numen), Egilss. p. 365-6, and when ass stans alone, it means especially him, e.g., Saem. 70a, as indeed the very meaning of ans (jugum montis) agrees with that of Fairguneis. His temples and statues were the most numerous in Norway and Sweden, and asmegin, divine strength, is understood chiefly of him. Hence the heathen religion in general is so frequently expressed by the simple Thor blota, Saem. 113b, het (called) a Thor, Land. 1, 12, truthi (believed) a Thor, Landn. 2, 12."

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