Why The Vikings Worshipped Thor?
As far as we know from the study of scholars and surviving sources, Thor was among the most important gods to the Vikings. But why the Vikings worshipped Thor that much? Some possible reasons are given out in this blog post. Please note that this article is written from the writer's personal viewpoint.
Thor was the god of physical strength
The Vikings worshipped Thor for the physical strength and protection in wars.
No doubt, in Norse mythology, Thor was among the most physically strong gods. Although the title of the strongest god belonged to the son of Thor, Magni, Magni was quite an obscure god and he only rose to power after Thor had passed away (in Ragnarok).
One thing to remember is that the qualities that Thor embodied were what the Vikings needed the most. Not only was the physical strength in battle but also in the farm as well.
The Vikings made their name though famous raids that went around Europe. Commonly, in combat, physical dominance would mean a lot to the warriors. And that's why the Vikings needed a god who was physically powerful in war to be their spiritual guide. And no one was more suitable than Thor.
Thor's major weapon was the Mjolnir hammer that would smash the skull of any giant.
In Norse mythology, Thor would defend his beloved and those that worshipped him. If any giant dared to do any harm to his beloved ones, he would make them pay the ultimate price. The Vikings were the same. In the sagas, a Viking king declared war on the whole Kingdom of Wessex because the King of Wessex ordered to massacre the Vikings living in Wessex. And the Viking king did make the Wessex king pay his ultimate price.
Thor was the god of generosity and blessings
If you dwell deeper into Norse mythology, you might figure out that Thor was also a god of generosity and blessings. And that's one of the reasons for Viking worship.
In the surviving sources, Thor was described to appear in many formal occasions of humanity to offer his blessings. For example, formal events like birthday, wedding, funeral, etc. Thor would be present to witness and offer his blessings to those who worshipped him.
The animals that Thor rode on were a pair of goats. And it is his pair of goats that made me believe that Thor was the god of generosity.
Thor and his goats in Norse mythology. Everytime Thor rode his goat-drawn chariot through the sky, he caused the sound of thunder and storm in the sky.
A goat was the common animal in the Viking Age. A goat was raised to give meat, milk, fur, etc. A goat offered many things to each Viking family and this type of cattle was also familiar in the clan. Thor also offered to everyone what he had - physical strength, protection, blessings, etc.
Moreover, a goat was also common to the Vikings and Thor was also friendly to humanity. If the Sleipnir horse of Odin somehow made us feel that Odin was from the high social status (horse always presented the leadership), goats of Thor gave us a feeling of familiarity.
In the modern time, the archaeologists also made some discoveries about the Viking amulet featuring the Mjolnir hammer. One of the most famous Thor amulets was found in Lolland.