In mysticism of most cultures the concept of tools plays a major part of the application of metaphysical energies. We are by our nature a tool using species and the nature of tools lends to certain mental linking that is to a degree undeniable. No matter how resilient, survivalist, or unconventional your mysticism is you have been using tools since you were very young and they have a place within your mental structure. We are not alone in this though as The Gods in Norse Mythology too are tool using beings. In fact the Gods are not nearly as powerful or capable without their tools. It is with this that a major case for tool usage in Norse Mysticism can be made. Today we will exemplify this by looking at Thor.
The Most Well Known Tool:
Of all the tools used through history the hammer may be the most well known, easily identifiable, and easily understood tool to any human being. A hammer can drive nails into boards, open hard fruit, combined with a wedge to split wood, forge metal, destroy an enemy, or in the case of Norse Mythology rebuild the World. Mjolnir is the great hammer of Norse Mythology yet often people forget the nature of this tool.
We all know that Thor wields the mighty mallet to great devastation, and after Ragnarok his sons wield it to rebuild the world. This mighty weapon is necessary to how Thor does his job. Without Mjolnir Thor is a powerful, strong, amazing God but with it he is able to “smite as hard as he desired, whatsoever might be before him, and the hammer would not fail; and if he threw it at anything, it would never miss, and never fly so far as not to return to his hand;” - The Prose Edda, Arthur Gilchrist Brodeur Translation.
Consider this then, without his hammer he can NOT smite as hard as he might desire. There is a limit to his strength. Perhaps this has to do with mystical power and how much may be channeled through a living body? Potentially it is a simple mechanical understanding of force. One can only strike a tree with their fist so hard, or a rock, before that fist might give way. Even with the building up of strength eventually a material will be found stronger than even the mightiest hand.
Further this weapon will not break, will not miss when thrown, and never fly so far that he can not regain it. The properties of this weapon represent strength but further they represent a channel of energies. When working with extremely powerful magickal energies the body can take a toll. For the Gods this means the need for a weapon that will both handle the force of energies as well as extend those abilities. The key point following this though is the hammer's great advantageous abilities. It is a specifically designed weapon with an intent. It is meant to extend its wielders power in battle and it does so immeasurably well. The ability to never miss and to return to his hand are further examples of mystical properties.
This is very similar to in many ways the wand in traditional magicks. Often a wand is used to channel energies so that they will “never miss” or to draw back that which is cast out. Mjolnir much like a wand is an extension of its wielders power, an amplifier, and a targeting aid. Further Mjolnir is a one handed weapon, suitable for a single handed grip very similar to that of a wand.
Without These Thor Would Not Be So Powerful:
Anyone who has played video games has come across an item that increases the strength of the wearer. In truth such items may or may not be feasible and we have seen many enchantments that seem to lend a small aid in the real world. That said the concept of a power enhancing item in magick is a major part of it. Be it ritual robes, talismans, rings, or other such adornments there are tools prepared and used to amplify a practitioners power multiple times over. Arguably the first major strength enhancer though was Megingjord though. This powerful implement was known as “The Power Belt” in old Norse.
Such was the power that Megingjord multiplied its wearers strength by two times. This may not sound like much but we must take two things into consideration. The first of these was the weight of Mjolnir its self, the second was the sheer strength of Thor. The weight of Mjolnir made it particularly difficult to wield, even by Thor himself, the example I tend to cite to people is to imagine you were wielding a 10lb Warhammer. This would be an unwieldly item at best, most hammers are under 5lbs, and even if you were considerably strong you couldn't truly deliver your full might with such a weapon. Taking this into account Megingjord's amplification of Thor's strength effectively reduces the impact of the weight of the hammer by half. This allows Thor to truly strike with all his might!
Let us also take into account the secondary layer of what Megingjord does though. By amplifying Thor's considerable strength it gives the great God much more in the way of options. Like any other talisman that grants increased power with more power many more things that are possible. Obstacles that can not be surpassed can be easily moved, barriers can be punched through that would otherwise be indestructible, and it is easier to throw ourselves into dangerous situations. Megingjord gives the God of Thunder greater power, but like any good talisman it gives him power in a way that gives him options.
Jarngreipr, or Iron Grippers, are the “Irong Gloves” or possibly gauntlets that Thor himself fields. These gloves are necessary for Thor to wield the full power of Mjolnir. They represent in mysticism the concept of grounding, control, and protection from our own power. As a talisman they are indispensable to their wielder. They provide Thor with the ability to use his own considerable power, the power of Mjolnir, and the power of the great belt Megingjord without fear of backlash to himself. Often times we sage, use incense, or other methods of cleansing within our work mystically. Further it is highly recommended we guard ourselves with talismans when we do major spell working as it provides a layer of protection from the currents in play. Again another major piece of mysticism is present in the symbolism found within Thor's arsenal.
Thor Does Not Walk Everywhere:
Tanngrisnir and Tanngnjostr two mighty goats pull Thor's chariot across the skies in the stories. Without these Thor himself could not travel so far and so fast. These beings represent the height of mystical understanding in the form of commanding beings others might consider beyond their control. Anyone who has worked with goats knows they range from docile creatures to violent beasts. These are a prime representation of the summoning of spirits, in the case of Thor to travel across the heavens, but in the case of a mystic to often handle tasks better suited to a power outside ourselves. Certainly Thor could pull his own chariot across the heavens, he has the great strength to do so, but it is a task better suited to his mighty goats. There is a degree of friendship there even between the thunderer and his companions but never forget, they are beings that must be handled with care and caution.
In the stories when one of the goats becomes injured Thor must even seek a replacement to this in the form of two other servants to aid him in his travels. For the practical mystic this is an understanding that even a being evoked upon our behalf must be left go, re-empowered, or may be dismissed from our control in the case of mystical conflict. In this we would then need seek other beings to fill their roles as the role its self must still be full filled.
While evocation may be controversial in some circles the practice of it exists as far away back as the Norse mythology and is based on the understanding of work animals and beasts of burden being placed into work. Goetic practices, Enochian methods, and various other sources in modern mysticism can all be related to a simple understanding and comparison of two Godly goats pulling a chariot across the heavens. In this way we can make a strong comparison and understanding of how we deal with these beings. The two goats are well cared for, fed, but kept on a tight reign to Thor's chariot. They are considered his friends, allies, and to a degree pets. While I am in no way suggesting one should keep evoked beings as pets the understanding of proper treatment of a being goes a long way in to comprehending the concept of evocation.
More over Thor replaces his injured goat with two servants. Even more so this is comparable to evocation as well as the creation of pacts. The act of having a servant is having a being one can count on be it a physical servant or a metaphysical servant. It is the knowledge that this being is there partially by choice, partially by rewards, and partially by design. One would not abuse their servant but one would also not allow a servant to cause them harm. Likewise a wise mystic would not take on a servant that hated them.
A Complete Understanding:
Looking over the Norse concepts of tools from weapons and augments to transportation and beings brought into service on our behalf it is easy to see that even a God who seems as straight forward as Thor can act as a deep allegory for the mystical method. The Norse understood the need for tools in mysticism but also the need for sheer will power and focus. The Gods are known for their great feats of mental, physical, and above all emotional power. The stories of these mighty beings are ones of adventure, difficulty, deception, and perseverance. They bring us hope but they also teach us lessons.
Future articles will look at other Gods from the Norse mythology as well as potentially branch out into other mythologies. We will examine how they use tools, how they work magick, and how they view the world. All of this will be in an effort to better understand our world and the magick found within it.