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Thor

Posted by Nancy J. Cohen on May 8, 2011

This movie has exciting action, adventure, and romance. What’s not to like in a film with a hunky hero and Natalie Portman? Plus it ties in perfectly with my paranormal romance series based on Norse mythology. As a primer on the myths, here is a summary of what I’ve learned from my research. Some of the sources can be confusing so this is my interpretation. Now if only I can find a home for this series to share my stories with you.

This mythology primer will give you a better understanding of the fantasy portions of the Thor movie, although in no way is it meant to be similar to the story in the film. I loved how they visualized the magical realms. Yet for all the special effects, the focus was on the characters and how Thor had to transform himself into a true hero.

Thor2     Thor

NORSE CREATION MYTH

These tales derive from the Edda, an epic of Germanic origin. As the story starts, a great void stretched between the land of ice and darkness in the north (Niflheim) and the land of fire and light in the south (Muspell). When warm air met the ice, water formed, and the droplets produced the first Giant, Ymir, along with a cow who fed him.

While the Giant slept, a male and a female grew from his armpit. They were Frost Giants who had human form and supernatural powers.

The cow licked the ice and brought forth a man named Buri. Buri’s son married a descendent of Ymir, and they in turn produced three sons. These offspring became the Gods, including Odin.

Odin and his brothers killed Ymir and used his body to create Midgard, the middle land, from the void. Then they made the oceans and the earth, the heavens and the stars, and the cycles of night and day.

The Gods split into two families, the Aesir and the Vanir. Odin and Thor belonged to the Aesir. They were warriors, while the Vanir became farmers and merchants. Odin ruled over them all as King of the Gods. Thor was a great warrior who carried a magic hammer called Mjollnir, which returned like a boomerang when he threw it.

The Aesir Gods lived in Asgard, a celestial palace. Bifrost, a rainbow bridge, connected Asgard to Midgard. Odin created humans to occupy Midgard, which was surrounded by an ocean inhabited by Jormungand the serpent. The God Heimdall guarded the bridge, which was prophesied to collapse at Ragnarok, the end of the world.

The Giants inhabited Niflheim, the underworld. They didn’t live alone there. After the first Giant, Ymir, died, dwarfs formed from the maggots in his flesh. The Goddess Hel ruled over this underworld. Hel’s realm was a peaceful place, even though it was called the Land of the Dead. She lived in a palace like the Gods. It wasn’t considered a punishment to end up there.

An ash tree connected all three realms. The World Tree, or Yggdrasil, was fed by three sources of water under its roots. One of these was the Fountain of Wisdom, guarded by the god Mimir. According to legend, Odin sacrificed an eye to drink from this fountain. That’s how he gained his powers of prophecy.

The Urd well, or Fountain of Youth, was protected by the Norns, Goddesses of Fate. Their root supported the tree at Midgard, so they ruled the destinies of men. A dragon named Nidhog guarded the third spring and gnawed on its root.

As the first living creatures, the Giants were angry when the Gods dispelled them from their rightful place. They gathered their allies in preparation for an attack on the Gods. This great battle was called Ragnarok.

Loki used to be a companion to the Gods, but he caused much mischief. He had the ability to shapeshift and delighted in causing trouble. Eventually, the Gods banished him. Giants released Loki and he led them in battle against the Gods.

At Ragnarok, the Gods battled monsters and Giants. Thor fought the sea monster of Midgard. He killed the serpent with his hammer but not before the monster fatally slashed him with poison. Odin was defeated by the wolf Fenrir. Loki fought Heimdall and they killed each other.

The rainbow bridge collapsed and the great World Tree burned down. Each of the realms fell. Midgard was consumed by fire and sank into the sea. But all was not lost. Earth reemerged from the vast ocean, and the sons of the dead Aesir returned to Asgard to rule again. Thus was the world reborn.

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2 Responses to “Thor”

  1. I’m glad to hear that characterizations weren’t lost in the special effects. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that this movie will generate lots of interest in all things Norse so your brilliant series will find its way into bookstores!

  2. From your mouth to an editor’s ears.

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