Thursday, May 19, 2011

Of Tooth Grinders, Tooth Cracklers and Red-bearded Thor

(Click on picture to enlarge.)

Germanic tribes revered Thor almost as much as they honored his father Wotan, the god of heaven.  Thor’s mother was Nirdu-Fricka, the goddess of the earth. Thus all things between heaven and earth, including the infinite universe, were Thor’s realm. He controlled the weather and, as god of thunder, he spread the benefice of the storm over the earth. By shattering the ground with his lightening blitz, he loosened the soil and enriched it with delicious rain. At the same time he cleared the atmosphere of humidity and steam with his stormy showers. (Germanic tribes attributed all harmful aspects of weather to another god, the treacherous Loki). Thor was also the most diligent fighter of the earth-hating giants.

Thor was large and strong of stature. A red beard enveloped his face and his hair and eyes gleamed like glowing coals. He rushed through the air like the wind in a cart pulled by two goats (Tooth Crackler and Tooth Grinder) and when his wheels touched down upon the clouds, the sound of thunder could be heard on earth.

But he could not cross the bridge Bifrost in this cart because it would have been set on fire under the cart's fiery wheels. If Thor wanted to attend the meeting of the gods at the Urd Fountain, he had to walk and wade through many streams.

Thor had three treasures. The first was his hammer, which he called Milnir (The Crusher). The second was a pair of steel gloves, which he needed when he used his hammer. The third was his magic belt. Whoever wore the belt doubled his normal strength.

The hammer had been made by two dwarves by the name Schlackensprueher (Cinder Sprayer) and Zischer (Hisser). Schlackensprueher wanted to give the gods an extraordinary gift. That is why he combined every piece of iron he could find, placed them all in the fire, melted them, and stirred them together. His brother Zischer had to work the bellows and Schlackensprueher warned him repeatedly that he must be careful not to stop a single time, because if the air stopped flowing even briefly, the entire piece would be ruined.
Zischer promised his utmost attention and pursued working the bellows with such zeal, that no one was his equal.

But among the tribe of Asen there lived a deceitful one, who did not wish anything good to come to his fellows. He wanted to harm them however he could. He was named Loki and quickly took action to ruin the work of the dwarves. He transformed himself into a fly and sat on the right eyelid of Zischer working the bellows. He bit him so murderously that the poor dwarf cried out in pain. When Schlackensprueher heard the screams of his brother, he called to him: “Persevere only a few more moments, then the hammer will be ready.”

The fly continued to bite him brutally so that the poor Zischer sweated beads of blood. Overcome by pain, he smote the fly with his hand. And so he released the bellows and Loki’s purpose was achieved. Because a single bellow-blow was missing, the hammer had a fault: it’s stem was somewhat too short.

Translated from Aus Unsere Vaeter Tagen by Hermine Moebius

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