Thor seems to be the most popular of all the Northern gods. Which is probably part of the reason that I have always avoided him. It is in my nature to seek less obvious paths. I also do not tend to court deities; more often they enter my life unbidden. And lastly, it is usually goddesses and not gods that come to me.
Naturally, I had a pretty shallow understanding of this god. At a distance he seems simple, even vulgar and brutish. Not exactly my style. Mystery, uncanniness, a bit of audacity, and a trace of the trickster are the traits that usually charm me. But things change…
2009 was a rough year for me. The first day of it saw me transitioning out of a 12-year relationship, which filled me with excitement, immense sorrow, and paralyzing fear. Striking out on my own was challenging, especially in such an unsteady economy. Then my freelance work dried up over the summer, leaving me almost destitute – something that has never happened in the 6 years I have been working for myself. I was ripe with anxiety; a deep terror struck at my foundation.
Not surprisingly, I developed a debilitating lower back injury. It was brutal and kept me from the computer and in much pain. I don’t do painkillers, so I faced it like a woman. I prayed and prayed, nurtured, and nourished the best I could. I sought guidance through dreams and conscious communication with the divine influences in my life. I did a lot of healing through laying on of hands.
One morning as I was laying in bed, my hands humming over my abdomen, I heard a clear voice ring through my mind. It said simply…Invoke Thor. I had been humbled so deeply by this point that I had only a moment of What?! before I did just as I was asked.
Immediately a figure appeared at the right side of my bed in my mind’s eye. He was tall and muscular with long reddish-blond hair that was braided at the temples, and a full mustache but no beard. He was poised as though rooted in a deep well of strength, embedded in the foundation of Being. His eyes were sparkling and a smile played over his lips.
I have no idea where this vision of him came from, and it is admittedly different to what I would have conjured consciously if I was asked. What I do know is that I had this immediate feeling of deep kinship, a profound affection and trust that was beyond sibling-like in nature. It filled me with delight.
He was holding what seemed to be a glorified sledgehammer. It was intricately carved in swirling patterns from hilt to head.
After these initial impressions I was a bit stumped as to what to do or ask. He sensed my question and showed me an image in my mind. I saw the parts of my back that were in pain and they looked like mountains of black ice. In a flash I grasped his intention, which scared the shit out of me! But at this point what did I have to lose?
He waited patiently for me to ready myself, then raised his hammer as I tried fruitlessly to keep from cringing. With a roar of laughter he brought it down and smashed some of those mountains of ice. They scattered into dust and an ocean wave of exhilaration washed over me. I also started laughing. He continued bringing his hammer down in a great arcs and occasionally sweeping it through me like some barbaric croquet mallet, all the while laughing and roaring. His raw joy was infectious.
He came to me like this every morning for three days. On the third day I was completely healed. There was no pain at all in my back or hip.
I have called on him many times since. Sometimes he uses his hammer to smash through my blockages, sometimes he just has me lean against him like a great oak tree, our roots extending deep into the earth. A quiet peace coursing through me slowly, like rising sap. Relief from fear and stress that comes from taking the long view of life as a tree or deity might. Confidence anchored in knowing my strength.
Not long ago I was directed to a story in Gylfaginning where Thor, while staying at a farmer’s house, kills his goats to make a meal of them for himself, his companions, and the family who dwell there. In the morning he waves his hammer over the goats’ skin and bones to bring them back to life. What a strange vision! I ask him to try this on me sometimes when I am feeling out of alignment. His hammer, like a giant magnet, seems to pull me into balance again. I can literally feel my muscles relaxing, my vertebrae shifting, life-force freely coursing from sacrum to skull.
These experiences have brought me to a different view of healing. Sometimes violence is necessary to break down blockages. Sometimes force and aggression are needed to invoke energy from stagnancy. The magic is in the intention. It must be done with joy, a love of life, and much laughter.
Editorial by Arrowyn Craban.