He was the strongest of the Norse gods. He had a quick temper… he
hated giants… and he traveled via a chariot drawn by two gigantic
goats named Tanngniostr–meaning “cracker of teeth”–and Tanngrisnt
meaning–“gnasher of teeth”. His name–of course --was Thor. His feet
were the thunderbolts themselves. As a child… his temper was
uncontrollable and he was often given to violent fits of rage.
Of the substances used by early man–and of course woman-- for
decoration as well as amulets for medicinal purposes… Amber was
among the first. For the ancient Greeks… amber was the tears shed
each year over the death of Phathon. For Nicias it was the juice of
the rays of the setting sun congealed in the sea. And then–of
course–my favorite and clearly the one with the most scientific
verity: Amber is the solidified urine of the Lynx. Hence one of its
names: Lapis Lyncurius.
There is a detail of a figure on a ninth century bucket handle that
has on its chest swastika symbols. At the time these were thought to
represent Thor’s life-giving capabilities. It was originally
considered to be a symbol of fertility and good luck and was common
throughout Europe from the beginning of the bronze age. We all know
how that ended. The beginnings and ends of things often have no
relationship to each other.
The fact that amber was easily workable ended with it being a
favorite object of trade with the people of the Baltic region. So
popular did amber become that is was once alluded to in Homer’s
Odyssey: Received a golden necklace, richly wrought, and set with
When carved into animal shapes… they became amulets with many
powers. It was considered a mighty force against diseases which could
be cured by ingestion. The final proof here was that if the
swallowing of amber mixed with other substances killed you… you
were by that mere fact cured and no longer suffering from whatever
it was that ailed you. The fact that you were stone dead was
incidental. The important thing to remember was that you no longer
suffered from your ailment and were therefore cured. I digress here
only slightly to opine that when it comes to sheer logic… man has
not changed much and is still as keen-minded as he always was.
So… with all the in mind… I have an image of an
early Viking figure of Thor made of amber. Wanna see?
For those of you who are new to this thing called Tidbits…may I
direct you to my home page at http://www.tyler-adam.com where you
will scroll down the left side menu till you get to the area that
says Current Tidbits… click it… and you will see represented on
our pages a Viking figure of Thor made of amber.
And there ya have it.
That’s it for this week folks.
Catch you all next week.