The Goats of Thor: Why It Had To Be Goats?

Thor's lightning

Norse mythology mentioned nearly all gods had an animal to carry them run around Nine Worlds. Odin had an eight-legged horse Sleipnir, Freyr a golden boar Gullinbursti, and Freya with two cats. But Thor the God of Thunder and Lightning had a pair of goats pulled his chariot around. Goats of Thor seemed to be hilarious in the beginning. Yet, it all had a meaning that closely associated with Thor and his values as well.

Tanngrisnir and Tanngnj├│str as their names

These companions of Thor were Tanngrisnir and Tanngnjostr which meant “teeth snarler” and “teeth grinder” respectively. As I have mentioned above, we might laugh at the idea that Thor rode two goats around the worlds. Yet, the more I get involved around the symbol of goats, the more I understand why it had to be goats instead of other awesome and mythological animals.

In Prose Edda, not only did the goats carry Thor along the universe but they also brought a source of sustenance to him. Mythology had it that Thor cook both goats for his meals. He kept the bones intact and the day after that he would resurrect the goats back to life.

Goats of Thor and the bite of Jormungandr Midgard Serpent
Thor, goats, and Jormungand’s bite

There was a time when Thor came into an ordinary family in Midgard and cook the goats for meals. Although Thor warned the family not to touch (or eat) the bones, the children of the family didn’t listen to his words. They finished the marrow inside. And the following day when Thor tried to resurrect his pets, one of them couldn’t stand well on his legs. This made Thor angry and kept one of those children as his servant.

Why Goats?

Laughable as many might find it, goats were the most suitable animals that would make Thor unique and understandable.

With the goats, Thor became a god for ordinary Midgard man. For example, Odin had a horse Sleipnir as his companion. A horse for long has been with a leader riding to the front line or wherever. It was not a common thing to see that a leader rode a goat to the battle though. But Thor was not a leader. He was more likely to be a friend of everyone. He helped and defended not only his beloved but also the ordinary people in Midgard.

Thor rode his goats wielding the Mjolnir hammer to kill the giant in battle

A goat was an important animal in the Viking (Midgard) men. They depended on their goats for meat, milk, and fur. Goat was their regular animals. And the Midgard men depended on Thor as well. He granted blessings to ordinary people with his Mjolnir hammer.

Surely Thor was somewhat intimidating for he could control thunder and lightning. Anyone daring to play a trick on Thor was wishing a death wish. He was somewhat holy and untouchable as a god. Yet, he was also ordinary and close as a friend. His goats did remind us of this aspect.


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