So, I woke up to discover I had 12 more blogger followers, and my daily pageviews had jumped to 600. My first instinct is to panic and run around flailing my arms. But all the feedback so far has been great, so thanks everyone! :D
So. H is for Hammer.
The Hammer is a primary symbol of Heathenry. The Hammer Mjolnir is Thor's primary weapon, and a symbol of him specifically. I have spoken of Thor before and how he is, in a sense, everyman's god. I find it difficult to believe anyone could actively dislike him. He is just such a good chap! He is also the Protector of Midgard, and of humankind, so for many Heathens it's the preferred symbol for religious jewellery. (The precedence - pre-conversion Heathens wearing the Hammer in response to the Christian Cross - helps also.) When one puts on the Hammer, one feels Thor's protection and favour. It's a good feeling. It's used in decoration, too, such as on banners, altars or drinking horns. Historically the Hammer was sometimes drawn or carved on stones erected for ritual purposes, with a written request for Thor to hallow it, and that sort of use filters down to us. (For the record, I don't do that much, as I am not artistically gifted and just make a cock-up of it.) Some also make "the sign of the Hammer", either ritually, or in jest. This is like the sign of the cross a priest might make in blessing over a churchgoer, but the horizontal bar goes along the bottom of the vertical one. (I have no idea the origins of this practice. It's not something I really do, unless I'm feeling a little amused at myself.)
A Hammer as a ritual tool - or altar object, or whatever - I think is something of a new thing. It's an aspect of modern Heathenry, but not as far as we know of old-school Heathenry. But I see nothing wrong with that, myself. Not everyone can afford an Oath Ring to keep on one's shrine, so having something like a hammer is more obtainable for many people. And hey, it's long been a symbol of Heathen faith, so it's a pleasant thing to have. Different Heathens and different Kindreds will use it in different ways. It is however an object of hallowing, of blessing, so is often used at the beginning of rites in some way, particularly to ask Thor's blessing.
I have one. I found it on an auction site for $1. Apparently the man listing it had intended to list it for more, but had made a mistake. He was good enough not to hold it against me, cancel the sale or anything like that. I took it as an omen of sorts. It's an aged thing, and it seems to have been used, perhaps in carpentry. For this reason I think there are a few Heathens who would frown on it, as it's not a war weapon but a tool, and one that has been used. It's a fair enough criticism. But seriously guys it has "THOR" written on the side I pretty much HAD to get it. (Yes, I realise "THOR" is probably the brand, but I'm not one to look the gift horse in the mouth.)
So, that is the Hammer that lives on my altar. It is worn, but I rather like that. I like that it had a history, that someone's hands smoothed the handle. I am fond of it, and I start every blót by placing my hand upon it as I ask Thor to hallow the rite.
The other Hammer in my life is my pendant. It is small, and I think the design is more of a modern one, but I like it. I don't wear it very often.
I'd like to have more, too. I'm not sure I would wear any on what you might call a regular basis - I wear religious jewellery when I feel moved to do so. I like the feeling of consciousness of the gods or the sacred when I wear a piece of religious jewellery, and I think wearing something full-time would either be exhausting, or would remove some of that feeling of being conscious. But, seeing as this one is small and more on the delicate side, a larger more "grunty" Hammer pendant might be nice too. Just so one has the option.
Here is an essay on the wearing of Mjolnir pendants. It goes into various stories about Mjolnir also, such as its forging. Worth reading, if you're interested.