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It may seem small, but a hammer is a tool of might that can make or break objects. Hammers are a favorite of workmen and also an important tool to have around the house for any person. Over time, these objects have acquired various meanings and symbolism. Here is the history and symbolism of the hammer.
What is a Hammer?
Used for breaking things and driving nails into surfaces like walls and wood, a hammer is a powerful tool made of a heavy metal head attached to a long handle at a right angle.
Because they are mostly used in carpentry and construction, the hammer’s head is usually flat so as to provide a large punching area, making it hard for you to miss the nail head. They come in different sizes, each designed for a specific purpose. Of the over forty recorded types of hammers, the most common of them is the claw hammer that has a flat surface on one side for hitting things and two hooked claws on the other for pulling out nails from surfaces.
The use of hammers dates back to the Stone Age when heavy stones were used to hit other objects. By around 30,000 B.C, humans had discovered how to make simple designs of hammers by using leather or sinew to attach stones to sticks. As humans evolved, so did hammers with blacksmiths, shoemakers, and other craftsmen making designs most suitable for them.
What Do Hammers Symbolize?
Considering that the hammer is almost as old as humankind, it has garnered various symbolic meanings over the years. Some of these symbolic meanings are as follows:
- Power – The hammer symbolizes power in leadership. This is related to Edward, the king of England who earned the title “The Hammer of Scots” after he invaded Scotland and had the Scottish people under English rule. Similarly, in Christianity, the word of God is also referred to as the hammer of God.
- Might – When the hammer hits a surface, it hits with force. The tool has such impressive power that you don’t need to apply much force it to hit with might. This aspect of the harmer has caused it to be associated with Gods like Thor, and heroes like Hercules.
- Authority – The authority of a hammer is mostly demonstrated in courtrooms where the judge uses the gavel, a wooden hammer, to hit the bench to command attention either for a ruling or to demand order.
- Restoration – Hammers are seen as a symbol of restoration because they are used to repair objects to their original form or to model them into a better form.
- Protection and Honor – This originates from Norse mythology where Vikings wore a hammer pendant for spiritual protection and to symbolize the prowess of Thor, the god who could command thunder using his hammer, known as the ‘Mjolnir’.
- Solidarity – This symbolic meaning is evidenced by the Soviet Union flag, which bears the symbol of a hammer and a sickle. In this symbol, the hammer stands for the industrial workers while the sickle stands for the peasants. Together, the hammer and the sickle symbolize the union of the workers and the peasants
- Creation – The hammer has for centuries been used by workmen to forge new beautiful tools like swords, knives, carvings among others. As such, it became the blacksmith’s logo and is also engraved in carpenters’ graves.
Symbolism Of Hammers In Dreams
Seeing a hammer in a dream can have different connotations depending on how the hammer shows itself in the dream.
When a hammer presents itself as it is, a singular item, it’s a sign of hope telling you that your anger, problems, and resentment are about to come to an end and be replaced by satisfying outcomes.
Additionally, if in your dream you hit someone with a hammer, then it’s a symbol of victory, telling you that you have rendered your enemy ineffective enough to cause you no harm.
On the other hand, if you see yourself dropping a hammer, then you should be worried because that’s a sign of trouble. Dropping a hammer tells of a difficult situation that you are about to get into, probably because dropping a hammer in real life could very easily mean injuring yourself.
Use of Hammer In Language
- Hammer and nail – This is a metaphor in literature that relates to people, especially students, who rely on a particular idea as opposed to taking time to analyze the problem.
- Hammer a beer – Used to refer to drinking beer from a can or bottle very quickly.
- Hammer home – This is used to denote explaining something to someone and making them understand, especially by repeating it.
Myths and Stories About Hammers
In Norse Mythology, the hammer is the most treasured of objects and is associated with Thor, the god of thunder, who was also a great fighter and a protector of farmers. Thor’s hammer was believed to have been forged by dwarfs and had tremendous power that Thor used to summon storms, break mountains, and fight the giants with, thus protecting both gods and humans. In addition, it was believed that Thor rode a chariot drawn by male goats that he would occasionally slaughter and eat only to revive them by placing his hammer on their hides.
In yet another Norse myth, Thor’s hammer was once stolen by a giant known as Thrym, who then demanded Freyja’s hand in marriage as ransom. Freyja was the goddess of love, beauty, and fertility, who Odin, the king of gods, had fallen in love with.
It was decided that instead of sending her to the giants, Thor would masquerade as her and be Thrym’s bride for the day. In his deception, Thor managed to grab his hammer during the “wedding ceremony” and killed the giants with it.
In Celtic mythology, the hammer is associated with Sucellos, the god of agriculture also known as the mighty striker. Sucellos is commonly depicted in shrines wielding a long-handled hammer with which he was believed to deliver “mighty strikes”.
In Greek mythology, the hammer is associated with the demigod Hercules, son of Zeus. Hercules is always depicted wielding a club with which he hammered with great might.
The hammer and humanity are inseparable; since humans discovered the two-faced power of the hammer to build and to destroy, there has been no looking back. The tremendous power of this simple tool has caused it to be granted various symbolic meanings.