With no announcement or fanfare the image of a Thor’s Hammer appeared May 2nd on the list of approved images for “Emblems of Belief’ for veteran’s grave markers. After the approval of the Pentacle in April, 2007 , many Pagans expressed the desire for support to seek approval of other pagan images, including the Mjolner. The Department of Veterans Affairs consistently maintained their established process of application would accommodate new images. Applications for a new image must be from a relative of the deceased veteran, and contain all the required information, including a copyright free image.
The story of this symbol of belief’s approval was reported May 14th, on the The Wild Hunt . Personal details were withheld at the families request, but it was reported the deceased, Shane, was an Odinist and a Sargent in the United States Marines. At the request of his mother and with the help of comrades this image was applied for, and for her husband, Mark’s grave marker.
I asked Bress Nicnevin, from Lodge Yggdrasill, what this meant to him:
Are there veterans in your group?
Yes, there are.
How do you feel now the Mjolnir is approves as an emblem of belief?
I think it is appropriate and long overdue. Everyone should have whatever symbol they request on their grave memorial. This approval is a very good thing for all Heathens and Pagans ! Veterans should have the choice for an emblem that represents their faith, it is not about what is an approved religion.
Is the Thor’s hammer a specifically Odinist symbol?
I believe they have a specific symbol of a cross within a circle. The Mjolner is associated more with Asatru and Heathenism in general. The Mjolnir speaks to a broader spectrum of Heathen and Norse faiths including Odinism. Thor is the “working mans” god, and over the centuries has become the “free mans” god. The plight of Heathenism today is probably more on Thor’s shoulders than Odin’s in the modern age.
Since the approval of the pentacle as a symbol of belief area Pagans have gathered at Ft. Snelling National Cemetery to honor Sgt. Jason Schumann and Specialist Daniel Schrankler as part of a Memorial Day observance. Sgt. Schumann was the first soldier whose marker included a pentacle after the approval.
With the approval of the Thor’s hammer we know how future Pagan symbols will be approved, at least under the current administration and Dept. of Veterans Affairs leadership. The upcoming holiday is a reminder to honor our fallen soldiers for their sacrifices, and for relatives to know the desires for the marker image for our aging and active duty veterans.