In the novel American Gods by Neil Gaiman Shadow and Mr. Wednesday meet Czernobog. He tells the story of his use of a hammer as a "knocker", a job he has taken in America

"So, I got job on killing floor as a knocker. It was a good job. Yeah, skilled labor. A cow comes up the ramp. Boom, boom, boom. And you take a sledge hammer, and - Boop! You knock the cow dead. It takes strength. It takes strength, but not only strength. It takes talent, because it's a craft."

From http://americangods.wikia.com/wiki/Czernobog

This character is aligned with the Slavic god Chernobog. Is there a connection in the mythology between Chernobog and a hammer or was the merely a creation of the author?

2 Answers 2


I did some more research and found an article that references where Gaiman pulled some of the information from. As mentioned in another answer, Chernobog is the god of darkness, misery, etc. in Slavic myth and that there is no specific reference to a hammer. The article from Radio Times expands on this further:

There is no particular mythic connection between Czernobog and his sledgehammer, though it’s not a huge leap of imagination to see how bloody murder fits with his character.

But adding in the sledgehammer allows Gaiman to construct an intriguing backstory about worshippers of Czernobog.

Towards the end of the novel, Shadow and Mr Nancy and Czernobog stop at a clearing near Cherryvale in Kansas. The site is sacred for the old Slavic god, who draws sustenance and power from the memory of past worship. Here, in the clearing, the “Benders” made human sacrifices using a hammer, his weapon of choice.

This is a reference to a 19th century family of serial killers known as the Bloody Benders, who lived on that spot and murdered visitors for the fun of it – seating them above a trap door, stepping out from behind a curtain with a sledgehammer and bludgeoning them to death before dropping them into a pit.

The Benders were likely German or Dutch rather than Slavic worshippers of Czernobog, but that doesn’t stop him gaining power from the sacrifice.

So while the hammer isn't present in the original Slavic myths there is a tangential link pulled through by the author to 19th Century grisly murders.

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    Gaiman is one of the best purveyors of new mythologies that carry the "ring of truth" imo, leading to the confusion. Czernobog will certainly be associated with a hammer going forward, I suspect!
    – DukeZhou
    May 11, 2018 at 18:16

In Slavic mythology, the image of Chernobog is not associated with any type of weapon, including a hammer. Chernobog is the embodiment of evil, darkness, misery etc.

Some scientists reconstructed a pair of Belobog/Chernobog, who are opposed to each other as "light/dark", "good/evil", "happiness/misery".

Chernobog, hummer and other Gods, thing and creatures in that novel are author's fantasy and compilation.

Chernobog - in literal translation "Black God".

Belobog - in literal translation "White God".

In Norse mythology, the mythology of peoples of North Germany and Scandinavia there is a God of thunder, lightning, storms etc, his name is Thor. His image is associated with hammer - its name is Mjölnir, the one of the most fearsome and powerful weapons in existence, capable of leveling mountains.


May be author of that novel mixed up two images from different cultures?

  • The idea the the Neil Gaiman, the author of this book, got confused about who Thor is seems an unlikely explanation.
    – femtoRgon
    May 11, 2018 at 16:11
  • I don't think Gaiman was confused about Thor, but I think you making the connection is salient, and worthy of consideration in general. Who knows what influenced Gaiman, but the book Dying for the Gods: Human Sacrifice in Iron Age & Roman Europe makes a big point of excessive violence for ritual purposes in archaeological evidence for human sacrifice in Europe.
    – DukeZhou
    May 11, 2018 at 18:19

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