Thunderbolts have been associated with power and might throughout history. The Proto-Indo-Europeans from the 4th millennium BC worshiped the Sky Father who was their head deity. He lived in the skies and was all-seeing. The thunderbolt was identified with the Sky Father.
Zeus was the god of thunder and the sky. He is represented by a thunderbolt. He was the chief god in ancient Greek religion. Zeus is often depicted with a thunderbolt ready to strike in his right hand. After Zeus released the Cyclopes they gave him the thunderbolt. Zeus used the thunderbolt to overthrow the Titans with the Cyclopes. Asclepius was the Greek god of medicine. Zeus killed Asclepius with a thunderbolt when he discovered that Asclepius was capable of raising the dead. Zeus thought this was blurring the lines between gods and mortal men. Zeus pursued the creature Typhon with thunderbolts and destroyed the creature by pinning him under Mt. Aetna. To this day the volcanic eruptions of Mt. Aetna are attributed to the thunderbolts of Zeus.
The Vedic god Indra wielded a thunderbolt called Vajra. A vajra symbolizes the properties of a thunderbolt and a diamond. Indra was the god of thunder and rain. In Hinduism, the vajra represents spiritual power.
Heraclitus, a pre-Socratic Ionian Greek philosopher described the thunderbolt as something that steers all things. This would make the thunderbolt a symbol of cosmic order.
In the Torah thunderbolts were calamities that were inflicted on men as divine punishment.
The triple thunderbolt was the symbol of Teshub, the storm god in Hittite mythology.
In Norse mythology Thor, the god of thunder, wields Mjolnir. Mjolnir was forged by dwarves for Thor. Thor can transmit the power of a thunderbolt through Mjolnir and cause mass destruction.
Amadioha, the god of thunder in Southeastern Nigeria, speaks through thunder. He is the god of justice and will strike someone down with a thunderbolt if they are judged guilty. The thunderbolt is also a symbol of creation. Amadioha sent a thunderbolt down to strike a cotton tree. The tree split and revealed man and woman. Amadioha is also known as Shango.
Leigong is the god of thunder in Chinese culture. He produces thunder from a drum and mallet. He also carries a hammer that can produce thunderbolts.
In modern times the thunderbolt stands for electricity and fascist organizations. The group AC/DC uses a thunderbolt in their name and a thunderbolt is used in Singapore by the People’s Action Party. In fiction, the thunderbolt appears on the chest of the Flash, Captain Marvel, Static, Black Bolt, Quicksilver, and Black Lightning. The scar on Harry Potter’s head is in the shape of a thunderbolt. And in the movie The Godfather, being hit with a thunderbolt is the equivalent to being a love-struck by a beautiful woman.