We have arrived at the final lesson of the year! And the topic for this month is Ragnarok.
Ragnarok – the End of the World
More or less everything in Norse Mythology revolves around two things: the creation of the world, and the end of the world.
Just as the creation of the world was made possible by the cold Niflheim and the fiery Muspelheim, these two worlds will be the winning realms after Ragnarok – the only worlds that will be untouched by the battle. The gods and humans are doomed – except for a select few who will survive and pass on their traditions in the new world.
The sign of Ragnarok drawing near will be a big climate change. The Fimbulwinter – “the mighty winter” – will cover the world in snow for three consecutive winters without any summers in between, and will make life close to impossible. There will be wars and uncalled-for killings all over the world, and the big wolves chasing the sun and the moon will finally catch their prey and the world will be covered in darkness.
The ground will start shaking, causing the trees to be uprooted and the mountains to crumble. The Fenrir wolf will break free from its fetters and the Midgard serpent will leave the sea and crawl up onto land. Together they will run wild across the world and spread horror around them. Loki, their father, will also break free from the chains binding him, and the gates of Helheim will open. All the dead will leave Helheim to plague the living.
The fire-giant Surt will lead his army from Muspelheim. Fire will be in front of them and behind them, and Surt will hold a sword of fire in his hand. The god Heimdall, guardian of the bridge Bifrost, will see them coming and blow his horn in warning. But the army will cross the bridge and it will collapse. The army from Muspelheim will enter the world of the gods, joined by the Fenrir wolf, the Midgard serpent, Loki, Hel and her army of the dead, as well as the giants from Jotunheim.
The gods will gather when Heimdall blows his horn, and discuss how to tackle the situation. They will get no advice from Mimir, and the dwarves will flee. But the gods and the einherjar (the dead who have been taken to Valhalla instead of Helheim) will prepare for battle.
Frey will be killed by Surt. Garm and Tyr will kill each other, just as Heimdall and Loki will do. Thor will kill the Midgard serpent, but he will die from his wounds shortly after their fight. Odin will be killed by the Fenrir wolf – then Vidar will kill the Fenrir wolf to avenge his father.
At the end of the battle, Surt will be the winner. He will put the whole world on fire, and when there is nothing more on earth or in heaven that can burn, everything will turn dark when the seas overflow.
This is when the new world will be born from the ashes of the old world. The sun had a daughter just before she was captured by the big wolf hunting her, and this daughter will take her mother’s place as the new sun. The earth will rise again from the seas and turn green from trees again.
The surviving gods will gather; they will be Vidar and Vali (sons of Odin), Magni and Modi (sons of Thor), Baldur and Hodir (both returned from Helheim), and all the goddesses who didn’t take part in the battle. Together they will remember and spread the knowledge of the runes, helping them and other survivors in rebuilding the worlds.
Two humans will survive: the man Lifthrasir and the woman Lif. They will live in a new world for humans: Gimle, where there is shelter and plenty of food and drink. All new generations of humans will be descendants of Lifthrasir and Lif.
Stora boken om vikingarnas gudar och myter by Lars Magnar Enoksen (ISBN 978-91-7738-792-3)