Ragnarok - the Fate of the Gods

artistic representation of ragnarok norse mythology, fenrir ravenous wolf.

The fate of the gods

Every culture has their own take on the apocalypse and how it might play out, in Norse mythology, it is known as Ragnarok. Ragnarok is the cataclysmic destruction of the cosmos and everything in it, including the gods. As far as the Vikings believed, Ragnarok was a prophecy of what would come at some unknown time in the future, much like the return of Christ in the Christian faith. Ragnarok translates from old Norse to mean “Fate of the gods”.

The End Game

Someday there will come a ferocious winter of which the world has never seen. It shall last the length of three normal winters, with biting winds blowing snow in all directions, and the warmth of the sun will fail, plunging earth into an inhospitable freeze. Men will become so desperate for food that they abandon all laws and morals, resulting in total anarchy. Father swill slay son, brother will slay brother.

The two legendary wolves Skoll and Hati who have spent eternity chasing the sun and moon through the skies since the beginning of time will finally catch their prey. The stars will also disappear, leaving nothing but a black void in the sky. The world tree, Yggdrasil which holds the entire cosmos together will tremble, causing all of the trees and even the mountains to fall to the ground. The magical chain binding the ravenous wolf Fenrir will snap, freeing the beast. Allowing him to run across the earth, devouring all in his path. Jormungand, the colossal world serpent who encircles all of Midgard, will rise from the depths of the ocean, causing tsunamis all over the earth as he makes for landfall. He will spit his venom all over the world, poisoning the water, air and land.

All of these tremors will shake-free the ship Nagflar, which is made entirely of fingernails and toenails of dead men and women, to sail freely over the earth. It will be captained by Loki, the traitor of Asgard, who will have freed himself from the chains binding him. The Nagflar will transport an army of giants to Vígríd, a large field foretold to be the battle ground of the final clash between the gods and forces of Surtr.

The dome of the sky will be split, and from the crack shall emerge the fire-giants from Muspelheim. Their leader will be Surtr, with a flaming sword brighter than the sun in his hand. As they march across Bifrost, the rainbow bridge to Asgard, the home of the gods, the bridge will break and fall behind them. An ominous horn blast will ring out; this will be Heimdall, the divine sentry, blowing the Gjallarhorn to announce the arrival of the moment the gods have feared. Odin will anxiously consult the head of Mimir, the wisest of all beings, for counsel. The gods will decide to go to battle, even though they know what the prophecies have foretold concerning the outcome of this clash. They will arm themselves and meet their enemies on the battlefield Vígríd.

Odin will fight Fenrir, and by his side will be the einherjar, the host of his chosen human warriors whom he has kept in Valhalla for just this moment. Odin and the champions of men will fight more valiantly than anyone has ever fought before. But it will not be enough. Fenrir will swallow Odin and his men. Then one of Odin’s sons, Vidar, burning with rage, will charge the beast to avenge his father. On one of his feet will be the shoe that has been crafted for this very purpose; it has been made from all the scraps of leather that human shoemakers have ever discarded, and with it Vidar will hold open the monster’s mouth. Then he will stab his sword through the wolf’s throat, killing him.

Tyr will battle another wolf, Garm, and they will each slay the other. Heimdall and Loki will do the same. Freyr and Surtr will end each other. Thor and Jormungand, life-long enemies finally kill each other, Thor with his hammer Mjolnir, and Jormungand with his venom. After the carnage has ended, the remains of the world will sink into the ocean, leaving nothing but the void, undoing all that has been built in creation, as if it were never there.

Some say that this is the end of everything, but others believe that a new world will arise from the ocean, green and beautiful. They believe that a small number of the gods will survive Ragnarok, including Vali, Hodr, Baldur and Thor’s sons Modi and Magni, who will thrive in the new world. A man and woman named Lif and Lifthrasir respectively, will have also survived the cataclysm by hiding in the Wood of Hoddmimir, they emerge and repopulate the land. Finally, a new sun will rise in the sky, and all of this will be presided over by a new all-powerful ruler.

 There is currently a terrific modern adaptation of the events of Ragnarok and can be viewed on Netflix, to see a brief review of the show, head over to our blog!