Ragnarök: End of the world

What is Ragnarök?

The Vikings belived that the world oneday would end as we know it, they called this day for Ragnarök, (old norse Ragnarökr). Ragnarök is the doom of the Gods and Goddesses and everyone will die even the humans. It will be the final battle between the Aesir and Giants. The battle will take place on the plains called Vigrid.

During Ragnarök the walls of Asgard, the home of the Aesir, and the huge bridge Bifrost, will be set on fire by Surtr the fire giant. The mighty Midgard serpent will be emerging from the sea at the Vigrid plains, while it splashes its tail and sprays poison in all directions, causing huge waves crashing towards the land. The Fenrir wolf will break free of his chains and spread death and destruction. The sun and the moon will be swallowed by the wolves Sköll and Hati. Even the world tree Yggdrasil, will shake the ground.

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“Surtr has engulfed the world with fire” by Carl Emil Doepler (1905)

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“Odin and Fenrir” by Carl Emil Doepler (1905)

Odin will die

Odin will be killed by the Fenrir wolf and Thor and the Midgard Serpent will kill each other. Loki will turn on the Aesir, and fight Heimdall, and they will kill each other. Tyr and the watchdog “Garm” from Hel, will also kill each other. Freyr will be killed by the fire giant named Surtr. Finally Surtr will set all the nine worlds, in a flaming inferno and they will sink into the boiling sea. There is nothing the Gods can do to prevent Ragnarök. Odins only comfort is that, he can predict that Ragnarök, will not be the end of the world.

The signs of Ragnarök

There will be some warning signs if Ragnarök “the end of the world” is coming. The first sign is the murder of the God Baldr, the son of Odin and Frigg which has already happened. The second sign will be three uninterrupted long cold winters that will last for three years with no summer in between. The name of these uninterrupted winters are called “Fimbulwinter” during these three long years, the world will be plagued by wars, and brothers will kill brothers. The third sign will be the two wolves in the sky swallowing the sun and the moon, and even the stars will disappear and send the world into a great darkness.

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“Thor and Jörmungandr” by Carl Emil Doepler (1905)

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“The Giant with the Flaming Sword” by John Charles Dollman (1909)

A beautiful red rooster “Fjalar” which name means the “All knowner”, will warn all the giants that the beginning of Ragnarök has begun. At the same time in Hel, will a red rooster warn all the dishonorable dead, that the war was started. And also in Asgard, will a red rooster “Gullinkambi” warn all the Gods.

Heimdall will blow his horn as loud as he can and that will be the warning for all the einherjar in Valhalla that the war has started. This will be the battle to end all battles, and this will be the day that all the Vikings “Einherjar” from Valhalla and Folkvangr who had died honourable in battle, to pick up their swords and armor to fight side by side with the Aesir against the Giants.

The Gods, Baldr and Hod will be returned from the dead, to fight one last time with their brothers and sisters. Odin will be riding on his horse sleipnir with his eagle helmet equipped and his spear Gungnir in his hand, and lead the enormous army of Asgard with all the Gods and brave einherjar to the battleground at the fields of Vigrid.

The Giants will together with Hel, and all her dishonorable dead, sail in the ship Naglfar, which is made from the fingernails of all the dead, sail to the plains of Vigrid. The dragon Nidhug will come flying over the battlefield, and gather as many corpses for his never ending hunger.

A new earth rises from the sea

When most of the Gods had perished in the mutually destruction with the Giants, it is predetermined that a new world will rise up from the water, beautiful and green. Before the battle at Ragnarök, two people, Lif “a woman” and Liftraser “a man”, will find sheltering in the sacred tree Yggdrasil. And when the battle is over, they will come out and repopulate the earth again. Several of the Gods will survive, among them Odin’s sons Vidar and Vali and his brother Honir. Thor’s sons Modi and Magni will inherit their father’s hammer Mjölnir.

The few Gods who survive will go to Idavoll, which has remained untouched. And here they will build new houses, the greatest of the houses will be Gimli, and will have a roof of gold. There is also a new place called Brimir, at a place called Okolnir “Never cold”. It is in the mountains of Nidafjoll.

But there is also a terrible place, a great hall on Nastrond, the shore of corpses. All its doors faces north to greet the screaming winds. The walls will be made of writhing snakes that pour their venom into a river that flowes through the hall. This will be the new underground, full of thieves and murderers, and when they die the great dragon Nidhug, is there to feed upon their corpses.

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“After Ragnarok” by Emil Doepler (1905)