Myth Monday: Ragnarok

* Again, taken from the prose Edda, Faulks translation. All quotations & Italics are from there.

After hearing of Loki’s binding and that he’d stay there until Ragnarok, Gangleri asked what Ragnarok was because he had never heard of it. So the high-ones detailed for him how it would happen. They first tell him that there will be a winter called fimbul-winter, meaning mighty or mysterious winter. “Then snow will drift from all directions. There will then be great frosts and keen winds. The sun will do no good. There will be three of these winters together and no summer between”. But before this, there will be three other winters where there will be great battles all over the world. “Then brothers will kill each other out of greed and no one will show mercy to father or son in killing or breaking the taboos of kinship”. After all this, a great wolf will swallow the sun, and another will swallow the moon, and the stars will disappear from the sky. Then “the whole earth and mountains will shake so much that trees will become uprooted from the earth and the mountains will fall, and all fetters and bonds will snap and break. Then Fenriswolf will get free”. After this, “the Midgard Serpent will fly into a giant rage and make its way ashore” and cause the ocean to surge up onto the land. Then it will happen that Naglfar, the ship made of dead men’s nails, will be loosed and will ride upon the floods. A giant called Hrym will be its captain. The Fenriswolf will advance with his mouth opened, his lower jaw against the earth and his upper jaw against the sky. And flames will burn from his eyes and nostrils. The Midgard Serpent will spit venom all over the sky and sea. “Amid this turmoil the sky will open and from it will ride the sons of Muspell”. Surt will ride in front with fire burning both before and behind him. When they ride over bifrost it will break, and they will advance to the field called Vigrid. And Fenriswolf and the Midgard Serpent will go with them. “By then Loki will also have arrived there and Hrym and with him all the frost-giants, but with Loki will be all Hel’s people”. They gather at the field called Vigrid which is 100 leagues in each direction. When all these events take place, Heimdall will blow on the horn called Giallarhorn and awaken all the gods. They will hold council and then “Odin will ride to Mimir’s well and consult Mimir on his own and his people’s behalf”. Then Yggdrasil will shake and all things in heaven and earth will feel fear. At this time, the Aesir and all the Einheriar will dawn their war gear and advance onto the field. Odin will ride in front with a golden helmet and his spear, Gungir. He will face Fenriswolf and Thor will come to his side. But Thor will be unable to help because he’ll be facing the Midgard Serpent. Then Freyr will fight Surt but will fall because he had given away his great sword to Skirnir as payment for going to bring him the one he wished to marry. Then Garm will also have gotten free and will battle with Tyr and they will both kill each other. Thor will be victorious over the Midgard Serpent but, after stepping only 9 steps away, he “will fall to the ground dead from the poison which the serpent will spit at him”. The wolf will swallow Odin, and kill him. Then Vidar will come for revenge and step on the wolf’s lower jaw with a shoe that is made of all the waste-pieces people cut from their shoes’ toes and heels throughout all time. And with one hand, he will grab the wolf’s upper jaw and rip his mouth apart, killing him. Loki and Heimdall will battle and will cause each other’s death. And “after that Surt will fling fire over the earth and burn the whole world”. And this will be the end of all the world and the gods. 

* Discussion Points: This account in the Prose Edda mentions Loki with Hel’s people eventually along side Hrym and the Frost-giants but does have Hrym as the captain of Naglfar. But other accounts have Loki at the helm of the ship. So is this version saying that Loki came a different way? Or, with Helheim being said to be in Niflheim, is this just a case of them basically riding together? I’ll be looking more into this one as I’m able. Another point here is one that has become a common question about Norse Mythology. That is the matter of Garm and Fenrir. In some descriptions it seems so similar they appear to be almost the same wolf, such as the ways they are bound somewhere “below”. Then in others, like this one, we see Fenriswolf and Garm seemingly being two different wolves. But, we also see Garm in this one being the wolf that fights Tyr, which we would assume Fenrir would do because of the trick in his binding. And we have here, Fenriswolf swallowing Odin which we knew from other accounts that Fenrir does. Is Garm then, another name for Loki’s son Fenrir, and “Fenriswolf” just another wolf of “Fenrir’s brood” mentioned in the Ironwood? And if that’s the case, how many of those wolves did they bind? These are just a few thoughts I’m mulling over. Feel free to discuss your thoughts and questions here. Until next time, have a great week.

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