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Ragnarok – Old Norse for “Fate of the Gods”

English: Title page of a manuscript of the Pro...

Title page of a manuscript of the Prose Edda, showing Odin, Heimdallr, Sleipnir and other figures from Norse mythology (Photo: Wikipedia)

In Scandinavian myth, Ragnarok is a terrible final battle in which the gods are destroyed, along with most of creation and mankind.

According to the story, Ragnarok is preceded by lawlessness and anarchy. There are only two survivors of the cosmic catastrophe : The descendants of Lif and Lifthrasir.

The tale comes to us from two main sources.

  • The 13C Poetic Edda (a compilation of earlier traditional sources)
  • The 13C Prose Edda by historian, writer and statesman Snorri Sturluson (which makes frequent reference to the Poetic Edda)

The mythographer Stuart Gordon notes similarities among the idea of Ragnorok, the Book of Revelation by St. John, the Hindu yugas, and Plato‘s account of Atlantis.

The story is by no means some lost fable. Marvel comics has reimagined the Ragnarok cycle in The Mighty Thor¹ and other Thor comics. Several blockbuster films have also merged Thor with other more contemporary heroes like Captain America and The Avengers.

I always find it ironic when some Europeans claim that we have a dearth of culture in North America. These backward folks pride themselves on their crumbling old buildings and statues, turning a blind eye to what’s happening in arts and culture today.

The Ragnarok myth continues… very much alive for those with eyes to see.² And with weapons of mass destruction becoming increasingly sophisticated in the 21st century, this myth is even more relevant now than in the past.

German publication about WW-I.

¹ The Mighty Thor

² Two days after writing this I became aware of a new Thor: Ragnarok film slated for release November 2017.

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Thor

Image via Tumblr

In Norse mythology, Thor is the son of Odin and Frigga. His famed hammer, the Molinar, contains more mystical power than any other wielded by the Norse gods.

Thor’s destiny is to destroy the world serpent, an evil creature which coils itself around the Earth in the final battle at Ragnarok. At this time, he is destined to die.

Thor appears in Marvel Comics and in film, mostly as a powerful superhero. But in the original Scandinavian myths, he’s a complicated character, behind not just violence and thunder, but wellness and fertility. Wikipedia explains:

In Norse mythology, Thor (/θɔr/; from Old Norse Þórr) is a hammer-wielding god associated with thunder, lightning, storms, oak trees, strength, the protection of mankind, and also hallowing, healing and fertility

¹ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thor

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