Meaning “Fate of the Gods” in old Norse, Ragnarök is the end of days, the apocalyptic event when an age finishes. Yet, despite this foreknowledge, even the Gods were powerless to change their fate and prevent the impending doom. This is a part 2 of 2 from the prophecy of Ragnarok, you can find the first part here.
Our tale ended last week as Heimdall blew his horn Gjallarhorn announcing that the giants had arrived through the Bifrost bridge and were about to besiege Asgard.
As the giants approach Asgard, Yggdrasil will begin to shake and Odin will head beneath its roots, in search of counsel from the wisest of all beings known as Mímir.
The God’s are fully aware that most of them will not survive the oncoming battle, yet none shy away from their duty and wyrd. Gathering their weapons, they honorably march to fields of Vígríðr, defiance and pride shinning on their eyes.
Amongst their ranks will be Freyr, he is the only God of the Vanir clan mentioned by the Eddas to take part in the fight. He used to wield a fantastic magic sword, one that could even fight on its own and almost guaranteed victory in every battle. A long time before, he fell in love with the female jötunn Gerðr, who eventually became his wife. He gave up his sword to Gerðr's faher, the jötunn Skírnir, in order to gain the hand of his wife. Back then he knew that this would lead to his demise during Ragnarok, yet he never regretted doing so. And so, in the end of days, he will fight the fire giant Surtr with an antler, which will, as prophesized cause Freyr's downfall.
As the battle commences, Odin, mounted on Sleipnir, the best of all horses, will ride towards Fenrir whilst Thor will engage with Jörmungandr. Odin will be clad in golden armor whilst wielding his famous spear Gungnir.
Fighting side by side with the Allfather will be the valorous einherjar, the chosen fallen warriors who died in battle and were brought to the great hall of Valhalla to prepare for Ragnarök. Odin and his band of human warriors will clash with Fenrir, displaying courage and valor unmatched in any previous battlefield.
However, the prophecies have foretold their downfall and Fenrir will swallow them all, including the Allfather.
Fenrir will have very little time to gloat however. As Odin is defeated before the mighty beast, righteous revenge will fill the heart of his son Víðarr.
Víðarr is a mighty God, who possesses a magical boot. Upon seeing his father demise, Vidar will leap into the wolf's mouth itself, fixing his protected feet on the lower jaws of the beast. He then will proceed to grab the wolf’s upper fangs, ripping apart the terrible wolf's mandible, while stabbing it through the throat, killing Fenrir instantly.
The great serpent Jörmungandr will prove a worthy adversary to Thor as the pair engage in battle. Thor will smash the snake to pieces with his mighty hammer Mjöllnir. However, the victory will also be his last. During the fight, Thor will be poisoned by the serpent’s deadly venom and he’ll stagger just nine steps after slaying the creature before collapsing dead.
The battle will also see the death of Freyr who falls to Surtr and Týr who is killed by Garmr, another wolf of the underworld. The mischievous antics of Loki will end on the battlefield of Vígríðr as he and Heimdall extinguish each other’s lives.
As the blood-soaked battle draws to a close, Surtr will engulf the realms in fire, causing everything to burn. As the land sinks into the sea, the flames will rise to the heavens.
Sometime after, the flames will die down and the earth will reappear from the water. An eagle will hunt for fish over a waterfall cascading from a mountain. The Æsir Gods Höðr and Balder, who had previously died and gone to Helheim, are resurrected after the events of Ragnarök. It is prophesied that the Vanir God Njörðr will return “home among the wise Vanir”. Vidar and a few other Gods – Vali, Baldur, Hodr, and Thor’s sons Modi and Magni – will survive the downfall of the old world, and will live joyously in the new one.
Two humans will survive as well, Lif and Lifthrasir (Old Norse Líf and Lífþrasir, “Life” and “Striving after Life”, a man and a woman who hid in a wood called Hoddmímis Holt to escape Ragnarök. After the devastating events are over, they’ll repopulate the new and fertile world they now find themselves in.
A new sun, the daughter of the previous one, will rise in the sky, as the world is reborn afresh and anew.
Rudolf Simek (1993) Dictionary of Northern Mythology. Translated by Angela Hall. ISBN-10 0859915131
Jesse Byock (2005) Snorri Sturluson, The Prose Edda. 1st. edition. London, England: Penguin Books Ltd. ISBN-13 978-0-140-44755-2
Anthony Faulkes (1995) Snorri Sturluson, Edda. 3rd. edition. London, England: Everyman J. M. Dent. ISBN-13 978-0-4608-7616-2
Henry Adams Bellows (2004) The poetic Edda: The Mythological Poems, Mineola, New York: Dover, 2004, ISBN 9780486437101
Love these old legends, thank you and please keep them coming.