The world ends again tomorrow—this time in Viking fashion.
Ragnarök has arrived
a series of future events, including a great battle foretold to ultimately result in the death of a number of major figures (including the gods Odin, Thor, Týr, Freyr, Heimdallr, and Loki), the occurrence of various natural disasters, and the subsequent submersion of the world in water. Afterward, the world will resurface anew and fertile, the surviving and returning gods will meet, and the world will be repopulated by two human survivors. Ragnarök is an important event in the Norse canon, and has been the subject of scholarly discourse and theory.
In the Prose Edda book Gylfaginning, various references are made to Ragnarök. Here’s some detail:
A scene from the last phase of Ragnarök, after Surtr has engulfed the world with fire High relates that the Æsir and the Einherjar dress for war and head to the field. Odin, wearing a gold helmet and an intricate coat of mail, carries his spear Gungnir and rides before them. Odin advances against Fenrir, while Thor moves at his side, though Thor is unable to assist Odin because he has engaged Jörmungandr in combat. According to High, Freyr fiercely fights with Surtr, but Freyr falls because he lacks the sword he once gave to his messenger, Skirnir. The hound Garmr (described here as the “worst of monsters”) breaks free from his bonds in front of Gnipahellir, and fights the god Týr, resulting in both of their deaths.
Thor kills Jörmungandr, yet is poisoned by the serpent, and manages to walk nine steps before falling to the earth dead. Fenrir swallows Odin, though immediately afterward his son Víðarr kicks his foot into Fenrir’s lower jaw, grips Fenrir’s upper jaw, and rips apart Fenrir’s mouth, killing Fenrir. Loki fights Heimdallr, and the two kill one another. Surtr covers the earth in fire, causing the entire world to burn. High quotes stanzas 46 to 47 of Völuspá, and additionally stanza 18 of Vafþrúðnismál (the latter relating information about the battlefield Vígríðr).
According to some, Heimdallr’s horn, Gjallarhorn, was heard over York last fall, heralding 100 days until the beginning of the end. Take heart though, as Götterdämmerung concludes, the earth will appear once more from the sea, beautiful and green, where self-sown crops grow.
Two humans, Líf and Lífþrasir, will have also survived the destruction by hiding in the wood Hoddmímis holt. These two survivors consume the morning dew for sustenance, and from their descendants the world will be repopulated.
Once more we face an impending apocalypse, and once more we will survive.
Religion always seems to need an end to the world.