Brothers will fight
and kill each other,
sisters’ children
will defile kinship.
It is harsh in the world,
whoredom rife
—an axe age, a sword age (and the sun rises)
—shields are riven—
a wind age, a wolf age—
before the world goes headlong.
No man will have
mercy on another.

The world tree Yggdrasil shudders and groans. The jötunn Hrym comes from the east, his shield before him. The Midgard serpent Jörmungandr furiously writhes, causing waves to crash. “The eagle shrieks, pale-beaked he tears the corpse,” and the ship Naglfar breaks free thanks to the waves made by Jormungandr and sets sail from the east. The fire jötnar inhabitants of Muspelheim come forth.

The dwarves groan by their stone doors.13 Surtr advances from the south, his sword brighter than the sun. Rocky cliffs open and the jötnar women sink.16 People walk the road to Hel and heavens split apart.

The gods then do battle with the invaders: Odin is swallowed whole and alive fighting the wolf Fenrir, causing his wife Frigg her second great sorrow (the first being the death of her son, the god Baldr).17 The god Freyr fights Surtr and loses. Odin’s son Víðarr avenges his father by rending Fenrir’s jaws apart and stabbing it in the heart with his spear, thus killing the wolf. The serpent Jörmungandr opens its gaping maw, yawning widely in the air, and is met in combat by Thor. Thor, also a son of Odin and described here as protector of the earth, furiously fights the serpent, defeating it, but Thor is only able to take nine steps afterward before collapsing. After this, people flee their homes, and the sun becomes black while the earth sinks into the sea, the stars vanish, steam rises, and flames touch the heavens.

Ragnarök is first mentioned in chapter 26, where the throned figure of High, king of the hall, tells Gangleri (King Gylfi in disguise) some basic information about the goddess Iðunn, including that her apples will keep the gods young until Ragnarök.30

Gangleri asks High that, as the gods could only expect destruction from Fenrir, why the gods did not simply kill Fenrir once he was bound. High responds that "the gods hold their sacred places and sanctuaries in such respect that they chose not to defile them with the wolf’s blood, even though the prophecies foretold that he would be the death of Odin.

High details that, prior to these winters, three earlier winters will have occurred, marked with great battles throughout the world. During this time, greed will cause brothers to kill brothers, and fathers and sons will suffer from the collapse of kinship bonds. High then quotes stanza 45 of Völuspá. Next, High describes that the wolf will first swallow the sun, and then his brother the moon, and mankind will consider the occurrence as a great disaster resulting in much ruin. The stars will disappear. The earth and mountains will shake so violently that the trees will come loose from the soil, the mountains will topple, and all restraints will break, causing Fenrir to break free from his bonds.

High relates that the great serpent Jörmungandr, also described as a child of Loki in the same source, will breach land as the sea violently swells onto it. The ship Naglfar, described in the Prose Edda as being made from the human nails of the dead, is released from its mooring, and sets sail on the surging sea, steered by a jötunn named Hrym. At the same time, Fenrir, eyes and nostrils spraying flames, charges forward with his mouth wide open, his upper jaw reaching to the heavens, his lower jaw touching the earth. At Fenrir’s side, Jörmungandr sprays venom throughout the air and the sea.

Surtr covers the earth in fire, causing the entire world to burn.

At the beginning of chapter 52, Gangleri asks “what will be after heaven and earth and the whole world are burned? All the gods will be dead, together with the Einherjar and the whole of mankind. Didn’t you say earlier that each person will live in some world throughout all ages?”

Hilda Ellis Davidson theorizes that the events in Völuspá occurring after the death of the gods (the sun turning black, steam rising, flames touching the heavens, etc.) may be inspired by the volcanic eruptions on Iceland. Records of eruptions on Iceland bear strong similarities to the sequence of events described in Völuspá, especially the eruption at Laki that occurred in 1783.53 Bertha Phillpotts theorizes that the figure of Surtr was inspired by Icelandic eruptions, and that he was a volcano demon.54 Surtr’s name occurs in some Icelandic place names, among them the lava tube caves Surtshellir, a number of dark caverns in the volcanic central region of Iceland.

Ragnarök (Ragnarok) was the doom of the gods and men, and heralded the destruction of the Nine Worlds. To the Germans, Ragnarök was called Götterdämmerung (Gotterdammerung).

Nothing will escape the coming destruction, whether you live in heaven and on earth. The war will be wage between the goods and the evils. The goods were the Aesir, led by Odin, ruler of the gods. The evils, were the giants and monsters, led by Loki.

Yet the strangest things about Ragnarök was that the gods already knew what was going to happen through the prophecy: who will be killed and by whom, who would survive, what happen to those in the other world and so forth.

Despite, knowing their fates, the gods will still defiantly face their destiny, as brave as any hero in a saga. The Norse gods knew what was to come, and knew they could not do anything to prevent prophecy coming to pass.

Final Battle

Heimdall will warn the gods of Aesir of Ragnarök by sounding his horn Gjallahorn. It would be the sound of doom. The gods will arm themselves for the war, even though they knew that they couldn’t win. All the slain heroes (Einherjar) who lived in Valhalla will accompany them. These heroes will now assist the gods in a hopeless war.

Of the Aesir gods, it was said in the Vafthrudnismal (Lay of Vafthrudnir) that Njörd will return home to Vanaheim, home of the Vanir deities.

The battlefield will be fought upon the plain of Vigrid. Freyr, without his magical sword and totally unarmed would be the first god to fall to the fire-giant Surt’s flaming sword.

The one-handed Tyr managed to kill the hellhound Garm, but Tyr was so severely wounded that he died shortly after the hound. The contest between Loki and Heimdall was evenly matched that both die from the other’s weapon.

The thunder-god Thor smashed Midgard Serpent to death with his mighty Mjollnir, but the conflict will exact a heavy toll on the god. Thor will succumbed from the searing venom of Jörmungand (Midgard Serpent).

Odin fought with his mighty spear Gungnir against the monstrous wolf Fenrir. Eventually, Odin fell, devoured by Fenrir. Silent Vidar, seeing his father fall to the giant wolf, bound upon Fenrir and tore the wolf’s jaws apart with his bare hands.

Surt then set the world ablaze with his flaming sword. None of the nine worlds escaped from the fire. The earth tried to sink into the sea to avoid the scorching heat. Gods and men, giants and dwarves will all perished in the fire. Fire that reach high as the heaven. The sun will darken and the stars will vanish from heaven.

In the pagan mythology of the Vikings of the early medieval times, Ragnarok was the day of the end, the Twilight of the Gods. It was said to be the greatest battle ever, when the gods and Giants dueled to the death on the vast plain of Vigard. It is the battle when the forces of evil and good risk eveything and destroy the world, and as the Norse god’s were non-immortal, and the gods themselves.

Ragnarok will begin with a fierce war on Midgard (earth), when the humans will constantly destroy each other, brothers slaying brothers. The gods and giants will more frequently skirmish, and eventualy the Earth will freeze, killing all but humanity Lif & Lifthrasir, a couple who’ll hide in the world tree Yggdrasil’s branches. Then the real war will begin.

Loki the evil trickster, and his demon wolf son Fenrir will break the magic chains that bind them, and Jormungand the world serpent will haul his massive body onto land, causing the nine worlds to shudder. Hel, the goddess of the underworld and daughter of Loki, will summon the spirits who died of disease and natural causes to her aid from the frozen hell of Niflheim, and the demonic guard dog of that place Garm will join her. Surt, leader of the fire Giants, will gather his followers from Muspell (the realm of flames) and with Hel and Garm, will join Loki, Fenrir, and Jormungand to assault Asgard, the kingdom of the gods.

Heimdall, the guardian of Asgard, will sound his horn and gather the gods and their allies to ready for Loki’s horde. With the aid of the Giants of Utgard, Loki and his minions will gather at the great plain of Vigard, as will the forces of good. At the sound of another blow from Heimdall’s horn the battle will begin. Fenrir will knock Odin, king of the gods, to the ground and devour him. Odin’s son Vidar will take revenge on the wolf and slay him. Thor the thunder god will be bitten by Jormungand and crush the great serpent’s skull with his hammer, only to die once the bite takes effect. Garm will rip open the noble god of law Tyr’s throat just as he pierces the wolf’s heart, and Loki and Heimdall will duel and kill each other. The plain of Vigard will be awash with blood as the remaining gods and evil creatures battle it to the finish.

Surt the fire master will fling his blade into the sky, causing a rain of fire and ice. The nine worlds will crumble, and Niddhogr the dragon of the underworld will chew on Yggdrasil’s root, before the beach of corpses Nastrond where he lives will be destroyed. The remains of the frozen earth will sink into the ocean, and a pair of giant wolves will eat the sun and moon. This is Ragnarok, the twilight of the Norse gods.

However, hope will be at hand after Ragnarok. Despite heaven and hell being destroyed along with the gods and giants, Midgard will arise from the ocean. The couple who hid in Yggdrasil, Lif and Lifthrasir, will descend to the new world and renew the human race. Odin’s sons Vidar and Vali will survive, along with Thor’s children Modi and Magni. Balder, Nanna, Hod and Honir, all gods who died before Ragnarok will awake from the dead and become the new gods. Peace will survive forever after the bloody war that is Ragnarok.


Altmaria Greipr