The Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) is a phenomenon I have always been fascinated ever since I was a child. having the opportunity to see them twice in my life was truly a magical experience to say the least. What really makes them all the better is the folklore of the people living throughout the lands where they can be seen. From tales of Gods and Goddesses, mystical beings and more including how they even influenced rituals of native cultures. With that said I hope you enjoy the vast amount of resources below that truly capture how magical and influential the Northern Lights are.
The Vikings and the Northern Lights Bridge
by Lyonel Perabo
The Vikings never wrote books, but their descendants produced thousands of manuscripts during the middle-ages. However, within this corpus, only one sure mention of Northern Lights exists: in the Norwegian Konungs Skuggsjá (“The King’s Mirror”), written around 1250. The text’s author describes the Aurora as appearing only around Greenland and doesn’t mention any traditional stories about it. Other sources, this time of mythological nature do, however mention an intriguingly similar phenomenon.
The Bridge of the Gods, Bivröst (“Moving Way” in Old Norse) is mentioned in Snorri Sturluson’s Prose Edda, written around 1220 and in the Poetic Edda which is probably much older. In Snorri’s account, Bivröst/Bifraust is described as such:
Gvðín gerþu bru af iorþu til himins, er heitir Bifravst: “The gods made a bridge from earth to the heavens which is called Bifravst”
Later, Bivröst is said to be covered with flames and having three colors. Bivröst also appears in the Poetic Edda which carries numerous myths from Scandinavia’s Pagan past. In Grímnismál (“Grímnir’s sayings”) Odin gives it two names, the burning Ásbrú (“God-Bridge”) and Bilröst (“Unstable Way”). In Fáfnismál (“Fafnir’s sayings”), the dragon Fafnir, mentions Bilröst and its destruction before the Ragnarök battle. Lastly, Bilröst appears in Helgakviða Hundingsbana II (“Helgi Hundingsbane’s Second Poem”) where it is crossed by a dead warrior and is named Rodnar brautir (“reddened ways”).
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