The mythology surrounding the Norse God Ragnarok is well-known. After a battle that saw Odin and Thor fighting for control of their kingdom, Thor killed his father, who was then reborn as Ymir (an enormous frost giant). As predicted by Thrudr’s augury birds, Ragnarok would bring about an end to all life on earth due to the cataclysmic events Loki set into motion.
Ragnarok is a game that was released on December 3, 2017. It is the third season of the game. The season includes new features and changes to the gameplay.
Ragnarok, the Norse doom, has been mentioned many times in this Norse mythology series. It’s where gods and monsters alike perish, and the earth comes crashing down.
However, calling it an apocalypse was a bit deceptive. Ragnarok, you see, wasn’t the end of the world, but rather the conclusion of a period of time. It was both the destruction and the rebirth of the universe.
Time didn’t exist for the Vikings in a linear sense; it didn’t have a beginning and an end. It was cyclical; seasons came and went, and the benefits and hardships of life ebbed and flowed with them.
Let’s look at what a man may learn from Ragnarok in this concluding installment of our Norse mythology series. But first, we must understand the myth itself.
Throughout the Norse gods’ age, prophesies and oracles predicted their demise – that they would not last forever. With the death of Baldur, one of the forerunners of Ragnarok, the gods realized their fate was sealed.
As Ragnarok came, the people of Midgard turned their backs on their way of life, severing ties of brotherhood and waging unending conflicts. Murder and incest were commonplace, and individuals fell into a state of lifelessness. Three years passed with no sign of summer – a season of gloom and freezing dubbed The Great Winter by the prophesies.
Then Loki and his wolf-son Fenrir broke free from their enslavement and set out to destroy the gods of Asgard, as well as the whole universe. They gathered a massive army of giants and sailed to the gods’ citadel aboard the ship Naglfar, which was built of the dead men’s fingernails and toenails.
Fenrir engulfed the earth and the sky in his teeth, devouring all in between. Jormungand, the globe-encircling, sea-dwelling snake, arose from his lair to vomit poison into the world. Surt, a flaming sword-wielding beast, raced over the planet, leaving a scorching, desolate environment in his wake.
Thor fights Jormungand, his archenemy.
In the middle of the turmoil and devastation, the gods battled hard to avert the catastrophe and, at the very least, eliminate mankind’s beast-enemies. Thor and Jormungand, as well as Tyr and the huge dog Garm, killed each other in combat. In another mutually destructive battle, Heimdall, the keeper of Asgard’s gate, faced Loki. Odin was defeated by Fenrir, but Fenrir was avenged when Odin’s son Vidar murdered him. The gods’ and creatures’ blood was dripping from the battlefield.
The land dropped back into the sea once the conflict was over, and the dark emptiness known as Ginnungagap (which you’ll remember from the Norse creation tale) reappeared.
But keep in mind that this wasn’t the last chapter.
The earth eventually restored to its original shape. Lif and Lifthrasir, a new human couple, emerged. Baldur, together with Odin’s and Thor’s sons, rose from the dead. A new sun appeared, considerably brighter than the previous one. Rather than darkness and devastation, life and light ruled supreme in the cosmos once again.
The world’s gears started to move once again, infusing creation with fresh vitality and spirit and propelling the cosmos towards yet another Ragnarok and creation, indefinitely.
What can mankind learn from the Viking “apocalypse” story?
There are cycles in life.
The Norse world didn’t truly come to an end. Destruction was wreaked, yet a new world sprang from the ashes. It’s a question of faith (a notion shared by not just the Vikings, but also other faiths) whether this cosmic death and rebirth will really happen. The cyclical character of our earthly life, on the other hand, is undeniable. Of course, one can see it in nature – the sun rises and sets; seeds develop, blossom, and die. Human actions, too, are structured by cycles. Things fade out and come back into favour every day, which is true of cultural trends. It’s true in economics: what goes up – the stock market — must come down again, even though the trend is typically upward. Even our global events are affected by this; generations of men and history go through phases of waking and unraveling.
What are men to do now that they know life is cyclical? What impact will this have on our lives?
On a larger scale, understanding that everything moves in cycles reminds us not to be excessively pessimistic when the world seems to be falling apart; although we may be in a trough right now, the cycle will eventually turn around and usher in a new beginning. The end isn’t the end of the story.
On a smaller scale, the cyclical nature of life teaches us that progress and achievement should not be assessed on a linear plane; progress seldom appears like a straight line flowing upward.
While life will undoubtedly soar higher, there will be dips – moments when you feel stuck, like if nothing is working, as if you’ve reached the end of your tether. These moments should not be seen as failures, as we frequently do, but rather as challenges, opportunities, and even healing periods. Any pause in our hyper-productive environment is frowned upon. Is it, however, reasonable to expect productivity to continue to rise indefinitely? Isn’t there a point when you have to take a break (even if it’s only a vacation or a planned break) for your health and sanity’s sake?
Our moods and creativity ebb and flow, just as the Viking cosmos passed through periods of vacuum and creation, same as trees and plants bloom, perish, and reappear. Your company’s performance is up and down at times. Sometimes your mind is fertile, and your writing flows like a faucet, while other times you are devoid of wonderful ideas. Sometimes you’re euphorically joyful, and other times you’re in a depression for no apparent reason.
Not just in your job and emotions, but also in your relationships, cycles are at work. Do your daily sentiments for someone you love rise and fall with each passing day? Or do your sentiments fluctuate a little bit, even though you can look back and see that your love for each other has consistently developed and increased over time? This might be one of the reasons why couples split up or divorce: they no longer have the same emotions for one other. When a relationship is seen on a linear plane, it’s time to call it quits when the line begins to drop.
While transitory downturns are to be expected and should not be reason for alarm, they should not be used as an excuse for complacency. Rather, they provide opportunity to reflect on what you’ve been doing, consider how you may better, and attempt new things in order to re-grow. Do you have writer’s block? Perhaps you should start a new habit or ritual. Is your company experiencing a downturn? Consider how you can enhance the experience of your consumers. Do you have a rough marriage? Stop taking each other for granted and rekindle your relationship.
In life, it seems that I am most encouraged when I consider the big picture. I don’t always check to see whether I’ve improved since yesterday. Thinking about ongoing development on such a tiny scale may be debilitating. A single lousy day may sabotage an otherwise successful week or month.
I like to self-reflect over extended periods of time since I’m aware of these cycles. Have I progressed since previous month? Is it the fourth quarter yet? What happened last year? Even with wintery spells here and there, it’s simple to observe things spiraling up when looking at bigger scales.
This isn’t to mean that you should live in terror of a karmic downturn while things are going well. Rather, accept that life will not always be easy, and work on being antifragile so that when the cycle begins to wane, you will be prepared and emerge stronger than before.
Even when he is defeated, a man fights till the end.
Odin battles Fenrir
The gods of the Norse pantheon were well aware of their fate. They’d heard the predictions, and it became evident after Baldur’s death that there was no escape destiny. Despite this, the gods battled valiantly in the Ragnarok conflicts. Even though they knew they were doomed, they refused to abandon the ship. They gave it their best until they could no longer do so physically.
As with the last point, there are social and personal lessons to be learned here.
You may feel certain that a rebirth of some type is on the way in history’s cycles, but the fact is that you may not live to see it. This might lead to a nihilistic mindset: if the world needs to reach rock bottom before things turn around, why bother trying to improve things? You just stop supporting or contributing to the culture, satisfied to watch it deteriorate.
The Norse gods, on the other hand, were not of this attitude. They had a long perspective of their world’s destruction as well as their own. They had known for a long time what was about to happen. They weren’t going into war with a positive attitude; they were doomed from the start. Despite this, they battled with all they had.
We must not surrender without a struggle. Neither in our personal lives nor in our society.
We must make a concerted effort to be producers rather than consumers. We should strive towards perfect masculinity. We’ll never be flawless, and we’ll never achieve our full potential as people. We’ll work hard and work hard, but we’ll always have flaws and inadequacies. The truth of mankind itself will defeat us.
Of course, perfection is unattainable. And others around us, as well as the society at large, may not recognize our efforts. However, contrary to what our brain may suggest — that lounging about with a totally epicurean outlook is the most fulfilling – the greatest joy in life is found in trying, battling, and taking on challenges. Why else would individuals speak about mountain climbing, having children, and starting businesses as some of life’s most fulfilling experiences? They’re the most difficult things in life, but they’re also the most rewarding.
“Though I never achieved at the perfection I had been so eager of acquiring, but fell far short of it,” Benjamin Franklin remarked of his own quest of greatness, “still I was, by the endeavor, a better and a happier man than I otherwise might have been if I had not sought it.”
In another sense, our ultimate defeat is likewise true in that we will not be able to fight worldly death. We shall all die at some time, and the Earth will be without us. Should we simply quit up and say, “What’s the point?” in the face of this defeat? Certainly not! We may become better men by meditating about death. Knowing that we won’t be here forever may and should motivate you to live a fuller life and accomplish more good actions. Your time here is limited, so do all you can with the time you have to make a difference in the world – love more deeply, act more courageously, work more, and push your body and mind harder.
While the weak man will wallow in these inevitable failures like a pig in muck, the man of action, who yearns for self-progression and virility, will follow the Norse example and be all the more encouraged to carpe diem.
We must do all possible to ensure that the next generation is well-educated.
My whole perspective appeared to be thrown on its head overnight when I became a parent roughly four weeks ago. One of my most important responsibilities in life has become clear: to raise my kid — and any future descendants — properly.
The work that a man accomplishes in his career may or may not last beyond his lifetime, but his offspring, God willing, will. If you teach children what it is to live properly — to love, to work hard, to live with integrity and dignity — maybe the world will be a better place when you’re gone.
What will be left after our generation of leaders, builders, and inventors has passed away? Only future generations will know what we’ve taught them. The newly formed universe would not have gotten off to as wonderful a start if Odin and Thor had not nurtured their kids wisely. Would light have triumphed over darkness if the gods’ ideals had not been handed down?
Every generation is responsible for remaking the planet. Do all you can to provide growing young with the tools for rejuvenation and the capacity to bring out a stunning rebirth, whether you’re a physical father or merely a fatherly mentor to others.
Read the whole series:
Read the whole series:
Additional Reading and Resources
H.R. Ellis Davidson’s Northern European Gods and Myths This 1965 textbook offers a remarkably accessible introduction to Norse mythology, as well as its background and meaning within Viking civilization.
Anders Winroth’s The Age of the Vikings This is more of a history of the Viking people than a study of Norse mythology. It does, however, help create the scene and does a good job of portraying their culture honestly.
The Edda Poetica (Hollander translation). Many Norse tales have their origins in this collection of anonymous mythological poetry and verse from the 1300s.
Snorri Sturluson’s The Prose Edda The Icelandic historian gathers Norse mythology in a textbook-like work. This, together with The Poetic Edda, provides the bulk of Norse mythology’s source material.
Padraic Colum’s Nordic Gods and Heroes This is a list of Norse mythology that have been reinvented and altered. Rather than a perfunctory translation of old words, they’re written in a manner that preserves the stories’ beauty and inspiring nature.
Norse Mythology for the Educated. A wealth of articles and information regarding the legendary Norse cosmos may be found on this website.
Ragnarok is the Norse word for “the end of all things”. It is a game that takes place in a world where the last remaining humans must fight to survive against the gods, monsters and zombies. Reference: ragnarok, thor.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Ragnarok the god of?
A: Ragnarok is a Norse Mythology god of death, war, and the end of the world.
What Ragnarok means?
A: Ragnarok is the Norse mythological event in which all of Asgard, home to the gods and goddesses of Norse mythology, was destroyed.
Is Ragnarok Thors son?
A: Thor is the son of Odin, who in turn was born from a giantess.
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