THE myth of the Ragnarok is perhaps the best known of all the Teutonic myths. People who know nothing of Odinism often know of the cataclysmic destruction of the gods.
Even amongst Odinists the subject of Ragnarok can lead to a cloud of melancholy. Like all myths it can be applied to our personal experiences but I want now to deal with its epic aspect and why rather than allow a feeling of gloom to descend on us we ought to see it as an affirmation of our being and our direct contact with our gods. The ‘destruction of the gods’ aspect has usually been greatly overplayed. This is not surprising when we consider that those whose writings of it we have were either Christian or at the very least Christian influenced. Contrary to the belief of some there is much evidence to show that Snorri Sturluson far from being a pagan was a Christian who was skilled in the art of disinformation, and the reverence he is sometimes shown is of questionable justification.
The Ragnarok myth shows how gods and men make a final stand against the overwhelming forces of destruction. This in itself can exude a kind of ‘doomed romance’ aura. There is a great attraction in the idea of going out in a blaze of glory for it can indeed be seen as a noble act. When we look around today at the evil forces besieging us this feeling of doom can lead to a sense of futility – the weak give up without a fight while even many of the strong overreact and waste themselves in foolhardy and foredoomed schemes.
The emphasis on the twilight of the gods aspect has left an impression that our gods will be lost to us. Non-Odinists seldom realise that gods and man alike return to a purer realm. Even Odinists sometimes don’t pay that triumph the attention it demands. Not only do gods and men return but their apparent demise in one manifestation affirms their direct relationship to us. Odinists believe in the reality of this life. It is a celebration of life and the gods are manifest in that life, not separate from it.
Christianity could never have a Ragnarok because the Christian god is not part of life. In Christian eyes this world, this life, is worthless and inherently corrupt. In the Odinist’s it is the affirmation of the gods and not some sort of mistake. Cur gods are real and alive because they are manifest in the substance of this life and thus subject to the same events. The Ragnarok shows clearly the cycle of birth, death, rebirth which is behind all creation. If the gods were not part of this they would be beyond our reach; the fact that they are is a triumph of being.
We cannot control the cycle or laws of nature for we are part of it but we can choose whether we are to live a noble life or a worthless one. We can choose in our daily lives whether to stand, proud to defend family and our holy religion, fully knowing our limitations and our inevitable passing from this world, but we don’t wait idly for that passing. And we know that rebirth awaits. The Ragnarok clearly shows that continuance: from the ashes a new and purer order arises, just as green shoots push up through the ashes of a forest fire.
The myth of Ragnarok clearly shows our link with the gods and with the cycle of creation. Far from being pessimistic it is an occasion of victory.