Norse Mythology and the Eclipse

Next week, the first total solar eclipse in forty years will pass over the Earth. Eclipses have happened since long before recorded history, and because of that, they have always had a place in human mythology. Norse mythology is no different.

The word ‘eclipse’ comes from the Greek word for, ‘abandonment.’ For ancient people all over the world, it was a time of extreme anxiety; there was no telling whether or not the sun would return once it vanished from the sky. For the Norse, this was a potential sign of Ragnarok forthcoming. In the Norse sky await two wolves– Skoll, the One Who Mocks, and Hati, the One Who Hates. These wolves live for the chasing and the hunting of two very important celestial beings: the sun and the moon.

Skoll is the name of the wolf
Who follows the shining priest
Into the desolate forest,
And the other is Hati,
Hróðvitnir’s son,
Who chases the bright bride of the sky.[2]

– From Snorri Sturluson’s Grímnismál, an Eddic poem.

Of course, these two wolves are hardly the only wolves mentioned in Norse mythology. But it seems that they are the children of Fenrir, who is kind of the alpha wolf of the Prose Eddas. And Fenrir, of course, is the son of Loki, making Skoll and Hati the grandchildren of the trickster god himself. Although, as with most Norse genealogies, take this with a grain of salt: it changes depending on the source. Indeed, in some sources, it’s even Fenrir himself who chases (and eventually devours) the sun.

If Skoll or Hati were to ever catch the sun, that would signal the end of the world as we know it. Ragnarok and all of its horrors would begin and humanity would struggle for survival a the gods fought and died. With world events being what they have been lately, this coming Monday seems an auspicious day as ever to have a solar eclipse. Let’s just hope the sun fights its way out of Hati’s jaws.

Throw Your Own Norse Eclipse Party
Just because modern science says there’s no wolf in the sky, waiting to eat the sun doesn’t mean you can’t pretend there is. To start you will need mead (of course) and traditional snacks, noisemakers (the kind from Party City, instruments, or even just pots and pans), and some good, Norse music. Death metal is always acceptable, but traditional Norse music works too. Gather with your friends, kids, and whoever else you hang out with at midday on a Monday.

Fans of the band Motorhead shake their heads during their performance at the 35th Paleo music festival in Nyon July 20, 2010. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse (SWITZERLAND – Tags: ENTERTAINMENT IMAGES OF THE DAY SOCIETY) – RTR2GKT3

When the sun starts to vanish, begin making noise. Blast that music, bang those pots and pans, or play some righteous tunes. If you have nothing else, screaming works just fine. We suggest the ancient war cry of, “Odin owns ye all!” or even just yelling, “Tyr!”, to invoke the Norse god of war.

Want to show off your battle against Hati? Send us pics or video of your Eclipse Party and we may feature you on our Facebook page!

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Norse Mythology and the Eclipse