End time Viking style

As we know, the world did not end on May 21, 2011. This fact is not likely to deter those obsessed with predicting Doomsday, however, for we humans seem fascinated with stories about the earth’s ultimate demise – be they blockbuster summer movies or ancient prophecies. Think the Book of Revelations with Apocalypse, think Wagner’s operatic Ring cycle with Gotterdammerung, think Norse mythology with Ragnarok. Ragnarok? Now there’s a spectacle for you! Gods and men battling giants and monsters, the forces of order and control versus chaos and old night. Ragnarok incorporates elements common to other disaster scenarios, such as earthquake, tsunami and fire, but there is one major difference: the end is not the end.

Ragnarok sets the stage with portents of doom: successive winters, return of the dead, and the loosing of monsters via earthquakes and tidal waves. (In my novel, Faces in the Fire, King Hrothgar’s court fear that the appearance of the Grendel monster is a signal of such approaching doom.)

Next comes the gathering of forces from each corner of the nine worlds to square off in a final battle. (Think Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, Book Three) Finally the battle itself, in which opposing forces destroy each other, fire burns everything, and the land sinks into the sea.

End of story? Not quite. Unlike most Christian versions, the pagan Ragnarok ends with a vision of the earth’s renewal. A new world rises from the sea, new gods and men are born, and in this ‘brave new world’ men and gods live happily together – a golden age.

I vote to Ragnarok.

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