How is the story of Ragnarök in Norse mythology?

How is the story of Ragnarök in Norse mythology?
How is the story of Ragnarök in Norse mythology?

It is not uncommon to see pop culture movies, series and comics taking inspiration from Norse mythology and even creating their own versions of the famous Ragnarök – just as one of this year’s most anticipated games, God of War Ragnarok, has also done.


Many people know that this is a story about the end of the world, but have no idea how it all happens, who the survivors are, and what came next. For this reason, we decided to make a summary of the main events of the original tale, based on reports from researchers, to satisfy the curiosity of those who want to know more about the real Ragnarök.

What is Ragnarök?

Ragnarök is the end of the world in Norse mythology, which is caused by a destruction of the cosmos and everything in it, including humans and the gods, by environmental catastrophes and a great war.


In Old Norse (the language the Vikings spoke), the word “Ragnarok” means “fate of the gods.” However, researchers point out that the tale has also appeared under other names in Viking texts, such as “Ragnarøkkr” (“twilight of the gods”) and “aldar rök” (“fate of mankind”).

Whatever it is called, the story was found in various medieval sources and summarized in the poem Gylfaginning, which is part of the Edda in Prose, a type of compendium of Norse mythology written by the historian Snorri Sturluson in the 13th century.


Based further on the form of the words, the poem is believed to predate even the Viking Age and would have been written in the 6th century AD.

How does Ragnarök happen?

On a day chosen by the Norns, the elders of fate in Norse mythology, we have the beginning of an intense and long winter, unlike any the world has ever seen: the Fimbulwinter, also known as the “Great Winter”.

It precedes Ragnarök and lasts three years in a row, causing the sun and heat to disappear across the Nine Realms. Everything is hit by an unprecedented cold, with biting winds, lots of snow, and even lakes being frozen.

Without summer, spring, or autumn, humanity quickly runs out of food, water, and other basic needs, succumbing to despair. All laws, rules and morals disappear, and men begin to fight for survival – even if this means having to murder each other.

So for three years, the world is ruled by cruel winter and moral chaos. Until the time comes for the main events that result in the great war of the gods.

When Ragnarök is about to happen, the wolves Skoll and Hati, sons of Fenrir, swallow the Sun and the Moon. As a result, the stars disappear, the sky becomes a black void, and Yggdrasil (the tree that stands in the center of the Nine Realms and supports the entire Norse universe) begins to shake until the mountains crumble.

The tremor also frees all the giants, creatures and monsters that were imprisoned by the gods, Fenrir (Loki’s son) being one of them. The wolf had been chained up in an isolated place because of disagreements with the Aesir – and now, consumed by a rage against Odin, he sets out on his quest while devouring everything he finds along the way.

In Midgard, the immense serpent Jörmungandr, who inhabits the bottom of the ocean, rises from the depths and spits venom all over the world, corrupting the land, water, and air. The turmoil in the sea also undoes the chains that held back the ship Naglfar, a vessel made of corpse nails. Commanded by Loki, the crew is composed of an army of giants from Helheim and sets out for the great war.

It is worth mentioning that during Ragnarök, Loki was already considered as the “traitor of the gods” for the death of Baldur (god who was much loved among the Aesir), which happened even before Fimbulwinter began.

After chaos on land and sea, the black skies open and the fire giants of Muspelheim appear, led by Surtr who wields a sword as bright and hot as the sun.

Thus, they all spread death and mayhem across the Nine Realms as they head towards the fields of Vigrid, a vast plain in Niflheim, where the battle of Ragnarök takes place.

The Battle of Ragnarök

The battle of Ragnarök only begins after the Gjallarhorn, Heimdall’s battle horn, is blown. Its blast can be heard throughout the Nine Realms and heralds the end of the world.

The gods decide to do battle, even though prophecies predicted many deaths in a great war. The confrontations, curiously enough, end with most of them killing each other.

Fenrir faces Odin, who enlists the help of the Einherjar, an army of dead warriors who have been kept in Valhalla until the day of Ragnarök. The god Aesir fights bravely alongside the soldiers, but ultimately it is not enough. The wolf swallows Odin and all his men.

One of Odin’s sons, Vidar, sees his father’s death and decides to avenge him. Motivated by a sudden rage, the god breaks Fenrir’s jaw and then drives a sword through the beast’s neck.

Garm, the guardian wolf of Helheim, battles against Týr. The two fight to the end, killing each other. Loki fights Heimdall, and the pair also kill each other. Surtr, on the other hand, sets fire to the Nine Realms and confronts Freyr, the Vanir god of fertility. They also cause each other’s demise.

Finally, Thor confronts Jörmungandr. The god Aesir crushes the giant serpent’s head with several blows with the Mjölnir hammer, but then dies from being covered in the creature’s fatal venom.

With the outcome of the battles, we also come to the end of Ragnarök and the realization of the end of the world.

What happens after Ragnarök?

There are two interpretations in the Norse texts for what happens after Ragnarök. The first holds that the wreckage of the world sinks into the seas and it really is the end of the cosmos, with no chance for the rebirth of any kind of life.

The second version is more optimistic and says that a new world rises from the seas, being an even greener and more beautiful place. The gods that survived the battle (Vidar and Vali, sons of Odin; and Modi and Magni, sons of Thor) start living in it. Baldur and his brother, Hodr, still return from Helheim.

Only two humans survive the end of the world, Lif and Lifthrasir, who together begin a new generation of humanity. Finally, a new Sun, son of the previous one, appears in the sky, indicating the beginning of a new cycle of life.

As explained above, the original Ragnarök story features a lot of chaos, fascinating elements, and a grandiose battle with various gods and creatures known from Norse culture.

So it’s easy to understand how pop culture has an interest in creating its own versions – and we’ll see another one on November 9, when God of War Ragnarok is finally released. Check out our review of the game!

Learn more

Assassin’s Creed Mirage leaked new images ahead of today’s unveiling

Call of Duty Warzone Mobile is officially announced

The Last of Us Part 1 reveals a new secret about Joel and Tommy

Cobra Kai Season 5 Release Date and Time on Netflix

Battlefield turns 20 and needs to remember its roots


She is the editor of The Desk Game. Previously, she was editor-in-chief at other news sites. Juliana has also in her career been an editor for several websites and has more than 5 years of experience in the industry.

Latest articles

Related articles

Leave a reply

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here