Fate and the Twilight of the Gods (Dead Trees Review)

Fate and the Twilight of the Gods: The Norns and an Exegesis of Voluspa

This is a short book on Northern European (specifically Norse) mythology.

Fate is a force that is outside of human control. In Northern Europe, fate is usually shown as a Goddess with three aspects, known as the Norns or Nornir. They are not separate and distinct figures, which leads to the possibility that they were imported from somewhere else, and merged with the existing belief system via Roman incursions into Europe.

There is a problem in trying to study the surviving textual references to the Nornir. Christians destroyed a lot of indigenous literature during their aggressive converting of Europeans. Therefore, the concept of the Nornir could have been part of something much bigger.

Many different traditions have their own apocalypse story; for the Norwegians, it is called Ragnarok. It is similar to other traditions in that there is a cycle of decline in the quality of life until the end comes. Then the world is purified through destruction and things begin again.

Loki is the antagonist behind the coming of Ragnarok. He is never fully accepted into the community of Asgard. He is eventually imprisoned and tortured. Ragnarok can not be prevented, only postponed, because of a mistake in Odin’s (Loki’s father) past.

This is a very specialized book. It is recommended for mythology scholars, or those who otherwise know their way around Norse mythology. For the average reader, this book can be skipped.