It’s All Fun and Games Until Odin Gets Eaten by a Wolf
You may have seen the links going around. Certainly I have, though I guess I’m an obvious target. “Vikings of the World Unite: The Apocalypse is Upon Us.” “Viking apocalypse: End of the world predicted to happen on Saturday (but don’t cancel your weekend plans yet.)” Word on the street is that Ragnarök is scheduled to happen this weekend, just by coincidence in time for the end of the Jorvik Viking Festival, which has a helpful countdown timer to let you know exactly how long we have until Loki and his posse of fire giants show up and ruin your property values.
This is all in good fun on the Jorvik festival’s part, I suppose, and I really don’t begrudge them for it. If you run a Viking festival for 30 years, eventually you’ll want to use Ragnarök as a theme. It’s too good to ignore—full of drama and tragedy, yet with a spark of hope at the end. Just listen to how the völva, or seeress, describes it in the Eddic poem Völuspá:
…an axe age, a sword age, shields are sundered,
A wind age, a wolf age, ere the world falls;
No man will have mercy on each other.
Really, if your idea of a good time is dressing up in Viking clothes and beating people over the head with sticks, how could you resist? If I lived in England, I would have bought tickets months ago.
But the stories reported in mainstream news sites don’t want to connect the prediction of Ragnarök directly to the Jorvik festival, for whatever reason; the NPR story I mentioned above only links to two sources, and neither of them have anything to do with Jorvik. Instead, we get this: “According to Norse mythology, the end of times has been brewing for about 100 days.” It’s reported as though there were some kind of calendar written into the Völuspá, or even that there is a secret Bible Code-style cipher hidden in the text, but there isn’t. I know an Armageddon prophecy when I see one; I was part of Apocalypse Week. There’s no academic debate among Norse mythologists about when Ragnarök will happen. There’s no charismatic Asatru leader trying to get us all to wear white tennis shoes and drink cyanide on Saturday night. There might be some radical survivalist Heathens planning to spend the weekend clutching their bug-out bags and waiting for the end of the civilization, but they were going to do that anyway.
Perhaps I’m being too sensitive about this. But really, this is just another iteration of the things I wrote about when the first Thor movie came out; Norse mythology, and therefore Asatru and all forms of Paganism, are just a joke as far as these reports go. Nobody thought to ask someone who might have a stake in the mythology what they think about the bogus Ragnarök. (Well, except for this article, which has quotes from, uh, me.) My religion might as well be a theme park attraction.
Eric Scott was raised by the Saint Louis coven Pleiades, a Wiccan family based in the Alexandrian tradition. His fiction and memoir explore the joys and doubts of being a second-generation pagan in the modern world. He recently completed his MFA at the University of Missouri – Kansas City. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Ashé! Journal, Killing the Buddha, Kerouac's Dog, and Witches & Pagans. In his spare time, he draws elaborate metaphysical diagrams on his bedroom wall and sings for a Taoist glam rock band.