Week 11: The End (Norse/Aztec)

Hello everyone! So this is the last week of posting for this semester. We made it!

When I started this blogging experience I thought that it would be boring, but I have come to enjoy sitting on my bed with my computer to relate to you all the tales that I love so much. As this is the end of our blogging this semester I have decided to choose tales of the end of the world. Fitting in more ways than one don’t you think?

To the Norse, the end of the world is known as Ragnarok.

Ragnarok (“Doom of the Gods”), also called Gotterdammerung, means the end of the cosmos in Norse mythology. It will be preceded by Fimbulvetr, the winter of winters. Three such winters will follow each other with no summers in between. Conflicts and feuds will break out, even between families, and all morality will disappear. This is the beginning of the end.

The wolf Skoll will finally devour the sun, and his brother Hati will eat the moon, plunging the earth into darkness. The stars will vanish from the sky. The cock Fjalar will crow to the giants and the golden cock Gullinkambi will crow to the gods. A third cock will raise the dead.

The earth will shudder with earthquakes, and every bond and fetter will burst, freeing the terrible wolf Fenrir. The sea will rear up because Jormungand, the Midgard Serpent, is twisting and writhing in fury as he makes his way toward the land. With every breath, Jormungand will stain the soil and the sky with his poison. The waves caused by the serpent’s emerging will set free the ship Naglfar, and with the giant Hymir as their commander, the giants will sail towards the battlefield. From the realm of the dead a second ship will set sail, and this ship carries the inhabitants of hell, with Loki as their helmsman. The fire giants, led by the giant Surt, will leave Muspell in the south to join against the gods. Surt, carrying a sword that blazes like the sun itself, will scorch the earth.

Meanwhile, Heimdall will sound his horn, calling the sons of Odin and the heroes to the battlefield. From all the corners of the world, gods, giants, dwarves, demons and elves will ride towards the huge plain of Vigrid (“battle shaker”) where the last battle will be fought. Odin will engage Fenrir in battle, and Thor will attack Jormungand. Thor will victorious, but the serpent’s poison will gradually kill the god of thunder. Surt will seek out the swordless Freyr, who will quickly succumb to the giant. The one-handed Tyr will fight the monstrous hound Garm and they will kill each other. Loki and Heimdall, age-old enemies, will meet for a final time, and neither will survive their encounter. The fight between Odin and Fenrir will rage for a long time, but finally Fenrir will seize Odin and swallow him. Odin’s son Vidar will at once leap towards the wolf and kill him with his bare hands, ripping the wolf’s jaws apart.

Then Surt will fling fire in every direction. The nine worlds will burn, and friends and foes alike will perish. The earth will sink into the sea.

After the destruction, a new and idyllic world will arise from the sea and will be filled with abundant supplies. Some of the gods will survive, others will be reborn. Wickedness and misery will no longer exist and gods and men will live happily together. The descendants of Lif and Lifthrasir will inhabit this earth.

 

Next we have the Aztecs and their Legend of the Five Suns.

The gods created the physical world, and upon doing so it became clear that that whichever god became the sun would have greater power and prestige. Each time that a particular god was overthrown from having the position of the sun, that age of the world was destroyed and a new one began when another deity (usually the one who did the overthrowing) took up the position of the sun. The suns are named for the Aztec date on which they ended.

The first sun was ruled by Tezcatlipoca, the Lord of the Smoking Mirror. Being a god of the night and darkness, Tezcatlipoca chose to shine only half the light of the sun upon the earth. His sun was known as Four Jaguar. He ruled this sun until his rival and brother, Quetzalcoatl, the Feathered Serpent, overcame Him. Jaguars, the nahualli (spirit animal) of Tezcatlipoca, tore the earth apart. Quetzalcoatl ruled the second sun, Four Wind. It was destroyed by great winds, which blew the earth away. The third sun, Four Rain, was ruled by Tlaloc, the god of rain, and was destroyed by a great rain of fire. The fourth, Four Water, was ruled by Tlaloc’s sister, Chalchihuitlicue, She of the Jade Skirt, goddess of flowing waters. It was destroyed by flooding.

After this, the world had been pretty well ruined, and so all the gods convened at the site of Teotihuacan to decide what they would do. First, the gods would have to decide who would next become the Sun, but in order to do so, whichever god was chosen would need to sacrifice himself by throwing himself into a great bonfire which the gods had made for this purpose. Two gods volunteered themselves for this honor: Tecuciztecatl, the Lord of the Conch shell, a very rich god, and Nanahuatzin, the Pimply One, a very ill and poor god.

For four days the two gods prepared themselves for the sacrifice, and for each thing that needed to be done, Tecuciztecatl always had the richest and finest implements, and Nanahuatzin the poorest. For example, Tecuciztecatl burned the finest white copal as his incense, while Nanahuatzin could afford no such thing, and so used the scabs of his own body to burn as incense. At the end of the fourth day, the two gods stood before the bonfire and Tecuciztecatl, as the first volunteer and more prestigious god, was given the honor of trying first. He rushed forward to throw himself into the fire, but just as he was to leap, he stopped in his tracks, too frightened to jump. Four times he rushed at the fire, and each time he was too frightened to throw himself in.

And so, the other gods called Nanahuatzin forward. The poor god rushed at the fire, and instantly threw himself in. He rose as the sun in the east, and was so brilliant that the other gods called him Tonatiuh (He Who Goes Forth Shining). Tecuciztecatl was so ashamed of himself for his cowardice that, upon seeing the new sun rise he threw himself into the bonfire. The gods were dismayed as he rose in the sky as a second sun. And so, they threw a rabbit in his face to bruise it and dim Tecuciztecatl’s light, turning him into the moon.

But, neither the sun nor the moon would move. Quetzalcoatl attempted to make them move across the sky by blowing his wind, but they would not move. And so, knowing what must be done, the gods lined up to be sacrificed by Quetzalcoatl. They all had their hearts torn out to give the sun their blood, and with the end of the sacrifice, both the sun and the moon set forth in the sky. It is because of the sacrifices the gods made to create the world and the sun that sacrifices were made to the gods in return.

The end of the world will come about when the blood of the gods runs out causing the sun and the moon to stop their movement and great earthquakes to ravage the earth into destruction.

 

It is up to you my readers to analyze these myths for December 21, 2012 draws near. I hold no faith in the Apocalypse, Ragnarok, nor the Legend of the Five Suns. The legends are fun to read and tell about though 🙂 I hope that everyone does good on their exams!

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1 Response to Week 11: The End (Norse/Aztec)

  1. Gwen Fries says:

    “From the realm of the dead a second ship will set sail, and this ship carries the inhabitants of hell, with Loki as their helmsman.”

    Is it really weird/wrong that I had a little fangirl moment over this? If I were a Norse girl & Loki looked like Thomas William Hiddleston, I would head to hell. …Look at my life. Look at my choices.

    Rachel, I’ve told you 51635463163514x, but I will tell you again. Your blog has been my absolute favorite. Thank you for writing it. It’s been a pleasure to read. 🙂

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