Norse Gods Foretold To Die During Ragnarok

Ragnarok, often referred to as the “Twilight of the Gods” or “Doom of the Gods,” is a series of cataclysmic events in Norse mythology that result in the death of a significant number of deities, as well as the destruction and subsequent renewal of the world.

Here are the major Norse gods and goddesses who are foretold to die during Ragnarok:

Odin

The Allfather and chief of the Aesir will be devoured by the great wolf Fenrir. Odin, the Allfather, is the chief god among the Aesir, a group of deities in the Norse pantheon. Image: The Great Wolf Fenrir and Odin by Danish painter Lorenz Frølich, 1895

According to the prophecy, during Ragnarok the Allfather Odin is destined to be devoured by the great wolf Fenrir.

Fenrir is one of the children of Loki, the trickster god, and is often depicted as a massive, monstrous wolf.

Despite the gods’ attempts to control Fenrir by binding him with magical chains, it is foretold that Fenrir will break free during Ragnarok.

The battle with Fenrir is one of the key events of Ragnarok, resulting in Odin’s death but also leading to Fenrir’s eventual defeat by Odin’s son, Vidarr, symbolizing the cycle of destruction and renewal inherent in Norse cosmology.

A depiction of Norse god Víðarr stabbing Fenrir while holding beast’s jaws apart. This painting by English author and artist W. G. Collingwood, 1908, was inspired by the Gosforth Cross

Thor

Thor

The god of thunder will kill the world serpent, Jormungandr, but will then succumb to its poison and die after taking nine steps.

The Norse god of thunder, Thor, is prophesied to face the world serpent, Jormungandr, in a final battle. Jormungandr is a gigantic serpent that encircles the world, holding its own tail in its mouth. It is one of the children of Loki, the trickster god.

During Ragnarok, Thor and Jormungandr are fated to battle each other. It is foretold that Thor will succeed in killing Jormungandr but will be mortally wounded in the process, poisoned by the serpent’s venom.

Jörmungandr

The book Gylfaginning in the Prose Edda describes the events that foreshadow Ragnarok. Some of those events include the death of the Norse god Baldur, flooding of the sea, and the Great Serpent (i.e. Jörmungandr) thrashing onto the land.

After slaying Jormungandr, Thor will be able to walk only nine steps before succumbing to the poison and dying. This encounter symbolizes the catastrophic and transformative nature of Ragnarok, wherein many gods, including Thor and Odin, meet their end, leading to the eventual renewal of the world.

Freyr

Vanir god Freyr

The god of fertility, prosperity, and weather will be killed by the fire giant Surtr. Image: The sun shining behind them, the god Freyr stands with his boar Gullinbursti (1901) by German illustrator Johannes Gehrts.

In Norse mythology the god of fertility, prosperity, and weather mentioned is Freyr. He is one of the most important gods of Norse religion and is associated with sacral kingship, virility, peace, prosperity, and good weather.

Surtr is a fire giant associated with the fiery end of the world. He is foretold to lead the fire giants in battle against the gods during Ragnarok.

In this climactic battle, Freyr is destined to confront Surtr, but he will be at a disadvantage without his magical sword which he had previously given away for love.

Ragnarok – The battle between Surtr and Freyr at Ragnarök, illustration (1895) by Lorenz Frølich

Ultimately, Surtr will kill Freyr, symbolizing the destruction of the old world order, before using his flaming sword to engulf the world in fire, leading to renewal and rebirth of the world.

Heimdall

 

Heimdall, the guardian of the Bifrost (the rainbow bridge linking Asgard to the other realms), will kill and be killed by Loki during their final confrontation.

According to the prophesies concerning the end of the world in Norse mythology, Heimdallr (or Heimdall) and Loki are destined to face each other in a final confrontation.

In this battle, it is foretold that they will kill each other, marking the fulfillment of the longstanding tension and animosity between them. This mutual destruction of each other underscores the profound chaos and transformative destruction associated with Ragnarok, leading to the rebirth and renewal of the world.

The guardian of the Bifrost (the rainbow bridge linking Asgard to the other realms) will kill and be killed by Loki during their final confrontation.

Tyr

Tyr – Norse god of war, justice and truth

During Ragnarok, Tyr is destined to face Garm in battle. Tyr manages to slay Garm, the ferocious watchdog, but he sustains mortal wounds during the confrontation and is destined to die as well.

This battle is one among many catastrophic events that are supposed to occur during Ragnarok, leading to the end of the old world and the emergence of a new one.

Garm, a monstrous hound that guards the entrance to Hel, the realm of the dead ruled over by the being of the same name. Image: Hel (1889) by Johannes Gehrts.

The mutual destruction of Tyr and Garm emphasizes the themes of chaos, death, and renewal inherent in the Norse conception of the cyclical nature of time and existence.

The god of war and justice will fight and kill the watchdog Garm, who guards the entrance to Hel, but will also be mortally wounded in the process and die. Image: Týr equated with Mars in an 18th-century manuscript (ÍB 299 4to)

Loki

Loki in Norse Mythology. Image: Loki with a fishing net (per Reginsmál) as depicted on an 18th-century Icelandic manuscript (SÁM 66)

Loki is a complex character in Norse mythology, serving as a mischief-maker and antagonist to many of the Aesir gods, despite living among them. His actions lead to the boundlessness and eventual death of the god Baldr and serve as a catalyst for the events of Ragnarok.

Heimdall is the watchman of the gods and guards the Bifrost, the rainbow bridge linking Asgard (the realm of the gods) to Midgard (the realm of humans). He is destined to play a pivotal role during Ragnarok.

Loki is a trickster, sometimes helping the gods and sometimes causing problems for them. He’s neither wholly good nor evil. His motivations can be complex, driven by both mischief and perceived slights. The trickster god will kill and be killed by Heimdall during their final battle. Image: Loki consumes a roasted heart in a painting (1911) by John Bauer.

In the prophecy, during the cataclysmic events of Ragnarok, Loki and Heimdall, being long-standing enemies, will face each other in a final, fatal confrontation. It is foretold that they will slay each other in this battle, reflecting the destructive and chaotic nature of Ragnarok, where allies and enemies alike fall to mutual destruction. The battle between Loki and Heimdall is symbolic of the ultimate clash between order (Heimdall, the guardian) and chaos (Loki, the trickster).

The mutual killing of Loki and Heimdall, along with the other prophesied events and deaths during Ragnarok, symbolize the end of the old cosmic order and the beginning of a new cycle of the universe. After Ragnarok, it is said that the world will resurface anew and fertile, and surviving gods will meet, and two human survivors will repopulate the earth.

READ MORE: Difference between Marvel’s Loki and the Loki in the myths

Baldur and Hodr

These two gods are already dead by the time of Ragnarok (due to Loki’s earlier mischief), but they will not be resurrected after Ragnarok, unlike some others.

Baldr, associated with beauty, love, happiness, and purity, started having dreams of his death. Odin, his father, confirmed these prophecies. To protect Baldr, his mother, Frigg, took oaths from all things in the world not to harm him. However, she overlooked the mistletoe, considering it too young and harmless. Loki discovered this oversight.

Loki, known for his cunning and mischief, fashioned a weapon from mistletoe and guided the hand of Baldr’s blind brother, Höðr, to throw it at Baldr, resulting in Baldr’s death. The death of Baldr is one of the significant events that lead to Ragnarok.

After this, the gods managed to exact revenge on Loki for his role in Baldr’s death, but they also killed Höðr, as he was the immediate cause of Baldr’s death, albeit unknowingly.

Many gods, including Odin and Thor, are foretold to die during the catastrophic events of Ragnarok, but there is a concept of renewal and rebirth after this apocalypse. A new world will emerge from the sea, and some gods will survive or be reborn to inhabit this world, and two human survivors will repopulate the earth.

However, in most versions of the mythology, Baldr and Höðr do not return after Ragnarok, in contrast to some of the other gods. Their deaths prior to Ragnarok and their absence in the renewed world emphasize the irreversible consequences of Loki’s malicious actions and the tragedy of betrayal and loss within the divine family.

Höðr is said to unwittingly kill his brother, Baldr, being manipulated by Loki, and is subsequently killed in retaliation. After his death, it’s indicated that he ends up in Hel, the Norse realm of the dead, governed by the being of the same name. Hel is typically where those who did not die a heroic or notable death end up, differing from Valhalla, where those who die in battle are said to go. Image: Norse trickster god Loki tricked Hodr, the blind son of Odin and Frigg, into shooting Baldur, the god of light.

What happens after Ragnarok?

It must be noted that the Poetic Edda and Prose Edda – the two major sources of Norse myths – state that various other gods, giants, and creatures will also die during the massive battles of Ragnarok.

And following Ragnarok, the world will be reborn, and a few gods will survive or be resurrected, and they will gather at the site of the old gods to discuss the past and the future. A new generation, including Baldur who is reborn, will rise to populate the new world.

Two humans, Líf and Lífþrasir, are destined to survive by hiding in Yggdrasil (the world tree) and will repopulate the Earth. They will live off the morning dew and will give birth to numerous descendants, filling the world with life once again.

A few gods are foretold to survive Ragnarok or be reborn. These include Odin’s sons Vidar and Vali, and Thor’s sons Modi and Magni. Baldr and Höðr, who are dead by the time of Ragnarok, are also sometimes said to return from the dead in the post-Ragnarok world, marking a time of peace and concord.

The new world is often depicted as a place where evil and strife no longer exist, and the beings inhabit it live in harmony, peace, and mutual respect, signifying a moral and ethical renewal along with the physical one.

However, some interpretations of Norse mythology suggest that time is cyclical in this mythos, meaning that after the renewal post-Ragnarok, the world might eventually head towards another Ragnarok.

While Ragnarok signifies the end of the old world order and the demise of many gods, it is not entirely nihilistic or pessimistic. The renewal after Ragnarok provides hope and implies that destruction is not absolute and that life, in some form, will persist and flourish again.

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