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Tales of the Aurora Borealis

The Sister to the Sun and the Moon

By Rosie J. SargentPublished about a month ago Updated about a month ago 3 min read
Top Story - May 2024

Who knew a solar storm could be so beautiful? Purples, reds, and greens shimmering in our skies like dancing ribbons. Hypnotic and enchanting, the Northern Lights have had us humans in complete awe for centuries. Which got me thinking, what did our ancestors think of the Aurora Borealis?

Are there enchanting stories associated with this magical geometric solar storm? Is there culturally significant gods or myths that helped explained what stargazers were witnessing? Or was it seen as a bad omen for battles and wars to come?

A Celebration

Turns out, the ancient Greeks coined the term Aurora Borealis, which means Sunrise Wind. In Greco-Roman mythology, Aurora is the personification of the dawn (Northern Dawn in new Latin). They believed Aurora was the sister t0 the sun and the moon. Racing across the sky in her chariot alerting her brother and sister to the breaking of the new day.

According to Finnish mythology, a beautiful artic fox creates the Aurora. Known as revontulet, which translated is fire fox. They believed the fox would run through the sky so fast that when their large, furry tails brushed against the mountains, they created sparks that lit up the sky.

While the Danes believed swans competed to see who could fly further north. According to legend, some swans became trapped in the ice and, as they tried to escape, they flapped their wings, creating flurries of light in the sky.

Stonehenge: Stonhenge Dronescapes

Another nordic take comes from Swedish Fishermen who believed an aurora sighting brought good fortune that would lead them the way to a hefty catch.

Similarly their ancestors, some vikings celebrated the lights, believing it to be the very presence of Odin. They believed the Northern Lights were the reflections of the Valkyries’ armour as they led the warriors to Odin.

Other Nordic legends claim the aurora was the breath of brave soldiers who died in combat, believing it to be the Bifrost Bridge, a glowing, pulsing arch which led fallen warriors to their final resting place in Valhalla.

Coincidence or a Warning?

Not all saw the lights as something to be celebrated in fact, according to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle in 793AD a few months before the famous Viking raid at Lindisfarne, scholars report seeing the Northern Lights, and believed it was a bad omen for war and death.

And again in In the weeks before the monarchy was overthrown in France, a bright red aurora was seen in England and Scotland. Locals reported hearing huge armies battling in the skies. Believing it foretold of impending war and death.

Glastonbury Tor: Michelle Cowbourne

Bad Omens, Spirits and Superstitions

Well, for the Säami, the indigenous people of Scandinavia, they were to be feared and respected. Thought to be the souls of the dead, you shouldn’t talk about the Northern Lights. The belief was that if you caught their attention, the lights could reach down and carry you up into the sky, or worse.

Some Native American tales claim the Northern Lights were the restless spirits of their slain enemies attempting to rise again for revenge–and were an omen of pestilence and war.

Other Native American tales believe it is the spirits of those who have passed and can use the aurora to commune with them and when dogs barked at the lights, it was because they recognised their lost companions.

Another tale comes from Greenland, where it was believed that it was spirits experimenting with a walrus skull, however other Inuit communities believe it is a walrus playing with a human skull.

The Isle of Lewis: known in Gaelic as As Na Fir-Chils: Colin Cameron Photography

No matter how you view the Aurora Borealis and what you believe it to be, it is a wonderful spectacle.

I enjoyed driving into this, and was curious to know if you may have your own beliefs, premonitions, or prophecies. My favourite tale is the fire fox, it paints a lovely image, and I LOVE the idea of the Valkyries armour shining on their way to Valhalla, oh and the Bifrost bridge of course!

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And as always;

Stay safe, stay hopeful and stay blessed! :)

HistoricalHumanity

About the Creator

Rosie J. Sargent

Hello, my lovelies! Welcome, I write everything from the very strange to the wonderful; daring and most certainly different. I am an avid coffee drinker and truth advocate.

Follow me on Twitter/X @rosiejsargent97

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Comments (19)

  • Denise E Lindquist3 days ago

    Congratulations on your top story 🎉🎉🎉

  • Gina C.3 days ago

    Outstanding! I really enjoyed learning about the mythology and you included such gorgeous images here :)

  • Anna 29 days ago

    Congrats on Top Story! :)

  • Kayleigh Fraser ✨about a month ago

    I’ve never been so upset to be away from Scotland!!! Thank you for the beautiful photos and the stories, I really enjoyed your article x

  • Jasmine Aguilarabout a month ago

    The aurora borealis is an amazing phenomena! I enjoyed learming more about it!

  • Melissa Ingoldsbyabout a month ago

    I always wanted to live in Alaska to watch the Aurora very well written piece!

  • Nhà Cái 77WINabout a month ago

    love the nature https://77win.fund/

  • Rav Oldejabout a month ago

    The Finnish word for aurora borealis is “revontulet”, which translates as “fire fox”. Indeed, for some Sami people, it's the polar fox that, as it runs across the sky, rubs the mountains with its tail, causing sparks to light up the skies. In other versions, the fox's tail sends snowflakes into the sky, reflecting off the moonlight to create dancing veils. For some Scandinavian peoples, the aurora borealis is the breath of whales in the Arctic Ocean. Some Eskimos saw the dance of animal spirits such as salmon, seals, belugas and deer.

  • Babs Iversonabout a month ago

    In 1976-1978, while in Alaska, the evening Northern Light shows were fabulous and I referred and called the Aurora Borealis the dancing lights. Enjoyed your deep dive into different culture beliefs and myths!!!❤️❤️💕

  • Jenifer Nimabout a month ago

    I love these kinds of old myths and beliefs! Was very interesting to read about them all :)

  • Silver Serpent Booksabout a month ago

    You did a great job of gathering all these legends. I've heard of a few but not all! And perfect timeliness too. It was my first time seeing the Aurora a few days back in Illinois and it was absolutely breathtaking! Congrats on the Top Story!

  • Carol Townendabout a month ago

    That is fascinating information. I loved reading it.

  • angela hepworthabout a month ago

    This sounds absolutely breathtaking, congrats on a great top story!

  • Rachel Sabout a month ago

    Congratulations on top story!!

  • Christy Munsonabout a month ago

    Lovely. I've never been treated to the sight but imagine its divine. Thank you for sharing these legends.

  • Mack D. Amesabout a month ago

    I saw the Aurora Borealis when I was nine or ten years old. They danced for me in the skies of eastern Maine. When the view from our upstairs hallway became too restrictive, I climbed out my bedroom window and sat on the roof until the mosquitoes became too oppressive, but the magical heavenly lights remain impressed in my memories forever.

  • The Dani Writerabout a month ago

    Fitting content given recent events. With my location, try as I might, I couldn't see anything or snap a photo. Definitely felt the energy though and enjoyed reading your story. Top story congrats!

  • Love all those images (been to Glastonbury and Stonehenge) and wonderful story

Rosie J. SargentWritten by Rosie J. Sargent

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