Last year, I attended the annual Toronto Pagan Pride Day festival, where I did a reading from Black Wolf and met some pretty cool people. I’ll be joining them again this year, but since there’s a pox on all our houses, the festivities will be online, with presentations on the first Saturday of every month from October 2020 to March 2021.
On November 7, from 1:10 – 1:55 PM, I’ll be talking about Ragnarök, since the fiery end of the world seems to be a rather timely topic. I’m not sure if the organizers intentionally scheduled my talk for the date closest to the U.S. election, but this also seems rather apropos.
The End of the World as We Know It: Fimbulvetr, Ragnarök, and Societal Decay
Old Norse societies believed the Nine Worlds would end in a catastrophic war, wiping out virtually every living creature, with few exceptions. However, the purpose of the mythology was not to create imagery that would be dazzling on a twenty-foot screen but to portray the horrors of social upheaval.
While modern Viking enthusiasts and film production companies alike seem to focus on the sensationalism of the war, we often lose sight of the fact that Ragnarök is actually the last in a series of steps by which society itself comes undone. It’s easy to miss this interpretation, given that Fimbulvetr receives so little attention in the extant myths. However, if we consider the social and environmental conditions of life in medieval Northern Europe, it becomes clear that Fimbulvetr would have been at least as terrifying as Ragnarök itself.
In this talk, I want to give you a better sense of how the Old Norse may have viewed the downfall of Aesir society, from the fratricide of Baldur through the privations of an endless winter, and its significance in their own daily lives. Perhaps the old gods may still have some wisdom—and even hope—to give in these grey days.
If you want to join us for the event, here’s what you need to know:
- Time: November 7, 2020, 1:00 PM Eastern Time (U.S. and Canada)
- Join the Zoom meeting online.
- Meeting ID: 875 6335 6225
- Passcode: 335871
- Find your local number here.
I’ve asked the organizers to record the talk for posterity, so once that’s up, I’ll be sharing it around. In the meantime, if you want to learn more about the Toronto Pagan Pride Day events, check out their Facebook page.