Meaning in the Cosmos
The Vikings created and believed many myths about the images they
observed in the sky.
The Vikings worshipped Freyr as the lord of the sun, rain and harvests.
He was a shining god who brought fertility and prosperity to all.
They believed that gods named Odin, Vili and Vie had brought
order to the cosmos. They had determined the place of the sun
in the sky, the rotation of the Earth and the turning of the seasons.
Borealis: When the sun throws tiny parts of itself off into
the sky, a stream of solar winds containing tiny particles called electrons
and protons travels toward the north and south poles. When that stream
enters the atmosphere, it reacts with the gases oxygen and nitrogen to
produce a display of green, pink and blood red in the sky. This phenomenon
is known as the Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis.
The Vikings observed the display of colors visible in the sky
during the Northern Lights. Some believed that those streaming
lights were signs of doom to come. Others interpreted the phenomenon
as a battle among the celestial beings that the Vikings did not
Major and Ursa Minor: Ursa Major is the saucepan-shaped constellation
that points to the North Star. Vikings across Scandinavia called this
constellation Wain, and believed myths related the group of stars to the
gods Odin, Irmin or Thor.
In the myth about Thor, the constellation is known as Karl Wagen.
Karl was a title given to the god Thor in Scandinavia; it means
"the Old Man." The term Wagen means the constellation
was his chariot, or wagon.
Thor is often described as racing across the sky, so the stars
are very appropriate symbols for him and for his wagon.
According to the same myth, the Ursa Minor constellation was
believed to be Thor's hammer.
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