The Vikings knew that, one day, all this will end. The Sun will burn out, the world will freeze, and the starving survivors will turn on one another and tear each other apart.
They called it Ragnarok: the end of times, when even the gods would die. They weren’t the only people who accepted that their time on Earth was finite—but these were the Vikings. Their everyday lives were already more brutal and vicious than most people’s concepts of Hell. Their vision of the end had to be horrible to terrify them, and they made what might well be the most brutal apocalypse man has imagined.
10. The Age Of Whoredom
The beginning of the end, the Vikings believed, will come with a Great Winter. For a year and a half, the whole world will be covered in dark, cold frosts, and frozen winds will kill every living thing.
To Scandinavian Vikings, that wasn’t a big deal. They could handle the cold. The problem is how it’ll affect people. The Great Winter, the Vikings believed, was going to start a new age. They called it “The Age of Whoredom.”
When the crops stop growing, humans will turn on another. Families will murder one another and worse. “None shall spare father or son in manslaughter,” the Viking prophecy warns, before making it a little worse by adding, “and in incest.”
That’s how Ragnarok will start: in an incestual orgy of death, which is pretty disturbing, but there’s a theory that makes it a little worse. Some historians think they got the idea after a particularly harsh winter in the sixth century and that their vision of brother-on-brother violence came from personal experience.
When the Vikings got cold, the theory goes, fathers and sons didn’t spare each other in manslaughter—or in incest.
9. A Wolf Eats The Sun
The evil gods of Norse mythology didn’t just try to tempt people into doing bad things or try to buy people’s souls. They just destroyed everything they could touch. Some of the Norse gods were so terrible that humanity couldn’t even survive if they were around. It’s something that makes Viking religion a little unique: The really bad gods are all locked up where they can’t hurt anyone.
The most dangerous of these was the wolf god Fenrir. Sometime before history began, the Norse gods managed to chain him up and pry his jaws apart with a magic sword. But the moment he got loose, they believed, the world would end.
After the Great Winter, Fenrir’s sons stage a breakout. The only way to get their dad out, though, is to literally tear the Earth apart. So, one of his sons swallows the Sun, while another eats the Moon and the stars out the sky. Then, after the sky turns completely black, the whole world starts to shake, and Fenrir’s chains break free.
That’s the second thing that happens in Ragnarok: Every single star gets destroyed. For the Vikings, the total destruction of the universe was just the apocalypse getting started.