The magic of Northern Lights

Aurora Borealis – Photo by Virginio Carrobbio

Like a dancer in the dark, Queen Aurora flaunts her enchanted tulle dress at the Starry Night court.

Since the dawn of time, man has always been fascinated by the phenomenon of the Aurora Borealis, this iridescent light that dances in the cold winter nights.

Vikings believed that these lights were earthly manifestations of the divine presence, the “Bifröst Bridge” a bridge created by the gods on earth, Miðgarðr, to allow brave worriors to join Valhalla – from Old Norse: Valhǫll “hall of the slain” – a big hall located in Ásgarðr, home to the Æsir gods. Other nordic people, on the contrary, feared them.

Icelanders saw the Northern Lights as a source of great power. For them this power had a double nature, both benign and malignant: they feared that pregnant women, after looking at the phenomenon, might give birth to a cross-eyed child; but, in the meantime, they believed, like the Vikings, that these lights were auspicious omens of the presence of the gods among men.

Sámi– the inhabitants of the far north of Sweden, Norway, Finland and Russia – on the contrary, saw the Northern Lights as an ominous event and an omen of bad luck. They believed it was as dangerous to mention them as it was to speak, whistle or sing in their presence. They identified the lights in the spirits of the dead and feared that, if they heard the presence of humans, they could bring them to the sky or could cut their head off.

The Finnish interpretation of Aurora Borealis comes from Kalevala, the national epic poem written by Elias Lönnrot and coming from a long oral tradition of Finnish myth and folklore. The Finns believed that the Polar Lights were created by a firefox with a long firing tail: when the firing tail of a firefox hits the snow-filled trees, it creates sparkles which fly in the sky. That’s why Finnish people call the northern lights “Revontulet” that means “Fox fires”.

Leaving the myth and the legends, what is the the phenomenon of the Aurora Borealis? The Polar Lights are created by the interaction between the charged particles coming from the Sun and the gas molecules which compose our earthly atmosphere and which produce visible energy: every interaction produces a small flesh of light and all these flesh of lights creates the magic dance of our Queen in the sky.

Song: “To Valhalla” – Palantír



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