Fire Symbolism in Norse Myth: Death and Resurrection

Posted by Ms Elly on

Fire Symbolism in Norse Myth: Death and Resurrection

Fire - one of two elements that formed the Nine Worlds. For those who are yet to know, the Norse Cosmos was caused when the fire from Muspelheim met the ice from Niflheim. Through the whole Norse myth, the fire appeared many times, whether directly or not. Here is some fire symbolism that I found out in Norse myth. Please note that this blog post is based on the writer's personal viewpoint.

Before kicking off, I have to make it clear that the fire symbolism from my perspective only revolves around Surtr the giant of fire, Freya goddess of war, and Loki the trickster. 

Surtr the fire that consumed the whole world

Surtr was a primeval giant of fire in Norse mythology. He was the king of Muspelheim the land of fire and lava. This fire appeared directly. No metaphor or hidden meaning here. 

The fire that belonged to Surtr was a real fire. It was hot and it could consume everything in its path. It was literally fire. The fire of Surtr first created the cosmos when touching the ice of Niflheim. After the combat of Ragnarok, the first of Surtr finally set the whole world on fire. Both destruction and resurrection in one action. 

Surtr the giant of fire and Freyr in battle of Ragnarok

Surtr the giant of fire and Freyr in battle of Ragnarok

Freya the fire that proved them wrong 

Well, this fire of Freya was also a literal fire. It appeared when Freya took his journey around the cosmos to practice her power. Of course, Freya changed her appearance so that people did not recognize her as the princess of Vanaheim. 

Aesir gods finally heard about the magic of this mysterious woman. Then they invited Freya to come and ask her about her power. The more they asked, the more shortcomings they revealed. Until the point that Aesir gods assumed that Freya was a witch trying to play with them, they decided to burn her. 

Freya burning of the stake

But three times they burnt Freya, three times we walked out of the fire intact. 

Each time they attempted to burn Freya, she arose, reborn from the ashes

Loki the fire that triggered Ragnarok

The invisible fire of Loki must be the most powerful one. Unlike that of Surtr and Freya, the fire of Loki appeared in his thought. Loki was never recognized as the god/giant of fire in Norse mythology. Loki had the qualities of fire. This invisible fire inside Loki's thought was the desire to outshine others, to make himself recognized, and to protect his family. All of these small flames inside Loki piled up into a big fire that finally triggered off his thought to declaring war against the Aesir gods who made his life miserable. 

Moreover, Loki was creative but most of the time, he used his creativity to put other people's lives in danger. He created a trap, kicking his prey into that trap and waiting for the prey to beg for help. Then he would walk out and help the prey out to make himself a hero. This fire symbolized creation and destruction also. 

Ragnarok in Norse mythology

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