Northern Lights Myths From Around the World


Northern Lights Myths From Around the World

Imagine a scenario whereby you are standing on the surface of a large, frozen water body north of the renowned Arctic Circle. Apart from sounds created by a gentle wind that blows through a dense forest made of pine trees, there is absolute silence in that area. An expansive and even area covered with snow lies ahead of you, and it stretches far into the horizon until it meets yet another forested area on the other side of the shoreline. A thick, dark sky dotted with an unbelievable number of stars hovers above the forest. Suddenly, a green blotch of light appears in the north, and the light slowly transforms into a bopping stair rods of sparkling green light which dances across the dark, expansive sky.

This scenario vividly describes the Northern Lights, an amazing light show that appears when electronically charged particles interact in the vast atmosphere. Considering that our ancestors had little scientific knowledge, what possibly went through their minds as they watched the extraordinary occurrence unfold?

The Aurora Borealis is a prominent feature in the myths of many indigenous people who live in countries found inside the legendary Aurora Oval, and that is not surprising at all.

Let’s look at some of the Northern Lights myths from around the world.

Ancient Rome and Greece

The words Aurora Borealis are derived from two Greek words; Aurora and Boreas. The words mean sunrise and wind, in that order.

If the people who lived in ancient Rome and Greece experienced the fascinating occurrences, it means unbelievably strong solar activity must have occurred, given that sightings so deep in the south are uncommon.

Ancient Greeks and Romans believed that Aurora, Seline (moon) and Helios (sun) were members of the same family. Aurora would therefore run across the sky using her brightly colored chariot to let her beloved siblings know that a new day was coming.

The Romans, in particular, believed that Aurora was the beautiful goddess of dawn.

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The Baltic States

Our forefathers who lived in Estonia without doubt had fascinating beliefs about the Northern Lights. They strongly believed that the Aurora lights were superb horse-drawn carriages that ferried heavenly guests on their way to a magnificent celestial wedding. You would love to be invited to such a stunning event, wouldn’t you?

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The Northern Lights are rarely seen in Southern Europe. However, whenever there is strong solar activity, red auroras magically appear in the sky when the sun sets. As you would have thought, red auroras attract the attention of many people on the rare instances that they occur. Until recently, the occurrences frightened those who had no idea of how they came about.

For instance, people who lived in ancient Italy and France strongly believed that the lights were a bad omen, and that they signified the outbreak of war, death, debilitating diseases or other misfortunes.

Many years ago in England and Scotland, the skies allegedly became red two or three weeks before commencement of the infamous French Revolution. Later on, people believed that the occurrence undoubtedly signified impending conflict in the neighboring state.

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North America

In North America, several myths tried to explain why and how Northern Lights came about.

The Cree Indians believed that their life cycle consisted of Aurora, and the lights were spirits of dead people who chose to hover in the sky instead of resting. The spirits would try to communicate with relatives and friends who were still alive on earth.

The Algonquins were convinced that Northern Lights were a result of fire started by their god- Nanahbozho. Their god and creator would start the fire to give assurance that he was still their god, had not forgotten about them and was keenly watching over his creations from above.

Further north, the Inuit tribes believed that Aurora was a reflection of spirits of their dead relatives and friends who were busy playing a special kind of ball game. However, instead of using a normal ball, the spirits would kick around a walrus skull.

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China, Australia and Japan

The Aurora helped inspire a lot of the ancient Chinese legends of dragons. Ancestors of the present-day Chinese people believed that the lights were results of fierce celestial fights between evil dragons on one side and good dragons on the other side, and that the dragons breathed fire and brimstone.

Ancient Japanese people were convinced that children born under the fascinating lights would turn out to be extremely beautiful, wealthy and intelligent. As a matter of fact, people living in South-East Asia are still fascinated with the lights, and that’s why millions of people from Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and other countries travel to places where they can experience the occasion.

The Southern Lights were a common occurrence to the Aboriginal Australians, and they would watch in admiration as their gods happily sang and danced overhead.

Northern lights myths from around the earth are undoubtedly captivating, exciting and inspiring. Are your grandparents still alive? If they are, why don’t you ask them about the Northern Lights. When you eventually get your own grandchildren, you’ll also have fascinating stories to tell them. What do you think?

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