Tonight the sky is dancing
Imagine wandering in the night and noticing the reflection of a lake in front of you, hearing the wind noises echoing around you and on the horizon, as far as your eyes allows you to see, there's a vast and flat expanse of snow covering the surface that surrounds you. When you look up at the sky, the darkness is frightening but it's filled with sparkling stars in an amount you didn't think was possible. Suddenly, lost in the Nordic sky, a green light begins to tear the darkness and with an increasing intensity it expands, a vibrant dance is formed that starts with a strong green and merges into a soft purple.
Today you know that this phenomenon is called the northern lights, but what have our ancestors thought when they saw this mysterious show form over their eyes? No wonder the northern lights are part of the mythologies and legends written by many cultures. Some saw them as a symbol of bad omen and disaster. Others believed they were a dance of the Gods and symbol of life.
The Nordic culture has different and interesting theories about this phenomenon. Our Icelandic ancestors associated the lights to the childbirth and believed that it would help the mother with the labor pains, but the expectant mum couldn’t observe the lights directly while giving birth because the child would be born cross-eyed. In the case of Greenland, they believed that the northern lights represented the souls of still born babies or even babies that died at birth.
In Finland, they thought the lights were caused by the firefox race through the snow which projected sparks into the sky with its tail. In Finnish, the word for northern lights is "revontulet", which literally means fire fox.
In Sweden, the lights were seen as bearers of good news, believed to be an offering of the Gods providing warmth, light and the promise of a good upcoming year for fishing and food supplies.
In Norse mythology, a legend suggests that the northern lights were the reflection and glow of the shields and armor of the Valkyrie warriors who chose who died in battle and who survived to fight another day. The mythology also refers the lights as the Bifrost Bridge, the bright arch that guided the warriors who lost their lives in the battles to their final rest in Valhalla.
In every place, there are cultures and people who have always contemplated and imagined the meanings of these magical lights. Now, instead of imagining it, I invite you to come live this moment, have the vast sky over you and watch it dance.