Legends of the Aurora

It's one of the seven natural wonders of the world, so it's no wonder why the aurora borealis has inspired countless stories and folklore from cultures around the world.

For thousands of years the aurora's beauty has captivated us. Today, its otherworldly dance attracts photographers and bucket list travellers from around the world; whereas years ago, much before our time, the northern lights attracted creative minds looking for answers to explain the night sky phenomenon. These are the legends of the aurora borealis:

 

1) Inuit legend: the northern lights are souls of the dead

The aurora is rich with spiritual traditions, with most involving the spirits of the departed. The Inuit believe that souls of the dead dance in the aurora. Sometimes the spirits are carrying torches to guide those still in this world; other times they are playing soccer with a walrus skull as they skitter and dance across the sky. 

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Image © Simon Gee

 

2) Finnish legend: the aurora is a Fire Fox racing across the sky

In Finland, they believe the fox's fiery tail glows as he leaps and bounds into the night. If you have ever seen an arctic fox chase a lemming in the snow, you will be very familiar with this similarity.

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Image © Luke Johnson

 

3) ICELANDIC LEGEND: it is good luck to give birth under the northern lights

And we shall name the baby ... Aurora!

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Image © Tiffany Spence

 

4) Japanese legend: it is good luck to conceive under the aurora

The miracle of life meets the miracle of the northern lights!

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Image © Alex de Vries

 

5) Anishinaabe legend: the aurora proves that more awaits on the other side

Indigenous peoples in Canada and the United States believe the aurora is telling them they are not alone, and that there is more outside of this earthly realm that awaits them after this lifetime. 

 

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Blog contributed by Angèle Watrin Prodaehl and Madeline Grant

Header image © Simon Gee

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