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Ragnarok (Old Norse Ragnarök, “The Doom of the Gods”) is the name the pre-Christian Norse gave to the end of their mythical cycle, during which the cosmos is destroyed and is subsequently re-created. “Ragnarok” is something of a play on words; an alternate form, which sounds almost identical when spoken, is Ragnarøkkr, “The Twilight of the Gods.” The significance of this variation will be discussed below.

But first, here’s the tale itself:

The Doom of the Gods

Ominous prophecies and dreams had long foretold the downfall of the cosmos and of its gods and goddesses along with it. When the first of these prophesied events came to pass – the beloved god Baldur was killed by Loki and consigned to the underworld – the gods had to face the fact they could no longer escape their tragic destiny. They prepared as well as they could. Odin took a great deal of time and care selecting the ablest human warriors to join him in the final battle against the world-devouring giants. But, deep down, they knew that all of their desperate actions were in vain.

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