According to Norse* mythology, the world will end at Ragnarok, a time of great destruction when the gods will wage a final battle with the giants and other evil forces. Ragnarok has not yet arrived, but the events leading to it have already been set in motion.
Before Ragnarok begins, the world will suffer a terrible winter lasting three years. During this period the sun will grow dim, evil forces will be released, and wars will rage among humans. The trickster Loki will gather the frost giants and sail to Asgard, the home of gods. The wolf Fenrir, the serpent Jormungand, and Hel, the goddess of the dead, will break free and join Loki and other evil characters in a battle against the gods.
On the morning of Ragnarok, the god Heimdall will sound his mighty horn, summoning the gods to battle. During the terrible struggle that follows, all the great gods—including Odin* and
trickster mischievous figure appearing in various forms in the folktales and mythology of many different peoples
* See Names and Places at the end of this volume for further information.
Thor*—will be killed. Loki and the monsters, giants, and other evil beings will also perish. The earth will be set on fire, the sun and moon will be destroyed, the sky will fall, and the world will finally sink beneath the sea and vanish.
Ragnarok will not be the end of everything, however. The World Tree Yggdrasill will survive, and two humans—Lif and Lifthrasir—and some animals will be sheltered among its branches. New land will rise from the oceans, and a fresh green earth will emerge. Lif and Lifthrasir will repopulate the world. Some of the gods—including Balder*—will also return and rebuild Asgard, ushering in a new golden age. Giants and other evil beings will not reappear but will fade as a distant memory.