Photo: © Tromsø Friluftsenter
Fjord Tours Articles / 12 Nov 2021

Northern Lights and Mythology

Through the ages, the northern lights have awed human beings and inspired countless myths, legends and folklore. Seeing this fascinating natural phenomenon in which bright colors dance across the night sky has long been at the top of the wish list for travellers across the world. Norway is one of the best places for chasing the aurora borealis, and in this article we’ll tell you everything you need to know about this captivating natural wonder!

What are the northern lights?

The northern lights are a natural phenomenon that occurs when solar winds mix with the Earth’s magnetic field. The resulting streams of light are most visible to us during the night when the sky is dark. It’s a captivating, atmospheric natural wonder that has entranced people since the dawn of time. The gorgeous, colorful display across the dark night sky is truly a sight to behold, and not something you’re likely to forget easily. Since northern Norway is located just below the auroral oval, it’s generally considered to be one of the best places in the world for chasing the northern lights.

These days, we understand the science behind the aurora borealis and can appreciate the beauty of the colorful lights flickering across the sky. But many years ago, human beings would have looked up at the unique display in the sky with no way of knowing that this is a phenomenon that naturally occurs. It’s, therefore, no surprise that people developed many different explanations for it.

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Photo: ©Gaute Bruvik / nordnorge.com

How are the northern lights related to Norse mythology?

In Norse mythology, the northern lights feature prominently and have inspired countless tales and stories. It was believed that the aurora lights were the Bifrost bridge connecting Asgard and Midgard, and they were there to guide warriors who had died in combat to their resting place in Valhalla.

Other stories suggested that the captivating lights were actually reflections of the shields and body armor used by the valkyrie. The valkyrie were female warriors who chose who would die in battle and led fallen warriors who had been chosen to join Odin at Valhalla.

In the Nordic countries, there were a lot of different beliefs about the northern lights and superstitions related to the phenomenon. Pregnant women were told to avoid looking at the lights until their baby had been born, as it was believed that this would ensure safe delivery. In some parts of Norway, people believed that a baby born while the northern lights were out in full force may hold special powers.

Northern Lights Tour By Coach
Photo: Farout

For the indigenous Sami people, the northern lights were something to be feared and respected. Traditionally, they believed that their ancestors lived in the northern lights and that the lights must be respected in order to show appropriate deference to their forefathers. Many saw the aurora borealis as a bad omen signifying trouble to come and found the lights intimidating. In fact, some Sami people chose to stay indoors while the northern lights were dancing across the sky because it was believed that if you were noticed by the lights, you may be carried up into the sky to join the souls of the dead or even have your head cut off.

Reindeers & Northern Lights
Photo: Lyngsfjord Adventure

Where is the best place to see the northern lights in Norway?

There are several great locations for seeing the northern lights in Norway. In fact, the stunning polar city of Tromsø is one of the best places to see the northern lights. There are many different ways to chase and experience the enchanting aurora borealis dancing across the sky. Why not make it an extra special occasion and join a northern lights dinner cruise? Seeing this incredible natural wonder from the unique vantage point of a boat as you glide along arctic waters enjoying a delicious three-course dinner is truly an experience to remember.

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Photo: Joanna Borgiel

There are other great places for spotting the northern lights too. The beautiful Lofoten archipelago offers fantastic opportunities for enjoying nature’s most spectacular lights show. While seeing this stunning natural phenomenon with your own eyes will likely be the experience of a lifetime, being able to capture beautiful photos of the aurora borealis is also important. After all, having high-quality photos to look back on in years to come will help bring back the memories of your trip.

Whether you’re a hobby photographer or barely know how to use a camera, why not join a northern lights photo tour departing from Reine? On this unforgettable tour, an experienced photographer will give you all the best tips on taking great photos of the aurora borealis.

Ways to experience the Northern Lights in Norway

Northern Lights Cuisine Cruise

Take in the atmospheric Arctic night onboard a silent electric ship with uninhibited panoramas. Includes a tasty three-course dinner.

Aurora Safari Camp in Tromsø

Join in on an Aurora Safari Camp in Tromsø and experience the magical Northern Lights! Enjoy an evening in a safe and private camp where you get the opportunity to take unique photos of the dancing Northern Lights.

Northern Lights Photo Tour from Reine

Experience the greatest show on earth and join in on a Northern Lights Photo Workshop in Lofoten.

Northern Cuisine and Aurora Chase in Tromsø

The Northern Cuisine and Aurora Chase combine two precious local ingredients: the northern lights and locally sourced and prepared food by a great chef. This is an exclusive small-group tour, all to give you a relaxed and cozy experience while triggering your senses.