The Wolves of Ragnarok

A year and a half ago,  I created Odin’s Raven’s: Hugin & Munin. I greatly enjoyed working with a pairing of mythological creatures who were not only significant to the time and culture that created them but who’s wisdom still rings true today. So I’ve decided to follow it up with another powerful duo from Norse mythology, the Wolves of Ragnarok: Skoll and Hati. Just as Odin’s Ravens are a symbol of curiosity, awareness and the thirst for knowledge, The Wolves of Ragnarok are a symbol of endings, reminding us to live life while we can.

Wolves-of-Ragnarok-ETSY

Wolves appear in many mythologies but nowhere are they more central than in the ancient Scandinavian tradition and few events in Norse myth are as central as Ragnarok. It is the end of the world (literally “Twilight of the Gods”) and several wolves play key roles in the story.

So, who are Skoll and Hati?

Skoll and Hati are massive wolves who run through the heavens chasing the sun and moon. When Ragnarok is upon the world, they will catch their prey and swallow them whole, marking the end of the world we know and paving the way for a new world to begin.

However, this sobering image is not as bleak as it appears at first glance. Consider that the Norse gods know Ragnarok is inevitable – it will come no matter what they do – and when it comes, they too will cease to exist, pulled back into the chaotic void of Ganungagap from whence our universe was created and to which it must return. Yet they do not allow this fact to stop them from working hard to delay it, building up their world, finding joy, love, honor and adventure, engaging in everything life has to offer. In this sense, the symbol of Skoll and Hati as harbingers of unavoidable doom stand as a reminder that all things end and that we should use every moment we have on earth to the fullest.

About the art

This layered relief is created from four separate castings using cold-cast nickel silver, brass, copper and stone. Patinas, stains, inks and/or paints are applied and the individual pieces are buffed to bring out highlights. They are then assembled, clear coated and mounted in a black, glassless shadowbox. Wolves of Ragnarok: Skoll and Hati is limited to 150 signed and numbered pieces and is available here. I am also reserving a small number of matched sets that will include Odin’s Ravens and Wolves of Ragnarok with matching edition numbers.

Wolves-and-Ravens

Digging a little deeper into the story of Skoll and Hati…

The Eddic poem Grímnismál has a few passages that refer to Skoll and Hati. Here is the one that inspired me to create this piece (translated into English):

Skoll is the name of the wolf
Who follows the shining priest
Into the desolate forest,
And the other is Hati,
Hróðvitnir’s son,
Who chases the bright bride of the sky.

It is worth noting that “Hróðvitnir” (loosely translated as “Famous Wolf”) refers to Fenrir, Loki’s son. Fenrir is the enormous wolf who himself will be the death of Odin at the time of Ragnarok. It is therefore Hróðvitnir’s (Fenrir’s) children (Skoll and Hati) who will swallow the sun and moon. There is some dispute among academics as to which of these celestial wolves chases the sun and which the moon, and there is an interesting article on this dispute to be found here.

So, take the message of Skoll and Hati to heart and seize life while you can.

~Aric

4 thoughts on “The Wolves of Ragnarok

  1. Yet another fine piece. I partichlarly like the reference to the sun cross. Unfortunately postage and import duty to England makes every item that I would like to own almost impossibly expensive. Please don’t think that I’m being critical. It’s just a fact of life beyond the control of mortals.

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    1. I’m glad you like it, Robert. I agree with you on shipping – it has gotten out of hand in recent years. Unfortunately, it is the one thing beyond my control. Still, there may be less expensive (albeit slower) options available to you. If you’re interested, contact me directly via email (contact page) and we’ll discuss options.

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  2. Aric, love the wolves and the story /meaning of these symbols. It’s so fascinating to learn about creation myths in all cultures. The thread of commonality between all these stories woven by human spiritual beliefs is wonderful and inspiring.

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  3. Thank you, Robin. I’m glad to know you share my fascination with these stories. It is the thing that drives me most to create and the fact that I can make a living exploring mythology and creating art that shares these stories with other people brings me joy beyond measure.

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