Wednesday Weirdness: The Northern Lights

pathway between large, gnarled trees with words "on the path of Wednesday Weirdness" superimposed over image

This is one of those Wednesday Weirdness posts that resonates strongly with me. As far back as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated by the Northern Lights. When the movie Frequency debuted, I was in heaven. If you haven’t seen it, check it out. It ranks among my favorite movies of all time. Not only is the story utterly amazing and the Northern Lights key, but the ending rocked my world! Added plus: Jim Caviezel and Dennis Quaid in the lead roles. *happy sigh*

The Northern Lights also feature prominently in The Terror by Dan Simmons, one of my all time favorite books. An amazing storyteller, Mr. Simmons skillfully uses them to evoke mood and setting so rich, I can easily conjure it years after finishing the book.

northern lights creating bands of green above lake in dark of night

In case you’re wondering why the aurora borealis is being featured on a Wednesday Weirdness post, it’s because there are plenty of legends and folktales attached to this wondrous spectacle. There is even speculation the prophet Ezekiel was describing them when he referred to “a whirlwind out of the north.”

The Cree called the Aurora “the dance of the spirits” and the Inuits believed the crackling and roaring of the lights resulted from the ghosts of the dead playing football with a walrus skull.

Valkyrie.Viking girl with swordIn Norse mythology, the lights are said to be the reflection from the armor of the Valkyries, immortal warrior women who carry fallen warriors to Odin’s hall.

During medieval times the aurora was often seen as a warning of bloodshed brought on by war or plague. The Danes viewed them as reflections caused by light glinting off the wings of swans trapped in the ice on their way north. In almost all legends, the Aurora is seen as either an omen or a gathering of spirits.

Sadly, I’ve never seen the Northern Lights, but it’s a bucket list item. My husband saw the spectacle decades ago while in Maine. Although he found it interesting, he didn’t feel the same “ooh! ahh!” factor that would have definitely flowed over me.

I have a short story tucked away on my computer in which the lights figure prominently in the plot. It might be time to dust that off and polish it up for future publication.

Have you been lucky enough to witness the aurora borealis? Were you familiar with any of the folklore I shared today? I’ve always been attracted to celestial lights, and this one is at the top of my list. What are your thoughts?

52 thoughts on “Wednesday Weirdness: The Northern Lights

  1. I have not seen them myself but they are also featured in Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass. In that story, they are called Dust which were basically souls (my interpretation) that were separated from the bodies of living children. I’ve never gotten to see them myself though. I rarely go that far north 😊

    Liked by 3 people

    • “Dust.” I love that. It’s so interesting when an author spins these lights into a story.
      The farthest north I’ve been was southern Maine. My husband was in northern Maine near Canada when he saw the lights. Once and only for him–which is still one more than me, LOL!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I didn’t know about the Ezekiel connection or the Norse mythology or the medieval beliefs. I grew up in Alaska, so I’ve seen and heard them. You can’t always hear them, but you can hear them when they are putting on a bold display and there isn’t traffic or stuff around.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I love the Northern Lights. They even made it into my latest series. (Why am I not surprised you find them as compelling as I do?) Never saw them myself, though. Hope I get to someday.

    Frequency was a great movie. Not a great series. Only got one season, but at least the major issues were resolved at the end.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m going to have to look up Pullman’s work. Tessa mentioned it, too. I do love when an author employs them in their work. Dan Simmon’s descriptions of them in The Terror were breathtaking.
      One day, I am going to dust off my own short story in which the lights make an appearance 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. When I was a kid, for some reason, the Northern lights made it all the way down to northeast Indiana, and we watched them from our kitchen window for a few nights in a row. I didn’t hear them and didn’t realize they even made a sound, so that was interesting. But they were mesmerizing–at least, to us. I’d never heard the legends behind them, so really enjoyed this post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Judi, I’ve heard of them dipping down into the States on rare occasions. What a special memory you have! Not only did you get to see such a spectacular display, but it was made all the rarer for reaching into Indiana. Amazing!!
      Thank you for sharing!

      Liked by 1 person

    • I definitely believe they are real, Balroop. I dipped into the science of them when I wrote my short story back in the day. As interesting as that was, it’s the folklore and the beauty of them that fascinate me the most. Like you, I would love to see them! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I have always been fascinated by the nothern lights. I once saw a flash of green in the sky years ago which was a very minor verison of it. It is something I have always wanted to see and on my list of things ro do at the very top or a trip to Alberta to see it and visit where my grandmazwas born. I didn’t know any of the legends behind the lights. I’m wondering how I missed the movie Frequency with Dennis Quaid? I will be watching that! Thanks Mae:)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Even that flash of green must have been so fascination to see, Denise. And I didn’t realize your grandma was from Alberta. When you go, I do hope you see the lights. And as for Frequency, I can’t recommend it enough. WHAT AN AMAZING MOVIE. I watched it so many times I’ve lost count!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m so inspired by the folklore you shared, Mae! DH and I were both born in north-central Alberta and have had the pleasure of seeing, and hearing, the phenomena many times. It literally takes your breath away to watch them dance across a midnight sky.
    I hope you get the opportunity one day.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I didn’t know about the folklore attached to these lights. I haven’t seen them (would love to). Several years ago, in a rare phenomenon, they were visible in parts of Texas but I didn’t see them. My brother was fortunate enough to see.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. They are a beauty to behold. I have seen them multiple times. I don’t want to incite jealousy, Mae but I lived in northern Alberta, Canada…so it wasn’t unusual to see them in late summer, early autumn and in the depth of winter. I appreciate the folklore you have shared here. I wasn’t aware of any those references. I absolutely love that Aurora is the Cree word for “Dance of the spirits”. So beautiful. I hope you get to see them one day soon!

    Liked by 1 person

    • OOh, but I am jealous! In a good way, LOL. I love hearing from people who have actually seen them. What great memories you must have. Even reading about your experiences is stunning. Thank you so much for sharing. I do hope to see them someday and enjoy the “dance of the spirits.” 🙂
      Thanks so much for visiting and sharing, Lisa!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I am not familiar with any of the folklore here, Mae, but The Northern Lights are HIGH on my bucket list! Thank you for sharing and I look forward to the day that I get to experience this phenomenon for myself!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I’ve seen the Northern Lights a couple times. Once when we were driving back from a volleyball game, and when I went on a Germany/Austria trip with my aunt and uncle; we saw them from the plane. They are amazing! I’ve never heard any of the folklore you mention, but in the movie ‘Brother Bear’ the aurora plays a huge role in the spiritual realm. Great movie, even if it is a kid’s movie.

    Liked by 1 person

    • HI, Julie! Sorry I am so late in responding. I have been mostly offline while sheltering at home. Hopefully, I will be back to blogging on a regular basis again next week.
      You are so lucky to have seen the Northern Lights–and TWICE yet!!
      I will have to look up Brother Bear. There are a lot of kid movies I enjoy.
      Hope you have been staying safe and well!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Sorry I’m late in replying, Noelle. I’ve been mostly offline during this whole pandemic thing! I would love to see the Northern Lights, too. And I’m always thrilled to know someone else enjoyed Frequency as much as I did. I can watch that movie over and over!

      Like

      • So how have you been? It looks like we won;t be fully opened until at least the end of June. We had a hair cutting session with my stylist and three of her customers out by our pool today. She has lost about $8 K in income so far and the subsidies and unemployment checks have not yet arrived. Our small businesses have suffered!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oh, no. How awful about your stylist. I know our small business are hurting too. Right now it looks like parts of PA might reopen on 5/8. Still kind of up in the air. I can’t even imagine waiting until the end of June. UGH!

        Did you release your new book yet?

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