Myths and Legends About the Northern Lights

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From the frigid valleys of the North to folklore steeped in the weight of centuries. The Aurora Borealis has cast its spell on every human who had the privilege of standing beneath its cosmic ballet. The glow of the Northern Lights, both eerie and mesmerizing, is the harbor of countless myths and legends that whisper of the spirits dancing in the sky. I’m spending time unraveling the enigmatic fabric of these celestial wonders to guide you where the night sky becomes a canvas of your most vivid dreams. Here are my favorite myths and legends about the Northern Lights.

Echoes of Myth and Legends in the Auroras

The Northern Lights have been kindling the fiery imaginations of storytellers for as long as history can recall. Finnish mythology speaks of the Revontulet, which translates to “fox fires,” a testament to the belief that the lights come from a mystical fox’s tale brushing against the snow.

In contrast, Algonquin legends suggest the lights reflect a murderous collection of human souls, warning those below of the peril of the heavens. These tales, imbued with mystique, carry the legacy of generations who understood the universe in ways far different from our own.

Science Unveils the Earth’s Silent Symphony

Beneath the guise of myth and legend, the Aurora Borealis is a physical phenomenon rooted in the dynamics of our planet’s magnetic field. When charged particles from the sun—electrons, protons, and other astrophysical particles—collide with molecules in the Earth’s atmosphere, brilliant displays of light ensue.

The color of the Northern Lights depends on which gas the particles collide with and at what altitude, painting the skies with hues ranging from vibrant greens to deep purples. Despite the scientific clarity that we now possess, each dance of the auroras still retains an unquantifiable magic.

myths and legends about the Northern Lights.

A Traveler’s Guide to the Northern Lights

If you’ve never witnessed the Northern Lights, the experience is like being marked by a surreal memory that seems to linger even in the brightness of day. What you need to know about a first-time Northern Lights experience is that it’s an adventure that requires patience—the lights are as capricious as they are beautiful.

Some of the best places to see in the US on a cruise ship include the Alaskan and Pacific coasts. Where you can witness the auroras in the midst of a serene ocean and may even capture the lights’ reflections on the water’s surface.

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Capturing the Light

Photographing the Northern Lights is a dance between art and science and requires the careful setting of your camera as well as the perfect stage in the sky. Best times and camera settings depend on the intensity of the lights and the darkness of the night. Shutter speeds that allow for longer exposure times, low apertures to bring in enough light without causing overexposure and high ISOs to combat the faintness of the auroras against the night sky—these are techniques that transform fleeting moments into eternal images.

To witness the Northern Lights is to partake in a universal dance. Where myths and legends collide with reality, and the grandeur of nature stands unparalleled. Whether you seek the lights to fulfill a lifelong dream or to lay your eyes upon the tapestry of wonder that nature weaves above, the Northern Lights offer more than just a visual spectacle.

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