Anyone who has spent just one night in the Nordic world will understand, even in the 21st century, the importance that fire plays to the Nordic soul.
Now, this importance grows only exponentially for those lucky (or unlucky) enough to have spent the colder months in that region.
The sun does not rise until mid-morning and sets mid-afternoon, leaving this northern latitude seemingly bathed in darkness for what feels like an eternity.
Fire helps keep the eternal darkness and winter chill at bay, and it should be no surprise that in every Nordic culture, lighting candles on a winter's night is part of that intrinsic cultural fabric that is hard to explain.
Wind back a millennium ago when people from Viking societies roamed this area of the world. This was an era before widespread electricity, refrigeration, insulated heating, and modern conveniences.
Like many pre-modern cultures and civilizations, the worship of a fire god, for people in Viking societies, reflected an understanding of the sometimes harsh and brutal natural elements and their utter dependence on them.
Fire was an important cooking tool as well as the only way to keep warm, be safe and secure, and see your surroundings when the sun had long set.
Given its importance to the essence of life, an integral part of the Old Norse religion was the worship of fire in the form of a deity, Logi.
In Viking societies, fire was not only crucial for warmth and cooking but also held significant cultural and spiritual importance, symbolizing life and protection against the long Nordic winters. Photo: Star Stock / Shutterstock
Worshipped and revered... but as what?
Any glance at a movie theater or a scroll down Netflix, and you will see how Norse mythology is undergoing a cultural renaissance.
Some, like us at The Viking Herald, would argue that this sudden resurgence of Norse mythology into popular culture is not a revival at all.
The myths, stories, and sagas that enthralled people from Viking societies have remained popular, in one form or another, since many of them were first written down and compiled centuries ago.
Part of this fascination with Norse mythology is the vast array of characters in the forms of deities and gods.
Unlike other mythologies, think Ancient Rome, Greece, or Egypt, there was not one but two pantheons in Norse mythology.
Determining who is a Norse god and who isn't, along with understanding their complex relationships, can be quite confusing, even for experts in the field.
Take, for example, the Norse god of fire, Logi. We know that this personification of fire was born the son of a Jötunn, and these beings, collectively known as Jötnar, were often the bane of Norse gods.
We also know that his name, in Old Norse, means something akin to "blaze."
However, whether he was worshipped as a god or was just one of the colorful supernatural deities that dot the Norse myths, stories, and sagas is less clear.
Whilst for us moderns, Norse mythology is often viewed merely as medieval Scandinavian literature, and it's worth remembering that the myths, sagas, and stories passed down from this time held religious and spiritual significance for many people in Viking societies.
Sadly, we simply do not know the extent of worship or reverence that Norse people had for Logi, so much of what we understand now is based on guesswork.
Logi, the Norse god of fire, is often depicted as a descendant of the Jötnar, a race of giants who reside in the realm of Jötunheimr, characterized by its harsh and mountainous terrain. Illustration: The Viking Herald
Royal dynasties and eating contests
Speaking of sagas, Logi makes several memorable appearances in the rich tapestry of Norse literature.
His origin is attested in a medieval Icelandic manuscript - the Flateyjarbók – a sort of folio with the "greatest hits" of the Norse sagas, ranging from the Heimskringla to the Grœnlendinga saga.
In this manuscript, Logi is said to be one of the three sons of Fornjót, each ruling over a particular natural realm. While his brothers ruled over the wind and sea, it was Logi who was said to rule over all fire.
A rather flattering description of Logi appears in Þorsteins saga Víkingssonar (The Saga of Thorstein, Viking's Son).
In this not-so-famous saga, which sees action and adventure from the very north of Norway to as far away as India (!), Logi is described as a risi – a different type of giant entity.
He is also credited with founding a royal line that ruled over much of northern Norway. His ancestors were said to be muscular and possess a stunning physique – not bad for the relations of a fire god!
Finding themselves in Jötunheimr, the realm of giants in Norse mythology, the two Norse gods enter the castle of Utgarda-Loki, a formidable giant known for trickery.
This giant challenges them to an eating contest in which Logi competes against Loki.
However, Logi appears to be the hungrier of the two, as he not only eats the meat provided but also the bones and even the wooden plates on which the food was served.
Utgarda-Loki explains to Thor and Loki that Logi eats at the pace of a wildfire – consuming all and everything within seconds.
This is said to symbolize the all-consuming and destructive nature of fire itself.
The Old Norse peoples' settlement of Iceland, a land marked by its dramatic volcanic landscapes, likely influenced their mythological narratives, infusing them with vivid imagery of fire. Photo: Mathias Berlin / Shutterstock
Should receive more attention
Whilst Logi, the personification of fire in Norse mythology, may not be one of the more well-known deities, this should not detract from his significance to people in Viking societies.
Given the essential and life-giving properties of fire, many modern academics have concluded that Logi must have been held in high regard and reverence.
Was he a popular member of the vast Norse pantheons or a minor deity?
The fact that he was featured in several sagas, stories, and myths suggests some level of popularity, but the degree of this is uncertain.
Logi's appearance in these tales was part of an explanation by people in Viking societies of the natural world, its mysteries, and human existence itself.
While Loki, the trickster god, is sometimes associated with fire, it is Logi, the personification of fire itself, who deserves more attention for his guardianship of the most vital of natural elements to early medieval societies.
For more information on why the Norse sagas are relevant today, visit the BBC here.
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