The Aurora Zone Blog

Scary Northern Lights Myths and Legends

Our forefathers believed that the Northern Lights were anything from spirits of the departed to vanquished warriors to the gods themselves.

Some saw the lights as a portent of good, guests travelling to a celestial wedding for example but, in the main, the lights were generally associated with something more malevolent.

We’ve been looking through our vast library of images to illustrate just why our ancestors held the Aurora in such reverence. Here are a few examples.

A Very Angry God?


That is one very, very frightening face reflected in the mirror-like waters of the Paatsjoki River in Northern Finland.

This image was taken looking into Russia from Paatsjoki Bridge in North-East Finland and looks to us like a very, very angry god indeed. Local Aurora Hunter, Markku Inkila describes Paatsjoki Bridge as

The best place in the world to see the Northern Lights.

Here’s how to find out for yourself......if you are brave enough!

Image: Markku Inkila

Scary Movie


The indigenous Sami reindeer herders of the 17th century will never have seen any horror movies but who needs Hollywood when you have auroral displays like this one to contend with?

Image: Antti Pietikianen 

Seductive Fire Dragons 


One belief held in certain parts of Russia held that the Aurora Borealis was “Ognenniy Zmey”, a fire dragon.

When the menfolk were away, this dragon would come to the village looking to seduce the women.

Image: Antti Pietikainen 

Lighting the Way to the Next World


Some of our ancestors believed that the Northern Lights were torches which guided defeated warriors to the next world.

They certainly appear to be pointing the way in this image from Finnish Lapland.

Image: Antti Pietikainen

Little Green Men from Mars


We can’t actually find any myths or legends associating the Northern Lights with alien life but look closely and you can see the archetypal depiction of a green-faced alien with huge extended eyes and a long gash where we would expect the nose to be.

Image: Antti Pietikainen

Spirits in the Sky

Roman mythology held that Janus, the God of Transition had two faces one of which looked back into the past and the other to the future (rather like the faces depicted in our image below). While it’s highly unlikely that the Northern Lights would have been a frequent visitor as far south as Rome, images such as this one certainly illustrate why folk further north believed the Aurora to be spirits in the sky.


Giant Green Owls

We’ve spent a considerable amount of time researching the folklore, myths and legends that surround the Aurora Borealis but, as deep as we dug, we couldn’t find a single reference to Giant Green Owls swooping down on its unsuspecting prey.

Perhaps we need to start a Northern Lights rumour of our own............


Image: Markku Inkila— at

For more information about the myths and legends associated with the Aurora Borealis why not visit the section of our website that is dedicated to just that subject?

To see the Northern Lights up close and personal, please have a look at our wide range of dedicated Aurora hunting trips*.

*NB. The Northern Lights are a natural phenomenon and sightings can never be guaranteed 

Read 13966 times Last modified on Thursday, 16 January 2020

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