This story is based on original Viking Age poems
THE LEGEND ABOUT THE NORSE GODDESS Sun
Sól - Sun - Sol -Sunna
Long before the world became as it is today, there was no Sun and no Moon. Time floated by in one complete entity, undivided by the shiftings of light. You may have taken Sun for granted, and assumed it to be merely another natural wonder, but she is a celestial being, whose purpose is to measure time for humankind and indeed all other creatures in the nine realms of Norse cosmology.
But let’s start at the beginning. First, the goddess Night was born, the only daughter of one of the first giants. She was black and dark, and her hair was the colour of ravens. Her first marriage produced a son, as dark and mysterious as his mother. His name was Auðr, meaning ‘prosperity’. Night married again, this time giving birth to a daughter whose name was Jörð, meaning ‘earth’. Finally, in her third marriage, Night had another child – Dagr, Day, a son so fair and bright that the goddesses and gods agreed to divide what we now know as “time” between Night and her son. Both were given a horse and carriage, Night set out first, travelling at high speed. At the break of day, you may find the drops of foam from her horse Hrimfaxi’s muzzle in the form of morning dew in the grass.
Also, in order for all creatures to reckon the year the goddesses and gods held council and assigned Sól, ‘Sun’, and her brother Máni, ‘Moon’ to join Night and Day in their travels over the skies. As long as they continue to elude the fearful wolves Sköll and Hati, who are always in pursuit hoping to devour Sól and Máni, all realms are safe from the void of nothingness.
This story is inspired by the poems Alvíssmál, Vafþrúðnismál and Giriminsmál in the Poetic Edda. The people of ancient Scandinavia measured time in number of nights, as the word fortnight still reminds us. Thus, an event would take place in a number of nights time, not in number of days. But naturally, in these parts of the world the sun was especially cherised, then as well as now.
The people of the North also explained the lunar and solar eclipse with the wolves having finally caught up with Sól and Máni and devoured them. Luckily, as we are aware, the deities always manage to escape, perhaps due to their exceptional horses. Day’s horse is named Skinfaxi, ‘light-horse’ and illuminates the whole sky and earth with its mane, and Sól’s stallions are called Arvakr and Alsviðr, ‘early awake’ and ‘very quick’.