Ragnarok: Naglfar's Voyage (1 of 2) Picture

I've been sitting on this picture, along with one other one that I'll submit later, for something like 2-3 weeks. I had to do them for a group presentation in my World Mythology class, and I stayed awake all night getting them done. This one was actually finished last, and only took me about 3-4 hours because I didn't bother sketching out the background in pencil first.

In Norse mythology, Ragnarok (the "Doom of the Gods") was viewed as the inevitable end of the world, a climactic battle between the gods and their enemies that would consume the entire world in fire and destroy everything that existed. After Christianity started to gain a following among the Norse, some versions of the story were changed, and although Ragnarok was still The End Of The World, it became more "The End Of The World (As We Know It)". (i.e., instead of everything and everyone being destroyed in fire, two humans, along with a handful of the old gods, would manage to survive the battle and would create a new Utopian world out of the ashes of the old world.)

Anyways, one of the more interesting and lesser-known pieces of the legend of Ragnarok is Naglfar (or Naglfari; the literal translation from Ancient Norse is "Nail Ship"). At the beginning of Ragnarok, Loki and the Frost Giant hordes would board a massive ship, Naglfar, and use it to sail to the battlefield. That's not really all that odd, just your average shard of Norse apocalypse mythology.

The really weird part of the story is this: Naglfar gets its name from the fact that it is made entirely out of the fingernails and toenails of the dead. And this was the reason behind one of the most interesting ways of getting people to practice proper hygiene that I've ever heard of: The ancient Norse believed that when you died, Loki would steal the fingernails and toenails from your corpse and use them to help build Naglfar. However, if you kept your nails clean and properly trimmed, they would be of much less use to Loki than if you had been nasty and had nine-inch, yellow, talon-like nails. And it didn't help for people to clip your nails after you were dead, either; that didn't count for some reason. You had to keep them trimmed yourself, because however long they were at the moment of your death, that was how long they would be when Loki came to steal them.

So yeah. Remember to keep your nails properly trimmed people, or you might end up helping the apocalypse come that much sooner.