‘Stare at her but don’t whistle’: Arctic myths and legends about aurora borealis

Norhtern Light Chase_Northern Norway Travel

While science has nowadays revealed the truth behind the Northern Lights, this dazzling natural light show was not always interpreted in the same way by Arctic’s northernmost inhabitants. Numerous myths, riddles and legends were created as explanations for the many mysteries of Aurora. These stories have been passed down through generations and remain part of the rich culture here in Northern Norway!

Aurora Myths and Legends from Northern Norway

Across Scandinavia, the Vikings thought that the lights were the spears, armor and helmets of the brave warrior women known as the Valkyries. They usually rode on horseback, leading fallen soldiers to their final resting place at Valhalla. 

The Sami indigenous peoples of Northern Norway believed that the lights in the sky were the souls of the dead and that they had magical effects. Sami shaman drums often had symbols that depicted these lights. When the Aurora blazed in the sky reindeer herders had to be silent and careful and stay inside, while the children were told to quiet down. It was believed that you should not whistle when the northern lights were high, lest they swoop to earth and carry you up to the infinite sky!


Myths and Legends from the Circumpolar North

Every culture has its own unique folklore around the Northern Lights, its own ways to interpret this strange and captivating phenomenon.


  • Inuit believed that the Northern Lights were spirits of dead playing a game of “ball” with a walrus skull. The Inuit of Nunivak Island in the Bering Sea flipped its take on this story believing that Aurora was a walrus spirit playing with a human skull.
  • The Inuit of Greenland thought that the lights were dancing spirits of children who had passed away at birth.
  • For Wisconsin’s Fox Native Americans, the Aurora gave them a sense of foreboding -representing their slain enemies coming for revenge.
  • When they witnessed the lights, the Inupiat of Alaska believed that the lights were the spirits of the wild animals they had recently hunted, namely beluga whales, seals, salmon and deer.
  • In Finland, a magical fox was thought to have created the Aurora, running across the Arctic landscape. The fox sweeps its tail across the snow sending a trail of sparks up into pine forests and light up the night sky. Because of this myth, the Finns still call the Northern Lights “revontulet”, which literally means “fox fires”!

Make up your own Arctic Story with Northern Norway Travel

The spiritual vibes of Arctic mythology are alive and well in Northern Norway, embracing us as we take guide you through one of our tours. Join us for an unforgettable adventure under the luminescent Arctic sky, and be the star in your own Aurora story in the heart of a wild polar landscape. The fire will be kept burning, hot drinks and reindeer hides will keep you warm, and the green dancing lady will spark your imagination. And as we warned you, stare at her but…do not whistle!

Dear Guests,
Dear Partners,

On March, 12 2020 the Norwegian Directorate of Health Bjørn Guldvog has adopted comprehensive measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19 and to help maintain the necessary health and care services.

The Directorate of Health decided that everyone who comes from outside the Nordic countries should quarantine for 14 days, regardless of whether they have symptoms or not. Retroactive from 27 February. This means if you booked a tour with Northern Norway Travel and you are within the Nordic Country before 27 February 2020 with approved documentations, we will try to run the tour with you.

If you arrived after 27 February to the Nordic country, you have to be in quarantine and are not allowed to attend the booked tour with us. Due to this new measure, we would like you to reach out to us and cancel the booking if you have to go into quarantine or to reschedule the booking free of charge within the year 2020.

If you have to cancel the booking please contact your travel insurance company for refund due to your quarantine.

Guests who booked via online travel agents or other third parties are advised to contact their booking provider for information on their policies and for assistance. All tours until 26 March 2020 are affected until further notice.

Thank you for your support and your loyalty. We will keep you updated through this dynamic situation and cannot wait to welcome you at one of our tours soon.

All the best,

Your Northern Norway Travel team