As I stepped outside into the cold night air in Yellowknife, I looked up at the sky and saw the Northern Lights dancing above. The vivid grand hues were mesmerizing, and I felt a sense of amazement. The cold air nipped at my face, but I could hardly notice, I was too captivated by this incredible show of colour: made me feel lucky to live here…
The Northern Lights have fascinated cultures around the world for thousands of years. Their significance varied among different cultures, but they were (and still are) often considered to be a spiritual or magical phenomenon. With modern science, we now know that they are natural light displays that occur in the Earth’s upper atmosphere. They are mostly seen in the high-latitude regions around the Arctic and Antarctic circles, and they are caused by the interaction of the Earth’s magnetic field with charged particles from the sun, which are funnelled towards the Earth’s poles by the magnetic field.
The Northern Lights appear as glowing, colourful spectacles in the sky, typically in shades of green, yellow, purple and red. They can take on a variety of shapes and patterns, including arcs, bands, rays, and curtains of light. In many indigenous cultures of northern regions, such as the Inuit, the Northern Lights are believed to be the spirits of their ancestors, dancing in the sky. The Inuit people also believe that the Northern Lights have healing powers and can help in times of sickness or distress. In Norse mythology, the Northern Lights were said to be reflections from the shields and armour of the Valkyries, warrior goddesses who chose which warriors would die in battle and take them to Valhalla.
The Northern lights are a dynamic and ever-changing phenomenon, and their appearance can vary greatly from one night to the next, just as their significance might change from one culture to another. They are mostly seen in the winter months when the nights are long, and the sky is dark. However, they are observable at other times of the year depending on the strength and directions of the solar winds.
The Northern Lights hold a special place in the mythology and folklore of many cultures around the world, and their beauty and mystery continue to inspire awe and wonder.
They are truly breathtaking natural wonders, and they are some of the most iconic and enduring symbols of our polar regions.