Thor and the Toe of Aurvandil: The Story of Sirius

The story of the god Thor and his friend Aurvandil was for centuries told around the Norse fireplace. The people gathered around; the older children stood stoically with the men and the young would cling to their mothers. An elder would be seated, and the storytelling would begin.

Being expert navigators, some of the Norse stories had not just to do with the other gods, such as the mischief of Loki and the wisdom of Odin, but also the creation of the stars. One such story, Thor, and the Toe of Aurvandil, went along these lines.

The sun goddess’s bright light found Thor, the god of thunder, traveling with his friend Aurvandil, the god of the stars. They traveled through forest and desert, observing all as they passed. Thor’s broad shoulders and muscular frame took up almost half of the path they traveled on. His wild, red hair was unkempt, and his harsh, blue eyes seemed to pierce through any poor creature that dared meet them. His silver armor would have glinted in the sunlight save a cloak made of harsh fabric that had been slung over it. A band of fiery gold was placed about his broad forehead, marking him as a prince.

Aurvandil, covered in the shadow of this majestic figure, looked to be a slight and trivial thing with a dark cloak drawn low over his sable-crowned head. His crown glowed silver in the dark shadow of his hood. His able, lithe frame was not to be underestimated however, and he carried himself with a purpose, his dark eyes unflinching at the many sounds of the forest.

While their weary feet kept the two deities blundering along, little talk passed between them until they came upon the rushing river Élivágar in the ice plains. Aurvandil proposed to turn back, knowing he could never cross the chilling obstacle, but Thor was not to be discouraged. He produced a basket and bade his friend get into it. The strong immortal hefted the vessel onto his back and proceeded to wade across the river, Aurvandil resting for a spell as his companion toiled beneath him. Unbeknownst to Thor, the toe of his friend was sticking out of the lid of the container.

When Thor set his burden down on the other side of the mighty river he saw the now frozen extremity, and his face colored with embarrassment. Before Aurvandil could take notice, Thor broke the appendage off and threw it to the sky making it a star.

Aurvandil’s toe is thought to be modern-day Sirius.

This article is by Rowan, 16, an Experience Astronomy student from Glen St. Mary, Florida.

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