A term meaning ‘‘rain of dust,’’ derived from an ancient
Scandinavian legend of a titanic conflict between gods and giants.
It was also the title of a book by the Minnesota congressman
and senator Ignatius Donnelly (1831–1901). More than
a century before Immanuel Velikovsky’s bestselling Worlds in
Collision, Donnelly’s book speculates that a comet passed close
to or struck the earth in ancient times, causing cataclysmic
changes dimly remembered in mythologies and scripture history.
Donnelly was an original thinker, and although some of his
ideas may not stand up to modern scientific scrutiny, the theme
of catatrophism has remained a persistent if minority opinion
in contemporary science.
Donnelly, Ignatius. Ragnarok the Age of Fire and Gravel.
1883. Reprint, New Hyde Park, N.Y. University Books, 1970.