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9 Realms Viking Showcase: featuring Cliona Sheehan (artist)

21 Apr

nine realms8

19 Poets, 23 artists, 3 musicians and a Viking boat

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Featuring

Cliona Sheehan

(Realm artist for Nidavellir alongside photographer Tony Adams)

Question: what piece of your art best represents you at the moment?

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 Mask

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 Biography:

IMG_2319

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Cliona Sheehan was born in Ireland but lived her formative years in Bermuda. In 1978 she returned to Ireland and moved to Connemara to find the artist within. She now works as a self employed Parenting Skills facilitator and tutor. She is a self taught artist who seeks out art workshops and online collaboration to improve and get inspiration. She also uses art in her facilitation work, when possible. She works in ink, oils and acrylic to reflect what she sees… some realistic… some capture the mood. Often there is a struggle between what exists and what is experienced and she explores this dichotomy.

Contact details: clionasheehan@yahoo.co.uk
http://www.touchtalent.com/artist/17275/cliona-sheehan

 

* Nidavellir is the realm of the dwarves

* You can find more information about The Nine Realms here

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Please do take a look at our Indiegogo Crowdfunding Campaign for our Viking Boat.

We have some great Viking Rewards:

http://igg.me/at/the9realms

nine realms8

Realm 7: Muspelheim – Overview and writing prompts, The Nine Realms, an ArtiPeeps Combined Arts Collaboration 2014-2015

14 Apr

nine realms8

The Nine Realms

9 months, 19 poets and writers, 23 Artists, 3 composers, 1 Viking boat

 a magical reworking of Norse Mythology for contemporary audiences

Muspelheim

(the realm of fire)

 

Vikings Ahoy!

Here we are in the middle of April,  with the deadline for the poetry and writing for the 6th realm Helheim Thursday 16th April. I shall be posting out the remaining Nifelheim poems this week and then Helheim the week after.  This month we are outlining the realm of Muspelheim. The deadline for all writing, poetry and mp3s for this realm is Monday 11th May.

These monthly posts will draw from a range of primary and secondary source materials and focus on selected gods, themes and stories that circle around the highlighted realm. They will not attempt to cover everything, and writers can embrace any other stories and characters within their writing which is not covered. Month by month we will be building our own magical, contemporary norse world whilst exploring the themes of POWER, NATURE and RELIGION. The project’s overall intention is to embrace orality, translation, storytelling and rhythm all of which are inspired by the origins of the oral tradition of the Norse Sagas.

I may well put out little mini-posts intermittently focusing on orality and poetic form as necessary.  

What is presented below is designed to inspire, present basic information and offer a starting point for individual creativity within the project inspired by the themes, characters and spirit of the myths and stories.

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Surtr

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1. A brief  Overview of Muspelheim

Mentions of Muspelheim and Surt/Surtr are sparing within The Poetic Edda and The Prose Edda, and primarily, it seems, centred around Ragnarök

Muspelheim was to the North of Ginnungagup, the large chasm at the beginning of the world, where Surt/Surtr, ‘the swarthy one’, the fire god, stands guard with a flaming sword. It is where the Gods, as the world was created, scattered sparks across the sky as stars (Allan: 34). Muspelheim is fire; and the land to the North, Niflheim, is ice. The two mixed and created water from the melting ice in Ginnungagap. The sun and the stars originate from Muspelheim. The residents of Muspelheim are known as  the eldjötnar (“Fire Giants“). They are also known  by other names in Eddic poetry, such as the Múspellssynir (or Múspellsmegir — “sons of Muspell”) and the Rjúfendr (from rjúfa — “to break, tear asunder”, Destroyers of Doomsday). See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muspelheim

In The Prose Edda, In chapter 4,  the  Gylfaginning, the enthroned figure of Third tells Gangleri (described as King Gylfi in disguise) that the flaming region existed prior to Niflheim, and is impassable to those who are not born to the realm. To protect Muspelheim Surt/Surtr is stationed at its frontier.

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 2. Surt

220px-Surtur_mit_dem_Flammenschwerte

Surt with flaming sword

 

Surt/Surtr plays a major role in the tra.jectory towards Ragnarök, through his battles against the Æsir,  fighting particularly with  Freyr. The fire that Surt engenders engulfs the Earth in its final moments of existence (before it is reborn).

Norse Academic Simek says that “in Iceland Surtr was obviously thought of as being a mighty giant who ruled the powers of the (volcanic) fire of the Underworld”,

Surt/Surtr is mentioned twice in the The Prose Edda particularly the Völuspá, where a völva (a Seer) states that Surt/Surtr will come from the south with flames, carrying a  bright sword:

 

Sutr ferr sunnan
með sviga lævi:
skinn af sverði
sól valtiva.
 

Surtr moves from the south
with the scathe of branches:
there shines from his sword
the sun of Gods of the Slain. 
Dronke (1997:21).

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There are few details given about the fight between Surt/Surtr and Freyr in the Völuspá .The poem focuses more on how Odin is to be killed by the wolf Fenrir.  However, it is mentioned that Surtr will go to battle against “Beli’s bane”, a kenning for the god Freyr, who slew the giant Beli.

You can find the whole Völuspá  here

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3.   Ragnarök  and Surt/Surtr

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According to the Ragnarök predictions in the Gylfaginning, the sons of Muspell , the fire giants, will break the Bifröst bridge, signalling the end of times:

In the midst of this clash and din the heavens are rent in twain, and the sons of Muspell come riding through the opening. Surtr rides first, and before him and after him flames burning fire. He has a very good sword, which shines brighter than the sun. As they ride over Bifrost it breaks to pieces, as has before been stated. The sons of Muspel direct their course to the plain which is called Vigrid…. The sons of Muspel have there effulgent bands alone by themselves.

You can find the whole of the Gylfaginning here

The story goes that Surt/Surtr  will come via land  and ride over Bifrost, the rainbow bridge, to Asgard. Here the armies of the gods and giants will meet for one last battle. It is where Surt/Surtr remains until the end,  and once Heimdallr and Loki fight ( killing one another), Surt/Surtr flings fire over the world so that both men and gods will perish in an overwhelming sea (Ellis Davison: 38).

The sun becomes dark. Earth sinks in the sea.

The shining stars slip out of the sky.

Vapour and fire rage fiercely together,

till the leaping flame licks heaven itself

(ibid)

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4. Sinmara

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Sinmara by Jenny Nystrom

Sinmara by Jenny Nystrom

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Is a female who is often considered to be a companion of Surt/Surtr. A mention of her can be found in the poem Fjölsvinnsmál (The Sayings of  Fjölsvinnr) where she is said to have a weapon called Lævateinn which is considered a kenning for a sword, ‘damage tree’. Her name, mara, may be linked to”(night-) mare”, and the two figures together can be seen as quite a powerful combination.

Here is a section from Fjölsvinnsmál: 

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Benjamin Thorpe’s translation:
26. Tell me, Fiölsvith! etc.
whether there be any weapon,
before which Vidofnir may
fall to Hel´s abode?
27. Hævatein the twig is named,
and Lopt plucked it,
down by the gate of Death.
In an iron chest it lies
with Sinmoera,
and is with nine strong locks secured.
Henry Adams Bellows translation:
41. Svipdag spake:
“Now answer me, Fjolsvith, the question I ask,
For now the truth would I know:
What weapon can send Vithofnir to seek
The house of Hel below?”
42. Fjolsvith spake:
“Lævatein is there, that Lopt with runes
Once made by the doors of death;
In Lægjarn’s chest by Sinmora lies it,
And nine locks fasten it firm.”
 

See:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sinmara

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Themes, Relevance and Questions:

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Life,  Death, heat and renewal: 

Interestingly, many connections have been made between Ragnarök and Christian Notions of Judgement Day. Fire and burning have played a large part in many religious ceremonies and rites for 100s of years.  A cycling of conflict, punishment and then renewal. Fire keeps us warm, but equally fire is volatile and chaotic if untamed. Surt/Surtr and Muspelheim could be seen as a symbol for that volatility,  and when they reach Asgard- might meets might!

There is something very intense and dynamic about heat, about flames. There can be warmth and comfort, but if fire gets out of control there can equally be searing, skin burning, pain. Surt/Surtr and fire are what we have at the end of the world just before the new world begins.  The new world begins not with ease, but through a clash of force, devastation and power.

 Exploration Point: Take a look through The Prose and Poetic Eddas and track how fire is used within the stories. Are there any patterns? What symbolism does it have? 

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Things of Interest:

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1.  The Road To Asgard: BiFrost:

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 2.  Three videos about Jesse Byock’s (the translator of the Penguin Classic edition of The Prose Edda) multi-disciplinary research which combines the sagas, history and archaeology

Part 1

Part 2

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Part 3

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Optional Poetry and Writing Prompts:

Gerard Manley Hopkins

Gerard Manley Hopkins

Curtal Sonnet

Established by Gerard Manley Hopkins, and is a ten-and-a-half line form,  a sonnet but three-quarters the size. Hopkins’ poem Pied Beauty is an example.

The rhyming scheme is abcabcdbcdc or abcabcdcbdc.

See here for more details.

Writing Word Prompts:  Tormentors, Unfinished, Moment, Burst, Climb, Universal,  Destiny, Helmet, Hearts

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To confirm, the deadline for all writing, poetry and mp3s for the Muspelheim realm is Monday 11th May 2015.

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 Thank you so much for your interest.

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References

 Allan, T (2010) Vikings, The Battle at the End of Time, London: Watkins Publishing

Crossley-Holland, K (1993) The Penguin Book of Norse Myths: Gods of the Vikings, London, Penguin Books

Dronke, Ursula (Trans.) (1997). The Poetic Edda: Volume II: Mythological Poems. Oxford University Press.

Ellis Davidson, H.R. (1990) Gods and Myths of Northern Europe, Penguin Books

Hollander, L.M. (1996) tr. The Poetic Edda, Austin: University of Texas Press

Larrington, C. (1996) tr. The Poetic Edda, Oxford University Press

Simek, Rudolf (2007) Dictionary of Northern Mythology,Translated by Angela Hall. D.S. Brewer

Sturluson, S. (2005) The Prose Edda, Penguin Classics, tr. Jesse L. Byock

Weekend Showcase: Stuart Slater (Artist)

20 Mar

Spotlight

Every Friday, 1 creative, letting their work speak for itself.

 

Stuart Slater

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Get Carter

Get Carter 

From the RYBG Series

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Artist’s Statement

Rediscovering Art

Art was always my strongest subject when I was at school. However, after graduating from Aberystwyth University with a degree in Fine Art I sadly lost interest in the subject. All passion for creating art had simply faded.

​In February 2014, some 16 years later, I was persuaded to once again have a go at some simple sketch work. One sketch turned into many and soon the sketches became paintings. I had found my passion once more. Since then I have produced over 70 pieces of work; the most prolific I have ever been.

I have a great love for colour in art and I am currently based Solihull. I produce abstracts and portraiture.

 

stuartslaterart.co.uk

https://twitter.com/Stuart_Slater

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If you would like a Weekend Showcase please do get in touch via the contact form on the What’s On Page , or via the comment box.
>>>>>>>
 

 

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‘Self Portrait between Reputation and Character’ by artist Ann Supan (FreeSpace #1)

19 Mar

SURRENDER HD

 I SURRENDER by Ann Supan 

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Self Portrait between Reputation and Character

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It has always been my ambition to become a portrait artist. However, as a self taught artist and someone who prefers to be alone, I still find it so hard to make a self portrait.

“You cannot lay bare your private soul and look at it. You are too much ashamed of yourself. It is too disgusting. For that reason I confine myself to drawing portraits of others.” – Mark Twain

To make a portrait of someone else, in my opinion, is easier because you are making it with the knowledge of capturing how someone looks like and feel at that moment alone. Where in people, on such cases, “choose to” put on a face they think is the one they would like to show the world.

Of course, I could also choose to do this but I find it so difficult to pretend and draw at the same time especially if my intention is to make my own portrait as real as possible. No one knows best the real me besides myself. Knowing this, it hinders my intention to capture “all of me”, if that is even possible, in just one piece of art. I have to find another way.

I then realized that though a “face” can be deceiving…”hands” cannot.

In fact, our hands can tell a lot about ourselves. From our palm lines to the size and shape of our hands, each part holds a special meaning that is specific only to us and our personality. A form of art known as Palmistry is actually the art of telling the future through the study of the palm and it can also teach us a lot about our CHARACTER.

“If you look deeply into the palm of your hand, you will see your parents and all generations of your ancestors. All of them are alive in this moment. Each is present in your body. You are the continuation of these people.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

You see –
– Faces shows “what we choose to look like” to control of what others thinks of us – our REPUTATION
– Hands shows “who we are” – our CHARACTER

Bear in mind that Reputation and Character are two very different things. REPUTATION is that which people are believed to be; CHARACTER is that which people are!

Like Thomas Paine said –
“Reputation is what men and women think of us; character is what God and angels know of us.”

The Vanity project shows and/or includes my hand/s in each piece as my own rendition of a self portrait because I choose to show who I really am through every lines of my hands.

I honestly think that this project does not end here as I love drawing hands – I will be creating more as I go along with my life.

As every piece is unique, to read about the description of each piece, kindly click on the Fine Art America’s “The Vanity Project Gallery” link below so as to avoid making this blog any longer 😉

http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/ann-supan.html?tab=artworkgalleries&artworkgalleryid=474860

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Ann will be returning for her second FreeSpace on Thursday 23rd April. She is one of the artists to be exhibited in our The Nine Realms  combined arts experience this  September in King’s Lynn, Norfolk.

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Biography

What if?’ will always be the question Ann Supan tends to ask herself every now and then. She is an Engineering graduate who knows she wanted to be an artist since she was 10 years old. She is a Filipina visual artist who loves to draw and likes reading as much as traveling. Her main interest in art is portraiture as it is her ambition to express beauty and emotion on her work. She focuses mainly on likeness as her technique and style is simple. Recently, she has been making ‘dual portrayal’ portraits in order to make her work ‘thought provoking’ as well.

She specializes in traditional drawing in the categories of figure drawing, illustration and shading using graphite and charcoal as her main medium. She also likes to use different mediums as shown on her selective impressionistic pieces.

Through years of practice and experimentations her artworks now revolves around on both realistic and impressionistic form.

https://twitter.com/Sketchbook0918

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*FreeSpace offers 3 post slots on ArtiPeeps to any creative or group. They can be taken in a cluster or over a period of months for showcasing, projects (encouraged) or self expression. If you’re interested in FreeSpace do get in touch via the reply box on this post or the contact form on the What’s On page. 

Realm 6: Helheim – Overview and writing prompts, The Nine Realms, an ArtiPeeps Combined Arts Collaboration 2014-2015

12 Mar

nine realms8

The Nine Realms

9 months, 22 poets and writers, 22 Artists, 3 composers, 1 Viking boat= a magical reworking of Norse Mythology for contemporary audiences

Helheim

(the realm through which  men pass in order to die in Nifelheim)

 

Vikings Ahoy!

Here we are in the middle of March,  with the deadline for the poetry and writing for the 6th realm Nifelheim today! I shall be posting out more Nidavellir poems this week and next week, and then we’ll be onto the Nifelheim poems. This month we are outlining the realm of Helheim. The deadline for all writing, poetry and mp3s for this realm is Thursday 16th April 2015.

These monthly posts will draw from a range of primary and secondary source materials and focus on selected gods, themes and stories that circle around the highlighted realm. They will not attempt to cover everything, and writers can embrace any other stories and characters within their writing which is not covered. Month by month we will be building our own magical, contemporary norse world whilst exploring the themes of POWER, NATURE and RELIGION. The project’s overall intention is to embrace orality, translation, storytelling and rhythm all of which are inspired by the origins of the oral tradition of the Norse Sagas.

I may well put out little mini-posts intermittently focusing on orality and poetic form as necessary.  

What is presented below is designed to inspire, present basic information and offer a starting point for individual creativity within the project inspired by the themes, characters and spirit of the myths and stories.

Helheim

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1. A brief  Overview of Helheim

 

Helheim is the lowest realm of all ruled by Hel (see Nifelheim overview). In Grímnismál stanza 31, Hel is listed as existing beneath one of three roots of the world tree Yggdrasil. One of the other two roots leads to the frost jötnar and the third to Mankind. In the poem Völuspá in The Poetic Edda a völva (sybil)  states that Hel will play an important role in Ragnarök. As mentioned in the Nifelheim overview there is some greyness in terms of differentiation between Nifelheim and Helheim, but in the Vafþrúðnismál (the third poem in The Poetic Edda)  states that it is the place that evil men pass through to die again in Nifelheim.

It is also  the place where all men, who were not warriors and did not end up in Valhalla (the feasting hall of the dead), were decreed to go and condemned to a grim death by Hel. The myths connected to Hel and Helheim spread into cultural traditions, and loved people were buried near to their homes to keep a connection, and those who were cruel were buried far away. Their families fearing they might become the walking dead. In relation to the life/death dynamic there is even some evidence that some thinkers believed there was no life after death. In the Hávamál, for instance it states:

Wealth dies, kinsmen die, a man must like-wise die: but fame never dies, for him who achieves it well (Allan: 135)

You can find the full Hávamál text here

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1. Odin’s Consultation with the Völva

Baldr’s draumar  is another Eddic poem from within The Poetic Edda which tells the story of Odin’s ride to Hel investigating Baldr’s nightmares. (Baldr is the son of Odin and Frigg and is married to Nanna with a  child Forseti.  Baldr is responsible for the construction of the most wonderful ship known to man called the Hringhorni.   You can find out more about Baldr in the Nidavellir overview. )

The story goes that Odin, travels to Hel to find the grave of a Völva (sybil) so that he can resurrect her and questions her about Baldr’s future. She reveals Baldr’s fate: that Höðr (his brother) will kill him, but Vali  (one of his other brothers) will avenge him.

Apart from this description Baldr is known primarily for the story of his death. His death is seen as the first in the chain of events which will ultimately lead to the destruction of the gods at Ragnarök. Baldr will be reborn in the new world, according to Völuspá.

In Gylfaginning, Baldur is described as follows:

Annar sonur Óðins er Baldur, og er frá honum gott að segja. Hann er svá fagr álitum ok bjartr svá at lýsir af honum, ok eitt gras er svá hvítt at jafnat er til Baldrs brár. Þat er allra grasa hvítast, ok þar eptir máttu marka fegrð hans bæði á hár og á líki. Hann er vitrastr ása ok fegrst talaðr ok líknsamastr. En sú náttúra fylgir honum at engi má haldask dómr hans. Hann býr þar sem heita Breiðablik, þat er á himni. Í þeim stað má ekki vera óhreint
The second son of Odin is Baldur, and good things are to be said of him. He is best, and all praise him; he is so fair of feature, and so bright, that light shines from him. A certain herb is so white that it is likened to Baldr’s brow; of all grasses it is whitest, and by it thou mayest judge his fairness, both in hair and in body. He is the wisest of the Æsir, and the fairest-spoken and most gracious; and that quality attends him, that none may gainsay his judgments. He dwells in the place called Breidablik, which is in heaven; in that place may nothing unclean be
 Brodeur’s translation

In Baldrs Draumar, the sybil replies:

Here stands brewed the mead for Balder,

shining cups with shields for cover,

but the Sons of the Gods must suffer anguish….

(Ellis Davison: 185)

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You can find the whole of the Gylfaginning here

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Odin's Last words to Baldr

Odin’s Last words to Baldr

 

2. Odin’s Ride to Ransom Baldr

Baldr dies (see Nidavellir overview. )  and Frigg once again asks Odin to go to Helheim and entreat Hel to let him come back. He travels through ice and wind, crossing  the Gjoll torrent (which separates the living from the dead) via a golden- roofed bridge. Hel agrees that Baldr can come back only if everyone and everything agrees to weep for him. All things do weep for him: trees, stones, animals all except Thokk/ Þökk (who is thought to be Loki in disguise) ensuring that Baldr cannot return. In so doing Baldr has to remain in Hel; not to be released until after Ragnarök. Baldr and Höðr would then be reconciled and rule the new earth together with Thor’s sons.

 

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4. Ragnarök and Helheim

As Ragnarök unfolds an axe age, a sword age, a wind age and a wolf age reek havoc over the world.  Midgard is ridden with wars for three winters and fathers kill sons. A most ferocious  winter (Fimbulvetr)  covers Midgard. Three winters in succession will manifest with no summers in between.  The children of the giantess in the Iron Wood declaim themselves and the wolf Sköll  swallows the sun whole in his jaws, splattering Asgard with blood. His brother Hati  mangles the moon within his mouth, and the stars disappear.

The earth begins to shudder, mountains shake, and rocks roll, and Fenrir runs free.  Eggther, the watchman of the giants,  strums his harp. A red cock called Fjalar crows waking the warriors in Vallhala every day. A golden-combed cock crows to the gods, and a  red rust cock raises the dead in  Hel. The Midgard serpent writhes in anger, and high seas come in. Loki, free from his fetters sails the high seas towards Vigrid from the North with a deathly crew from Hel. The world is in uproar, and the Yggdrasil Tree trembles , and the gods take arms within Valhalla and March toward Vigrid/Vígríðr, (a large field which hosted a battle between the gods and the forces of Surt).

Odin rides upfront, and in the end Fenrir  swallows Odin and he dies.  Vidar/Víðarr (Odin’s son) kills Fenrir in return. Surt lets flames fly and Asgard, Midgard, Jotunheim and Nifelheim become furnaces burning to ashes. The nine realms burn and the gods die, men and women die, and elves and dwarves, monsters and animals die. The earth sinks into the sea.

BUT out of the dying earth a new one is born out of  ‘water, fair and green’.  (Crossley-Holland: 173-175).

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Themes, Relevance and Questions:

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Life,  Death and Transition: It could be said that Nifelheim and Helheim in combination represent a very powerful symbol of transition (from life to death and vice versa). Viewed in conjunction with Ragnarök, this makes for a very strong articulation of the force of life and rebirth.   Where through a conflict and a realignment of moralities life comes forth again ‘fair and green’, with dark forces in hand once again.

Through the creation of the figure of Hel we can see a centre and symbol of moral judgement has been created:  one that allows us to question what is right or wrong, and who is condemned and who is not ( exactly as Hel does). The sifting through that Hel undertakes as men pass through Nifelheim  (judging their morality and position in life) could be seen as a parallel to the sorts of judgements  many people and leaders and figures in power make today. To look at the role of transition and rebirth within the realms of Helheim and Nifelheim , I think can well serve anybody wishing to understand the nature of moral judgement and freedom.

 Exploration Point: What transitions of power can you see in play within these realms and their stories, and how could they be used to reflect upon modern contemporary life? 

 

Things of Interest:

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1.  The Relevance of Norse Myths in the School Curriculum:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/10622293/Get-your-fill-of-Norse-myths-before-Hel-freezes-over.html

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 2.  Filmpoem: Sonatorrek (Loss of Sons)

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A filmpoem by Alastair Cook of John Glenday’s ‘The Lost Boy’, a poem after Egill Skallagrímsson’s Sonatorrek *.

http://www.asnc.cam.ac.uk/resources/mpvp/?author=2

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* Egill Skallagrímsson/ Egil Skallagrimsson(c. 904 – c. 995) was a Viking-Age poet, warrior and farmer.

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Egil Skallagrimsson

Egil Skallagrimsson

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3. ‘In Old Norse mythology, poetry is a slippery substance….’ 

http://www.asnc.cam.ac.uk/resources/mpvp/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/An-Anthology-of-Responses-to-Skaldic-Poetry.pdf

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4. Sculptor:  Asmunder Sveinsson

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Who was born in 1893, and drew inspiration from The Prose Edda for some of his work.

See:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%81smundur_Sveinsson

Reykjavik Art Museum, of which one part is dedicated to Sveinsson

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 Optional Poetry and Writing Prompts:

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Rubai

The rubai (plural rubaiyat) is a Persian verse form. Each rubai stanza is a quatrain, in which lines 1, 2 and 4 all rhyme.

See here for more details.

Writing Word Prompts:  Light, Thousand, Knowledge, Capital, Fingers, Stars, Deep, Hate, Forest, Broken

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To confirm, the deadline for all writing, poetry and mp3s for the Helheim realm is Thursday 16th April 2015.

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 Thank you so much for your interest.

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References

 Allan, T (2010) Vikings, The Battle at the End of Time, London: Watkins Publishing

Crossley-Holland, K (1993) The Penguin Book of Norse Myths: Gods of the Vikings, London, Penguin Books

Ellis Davidson, H.R. (1990) Gods and Myths of Northern Europe, Penguin Books

Hollander, L.M. (1996) tr. The Poetic Edda, Austin: University of Texas Press

Larrington, C. (1996) tr. The Poetic Edda, Oxford University Press

Sturluson, S. (2005) The Prose Edda, Penguin Classics, tr. Jesse L. Byock

Realm 5: Niflheim – Overview and writing prompts, The Nine Realms, an ArtiPeeps Combined Arts Collaboration 2014-2015

12 Feb

nine realms8

The Nine Realms

9 months, 19 poets and writers, 22 Artists, 3 composers, 1 Viking boat = a magical reworking of Norse Mythology for contemporary audiences

Nifelheim

(the realm of the dead)

 

Vikings Ahoy!

Here we are in the middle of February,  with the deadline for the poetry and writing for the 4th realm Nidavellir today! I shall be posting out more Jotunheim poems this week and next week, and then we’ll be onto Nidavellir. This month we are outlining the realm of Niflheim, and the deadline for all writing, poetry and mp3s for this realm is Thursday 12th March 2015.

These monthly posts will draw from a range of primary and secondary source materials and focus on selected gods, themes and stories that circle around the highlighted realm. They will not attempt to cover everything, and writers can embrace any other stories and characters within their writing which is not covered. Month by month we will be building our own magical, contemporary norse world whilst exploring the themes of POWER, NATURE and RELIGION. The project’s overall intention is to embrace orality, translation, storytelling and rhythm all of which are inspired by the origins of the oral tradition of the Norse Sagas.

I may well put out little mini-posts intermittently focusing on orality and poetic form as necessary.  

What is presented below is designed to inspire, present basic information and offer a starting point for individual creativity within the project inspired by the themes, characters and spirit of the myths and stories.

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1. A brief  Overview of Niflheim

 Niflheim means ‘Mist World’ and lies to the North of Ginnnungagap, the huge void  from which the world grew. It originally had 9 frozen rivers attached to it and was filled with ice, frost and snow. The rivers bubbled up from a cauldron called Hvergelmir and their  waters flowed into Ginnungagap.

In the guise of three men Odin gives a lesson in norse mythology to Gylfi (the earliest recorded king of Scandinavia). 

It was many ages before the earth was shaped that the Mist-World [Niflheimr] was made; and midmost within it lies the well that is called Hvergelmir, from which spring the rivers called Svöl, Gunnthrá, Fjörm, Fimbulthul, Slídr and Hríd, Sylgr and Ylgr, Víd, Leiptr; Gjöll is hard by Hel-gates.

The Prose Edda, Section III of Gylfaginning, in translation by Arthur Gilchrist Brodeur (1916), p. 16.

Niflheim was said to be a nine day ride northwards and downwards from Midgard. At its centre was a towering place called Hel, whose gates were protected by a female of the same name. She is described in a variety of ways (pending on the source): as a half black-half-white she-monster and as a half living flesh and half rotting cadaver. There is also a distinction between Helheim and Niflheim:  men pass through Hel to die in Niflheim (Crossley-Holland: xxi).

Niflheim is also mentioned as the final  destination of the jötunn who was killed by Thor after he had built Asgard:

Now that the Æsir saw surely that the hill-giant was come thither, they did not regard their oaths reverently, but called on Thor, who came as quickly. And straight away the hammer Mjöllnir was raised aloft; he paid the wright’s wage, and not with the sun and the moon. Nay, he even denied him dwelling in Jötunheim, and struck but the one first blow, so that his skull was burst into small crumbs, and sent him down below under Niflhel [Niflheim].

The Prose Edda, Section XXXIV of Gylfaginning, in translation by Brodeur (1916), p. 55.

Rather than staying in Nifelheim the dead could also pass on to Nastrond/Náströnd* (the strand of corpses), where men must wade in poisoned streams before being cast into the Hvergelmir (cauldron) to feed Nidhogg the dragon. These ideas have affected Christian notions of fate and wickedness (Allan: 133).

*See Things of Interest below

Two other sorts of beings were said to come from Nifelheim the Hrímthursar, known as the Frost Giants (or Rime-Giants) and the Niflungar (“children of the mist”), a group of people who were treasure-seekers and hoarders. They are also known as  the Nibelungs.

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Gylfi and Odin

Gylfi and Odin

 

2. Gylfi’s Education:

Gylfi  meets ‘The Mysterious Three’ men mentioned above in Asgard, where, in search of wisdom, he questions them.  Each of the three men sit on a throne and guard the gates of Valhalla. The three are known as:  Jafnharr (Equally High), Harr (High) and Thridi (Third). He is unaware that the three are in effect incarnations of Odin.  

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a. Ice and Flames:

Odin (disguised as Thridi/Þriði)  tells Gylfi that Ymir was formed when the ice from Niflheim (Niflheimr) coalesced with the flames from Muspelheim (Muspelheimr), and thus began the creation of the world:

Just as cold arose out of Niflheim, and all terrible things, so also all that looked toward Múspelheim became hot and glowing; but Ginnungagap was as mild as windless air, and when the breath of heat met the rime, so that it melted and dripped, life was quickened from the yeast-drops, by the power of that which sent the heat, and became a man’s form. And that man is named Ymir, but the Rime-Giants call him Aurgelmir; […]

 The Prose Edda, Section VII of Gylfaginning, in translation by Brodeur (1916), p. 17.

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b. The Second Root:

Talking of the world tree Yggdrasill, Jafnhárr (Odin) tells Gylfi that Jotunheim (Jötunheimr) is located under the second root, where Ginnungagap once was:

The Ash is greatest of all trees and best: its limbs spread out over all the world and stand above heaven. Three roots of the tree uphold it and stand exceeding broad: one is among the Æsir; another among the Rime-Giants, in that place where aforetime was the Yawning Void; the third stands over Niflheim, and under that root is Hvergelmir, and Nídhöggr gnaws the root from below.

The Prose Edda, Section XV of Gylfaginning, in translation by Brodeur (1916), p. 27.

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c. The Story of Hel and Loki:

Gylfi is then told the story of how Loki had created Hel via his relationship with giantess Angerboda (‘she who offers sorrow’). Hel was the third daughter of this partnership and was sister to Fenrir (the eldest) and Jormungand (the second child, and a huge serpent).  Hel’s looks and grim demeanour were particularly disturbing to the Asgard gods. When the gods then heard that Loki had fathered these children, they felt that the three should best be captured. A group of gods gathered and went to Jotunheim to capture the siblings. They tied up Angerboda and took Hel to be cast into Niflheim by Odin (Crossley-Holland: 33). :

Hel he cast into Niflheim, and gave to her power over nine worlds, to apportion all abodes among those that were sent to her: that is, men dead of sickness or of old age. She has great possessions there; her walls are exceeding high and her gates great.

The Prose Edda, Section III of Gylfaginning, in translation by Arthur Gilchrist Brodeur (1916), p. 16.

In this way,  Hel became the mistress of the world of the dead including  all those in the nine realms who died of disease and old age.  Odin stipulated that she had to share out all her food with whoever came to her.  

You can find the entire version of the Gylfaginning here.

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3. Hrimthursar/hrímþursar

or Frost Giants

When Ymir was formed out of the primeval chaos of Ginnungagap a procreative sequence was instigated: out of Ymir’s armpits grew his son and daughter, and his two feet gave birth to another son (a six headed monster). Ymir’s son and daughter and the six headed monster created what is known as the Hrimthursar (the name given to the frost giants who populated Niflheim).  The gods, however, debated this latter scenario, saying that the Hrimthursar’s origins stem from Buri (the grandfather of Odin. Vili and Ve) instead. The story goes that when  Odin killed Ymir, all his blood/water flooded Niflheim and killed all the frost giants (jötnar).  Nearly all the giants were killed barring one: the giant Bergelmir and his wife. Together they repopulated the earth:

From Ymir’s flesh the earth was formed, and the rocks from out of his bones; the sky from the skull of the ice-cold giant, and the sea from his blood.

Orchard, translated by Andrew (2010). “Vafthrúdnismál”. The poetry of the Elder Edda. London: Penguin Classics

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Themes, Relevance and Questions:

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Morality, Wickedness, Religion: In the creation of Hel we can almost see embodied in her a metaphor for moral choice: who is bad and who is good. She has the power to cast men into to Nifelheim, or into to Náströnd or to stay in Hel. She is one of the main figures (along with the Aesir and Vanir gods) in norse mythology who controls morality. The idea of moral rectitude and fate is put in place here. The themes of which you can also see flowed into Christian doctrines (Allan: 133).

 Exploration Point: What type of morality is shown within the Eddas? How is the harsh, dark morality balanced? Through nature? Through mysticism? Through play within language?

 

Things of Interest:

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1. Arthur Gilchrist Brodeur  (1881-1971. author of the  famous 1916 edition of The Prose Edda):

 

Arthur Gilchrist Brodeur 1916 ed

Arthur Gilchrist Brodeur 1916 ed

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Brodeur, born in Franklyn Massachusetts, USA, was given the Royal Order of Vasa for his services to Scandinavian culture from the government of Sweden. He was also forward-thinking in terms of his politics.  He was one of three members of the Berekely Communist Faculty Group.  Brodeur also initially refused to sign the loyalty oath as required by the state in 1949. He ultimately did decide to sign and continue the fight from within.

W. E. Farnham and A. E. Hutson, Arthur Gilchrist Brodeur, English; German: Berkeley: 1888-1971: Professor of English and Germanic Philology, at Calisphere, University of California Libraries, retrieved February 22, 2012

You can read more about him here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Gilchrist_Brodeur

http://pulpflakes.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/arthur-gilchrist-brodeur-professor-pulp.html

 

2.  Náströnd

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Click to enlarge the images

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Náströnd (shore of the corpses) is a place in Hel where Níðhöggr the dragon resides eating the corpses and sucking their blood. It is the place where those guilty of murder, adultery and oath-breaking (which the Norse considered the most terrible of crimes) go. Within the shores stood a castle filled with serpents. 

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From the  Völuspá  in The Poetic Edda:

Sal sá hón standa
sólo fiarri,
Nástrǫndu á,
norðr horfa dyrr.
Fello eitrdropar
inn um lióra.
Sá er undinn salr
orma hryggiom.
Sá hón þar vaða
þunga strauma
menn meinsvara
ok morðvarga
ok þannz annars glepr
eyrarúno.
Þar saug Níðhǫggr
nái framgengna,
sleit vargr vera.
Vitoð ér enn, eða hvat?

Völuspá 38-39, Dronke‘s edition
A hall she saw standing
remote from the sun
on Dead Body Shore.
Its door looks north.
There fell drops of venom
in through the roof vent.
That hall is woven
of serpents’ spines.
She saw there wading
onerous streams
men perjured
and wolfish murderers
and the one who seduces
another’s close-trusted wife.
There Malice Striker sucked
corpses of the dead,
the wolf tore men.
Do you still seek to know? And what?

Völuspá 38-39, Dronke’s translation

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/N%C3%A1str%C3%B6nd

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3. The Nine Worlds of the Ygdrassil:

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4. The three children of Loki:

A brief overview:

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 Optional Poetry and Writing Prompts:

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Epistle

Epistolary poems come from the Latin “epistula” for “letter,” and are poems that literally read as letters. They directly address a subject matter or person. They can be intimate, colloquial or formal and measured.

See here for more details.

Writing Word Prompts:  Blood, Insignificance, Guilt, Serpents, Ice, Fear, Judgement, Brittle

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To confirm, the deadline for all writing, poetry and mp3s for the Nifelheim realm is Thursday 12th March 2015.

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 Thank you so much for your interest.

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References

 Allan, T (2010) Vikings, The Battle at the End of Time, London: Watkins Publishing

Crossley-Holland, K (1993) The Penguin Book of Norse Myths: Gods of the Vikings, London, Penguin Books

Ellis Davidson, H.R. (1990) Gods and Myths of Northern Europe, Penguin Books

Hollander, L.M. (1996) tr. The Poetic Edda, Austin: University of Texas Press

Larrington, C. (1996) tr. The Poetic Edda, Oxford University Press

Sturluson, S. (2005) The Prose Edda, Penguin Classics, tr. Jesse L. Byock

Realm 4: Nidavellir – Overview and writing prompts, The Nine Realms, an ArtiPeeps Combined Arts Collaboration 2015

8 Jan

World Tree Norse

The Nine Realms

9 months, 22 poets and writers, 22 Artists, 3 composers, 1 Viking boat= a magical reworking of Norse Mythology for contemporary audiences

Nidavellir

(the realm of the Dwarves)

 

Vikings Ahoy!

Happy New Year! Here we are at the beginning of January,  with the deadline for the poetry and writing for the 3nd realm Jotunheim coming up: Monday 12th January. The poetry and writing inspired by the realm Vanaheim will continue to be posted out. This month we are outlining the realm of Nidavellir and the deadline for all writing, poetry and mp3s for this realm is Thursday 12th February 2015.

These monthly posts will draw from a range of primary and secondary source materials and focus on selected gods, themes and stories that circle around the highlighted realm. They will not attempt to cover everything, and writers can embrace any other stories and characters within their writing which is not covered. Month by month we will be building our own magical, contemporary norse world whilst exploring the themes of POWER, NATURE and RELIGION. The project’s overall intention is to embrace orality, translation, storytelling and rhythm all of which are inspired by the origins of the oral tradition of the Norse Sagas.

I may well put out little mini-posts intermittently focusing on orality and poetic form as necessary.  

What is presented below is designed to inspire, present basic information and offer a starting point for individual creativity within the project inspired by the themes, characters and spirit of the myths and stories.

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185px-Nidavellir

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1. A brief Overview of Nidavellir

 Nidavellir (Niðavellir) is the realm of the dwarves. Nida means ‘dark’ and vellir means ‘dwelling’, and  Hreidmar is the King of the realm. Dwarves are consistently mentioned in the Voluspa poem of  The Poetic Edda (see below):

Stóð fyr norðan, / á Niðavöllom / salr úr gulli / Sindra ættar

tr: ‘Before you reach the north (Niflheim being the world furthest to the north), A dark dwelling stands (The dwarf world), In halls of gold, Sindri’s bloodline lives’.

There is some confusion as to whether Nidavellir is actually  the realm of the dwarves or the dark elves. They are often confounded, and associated with the realm called Svartalfheim (world of black elves). Snorri Sturlson refers to this in The Prose Edda calling the realm Svartálfaheimr. Dark elves or black elves, were  generally conceived as being horrifying and hideous. In later storytelling traditions they became what we know as goblins. The light elves, became equated with the notion of fairies.

You can find the whole of the Voluspa here.

Dwarves are known for their wisdom, and alongside giants have a mortal fear of sunlight, as it turns them into stone. This is well highlighted in the story  The Lay of Alvis (see Story Focus, below).  As a consequence  the sun is often called  ‘Dvalin’s Delight (after Dvalin the dwarf who came to a similar end as Alvis). See Point 4 below.

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1. The Creation of Dwarves

Having created the world Odin and his brothers then created beings to live in the world. He created the dwarves first. They grew from maggots infesting Ymir’s corpse. The gods gave dwarves a consciousness and then placed them underground so they could search for gold. The dwarves lived alongside trolls who also resided underground.

The dwarves live in darkness, breed in the earth and are often depicted as miners. In stark contrast to the Light Elves who live in Alfheim. They dwell amidst the rocks and hills, and were considered great craftsmen creating gifts for the gods.

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Hreidmar, King of Nidvellir

Hreidmar, King of Nidvellir

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2. Hreidmar (Hreiðmarr)

Hreidmar is the lusty King of the dwarves who captured three gods by using unbreakable chains. He was the father of FafnirÓtr and Regin, and lived in a bejewelled house built for him by Regin. Son, Fafnir guarded the palace on the King’s behalf. The story goes that Ótr was accidentally killed by Loki.  The Aesir, in order to make amends for his death, choose to repay him with what is known as ‘Andavari’s Gold’. Andvari was a dwarf who lived underneath a waterfall and had the power to change himself into a fish. The dwarf possessed a magic wealth-making ring called Andvaranaut. Under duress Loki makes Andvari give up his ring and his gold to him. However, before he leaves Andvari curses the ring. The ring and gold are passed to Hreidmar as repayment for his loss. but out of greed, Fafnir and Regin kill Hreidmar to get the wealth and ring. Fafnir then gets even more greedy and turns himself into a dragon so that he can forcibly drive Regin away through his transformation.

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Thor Kicks Litr. illustration by Emil Doepler (ca. 1905)

Thor Kicks Litr. illustration by Emil Doepler (ca. 1905)

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3. Lit (Litr ) and the Death of Balder/Baldr:

Litr, the dwarf appears in the story of  the death of Balder/Baldr (who is the second son of Odin. He is occidentally killed by his brother (Höðr) with a magical spear made from Mistletoe created by Loki). Baldr, in the mythology,  is seen to be a paragon of graciousness and wisdom. Baldr’s death is signalled as being one of the many important stories in the sequence of events that lead to Ragnarök.  Nanna, Balder’s wife, also throws herself symbolically into his funeral pyre. At Ragnarök,  Balder will be born into the new world.

Here is the reference to dwarf Lit in The Prose Edda

Next Thor stood up and blessed the pyre with Mjolnir. A dwarf named Lit ran in front of his feet. Thor kicked the dwarf with his foot;  it landed in the fire and burned to death.

 Gylfaginning tr. by Jesse Byock (Penguin Classics, Section 49, p67).

You can also find the story of Baldr outlined in Kevin Crossley Holland’s Penguin Book of Norse Myths, under the title Balder’s Dream (p147).

Frigg then sends Hermod (Hermóðr) to  Hel  (ruler over Helheim) to try and bargain Baldr’s life back from her. Hel stimpulates that in order for Baldr to be returned all things must weep for him. Trees, animals, metal and stones  all cry for him, except a giantess called Thokk (who is said to be Loki in disguise). As Thokk does not give in, Baldr cannot return from Helheim .

You can find the text of the entire Gylfaginning here.

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4. Dvalin, and ‘Dvalin’s Delight’:

 

Dwarf Dvalin alongside his brothers Alfrigg, Berling and Grerr are responsible for the fashioning  of the golden necklace Brísingamen (belonging to Freyja) which Frigg covets hugely. The only other reference to Dvalin in The Poetic Edda is in connection to ‘Dvalin’s Delight’ (see realm overview 1) where Dvalin gets turned into stone, which is ultimately the fate of dwarf Alviss too (see below).

You can find the reference to Dvalin in the Voluspa of The Poetic Edda (see link above).

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4. Story Focus:

A. The Binding of The Wolf/Fenrir:

Fenrir is a monstrous wolf, who was brought up in Asgard. In order to protect themselves some dwarves forge a chain to hold Fenrir securely. It is made up out of  ‘the secret and impalpable things of the world’ (Ellis Davidson: 31):

  • the roots of a mountain
  • the noise of a moving cat
  • the breath of a fish.

It is delicate but is equally very strong, and Fenrir would not allow the chain to be placed on him unless a god’s hand was placed in his mouth as a ransom. Tyr, the only god who dared feed the wolf , managed to bind Fenrir with the chain. In so doing the gods were happy, but Tyr lost a hand in the process.

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B. The Lay of Alvis (Alviss):

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Alviss and Thor

Alviss and Thor

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The Alvíssmál ( a poem in The Poetic Edda)  outlines a discussion between a dwarf called Alviss (all-wise) and Thor. The conversation is relayed in a series of kennings which are features of skaldic poetry  (Things of Interest 3. see below). Dwarves were often seen to be centres of knowledge and song, and were known to occasionally pass on their wisdom to the gods.

The story goes that Alviss approaches Thor to ask for his daughter’s hand in marriage, saying that Thor had agreed to this earlier. Thor denies this, but says that Alviss can have his daughter if he answers a set of questions correctly. The dwarf’s answers act as an all-encompassing list of mythological entities ranging from giants to elves:

Himinn heitir með mönnum,
en hlýrnir með goðum,
kalla vindófni vanir,
uppheim jötnar,
alfar fagraræfr,
dvergar drjúpansal.
Guðni Jónsson’s normalized text
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‘Heaven’ men call it,
‘The Height’ the gods,
The Wanes ‘The Weaver of Winds’;
Giants ‘The Up-World’,
Elves ‘The Fair-Roof’,
The dwarfs ‘The Dripping Hall’.
Henry Adam Bellows’ translation
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There are some discrepancies in relation to the naming of the various objects. However, the poet-writer of the  Alvíssmál, as Crossley Holland points out (224)does not seem to mind as he is more keen to demonstrate an aspect of poetic technique (skaldic diction) than he is about proving he is 100% correct.  So Alviss fulfils on his task, but is unfortunately turned into stone as the sun rises.

You can find the full Alvíssmál  here.

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Themes, Relevance and Questions:

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Poetic Form and Language: Many stories in connection with the dwarves seem to draw on either their status as wisdom-givers, or highlight their role as conduits of magic and transformation. However, the dwarf stories are more complex,  particularly in the case of The Lay of Alviss which interestingly, combines this emphasis on magic and play with an overt engagement with poetic form and the flexibility of language/meaning. It is maybe worth thinking about how the Sagas , and the stories therein, blend an engagement and celebration of language with the mythic and the supernatural. What does this say about language, and what does this say about power?  

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Things of Interest:

The Death of Balder:

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2.   The Children of Odin

[Norse Mythology Audiobook] Thor, Loki, Asgard, Valhalla:

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3. Skaldic Poetry and Diction:

‘Skald’ means poet, and makes reference to the poets ‘who composed at the courts of Scandinavian and Icelandic leaders during the Viking Age and Middle Ages. Skaldic poetry forms one of two main groupings of Old Norse poetry, the other being the anonymous Eddic poetry’ (Wikipedia, see next link).

 Skaldic poems which consisted of elegies and eulogies (by contemporary poets of the time celebrating their peers) were a huge resource for the myths outlined in The Poetic Edda and other Eddas. Skaldic poetry is delicate, syllabic, alliterative and full of internal rhymes and consonance. Above all skaldic poetry is known for its  many ‘kennings, or condensed metaphors that contain part of their diction. Many of the kennings are rooted in myths with which the poem’s original audience were clearly familiar. So for instance, four of the kennings of gold are ‘Freyja’s tears’, ‘Sif’s hair’, ‘Otters ransom’ and ‘Aegir’s fire’.’ (Crossley-Holland: xxxiii). The kennings used by the poets not only make a nod to the myths that endured through the years and but also to those that had not. The kennings chosen by the poets always reflected the oral heritage that goes with them.

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Skaldic Prose Poetry Part 1.

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You can find Part 2 here and Part 3 here.

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4. The Icelandic Sagas: Europe’s most important book?

http://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2008/oct/03/1

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Optional Poetry and Writing Prompts:

Anaphora:

Anaphora, comes from the Greek meaning up or back, and consists of lines where lines or phrases in sequence begin with the same words. A single word can be repeated or a phrase. It is often used in devotional poetry and a favourite of the Romantic poets. Sonnet No 66, by Shakespeare is an example of this (see link below). The form creates a forceful rhythm and often repeats the same sound.

See here for more details.

Writing Word Prompts:  Chains, Creation, Bites, Transforming, Power, Stealth, Stone

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To confirm, the deadline for all writing, poetry and mp3s for the Nidavellir realm is Thursday 12th February 2015.

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 Thanks so much for your interest.

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References

 Allan, T (2010) Vikings, The Battle at the End of Time, London: Watkins Publishing

Crossley-Holland, K (1993) The Penguin Book of Norse Myths: Gods of the Vikings, London, Penguin Books

Ellis Davidson, H.R. (1990) Gods and Myths of Northern Europe, Penguin Books

Hollander, L.M. (1996) tr. The Poetic Edda, Austin: University of Texas Press

Larrington, C. (1996) tr. The Poetic Edda, Oxford University Press

Sturluson, S. (2005) The Prose Edda, Penguin Classics, tr. Jesse L. Byock

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