Archive | The Nine Realms Overviews RSS feed for this section

Realm 9: Alfheim – Overview and writing prompts, The Nine Realms, an ArtiPeeps Combined Arts Collaboration 2014-2015

8 Jun

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

Alfheim

(the realm of the Light Elves)

 

Vikings Ahoy!

Here we are in early June with the deadline for the poetry and writing for the 8th realm Midgard having just passed on Friday 5th June ! Who’d have thought we would now be on the final realm! 

From this week onwards I will be posting out Midgard poetry.

This month we are outlining the final Norse realm of Alfheim. The final deadline for all writing, poetry and mp3s for this realm is Friday 19th June 2015. I can hardly believe that this is the final realm. Congratulations to all the Viking poets for their creativity, interest and perseverance!!

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.

.

The Crossover by Ann Supan (Alfheim, Realm of the Light Elves)

The Crossover by Ann Supan (Alfheim, Realm of the Light Elves)

 .

1. A Brief Overview of Alfheim

 .

It is often said that there are two sorts of elves in Norse mythology:  the Dark Elves and the Light Elves. The Light Elves are said to live in Alfheim near the gods’ halls and palaces. In old Norse,  Ālfheimr, is known as ‘Land of the Fairies’.  Alfheim is quite an elusive realm, and is only mentioned twice in the Norse Saga texts, making the realm quite hard, in actuality, to bring to life. The god Freyr is said to be the ruler of Alfheim.  Elves, along with Freyr, are generally associated with the sun  (Ellis Davison: 156). This derives from ‘a kenning for the sun, álfrǫðull…to some suggestive of a close link between the elves’.  (Motz 1973, p. 99; Hall 2004, p. 40.)

Scholars of Old Norse mythology now focus on references to elves in Old Norse poetry, particularly the Elder Edda. The only person explicitly identified as an elf in classical Eddaic poetry, if any, is Völundr, the  main character in the Völundarkviða  However, elves are frequently mentioned in the sequence of words: Æsir ok Álfar (‘Æsir and elves’). This sequence shows a strong tradition of an association between the elves with the Æsir.

See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%81lfheimr

.

.

.

The two references two elves within the Edda texts are as follows:

1. In the eddic text  Grímnismál, describing 12 divine residencies of the gods

in stanza 5 :

Ýdalir call they     the place where Ull

A hall for himself hath set;
And Álfheim the gods     to Frey once gave

As a tooth-gift in ancient times.

nb. A tooth-gift was a gift given to a child on the cutting of the first tooth.

You can find the whole Grímnismál  here 

2. In the Gylfaginning of The Prose Edda:

‘That which is called Álfheim is one, where dwell the peoples called ljósálfar [Light Elves]; but the dökkálfar [Dark Elves] dwell down in the earth, and they are unlike in appearance, but by far more unlike in nature. The Light-elves are fairer to look upon than the sun, but the Dark-elves are blacker than pitch. There are in fact some references that there are three places within the heavens where the light elves live: GimléAndlàngr and  Víðbláinn. This information is passed onto the king of Gylfi by a figure called High.’

You can find the whole Gylfaginning here.

.

For more information on the history of elves see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elf

.

For more details on Dökkálfar and Ljósálfar see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D%C3%B6kk%C3%A1lfar_and_Lj%C3%B3s%C3%A1lfar

 

.

Eye of Freyr by Elaine Offley (Alfheim)

Eye of Freyr by Elaine Offley (Alfheim)

.

2. Story Focus: Lovelorn Freyr

.

.

Freyr goes to  Hlidskjálf (the high seat of Odin which allows him to see all the realms~). He gazes across the realms and sees Gerðr the giantess with whom he falls immediately in love. Rather than becoming full of joy he broods and ruminates. Opening up to his page Skírnir, he asks Skirnir to woo Geror for him.

.

Þá svarar Skírnir, sagði svá at hann skal fara sendiferð en Freyr skal fá honum sverð sitt. Þat var svá gott sverð at sjálft vásk. En Freyr lét eigi þat til skorta ok gaf honum sverðit. Þá fór Skírnir ok bað honum konunnar ok fekk heitit hennar, ok níu nóttum síðar skyldi hon þar koma er Barey heitir ok ganga þá at brullaupinu með Frey. Gylfaginning 37, EB’s edition Then Skírnir answered thus: he would go on his errand, but Freyr should give him his own sword-which is so good that it fights of itself;- and Freyr did not refuse, but gave him the sword. Then Skírnir went forth and wooed the woman for him, and received her promise; and nine nights later she was to come to the place called Barrey, and then go to the bridal with Freyr. Gylfaginning XXXVII, Brodeur’s translation

S

Sword of Freyr

Sword of Freyr

.

As mentioned above, Skrinir asks for Freyr’s sword in return. This request has apocalyptic consequences as Freyr does not have his sword to fight Surt at Ragnarök .

.

3.  Völundr, the main character in the Völundarkviða in the Poetic Edda (see overview above)

.

Völundr

Völundr

.

Volundr is an artisan and is said to be one of the three sons of the king of the Finns. He is called  “prince of the elves” (vísi álfa) and “one of the álfar” or “leader of álfar”. 

So the story goes, his wife Hervör-Alvitr, a valkyrie (“chooser of the slain”), abandons him after nine years of marriage. He is then captured by Níðuðr, a cruel-king of Närke (Sweden) who is out to get Völundr’s gold. Völundr is put to work on an island making artifacts for the king. Eventually he finds means to take revenge and escapes.  He kills Niðuðr’s sons, impregnates his daughter and then flies away laughing.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/V%C3%B6lundarkvi%C3%B0a

You can find the full Völundarkviða here

.

4. Fertility Ceremonies and the Elves

.

Sunwheel

.

There is a story of an early King of Norway called Olaf, to whom, In a times of scarcity, men sacrificed.  This is stated  in Flaseyjarbok, one of the largest medieval manuscripts. At times of famine they also sacrificed to Freyr as the god of fertility. ‘When Olaf the Holy was born, he was named after the earlier Olaf. He was christend ‘Olaf, Elf of Geirstad’ [11, 106]. Viking burials quite often seemed to be connected with elves, right into the late Viking age (Ellis-Davidson: 155-156). This is seen to be evidence of the connection between fertility, elves and Freyr.

.

King Harold receiving the Flateyjarbok

King Harold receiving the Flateyjarbok

.

Another mention…Sigvat, a poet who served under King Olaf the Holy,  in 1018,  describes how the king could not find a place to stay because everyone was too busy sacrificing to elves.

Cupmarks on rocks and stones are found in association with sunwheels. Farmers have often poured milk into similar cups as offerings to the elves.

.

Themes, Relevance and Questions

.

Good versus evil

It has been suggested that this classification of the two types of elves has come in as part of the influence of Christianity. A division of good and evil, light and dark.  To consider this in relation to notions of power, fairness and spirituality within The Prose and Poetic Eddas is an interesting notion.

Exploration Point:  What other examples of dualism, or contrasts can you find in the Eddas and how are they used to comment on the world and the heavens? 

 

Things of Interest:

.

1. The Speech of Elves

 J. R. R. Tolkien anglicized Álfheim as Elvenhome, or Eldamar in the speech of the Elves. In his stories, Eldamar lies in a coastal region of the Undying Lands in the Uttermost West. The High King of the Elves in the West was Ingwë, an echo of the name Yngvi often found as a name for Frey, whose abode was in Álfheim according to the Grímnismál.

For an Interview with Tolkien from 1968 go to: https://youtu.be/DFcjBzP7H-E

 2. Light-elves, Dark-elves, and Others: Tolkien’s Elvish Problem by Tom Shippey

http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/tolkien_studies/v001/1.1shippey.html

 

 3. Norse Elements in the work of J.R.R. Tolkien

.

.

4. Drawing Lessons: How to draw Elves

.

.

5. Prospero’s Speech from The Tempest : ‘Ye elves of hills, brooks, standing lakes, and groves’

.

 

6.  Words For Sentient Beings From Norse Texts

.

_field_diagram_of_words_for_sentient_beings_in_Old_Norse

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elf#Old_Norse_texts

 .

Optional Poetry and Writing Prompts:

.

Luc Bat

A Vietnamese verse form. Where lines of 6 syllables alternate with lines of 8 syllables. The name Luc Bat means six-eight. The rule is that each rhyme occurs three times – first at the end of an 8-syllable line, then at the end of the next 6-syllable line, and finally as the sixth syllable of the next 8-syllable line. The end loops back to the beginning. They can be both long and short.

See here for more details.

Writing Word Prompts:  Song, Hope, Motion, Contempt, Time, Darkness, Haunting, Magic, Heavens, Memory

.

To confirm, the deadline for all writing, poetry and mp3s for the Alfheim realm is Friday 19th June 2015.

 .

 Thank you so much for your interest. Do keep an eye out for more of The Nine Realms project updates. 

.

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

Advertisements

Realm 8: Midgard – Overview and writing prompts, The Nine Realms, an ArtiPeeps Combined Arts Collaboration 2014-2015

6 May

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

Midgard

(the realm of the people)

 

Vikings Ahoy!

Here we are in early May,  with the deadline for the poetry and writing for the 7th realm Muspelheim due in on Monday 11th May ! I shall be posting out more Helheim poems this week and next week. This month we are outlining the realm of Midgard. The deadline for all writing, poetry and mp3s for this realm is Friday 5th June 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.

.

Aurgelmir: Sea from Blood, Sky from Skull (2015) by Raymond Bentley

Aurgelmir: Sea from Blood, Sky from Skull (2015) by Raymond Bentley, for The Nine Realms Project

 .

1. A brief Overview of Midgard

 .

Crossley Holland (xx-xxi), explains that Midgard is on the second level of the Norse universe’s ‘tricentric structure’. Midgard is in the middle, surrounded by a sea, which Snorri Sturluson (author of The Prose Edda, See ‘Things of Interest’ below) says ‘to cross it would strike most men impossible’.

When Ymir formed the world he allocated Midgard, the central region, to the human race. Midgard is ringed by a fence made out of Ymir’s eyebrows. Human’s did not make their home in Asgard until Midgard was formed where they created their palatial residences. One root of the The world tree, Yggdrasil, runs through Midgard. It is the place where Odin, in disguise, would go on a quest for more understanding of the world. Midgard is also the only realm that is seen to be visible, the other 8 realms move between visibility and invisibility.

.

Líf and Lífthrasir by Lorenz Frølich

Líf and Lífthrasir by Lorenz Frølich

.

2. Midgard Following  Ragnarök

.

It is said in The Prose and Poetic Eddas that, Midgard will be destroyed at Ragnarök, the battle at the end of the world. Out of this  Jörmungandr, the World Serpent, will arise from the ocean, poisoning both land and sea with his venom. He will cause the sea to rear up catastrophically against the land. The final battle will take place on the field of Vígríðr. After this battle Midgard and almost all life, will have been eradicated. The earth will sink into the sea.  The earth, however, will rise again, fertile and green when the cycle repeats and the creation begins again. 

After the cataclysmic events of Midgard it is said that a couple (Lif and Lifthrasir) will survive the destruction hidden in Hoddmimir’s Wood, a dark cavern or forest, where they survive living off dew. From their children life will engender, and offspring will be born, repopulating the earth. 

From The Lay of Vafthrudnir,45, Gylfaginning, The Prose Edda

‘In the place called Hoddmmimr’s Wood, two people will have hidden themselves from Surt’s fire. Called Lif [Life] and Leifthrasir [Life Yearner], they have morning dew for their food. From these will come so many descendents that the whole world will be inhabited. So it says here:

‘Lif and Leifthrasir

will hide themselves

in Hoddmimir’s Holt.

The morning dew

they have for food,

from them springs mankind.’

(Byock: 77-78)

You can find the whole Gylfaginning here

.

 

Jörmungandr: World Serpent by James Mackenzie

Jörmungandr: World Serpent by James Mackenzie for The Nine Realms Project

.

2. Thor and the Midgard Serpent

.

Jormungandr, the world serpent, lives in the ocean surrounding Midgard. He was so long that his tail circled the entirety of the realm.  He is one of the three children of Loki. There are a number of stories attached to the serpent:

.

.

1.  Loki’s Challenge

.

Where Thor comes across the serpent in the form of a huge cat, disguised in this guise by the magic of Loki. Loki challenges Thor to lift the cat as a test of his might. However, Thor is unable to lift Jörmungandr entirely, but does manage to raise the serpent far enough that it lets go of the ground with one of its four feet.

.

Thor and the Midgard Serpent

Thor and the Midgard Serpent

.

.

2.  Thor’s Fishing Trip: Hooking Jörmungandr

.

Thor goes fishing with the giant Hymir. However, the giant refuses to give Thor any bait to catch the fish, so Thor cuts the head off Hymir’s ox to use as a lure.  They fish for a while, but Thor wants to go further out to sea, despite Hymir’s protestations. Once further out Thor gets a strong line on which he hooks the ox’s head. The World Serpent, örmungandr, is hooked and pulled onto their fishing boat. Thor and the serpent face each other,  Jörmungandr, dripping venom and blood. Thor grabs his hammer to kill the serpent, but Hymir cuts the line and the serpent goes free.

For more information see here

See ‘Things of Interest’ below re: The Gosforth Cross

.

Máni and Sól

Máni and Sól

.

4.  Mundilfari, and the Sun and the Moon

.

Mundilfari is the father of Sól , goddess of the sun, and Máni, the son,  named after the moon. Mention of them can be found in The Poetic Edda in the Vafþrúðnismál stanza 23 and in The Prose Edda (chapter 11, Gylfaginning).

Sól married a man, Glenr (‘Opening in the clouds’, responsible for driving the horses across the sky), which angered Odin. Therefore the gods, in retaliation, grabbed both Sól and Máni from Mundilfari, and placed them in the sky to guide the sun and the moon and the constellations (created by the sons of Bor). The world was lit from the sparks from Muspelheim.

.

Themes, Relevance and Questions

.

Stasis and Visibility

It is interesting that  Midgard, the realm of the people, is seen to be the realm that is seen; maybe meant to be seen. It is the place of destruction and the place of rebirth, which to all intents and purposes could be  considered a replication of the fluctuation of all living things. It is powerful that this profound dynamic is embodied within the realm of the people. of man. As if the beginning and the end is rooted in man and how humankind overcome adversity through reformation. A Norse retelling of Eliot’s ‘the end is my beginning’ perhaps? 

Exploration Point:  What is the relationship between humans and the gods in The Prose and Poetic Eddas? What is the dynamic and how is it manifested? 

 

Things of Interest:

.

1.  Snorri Struluson

.

.

Born 1179, Hvammur, Iceland—died Sept. 22, 1241, Reykjaholt, Icelandic poet, historian, and chieftain, author of The Prose Edda and the Heimskringla.

The Heimskringla is a history of the Norwegian kings that begins with the Ynglinga saga and moves through to early medieval Scandinavian history.

See more here.

.

.

 

2. The Gosforth Cross

.

Gosforth Cross World Serpent

 

.

The Gosforth Cross is a large stone Anglo-Saxon cross in St Mary’s churchyard at Gosforth in the county of Cumbria, UK. The area was settled by Scandinavians some time in either the 9th or 10th century and was previously part of the kingdom of Northumbria. The cross itself dates to the first half of the 10th century.

For more details see here.

.

3. Icelandic Alphabet

.

.

 You can see more ‘Icelandic Lessons’ here

.

 Optional Poetry and Writing Prompts:

Clerihew

Consists of two rhyming couplets which attempt to encapsulate the life and works of a character or famous figure.  As Vole Cental puts it:

‘Exaggeration, wilful misunderstanding, and even complete fabrication or character assassination, are permitted, and perhaps encouraged. The first line is always the person’s name. ‘

This might work well with a Norse character.

See here for more details.

Writing Word Prompts:  Striding, Killed, Wane, Edge, blood, licked, sky, hostility, ice, path, raised

.

To confirm, the deadline for all writing, poetry and mp3s for the Midgard realm is Friday 5th June 2015.

 .

 Thank you so much for your interest.

.

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 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.

.

Surtr

 .

.

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.

.

 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).

.

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

.

3.   Ragnarök  and Surt/Surtr

 .

 

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)

.

4. Sinmara

.

Sinmara by Jenny Nystrom

Sinmara by Jenny Nystrom

.

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: 

.

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

.

Themes, Relevance and Questions:

.

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? 

.

Things of Interest:

.

1.  The Road To Asgard: BiFrost:

.

 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

.

Part 3

.

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

.

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

 .

 Thank you so much for your interest.

.

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

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

 .

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

.

.

.

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)

.

You can find the whole of the Gylfaginning here

.

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.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

.

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).

.

Themes, Relevance and Questions:

.

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:

.

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

.

 2.  Filmpoem: Sonatorrek (Loss of Sons)

.

.

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

.

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

.

Egil Skallagrimsson

Egil Skallagrimsson

.

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

.

4. Sculptor:  Asmunder Sveinsson

.

.

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

.

 Optional Poetry and Writing Prompts:

.

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

.

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

 .

 Thank you so much for your interest.

.

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.

 .

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.

.

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.  

.

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.

.

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.

.

 .

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.

.

 

 

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

.

Themes, Relevance and Questions:

.

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:

.

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

.

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

.

Click to enlarge the images

.

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. 

.

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

.

3. The Nine Worlds of the Ygdrassil:

.

.

4. The three children of Loki:

A brief overview:

.

.

.

 Optional Poetry and Writing Prompts:

.

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

.

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

 .

 Thank you so much for your interest.

.

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

Vikings Ahoy! : Here’s The Nine Realms Collaboration Logo

10 Feb

Our logo for our The Nine Realms project has finally been designed and completed by illustrator and graphic designer Gary Caldwell.  

Here it is:

nine realms8

.

The logo is based on the Yggasdril Tree which is central to Norse Mythology and their myths of cosmology. All the nine realms come off the tree. The realms are represented by the different coloured balls within the tree (including the main one). This logo will be used on all our promotional material.

We have decided to call the event in Hanse House in September an ‘experience’ rather than an exhibition. This is for 3 reasons: 1. because of the high levels of participation and interaction there will be with attendees and pupils (at our schools’ day); 2. because we want to move attendees away from merely attending to active participation and 3. because we want to take attendees on a the magical journey supported by the realm music, lighting, poetry and art. We want to trigger the senses and the imagination.

I hope you all like it.

 Gary has done all our previous logos for Transformations (last year’s large-scale) and  our ArtiPeeps logo. Here are the other two logos Gary created for us:

 

Thank you Gary, for designing something so striking and memorable for The Nine Realms.

 

Viking Nicky 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

.

185px-Nidavellir

.

.

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.

.

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.

.

Hreidmar, King of Nidvellir

Hreidmar, King of Nidvellir

.

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.

.

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

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

.

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.

.

.

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).

.

 

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.

.

B. The Lay of Alvis (Alviss):

.

Alviss and Thor

Alviss and Thor

.

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
.
‘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
.

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.

 . 

Themes, Relevance and Questions:

.

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?  

.

Things of Interest:

The Death of Balder:

.

.

2.   The Children of Odin

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

.

.

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.

.

Skaldic Prose Poetry Part 1.

.

.

You can find Part 2 here and Part 3 here.

.

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

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

.

.

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

.

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

 .

 Thanks so much for your interest.

.

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

%d bloggers like this: