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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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Realm 3: Jotunheim – Overview and writing prompts, The Nine Realms, an ArtiPeeps Combined Arts Collaboration 2014-2015

4 Dec

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

Jotunheim

(the realm of the frost and stone giants)

 

Vikings Ahoy!

Here we are at the beginning of December,  with the deadline for the poetry and writing for the 2nd realm Vanaheim coming up: Thursday 8th December 2014. I shall start to post out pieces created for Vanaheim the week after next. This month we are outlining the realm of Jotunheim and the deadline for all writing, poetry and mp3s for this realm is Monday 12th January 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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The Giant Skymir

The Giant Skymir

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1. A brief  Overview of Jotunheim

 Jotunheim is the home to both the Rock and Frost Giants. It is where the giants fled to start a new race to prevent the extinction of Odin and his family. This race was called the jötnar (or jotunn)  It is the realm where many conflicts take place between the gods and the giants and where they try to reek havoc on Midgard and Asgard. The sons of Borr (Odin’s father) marked out the boundaries  of Jotunheim. The sons also built a vast boundary inland to protect themselves from the giants. The river  Ifing runs through the centre of Jotunheim and separates it from Asgard. There are a range of territories in Jotunheim: 1. Gastropnir where  Menglöð the lover of Svipdagr lives; 2. Mímir’s Well, which can be found under the roots of the Yggdrasil in Jotunheim, and from which Odin wants to glean great knowledge; 3. Thrymheim the home of Thaizi (see below, the son of giant Olvadi); 4. Utgard is the the capital of Vanaheim and is ruled by Skrymir (see below) and 5. Vimur River, where the giantess Gjálp attempted to drown Thor (see below).

2. Giants in Context:

The giants are generally considered the adversaries of the gods (the Vanir and the Aesir). However, relationships between the gods and the giants did exist. Thor himself was a child of the union between Odin and Jord  (personification of the earth) and Freyja and Freyr were the children of the marriage between Njord and the giantess Skadi.

Giantess, Skadi Hunting In the Mountains

Giantess, Skadi Hunting In the Mountains

 

Giants could also show kindness. This can be seen in the story of a young prince called Agnar who passing through Jotunheim on his way to reclaim his kingdom from his brother, found kindness and shelter with the giants. They were also seen (alongside elves) to also be sources of knowledge, magic and wisdom (see the Alvissmal).  Giants despite this are depicted as cold and dark. They cannot stand the sun and are turned into stone if the sun’s rays fell upon them. The giants also lived alongside trolls  in Jotunheim, and they were often the giants’ servants. They lived in isolated mountains and are said to be very unfriendly!  Many references can be found to them in the Prose Edda’s Skáldskaparmál (Poetic Diction). 

You can find a version of the Skalskaparmal here.

The giants are also equated with the natural world. Odin takes parts of the huge giant Ymir (formed out of the chaos of creation, out of the clash of two extreme forces:

Contained within Snorri Sturluson‘s Gylfaginning, Ymir’s creation is recounted:

Just as from Niflheim there arose coldness and all things grim, so what was facing close to Muspell was hot and bright, but Ginnungagap was as mild as a windless sky. And when the rime and the blowing of the warmth met so that it thawed and dripped, there was a quickening from these flowing drops due to the power of the source of the heat, and it became the form of a man, and he was given the name Ymir

You can find the Gylfaginning here.

There have been said to be two types of giants: frost and stone. The frost giants live in the mountains of Jotunheim and are surrounded by winter and they live alongside the stone giants who are hill dwellers and known for their strength. When Ymir was killed by The Sons of Borr nearly all of the frost giants were killed except for Bergelmir and his wife who kept themselves safe. From these two people came the frost giants:

‘Countless winters

before the earth was created

back then Berglmir was born;

that is the the first I remember

when the wise giant 

was placed on a box’

from the Lay of Vaftthrudnir, 35, (The Prose Edda: 16, tr. Jesse Byock, Penguin Classics)

 

Bergelmir

Bergelmir

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3.  Some Giants….

A. King Thrym

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Thrym's Wedding Feast

Thrym’s Wedding Feast

King Thrym was King of Jotunheim and the story connected with him and the stealing of Thor’s hammer is one of the most famous in The Poetic Edda (The Lay of Thrym). The poem was considered to be written in the 10th century or earlier. However, this opinion has been debated [see Hollander: 105].

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1. Wroth was Vingthor…….when awaking he

….Mjolnir missed………………his mighty hammer;

….his beard gan shake, …..his shaggy head,

….Fjorgyn’s first-born-……….he fumbled about him. 

2.  These words then first….fell from his lips:

……‘Hear thou Loki,……………what loss I have,

……which no wight knows-…………….neither on earth

……nor in heaven: ……………..my hammer is stolen!’

The Poetic Edda (tr. Hollander: 104)

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The story runs that Thor’s hammer goes missing. Thor and Loki take Freyja’s feather-cloak so that he can fly to Jotunheim and challenge Thrym, accusing him of taking the sword.  Thrym acknowledges the fact that he has stolen the hammer, and says he will only give it back if Freyja (the goddess associated with love, sexuality, beauty, fertility, gold, seiðr, war, and death) can be his wife.  Loki returns to Asgard and asks Freyja to go to Jotunheim and marry Thrym. However, she refuses. At a council of the Aesir Heimdall suggests that Thor could dress up as Freyja and go to Jotunheim in disguise. Thor eventually agrees to this . The disquise works. Thrym becomes entranced by Thor’s eyes and is amazed at how much meat and fish he can eat, let alone how much he can drink. The sword Mjollnir is brought in to sanctify the marriage and Thor grabs it and beats all the giants up, and in so doing reclaims the sword.

31. Laughed Hlorrithi’s……heart within him

…..when the hammer beheld………..the hardy one:

…..Thrym he slew first, ………….the thurses’ lord,

 ….then crushed he all…………..the etins’ kin

The Poetic Edda [tr. Hollander: 109]

See here for the full Lay.

W.H. Auden

W.H. Auden

 

The Lay of Thrym is also one of the stories W.H. Auden focused on in his collection of  Norse Poems, published in 1969:

‘Then Loki flew- the feathers whistled-

Out of the door of the hall of gods

On and onto the hall of giants.’ 

(Auden and Taylor, Norse Poems: 218)

Working with the translation from Paul B. Taylor, Auden, able to read Icelandic himself,  attempted to capture the rhythms of the Icelandic verse.

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B. Skrymir:

Skrymir by Elmer Boyd Smith

Skrymir by Elmer Boyd Smith

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As  mentioned in the Prose Edda, Gylfaginning….. Whilst sleeping in the grove of the giant Skrymir, Thor, Loki and Thor’s servant Þjálfi, are tricked by Skrymir’s illusions and the giant ends up going along with them on their travels towards Utgard.  The giant causes mischief and tries to take their food….  

Once they reach Utgard the giants gets Thor and his travellers to undertake a battle with ‘metaphors- made-flesh’; Thor’s servant has a footrace against thought, and an eating contest against fire personified.  Thor is asked to pick up a cat which is in fact the World. He also wrestles with old age personified. Thor gets so fed up with the tricks of the giant he tries to kill Skrymir while he sleeps. However the giant shields himself behind a magic mountain.

By the end of the contest  Skrymir develops respect for the 3 travellers and tells them how he has deceived them with his illusions. Thor tries to attack him, but as he does so the giant magics the whole castle away-and all that is left is a prairie. 

*You can find this tale on p55-61 of The Prose Edda, Penguin Classics Edition (tr.Jesse Byock, sections 45 and 46). And a section translated from Icelandic here.

*You will find the tale of Skrymir between p84-85 of The Penguin Book of Norse Myths (See bibliography below)

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C. Thiazi:

Thiazi and the Magic Apples

Thiazi and the Magic Apples

 

Thiazi was the son of the giant  Olvaldi, and he was made notorious because of the kidnapping of the goddess Iðunn.  The three gods Odin, Loki and Hoenir were travelling together, and they tried to roast an Ox for their dinner, but the meat would just not cook. An eagle who was sitting in an oak tree called out to them and offered to cook the meat for them if they gave him a share.  However, the eagle seems to take more than a fair portion and Loki becomes angry and tries to hit him with a stick. Loki gets ensnared and the eagle flies away with him. The eagle will not release him until he has Idun (Iounn) and her golden apples.

Loki goes back to Asgard and lures Idun outside and Thiazi, disguised as the eagle, takes off with her and her apples. Without tha apples of youth the Aesir begin to grow old and Loki feeling guilty takes off to Thiazi’s abode, and takes the shape of a falcon. When he arrives Thiazi is out fishing and Loki changes Idun into a nut and takes off with her. Thiazi’s daughter Skadi comes to avenge  her father and this is how she ends up being married to Njord.

You can find this story also in the Skalskaparmal here.

 

D. Gjálp (daughter of giant Geirröðr):

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Thors journey to Geirrodsgard where he spies Gjalp

Thors journey to Geirrodsgard where he spies Gjalp

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In The Prose Edda (Skaldskarparmal) Thor comes upun Gjalp with her legs straddled across two ravines. Her huge presence affects the flow of  the water running through the ravine and the river rises dramatically (This act is usually taken to be Gjalp trying to drown Thor with menstral fluid or urine!).  Thor throws a stone at her telling her to release the flow. In order to save himself from the rising water Thor grabs hold of some rowan branches:

‘Just then he was swept towards the shore, where he was able to grab hold of some rowan branches, and so was able to climb up from the river. The event is the origin of the expression that rowan trees are Thor’s salvation. ‘ (tr. Byock: 91).

Thor arrives at Geirrod’s house (Gjalp and Geip’s father) and immediately sits down on the only chair in the room. Huge screams come out from down below the chair as he realises the two daughters are underneath. He has broken their backs.  Consequently, Geirrod and Thor fight and the giant tosse a large piece of molten iron at him. However, Thor deflects the piece of metal and it pierces a pillar. Geirrod ends up on the floor outside.

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Themes, Relevance and Questions:

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Strength and Feminity:  Gjalp is a female giant who blocks the waters of a river with her legs causing Thor to get very angry. It could be said that she represents a very interesting form of femininity,  one which has the strength to force nature into submission. However, it seems that Thor (the epitomy of strength wins over when the giantesses backs gets broken when he sits on them).  Exploration Point: the power dynamics within the norse sagas.

The origins of language, linked to fun, play and mutability: The story linked to the giant Skrymir is an interesting one as it directly engages with language and literary forms in a playful way, through a story where metaphors are made flesh. Objects are personified and characters ‘play with language’ (racing against thought).  A bit like the story of ‘ The Mead of Poetry’ mentioned in the Vanaheim Overview, it is clear that underlying this play, there is a subtle subtext that the sagas are attempting to communicate. That is: how their authors see language- as playful, spirited, fluid and bold; like the strength of the giants and the flow of water. 

Things of Interest:

1. Learning Schools Radio: Thor and the Giants:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/schoolradio/subjects/english/viking_sagas/episodes/part_4

2.  Giants: Mystery and Myth:

The Discovery Channel:

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The second of the 6 programmes can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WFXAPByoj9w

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3. A Musical Rendering of W.H. Auden’s Poem Baldr’s Dream 

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Baldur’s Dream …..Eddara Sæmund (as translated by W. H. Auden & P. B. Taylor)

Barbara Thornton, voice
Benjamin Bagby, voice
Elizabeth Gaver, fiddle

Edda Sequenta.

If you go to the link the full length poem can be found there.

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Optional Poetry and Writing Prompts:

An Onegin Sonnet/Pushkin Sonnet:

This form was created by the writer Pushkin for his verse novel Eugene Onegin

The stanzas have 14 lines of iambic tetrameter rhyming ababccddeffegg.  The green letters indicate feminine rhymes (the lines have an extra unstressed syllable) and the black letters are for masculine rhymes (a simple rhyme- bat/cat).

See here for more details.

Writing Word Prompts:  Myth, Power, Dreams, Threat, Pebble, Fate, String, Cowerdice

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To confirm, the deadline for all writing, poetry and mp3s for the Jotunheim realm is Monday 12th January 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

 

Realm 2: Vanaheim – Overview and writing prompts, The Nine Realms, an ArtiPeeps Writing, Art and Music Collaboration 2014-2015

4 Nov

World Tree Norse

The Nine Realms

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

Vanaheim

(the realm of the Vanir gods)

 

Vikings Ahoy!

Here we are at the beginning of November and with the deadline for the poetry and writing for the first realm Asgard coming up: Thursday 6th November 2014. I shall start to post out pieces created for Asgard next week onwards. This month we are outlining the realm of Vanaheim and the deadline for all writing, poetry and mp3s for this realm is Monday 8th December.

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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Vanaheim

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1. A brief  Overview of Vanaheim

 

Vanaheim is home to the Vanir gods who are associated with magic, fertility and wisdom. It is the realm where Njord (the father of Freyr) was raised.  It is a realm which is  covered in forests and water, and is populated (amidst others) by nature spirits. There is only one mention of Vanaheim in the Poetic Edda (see below). It is also briefly covered in chapter 1 of  Heimskringla (the best known of the Old Norse Kings’ saga):  “Van Home or the Home of the Vanir”- described as located around the Don River.

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2. The Vanir 

The Vanir gods are not as easy to define as the Aesir. They are surrounded by mystery and are more elusive. The Vanir gods are also primarily linked with fertility. They presided over sunshine, crops, rain, and growth. Their season is spring. They are often portrayed in constant conflict with the Aesir. This conflict famously manifests in a hostile war centred around the treatment of a giantess called Gullveig. The Aesir try to kill her, but the Vanir protect her. The conflict comes to an impasse and the gods exchange hostages. Njord, Freyr and Freyja (see below) went to live with the Aesir and Mimir (‘the rememberer’, the wise one) joins the them. This is how Njord moves to Asgard.

‘She that remembers, the first on earth,
when Gullveig they with lances pierced,
and in the high one’s hall her burnt,
thrice burnt, thrice brought forth,
oft not seldom; yet she still lives.
Heidi they called her, whitherso’er she came,
the well-foreseeing Vala:
wolves she tamed, magic arts she knew, magic arts practiced;
ever she was the joy of evil people.’

[translation by Benjamin Thorpe from The Poetic EddaVöluspá]

nb. You can find the Völuspá  here (1936, tr. by Henry Adams Bellows)

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Interestingly, the Vanir gods embody many of the traits of fertility gods from other civilisations and regions of the world. As Ellis Davidson says:

‘the fertility pattern is a definite one, easy to recognise, and the northern myths which have to do with the Vanir fall into the accustomed forms’ (124). The Vanir did not distinguish between good and evil in order to bring about justice. Their power lay in the fact they could increase fecundity in nature: in crops, animals and at home. They could also bring about links between man and the unknown. There was an air of mystery connected to the Vanir gods and goddesses that bridges between the known and unknown.  Good luck could also be brought through fecundity.

 

freyr 2

Freyr

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Freyr

Freyr is Njord’s son and ended up moving from Vanaheim to Asgard as a hostage of war in the first conflict between the Aesir and the Vanir (see above). Freyr gives sunshine, wealth and rain and gives the gifts of peace and plenty. The literal meaning of Freyr is lord. He possesses a ship called the Skíðblaðnir which magically can not only hold all the gods, but can also fold into a pouch. He also has a boar with marvellous golden bristles, and Freyr is said to have come over the sea to rule over men. It is worth noting that there is a close connection between the symbols of boats and the energy governing fertility from the Bronze Age in Scandinavia onwards (Ellis Davidson: 132). Model ships were often given as offerings. There is also a connection between death, ships and the Vanir.

In The Prose Edda Freyr is described as ‘the most splendid of the gods. He controls the rain and the shining of the sun, and through them the bounty of the earth. It is good to invoke him for peace and abundance.’ (tr. Jesse Byock, Section 24, p35).

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Freyja

Freyja

Freyja

Freyja is Freyr’s twin sister. She is associated with love and had certain powers over the dead. She drives a chariot drawn by cats and is called the goddess or bride of the Vanir (Ellis Davidson: 125). Freyja has also been closely associated with the world of death. The story in  Egil’s Saga confirms her association with death as the hero’s daughter Thorgerda threatens to commit suicide after her brother is killed. ‘I shall take no food until I sup with Freyja’. She is often pictured as a weeping goddess. Her tears are said to be of gold. A necklace is also associated with Freyja: the Brisingamen.  A necklace is something that has been associated with the mother goddess from early times. Freyja is also said to take on the shape of a falcon. In such a form she traveled great distances. She is also linked to a particular sort of witchcraft called Seiðr which enabled practitioners to see into the future. She is said to be the first priestess to teach this form of  magic to the Aesir. Her magic is generally connected to the coming season and the destinies of those who wished to see into the future. She is fundamentally responsible for the destiny of her community. This form of witchcraft was taken on by various cults and you can see her influence on various sybils through the ages. (119)

 

Njord

 

Njord

Controlled the wind and seas. He dwells in Noatun ‘the enclosure of ships’, and is one of the few gods to survive Ragnarök. In the Lay of Vafþrúðnismál, section 39:

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“In Vanaheim the wise Powers made him

and gave him as hostage to the gods;

at the doom of men he will come back

home among the wise Vanir.”

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You can find the full Lay here.

Njord was married to Skadi (daughter of giant Thjazi) who came from the mountains to marry him, and then, when the marriage unsuccessful, went back to the hills (See story focus below).  He is the father of twins Frey and Freyja.

 

  Story Focus:

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The Mead of Poetry

 

1. The Mead of Poetry, from Chapter 5 the Skáldskaparmál  (‘the language of poetry’) of The Prose Edda

Consisting of a dialogue between Ægir, the Norse god of the sea, and Bragi, the god of poetry.

This story is seen to be a metaphor for poetic inspiration.

(See p83-87 of The Prose Edda, Penguin Classics, tr. by Jessie Byock)

‘Aegar continued, ‘What is the origin of the accomplishment you call poetry? ‘

 The Prose Edda indicates the mead was created when the Vanir and Aesir were at war. They agree to hold a peace meeting and both sides spit into a vat, and in so doing create a man called Kvasir (84). Kavisir travels the world imparting knowledge. He comes upon two dwarves called Fjaalar and Galar who kill Kvasir pouring his blood into vats called Sin and Bodn and into a kettle called Odrerir. The dwarves blend honey with the blood and from this was create the mead that  makes ‘whoever drinks it a poet or a scholar’. They  trick a giant Gilling into drowning, but before he dies Gilling’s  strands the dwarves on a rock. The dwarves offer the poetic mead to  his son Suttung by way of compensation. Suttung takes the poetic mead home with him and  sets his daughter Gunnlöð  to watch over it.

This is why poetry is called ‘Kvasir’s blood’… ‘the drink or intoxication of the dwarves’……’the ship of the dwarves’….’Suttung’s mead’ (84-85).

‘The Aegir said, ‘It seems to me that calling poetry by these names obscures the truth. But how did the Aesir get Suttung’s Mead?’ ‘

Odin eventually ends up with the poetic drink by asking for a drink of the mead in return for doing the work of nine slaves for a giant called Baugi. The story goes that Baugi and Odin (using the name Bolverk) go to Suttung to ask for the Mead and he refuses. They trick Gunnlöð and Odin drains all the mead. Before anyone can get to him he shape-shifts into an eagle. Suttung, changing into an eagle too, takes after him. The Aesir see Odin coming in the shape of an eagle and they put vats out to catch the liquid as Odin spits out the mead. Suttung still chases after him. Evading capture Odin blows some mead out of his rear (which is known as ‘the bad poets’ portion’ (86)) .

‘Odin gave Suttung’s mead to the Aesir and to those men who know how to make poetry. For this reason we call poetry Odin’s catch, find, drink or gift, as well as the drink of the Aesir.’

You can find more about Skáldskaparmál here.

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2. Njord and Skadi splitting where they live (from Section 23 of Gylfaginning), in The Prose Edda

(See p33-34 Njord and Skadi,  The Prose Edda, Penguin Classics, tr. by Jessie Byock)

Njord was brought up in Vanaheim and wanted to live near the sea, but his wife Skadi preferred the mountains. She wanted to live in Thrymheim [Thunder Home] the place which her father had owned. Compromising, they agreed to stay 9 nights in Thrymheim and 3 nights at Noatun

After the 9 nights in the mountains. Njord said:

‘Hateful for me are the mountains

I was not long there,

only nine nights.

The howling of wolves

sounded ugly to me

after the song of swans’

and Skadi said:

‘Sleep I could not

on the sea beds

for the screeching of the bird.

The gull wakes me

when from the wide sea

he comes each morning’

Skadi then decides to return home.

[See the Lay of Grimnir, 11]

http://www.germanicmythology.com/PoeticEdda/Grimnismal.html

http://www.vsnrweb-publications.org.uk/Edda-1.pdf

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 3. Skadi Choosing Njord as Her Husband

(See p 82-83 of Skáldskaparmál, The Prose Edda, Penguin Classics, tr. by Jessie Byock)

Marriage of Skadi and Njord

 

Skadi, setting out to avenge her father’s death (p82), takes all her weapons of war in order to confront the Aesir. However in order to facilitate a reconciliation they offer the choice of a husband to her, but she must only choose him by his feet. She chooses Njord (who is from Vanaheim) and this does not go down at all well with Baldr (a god of light and purity, son of the god Odin and the goddess Frigg). So they settle upon another condition that the Aesir should also make her laugh. So Loki ties one end of a piece of rope to his testicles and the other he ties to a goat and they pull back and forth eventually making Skadi laugh. And finally Odin, takes Thjazi’s eyes and casts them into the heavens forming two stars.

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Themes, Relevance and Questions:

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Mystery and Magic: The gods and stories connected to Vanaheim and the Vanir seem to indicate that they operate between spaces and things and within nature. They are steeped in mystery and often embody a state of transition,  probably because of their links to fecundity (birth/death). In contrast to the Aesir, who seem to be powerful in a very obvious way (through force).  See Freyr and Freyja.

Poetic Origins:  As related in  Skáldskaparmál the origins of poetry were derived out of the war between the Vanir and the Aesir. Through the creation of a mead norse myth engages with the beginnings of poetic form and it’s importance.  ‘Good’ poetry is connected with the gods,  and poetry is ‘made’ (see Story Focus 1) which would seem to indicate an awareness of construction and the power behind storytelling.

Humour, Spirit and Power: There is a great cheeky spirit embedded into the stories outlined in this overview: a kind of life force which uses humour to make big decisions, to heal wounds. This seems to be an interesting way to confront notions of power and to destabalise them. Loki’s actions with the goat, for instance, deemphasise the fact that Skadi is in fact marrying a Vanir.  How do the norse sagas use humour to engage with difficult subject matter, and relieve tension?

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Things of Interest:

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Kenning:

A kenning (Modern Icelandic pronunciation: [cʰɛnːiŋk]; derived from Old Norse) is a type of circumlocution, in the form of a compound that employs figurative language in place of a more concrete single-word noun. Kennings are strongly associated with Old Norse and later Icelandic and Anglo-Saxon poetry.

Kennings and Alliteration for Beowulf (the same principle applies in the Norse Sagas. Top tip: turn the music on the video down)

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

 

Contemporary writer Gerdur Kristny: Bloodhoof (modern re-inventing of an Edda poem which tells of the abduction of Gerour Gymisdottir from the land of the giants to the court of Freyr)

Scrobble to 2.43:

 

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http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bloodhoof-Kristny-Gerdur/dp/1908376112

 

National Gallery of Iceland

 

 

Carl Frederick From Salza (1858-1905)

an artist and illustrator who provided drawings for the 1893 edition of The Prose Edda. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_Frederick_von_Saltza

Njord by Carl Frederick von Saltza

Njord by Carl Frederick von Saltza

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Optional Poetry and Writing Prompts:

If you wish you can use the following poetic form for your poem:

Fornyrðislag

This poetic form is  one of the most used in ancient German, Anglo-Saxon and Norse-Icelandic poetry. Verses have 4 syllables. It is known in England from 700 A.D. onwards (Beowulf is an example). It is also found in German poetry from the 8th century, and in Swedish runes from the 9th century. As the centuries rolled by the form became more rigid with each stanza having eight lines (in German and English poetry it has four lines).

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An e.g. from the Völuspá:

Hljóðs bið ek allar Silence I ask from all,
helgar kindir the holy offspring,
meiri ok minni greater and lesser
mögu Heimdallar sons of Heimdallr.
Vildu at ek Valföðr Do you wish, Valföðr (Odin)
vel fyr telja that I clearly rehearse
forn spjöll fira of living beings those ancient tales
þau fremst um man? which I remember from farthest back?

Two lines are connected by alliteration to form pairs. In the a-line two syllables may alliterate with one syllable in the b-line.  It can also be just one syllable in the a-line:

Hljóðs bið ek allar
helgar kindir

But in the b-line readers always find a second non-alliterating syllable to put stress on, matching the second stressed syllable (often alliterating) of the a-line.

See more here

Writing Word Prompts:  Gales, Stars, Trust, Transformation, Apples, Giant, Disturbance, Curses, Growth

To confirm, the deadline for all writing, poetry and mp3s for the Vanaheim realm is Thursday 8th December.

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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

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

 

Web Links

http://www.trobar.org/

Realm 1: Asgard – Overview and writing prompts, The Nine Realms, an ArtiPeeps Writing, Art and Music Collaboration 2014-2015

6 Oct

World Tree Norse

The Nine Realms

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

Asgard

(the realm of the warrior gods)

 

Vikings Ahoy!

Here we are at the beginning of October and into the first month of ArtiPeeps’ next EPIC collaboration. This month we are outlining the realm of Asgard and the deadline for all writing and poetry and mp3s for this realm is Thursday 6th November 2014. As soon as the poetry is in we will start posting it out on a weekly basis. 

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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Asgard

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A brief  Overview of the Viking Cosmos:

 When Ymir lived long ago
Was no sand, no surging waves.
Nowhere was there earth nor heaven above.
Bur a grinning gap and grass nowhere

Voluspa-The Song of the Sybil

So the story goes,  Odin, King of Asgard set out with his two brothers to kill Ymir (a primeval frost giant made of clay). From Ymir’s body they formed the world. His blood became rivers, his flesh land, his bones mountains and his skull the sea. Four dwarves were sent to the four corners of the firmament, and the sun and moon in chariots were sent out to follow each other across the sky. 

Having made the world Odin seeks to fill it with beings. First came the dwarves, and then came people- formed out of flotsam from the seashore and he gave them a home-in centre Midgard. After human kind was taken care of they created Asgard, a place filled with huge halls and palaces. 

Asgard, reached only by crossing a bridge guarded by Heimdall, the divine watchman, is the realm of the warrior gods, known as the Aesir. The pillar of wisdom, which all norse mythology pivots around, runs through the middle of Asgard. It is the centre of Wisdom.

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Odin_with_Gunnlöd_by_Johannes_Gehrts

Odin

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The Aesir 

The Aesir gods are one of two divine families (alongside the Vanir) who live in Asgard.

Odin is the head of the Aesir- the All-Father (Ellis-Davidson: 29):

‘Then third said, ‘Odin is the highest and oldest of the gods. He rules in all matters, and, although the other gods are powerful, all serve him as children do their father….He is also called Father of the Slain [Val Father] because all who fall in battle are his adopted sons’ (Sturlson: 30, The Prose Edda, 20. Odin the All-Father)

Odin journeyed all over the world with two carrier ravens as companions called Huginn and Munnin (Thought and Reason). He also possessed a magical spear which guaranteed death.

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Odin_hrafnar

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Odin, roaming outside of Asgard, would often wander around Midgard dressed in a disguise as a tall grey-bearded man in a long cloak and hat. Odin was feared and respected, and would go to any length to acquire knowledge and sate his curiosity.  His quest for wisdom knew no bounds and in a story within Hávamál  in the Poetic Eddha he endured not only 9 days hanging from the Yggsdrasil (the tree of wisdom) but the piercing of his own eye with a spear all to gain the knowledge of the runes..

I wot that I hung….‘on the wind-tossed tree
………….all of nights nine,
wounded by spear,……bespoken to Othin
…………..bespoken myself to myself
[upon that tree…..of which none tellet
…………….from what roots it doth rise]

(Hollander: 36, tr. The Poetic Edda, Hávamál , The Sayings of Har/The Sayings of the High One)

The meaning of the story above seems to revolve around the notion of sacrifice: despite many lures being offered to him he nevertheless continued to sacrifice himself. Odin was thought, symbollically to bring success.

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Frigg

Frigg

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Frigg:

 Frigg is queen of Asgard and married to Odin. She is goddess of marriage and motherhood and has great powers of magic; she can foretell the future of gods and man. In many early religions, states Davidson,  mother earth often ‘appears as the wife of the supreme sun god’ (110). However, clear proof of the worship of the Earth Mother in Scandinavia is hard to find. The only truly maternal figure in Asgard, depicted in the Prose Edda, is that of Frigg.

In the Poetic Edda poem, Oddrúnargrátr (Odin’s Lament) she is sited as the goddess to be invoked during childbirth, and similarly  in the Völsunga as connected to motherhood as she asks Odin to grant permission for a couple to have children (Ellis Davidson ((131-132). In North-Western Europe the figure of Frigg has had a huge influence  with certain groups throughout the centuries and ‘their ability to determine the destiny of the{ir} new-born child[ren]’ (132) . 

May hallowed wightsbring help to thee,
Frigg and Freya……and favouring gods,
as oft thou warded…..evil from me
(and hastened hitherhelp to bring me)

(Hollander: 280, The Poetic Edda, Oddrúnargrátr )

Frigg figures consistently in the poetry of the Poetic Edda.  Her role as queen cannot be underestimated but she is often overpowered in the Eddas by the depiction of Freya (from the Vanir gods).

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Thor

Thor

.Thor:

 Thor is the son of  Odin and Jord (Earth), Living in a huge mansion with his wife Sif  Thor, the thunder god, possessed three great treasures: the hammer Mjollnir which could destroy giants and shatter rocks, a belt of power which gave him strength,  and iron gloves to allow him to grip his hammer.

Thor is the enemy of giants. There is the story of how he killed the mighty giant Geirröd by hurling back  a mighty lump of melting iron at the giant. 

You can find the Lay of Thor/Thorsdrapa here: http://www.stavacademy.co.uk/mimir/thorsdrapa.htm

Despite his antagonism towards giants he nevertheless had two children  by the giantess Jarnsaxa. Járnsaxa is also the name of one of the Nine Mothers of Heimdallr. who were nine sisters who gave birth to the god Heimdallr who possesses the resounding horn Gjallarhorn. The poem The Lay of Hyndla within The Poetic Edda contains the story of Heimdallr. Called The Song of Hyndla, in the Caolyne Larrington translation of The Poetic Edda. 

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Freya awakes Hyndla

Freya awakes Hyndla

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Thor was associated with the elements. He champions the Aesir and defends Asgard The cult surrounding him has had a long history in western europe. He kills with direction (unlike Odin and Loki). He kills with bolders and force. He is the god that travellers call to before setting out on journeys. Thor, it is said, can be trusted as:

‘Thor had done many great works, and had split rocks and shattered cliffs, while Odin gave men victory’ (Tryggvason, Olaf’s Saga cited in Ellis Davidson: 74).

Thor was the most popular god with 25% of the population in Iceland having his name as part their name. Iceland’s annual assembly opens on Thursday, his day.  Thor is a god who although reigned omnipotently is associated with equality across all walks of life from craftsperson to aristocrat. (Allan: 51).

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Thor's Hammer

Thor’s Hammer

 

.Loki:

Was the child of giants and lived in Asgard, and is known for his mischievousness and trickery. He gained entry into Asgard by befriending Odin. Odin and Loki were blood brothers. Snori Sturlson (the writer of the Prose Edda) calls Loki ‘the slander bearer of the Aesir, the promoter of deceipt’ (Allan: 54) .  He ‘ was the cause of many things’ (Sturluson: 69). Loki was also known for his ability to change shape and sex.

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Loki 2

 

The stories around Loki usually consist of him getting some sort of punishment. For instance, nearly having his lips sewn up as punishment for a lost bet. It is a fitting comeuppance for a smooth talker (54). However, he has also saved Asgard- when a giant demanded that he should have the sun, the moon and Freya in payment for building a wall around Asgard (54).  He saved the day by confusing the giant by turning himself into a stallion to distract the mare of the ogre. Loki has two sides. 

From the pairing of Loki and the mare came Sleipnir,  an 8-legged horse. Loki’s children all had dark undertones. This showed in his other child with giantess Angrboða with whom he begat Hel, Queen of the Dead.  Loki also played a key role in Ragnorak (the doom of the gods).

An excerpt from the Edda poem  Völuspá (which contains the story of Ragnorak) can be found here. See video of a reading of the poem below. 

 

Themes and Relevance, Questions:

Power and its consequences. The questioning of leadership: Asgard is the seat of power, leadership, craft and justice. The qualites of its primary gods and godesses speak to that. The strength of Odin and Thor through to shapeshifter Loki represent a spectrum of qualities both good and bad, both mutable and fixed. It is interesting to think about the dynamics of force and freedom in relation to this.

The questioning of Knowledge/ Wisdom: Asgard has the root of Wisdom from the Yggsdaril tree running right through its centre, signalling its status as the focus of Wisdom. But often the actual behaviour of the gods does not seem to reflect this. What does this say about knowledge? 

The Force of Creation and Mutability: Frigg, one of the few female godesses in Asgard seems to symbolically be there to juxtapose against the male gods’ acts of power. As a symbol of fertility and growth, she represents the other side of the coin. Different forces of creation and destruction rest side by side in Asgard. Loki also represents this through his shapeshifting.

 

Things of Interest:

On the Poetic Form of Norse Sagas: Alliteration, Kenning

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

http://www.vikinganswerlady.com/meters.shtml

BBC The Viking Sagas

British Museum:

http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/cultures/europe/vikings.aspx

BBC Schools Radio, Thor and the Giants

http://www.bbc.co.uk/schoolradio/subjects/english/viking_sagas/episodes/part_4

Voluspa Part 1/2:

Voluspa Part 2/2:

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Optional Poetry and Writing Prompts:

If you wish you can use the following poetic form for your poem:

The Brisbane Sonnet:  consists of two sestets and a couplet. The original sestet was based on the Hymnal Octave form which has a rhyme scheme of a.b.c.b.a.b.c.b. Two of the b lines are removed and leave a rhyme scheme of a.b.c.a.b.c. by adding another similar sestet d.e.f.d.e.f. and a couplet, g.g., this sonnet form was born.

For more information see: http://goo.gl/9dLg2l

Writing Word Prompts:  Shapeshifter, Twisting, Birth, Flotsom, Smashing, Discipline, Endearment, Quest

To confirm, the deadline for all writing, poetry and mp3s for the Asgard realm is Thursday 6th November.

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 Thanks so much for your interest.

References

 Allan, T (202) Vikings, The Battle at the End of Time, London: Watkins Publishing

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

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

 

 

Weekend Showcase : Anna Angell (Poet, Singer-Songwriter)

15 Aug

Spotlight

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

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Anna Angell

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Biography

Anna started off life in the beautiful Peak District and now resides in beautiful North Wales – jammy.  She qualified as a Speech and Language Therapist in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, then working mainly in Chester and Ellesmere Port.  She now spends most of her time laughing, crying and getting loco with her two delightful pre-school children.   She wrote a lot of poetry as a child but has only recently got back into it, thanks to the consistent nagging of her persistent husband.  This has also extended into song-writing with her beloved ukulele.  She tries to write honestly about the normal stuff in her life and is convinced that the things of the everyday are the porthole to eternity.  She hopes that by making the most of the short chances for creativity in between nappy changes and swimming lessons she can encourage other busy people to try this as well – and reap the benefits to mind body and soul.

 

Twitter             @a_a_angell
Bandcamp       http://annaangell.bandcamp.com/releases

…………………….debut EP ‘Love’s Life’

Email………… ..anna_angell@yahoo.co.uk

 

 

 

*If you would like to have a ‘Weekend Showcase’ or take part in one of our collaborations do get in touch via the contact form on the What’s On page, or via the comments section. You would be welcome.

The Recovery Project Collaboration: ‘Creatives Making a Difference’

4 Jun

THE RECOVERY PROJECT

More than several months ago I had an idea about creating a mini-collaboration on the theme of the mental health term  ‘Recovery’. This is not only particularly relevant to me because I have bi-polar and am in a state of recovery myself, but also because ‘recovery’ is important for lots of people (including creatives) who are affected my mental health issues. It’s a universally important theme and experience.

With this in mind I asked the poets Carol Robson, John Mansell and Rebecca Audra Smith (all accessed via Twitter)  if they would like to collaborate on this and write a poem for the project, each taking up a particular facet of the path to recovery. Carol took up the theme of DESPAIR, John, MUDDLING THROUGH and Rebecca ‘RECOVERY’. I asked 3 artists who were then paired with the poets: Ray Bentley, Photographer Jeremy Moseley and Hugo Smith (all accessed via Twitter) to produce artwork inspired by the three poems. I also asked audio visual artist Shaun Blezard to write an accompanying soundpiece for the three sections. So this whole project is completely fuelled by new literary pieces, artwork/photography and sounds. The piece can viewed in sections or be taken as a whole. I have also produced a mini-film  which includes audio versions of the poems, and will give you an idea of the piece as a whole and how it could be turned into an installation of sorts (watch this space…).  It is worth mentioning that everyone involved in this project either has direct experience of the issues or an explicit interest.

The Recovery Project is an important bench-mark for ArtiPeeps for it really represents the first contribution to a new mental health initiative we are going to be instigating more explicitly in October: ‘Supporting Mental Health’.  This ongoing  initiative will produce collaborative material which will form an online artistic and  therapeutic resource for people in need. This will be part of other larger shifts in ArtiPeeps’ intent. There will be more news of this and its implications as time unfolds. But it’s all good.

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THE RECOVERY PROJECT

“Recovery is being able to live a meaningful and satisfying life, as defined by each person, in the presence or absence of symptoms. It is about having control over and input into your own life. Each individual’s recovery, like his or her experience of the mental health problems or illness, is a unique and deeply personal process.”Scottish Recovery Network 2009

Recovery is not about ‘getting rid of problems’. It is about seeing people beyond their problems – their abilities, possibilities, interests, and dreams and recovering the social roles and relationships that give life value and meaning”Julie Repper and Rachel Perkins, 2002

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THE RECOVERY SOUNDCSAPE

by Shaun Blezard

Section 1

DESPAIR:

Restraint Chair No.1 (crop)

Restraint Chair No.1 by Ray Bentley

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Another Psychosis

by Carol Robson

 

Here in a place, which I should be
I need to be here and in all places
Yet! an urge to run rages through me
fear of physical contact, my brain now in overload
here, feeling alone in a place full of people.

Like a frightened gazelle
taunted by its hunter
I search for the exit to safety
an egress to my solitary state
my place of safety in my Prozac stained mind.

Neural networks firing their manic impulses
ignoring my vain attempt of rational logic
craving for their mania overload
knowing again, they will fight a long battle
against the Lithium army, that will bring them down.

Highs and lows come and go
trying to live your normal life
my exterior facade is all you see
as it hides a mind and soul in turmoil
just trying to get through to the next hour.

A life in a day to day existence
that craves for whatever is normal
a time bomb mind with a fragile trigger
controlled by whatever the drug of choice is.

Clinging to a life of hopes and dreams
that is out of this drug controlled despair
I will one day rise again like the Phoenix
out of the ashes, of Another Psychosis.

© Carol Robson 2011

 

Section 2:

MUDDLING THROUGH

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Photography by Jeremy Moseley

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Solitary Lights in a Forsaken Landscape

by John Mansell

 

Day opens like a strange flower.
Had it really closed?

Eyes adrift with bitter tears.
I see you viewing me with unease,
…………toothbrush in hand;
Do not call me stranger.
Do not make me mute
……….by filling my mouth with dread.
Lined linear colour,
the implements of survival
…………in their little compartments
…………………….with designated times…..
Consumption of the divine;
a woman purled in momentary
silence forages the impression
that once she knew me.
And then, like a shoot that appeared too soon
……….is gone…..
Each moment a disgrace to pleasure:
………..the floods of worry
…………………..have strewn me along
…………………..various embankments…..
And when certain suns shine,
I know it is a worry
as unnecessary as
…………the solitude I veil myself with…..
Walk with me these grim corridors.
Though I was able yesterday, today I have fears
that arrest me.
I see faces and eyes rimmed with farewells.
I hear names spoken,
and children laughing…..
If I listen intently enough, I am sure
one of those children is me…..
I am sure there were good days once…..

Shift the falling grains
so they rumple not to the
………..gathering years
but the trench of a memory
…………you think may have held yesterday;
as if your yesterday never existed.
The moisture of dreams drowns
the fallen edifice of your time…..
You are, but never was
because you fear
what you were for it would exhibit
………what you
………………..would be…..
you keeper of empty paintings.
Sleep in a place
where time is a flick of a page;
the dying groans of lost hope,
the flippant drapery
………..of a night
that will come despite
…………your efforts, thief of my life
…………despoiler of all I held beautiful…..

Day closes like a strange flower.
Had it really opened?

 Section 3:

RECOVERY

trying for the brighter by Hugo Smith

‘Trying For the Brighter’ by Hugo Smith

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Recovery

by Rebecca Audra Smith

 

Hunting for the key
that can slot into my ear
unlock who I am, with
its slow turn and click.
 
I can hear it in my head,
doors open to staircases lead
to cellars where weeds chatter
about sunshine, light and seed.
 
Fumbled fingers in the bed
searching for a lighter
to set fire to the sun,
board a chariot, ride far.
 
I could have burnt my home
to ash, to dust- my family
rooting for my bones;
I’m trying for the brighter.
 
Planting keyholes inside tulips,
my hands are full of keys
each day a little lighter,
a stronger step for me.

The Recovery Film:

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Wagner and Nietzsche: A Total Work of Art?

26 Feb

A Gesamtkunstwerk Relationship?

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The relationship between Wagner and Nietzsche was of a polarised intensity.  Nietzsche went from being one of Wagner’s closest friends and admirers, to being his an ardent critic and fervent enemy. In his work The Birth of Tragedy (1868), Nietzsche regards Wagner as the redeemer of Greek tragedy and a force of good on the future of music. Yet by The Case of Wagner (1888), Wagner is shown to embody a disease, draining the last remaining life from German music and not only personifying, but actively leading the way in the cultural decadence that Nietzsche saw to be consuming contemporary society.

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