Tag Archives: emerging writers

Alfheim: Movement and Light 3/4 The Nine Realms- Poems and Writing

15 Jul

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

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Alfheim

(the realm of the Elves)

Featuring:

Nat Hall, Lenka Monk and Jim C Mackintosh

 

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Guardian Angel from the Ninth Realm

by Nat Hall

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You,
luminous loving being,
so much more than a thousand suns in
darkest corner of my head,
you are sensitive to
my tears,
so far away from fern, foliage,
evergreen feel of
thick forest,
Light Bokeh style –
the untouched side of Freyr’s world…
To
avoid eyes,
hiss and whisper from
haunting mare,
my mantelpiece littered with stones
I once collected from a now
dormant volcano where
hardened rock dances with salt,
leaping fury from young ocean,
I light candles night after night,
chisel your smile out of cold wax, and
seek wisdom out of
a match.
You,
luminous loving being,
you rescued me from the cliff edge.

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And lead me to temptation

by Lenka Monk

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Inspired by story of Freyr and Gerðr

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Through the eyeglass, inner mist
Tempted fate, now I can’t resist
Lips that haunt, curves that taunt
A tortured sigh.

In a drunken fog, endless hunger
Bittersweet taste, spell I’m under
asunder bursting mind, lifetimes find
A Divine comedy.

Wrong feels right, heartbeat elevates
one lustful look, reason obliterates
Resonates with force, no remorse
A string less puppet.

The heart, the insurgent of reason
that beautiful face, led it to treason
seasoned sixth sense, forget consequence
A complete surrender.

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under the heavens dome

by Jim C. Mackintosh

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under the heavens dome
the halls tower in this place
where maddened spirits bind
the claws of ravens haunting
blind trees and bright rooms
enclosing his hypnotic power
unseen to those for whom life past

beneath the high throne of Freyr
circled by meadow throngs
floating on pillows of gold
the words of the wish-giver
in bundles tied with sinews
of outlaws crucified on the way
speared in the crossfire of elf shot

felled in the grapple of light where
dark elves stripped them of belief
a thin path winds through briar rose
where a thousand eyes, black spots
in the gloom sense the fear
dripping from the pilgrims folly
seeking to kiss the feet of Freyr

yet destined to leave empty handed
happy to escape the elven grasp
to answer their quest elsewhere
and rid themselves of this brothel
built in the tangle of angels hair
nourished by the rot of souls
quietly disappeared, lost forever

in remote corners of all realms
where the light elves prey upon
battle weary warriors, robbing them
of their exhausted glory to light
the bloodied moss halls of Alfheim
their fine mesh weave of gold to
line the dark walls of winter nights

under the canopy where Freyr sleeps
and confused sayers fall at his gaze
fighting over the scraps he scatters
in return for the lure of his mystery
/ so why are you still here?
so why do you believe this sermon
will lead you to anything but your betrayal?

through the valleys of temptation
they will swoop down and lift your eyes
to where the single, deadly snake coils
hissing promises of everlasting glory
a ticket to cross the rainbow, only to die
under the wheels of martyrdom
to be denied by your band of brothers

where the Gods assemble to divide
the spoils of your blood and tears
gathered by the scrum of vultures
/ let your death join me
in the salvation of our tomorrows, free
from the shores of false dawns
where your heart will awaken

in sanctuary from blunted threats
where the earth and the sea and
the stone and the roots and the rain
are true and the stag will roar again
and the kiss of blood, the unity
of your ken folk will ease
your righteous birth once more

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Find out more about Nat, Lenka and Jim here:

Nat Hall

https://twitter.com/nordicblackbird

nordicblackbird.weebly.com

Lenka Monk

Contact ArtiPeeps

 

Jim C. Mackintosh

bigbaffy.com

https://twitter.com/JimCMackintosh

 

As always, thank you for your interest.

 

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Alfheim: Movement and Light 2/4 The Nine Realms- Poems and Writing

10 Jul

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

.

Alfheim

(the realm of the Elves)

Featuring:

Tom Murphy and Eleanor Perry

 

Alfheim

by Tom Murphy

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inside the fence
I know you as I walk towards me
seeing everything through your eye
I see it on my face
as you step into the firelight
we smile the same smile
as you look at me
and see the toll you’ve still to pay
you see the sons we will sire
the daughter we lost
the eye you have yet to lose

in my pocket
I have the apple I will offer you
before you offer yourself
the ninth knot

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washrag nouns

by Eleanor Perry

Snipped washrag

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Find out more about Tom and Eleanor here:

Tom Murphy

https://twitter.com/sandcave

 

Eleanor Perry

https://twitter.com/nellperry

 

As always, thank you for your interest.

 

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Alfheim: Movement and Light 1/4 The Nine Realms- Poems and Writing

30 Jun

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

.

Alfheim

(the realm of the Elves)

Featuring:

Shirley Golden  and  Joanna Lee

 

 Fairer than the Sun

by Shirley Golden

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I feel the pull of it. I slip in through the crack between mortar and sill.

The child sleeps across the room, mouth partially open, revealing the missing lower, front incisor. His bedroom is dimly lit by a nightlight, not that I need light to find my way. I step over an action figure in combat gear, face down, still clutching his gun. I smell mint toothpaste, milk and talcum powder.

In a single bound, I land on the graphic print Superman beanbag. I don’t need wings.

Lego and train track sprawl across the floor. I skip around the boy-sized teddy bear and freeze. Loki points at me with one hand, his sceptre in the other, a green cape flows across bronze-coloured armour.

It takes me a moment to see, he is just another toy. I gain pleasure in pulling faces at him without fear. I step closer, remove his dagger and chop, chop at his synthetic, black locks. I admire my handiwork, not so handsome now, punk god.

I climb a stack of books and puzzle boxes, and make my way along the duvet, towards the child’s pillow. He whimpers in his sleep as if my presence has snaked into his dreams. He’s left a note. Dear tooth fairy, I really good like Mummy told me. Please leave a pound. Sam x.

Fleet of foot and nimble, I search, fingers reaching, clawing until I find my treasure, and I grin.

Back on the window sill, I brush fairy dust off my palms, spit on the coin and buff until it shines. Quite a night’s work; Freyr will be pleased. I slip out of the crack between mortar and sill without a backward glance.

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To light up a sky that never ends

by Joanna Lee

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An early summer comes dappling
over green banks, as hard to cup
in human fingers
on the heels of May’s cruel caress
as the wide-blue of childhood memory;
as a lust poem bathed in riverlight
after all these lonely months;
as heaven to those
with no faith left. Yet

the sunshine is so real you can almost touch it,
and the dawn’s blushing break
like waves on a white sand paradise
holds out the hope
of Ju-ly fireflies luminous
enough to light up
a sky that never ends, enough
to make you believe in magic
once more.

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Find out more about Shirley and Joanna here:

 

Shirley Golden

shirleygolden.net

https://twitter.com/shirl1001

Joanna Lee

 https://twitter.com/la_poetessa
the-tenth-muse.com

 

As always, thank you for your interest.

 

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Midgard: Survival and Destruction 2/4 The Nine Realms- Poems and Writing

18 Jun

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

.

Midgard

(the realm of the people)

Featuring:

Mina Polen and Shirley Golden

 

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It is there

by Mina Polen

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Can you see it?

It is there with its days and its nights
with its darkness and its light
with its cold and its warmth
with its love and its hate
with its poison and its cure

can you see it?

right there in the middle
right there by the sea
right there being born
right there being destroyed

can you see it?

it is the place that falls
it is the place that rises
it is the place far away from the gods

can you see it?
it is right over there

it is the place
it is there
it is life
it is us.

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Duck, Cover, Hold 

by Shirley Golden

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He’s not a hero. He’s not a god.

The press form a small circle around me, and a larger one around him. He smiles and his eyes glint red and gold. Beneath our feet broken glass glistens in crystal rainbow shards, the bridge between what was and is. Buildings and pavements are crazy with zigzag cracks, hairline splits and yawns. Photographers lean into chasms to take the best shots, the ones that show the magnitude of devastation and include graffiti artwork in the backdrop. They highlight cars, taxis and trams tangled in heaps, discarded toys in the San Francisco streets.

Someone placed a blanket around my shoulders but I’m cold to the core. The medics abandon me to attend more pressing cases. Reporters open notepads and ready pens to construct the story they want to tell, a tall one about a trickster whom they’ll cast as a god.

But it started long before the rumble and shock. He appeared, as if magically birthed from another realm. He was good at talking his way into things, and better at slipping out. He secured his position with forward-thinking, technical skills and a silver tongue. He was expert at delegation and liked to shake things up. He watched us with a keen eye, but never was one of us. There were times I imagined he mocked us all. But I kept my mouth shut and did as he said. One time he told me the end of the world was near, and he shook his fists as if caught by the entrails of invisible bindings, as if they might be holding him from starting an apocalypse himself.

We were in a meeting with the boss when a cellophane sandwich wrapper started to tremor. From flutter to flurry, tremble to quake, cabinet drawers exploded and pictures pirouetted off walls.

The boss said, ‘Down! Find cover! And something to hold.’

The boss squashed under his desk. I crawled beneath the sofa and embraced radiator spines. And he writhed beneath the table and held fast to legs. Pens fired like arrows. The printer squirmed towards the edge of the desktop its progress interrupted by a mangle of wires. The plug broke loose from the wall, and its crash-landing preceded a flurry of blank page debris. The floor abandoned its horizontal certainty. And the desk was carried off by a wave of displacement; the boss sailed with it, tumbling towards a chasm.

I glanced at him. I saw only that gleam in his eyes. I shan’t say he didn’t try. I couldn’t be sure of anything, except the fury of falling apart.

Once the tremor settled, he emerged from rubble.

“The boss?” I said.

“There was nothing we could do.”

He found the best escape route. I was grateful for his instinct of slithering free.

In the aftermath, he worked tirelessly; superhuman in his quest. To the press, he spoke with just the right measure of sorrow and determination. He moved into the boss’s old office, bolted a desk to the floor. Everything slotted back into place. The city rebuilt around us, higher than ever with further to fall.

I remember his knuckled whites, gripping the table leg. How he observed us as our world fell apart. The sneer of satisfaction he thought I didn’t see. Imagined? Perhaps.

He’s no hero. He’s no god. He dwells in a place in-between. He waits for his moment. Advice? Keep low. Cover head. Cling on.

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Find out more about Mina and Shirley here:

Mina Polen

aldebaranylosnarvales.blogspot.com

https://twitter.com/minafiction

 

Shirley Golden

shirleygolden.net

https://twitter.com/shirl1001

 

 

 

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As always, thank you for your interest.

 

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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.

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

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

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1. A Brief Overview of Alfheim

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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

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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.

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

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

 

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Eye of Freyr by Elaine Offley (Alfheim)

Eye of Freyr by Elaine Offley (Alfheim)

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2. Story Focus: Lovelorn Freyr

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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.

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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

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Sword of Freyr

Sword of Freyr

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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 .

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

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Völundr

Völundr

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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

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4. Fertility Ceremonies and the Elves

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Sunwheel

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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.

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King Harold receiving the Flateyjarbok

King Harold receiving the Flateyjarbok

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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.

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Themes, Relevance and Questions

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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:

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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

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4. Drawing Lessons: How to draw Elves

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

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6.  Words For Sentient Beings From Norse Texts

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_field_diagram_of_words_for_sentient_beings_in_Old_Norse

 

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

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Optional Poetry and Writing Prompts:

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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

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

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

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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 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

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1. A brief Overview of Midgard

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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.

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Líf and Lífthrasir by Lorenz Frølich

Líf and Lífthrasir by Lorenz Frølich

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2. Midgard Following  Ragnarök

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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

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Jörmungandr: World Serpent by James Mackenzie

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

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2. Thor and the Midgard Serpent

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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:

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1.  Loki’s Challenge

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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.

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Thor and the Midgard Serpent

Thor and the Midgard Serpent

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2.  Thor’s Fishing Trip: Hooking Jörmungandr

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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

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Máni and Sól

Máni and Sól

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4.  Mundilfari, and the Sun and the Moon

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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.

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Themes, Relevance and Questions

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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:

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1.  Snorri Struluson

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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.

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2. The Gosforth Cross

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Gosforth Cross World Serpent

 

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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.

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3. Icelandic Alphabet

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 You can see more ‘Icelandic Lessons’ here

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 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

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

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 Thank you so much for your interest.

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References

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

14 Apr

nine realms8

The Nine Realms

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

 a magical reworking of Norse Mythology for contemporary audiences

Muspelheim

(the realm of fire)

 

Vikings Ahoy!

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

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

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

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

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Surtr

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1. A brief  Overview of Muspelheim

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

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

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

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 2. Surt

220px-Surtur_mit_dem_Flammenschwerte

Surt with flaming sword

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

You can find the whole Völuspá  here

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3.   Ragnarök  and Surt/Surtr

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

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

You can find the whole of the Gylfaginning here

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

The sun becomes dark. Earth sinks in the sea.

The shining stars slip out of the sky.

Vapour and fire rage fiercely together,

till the leaping flame licks heaven itself

(ibid)

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4. Sinmara

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Sinmara by Jenny Nystrom

Sinmara by Jenny Nystrom

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

Here is a section from Fjölsvinnsmál: 

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

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

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Themes, Relevance and Questions:

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Life,  Death, heat and renewal: 

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

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

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

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Things of Interest:

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1.  The Road To Asgard: BiFrost:

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

Part 1

Part 2

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Part 3

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Optional Poetry and Writing Prompts:

Gerard Manley Hopkins

Gerard Manley Hopkins

Curtal Sonnet

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

The rhyming scheme is abcabcdbcdc or abcabcdcbdc.

See here for more details.

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

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

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 Thank you so much for your interest.

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References

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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