I've had this painting in my mind since I first visited Wales. Last summer I worked on an organic farm near Llanidloes, experiencing true rural life , sleeping in a barn (best bed ever, if you ask me!), tending to animals and wandering through the hills nearby.
Vafþrúðnir (Old Norse “mighty weaver”) is a wise jötunn in Norse mythology. His name comes from Vaf, which means weave or entangle, and thrudnir, which means strong or mighty. Some interpret it to mean “mighty in riddles”. It may be anglicized Vafthruthnir or Vafthrudnir. In the Poetic Edda poem Vafþrúðnismál, Vafþrúðnir acts as (the disguised) Odin’s host and opponent in a deadly battle of wits that results in Vafþrúðnir’s defeat.
Heimdallr, in Old Norse, is the watchman of the gods. Called the shining god and whitest skinned of the gods, Heimdall dwelt at the entry to Asgard, where he guarded Bifrost, the rainbow bridge. He required less sleep than a bird, could see 100 leagues, and could hear grass growing in the meadows and wool growing on sheep. Heimdall kept the “ringing” horn, Gjallarhorn, which could be heard throughout heaven, earth, and the lower world; it was believed that he would sound the horn to summon the gods when their enemies, the giants, drew near at the Ragnarök, the end of the world of gods and men. When that time came, Heimdall and his enemy Loki would slay each other. (Enciclopedia Britannica)
Freyr (or Frey) is one of the most important Vanir gods of Norse paganism, associated with sacral kingship, virility and prosperity, with sunshine and fair weather. Son of the sea god Njörðr, and twin brother of the goddess Freyja. Gullinbursti is the name of his shining dwarf-made boar. (Artwork for Fate of the Norns)
Kitsune (狐) is the Japanese word for fox. Foxes are a common subject of Japanese folklore. Stories depict them as intelligent beings and as possessing magical abilities that increase with their age and wisdom. Foremost among these is the ability to assume human form. While some folktales speak of kitsune employing this ability to trick others—as foxes in folklore often do—other stories portray them as faithful guardians, friends, lovers, and wives. Kitsunebi (狐火) is a kaika (atmospheric ghost lights and fires of unknown origin similar to the will-o’-wisp) told about in legends all across Japan outside Okinawa Prefecture. As its name implies, it has a close relation to kitsune (foxes), and there are many theories stating that the glow of the sigh or long breaths of a fox, other than that it is also said that a fox is knocking together its tail and causing a fire, or that it is the glow from a ball that the fox possesses called the kitsunebi-dama (kitsunebi ball).
I found the ispiration for this painting in one of the songs by Loreena McKennitt: The Stolen Child, homage to my favourite Irish poet. For me, being “taken by the fairies” can also be seen as a methaphore for the capturing power of music. The singer, as a bard, becomes a channel that opens the path to a world that lies beyond the ordinary.
Þrymr (Thrymr, Thrym; "uproar") was king of the jotnar. In one legend, he stole Mjollnir, Thor's hammer, to extort the gods into giving him Freyja as his wife. His kingdom was called Jötunheimr, but according to Hversu Noregr byggdist, it was the Swedish province Värmland, then a part of Norway. Þrymr was foiled in his scheme by the gracefulness of Heimdall, the cunning of Loki, and the sheer violence of Thor. Thor, son of Odin, later killed Thrym, his sister, and all of his jotnar kin, which had been present at the wedding reception. The poem Þrymskviða gives the details of how Thor got his hammer back. Artwork for Gulveig: Fate of the Norns.
Fárbauti (Old Norse: "cruel striker") is the jötunn husband of Laufey or Nál and the father of Loki, and possibly also of Helblindi and Byleistr. Fárbauti's name and character are thought to have been inspired by the observation of the natural phenomena surrounding the appearance of wildfire. Artwork for Gulveig: Fate of the Norns.
In Norse mythology, Bergelmir (Old Norse "Mountain Yeller" or "Bear Yeller") is a frost giant, the son of giant Þrúðgelmir and the grandson of Ymir (who was called Aurgelmir among giants), the first frost giant, according to stanza 29 of the poem Vafthrudnismal from the Poetic Edda: "Uncountable winters before the earth was made, then Bergelmir was born, Thrudgelmir was his father, and Aurgelmir his grandfather." — Larrington trans. According to the Gylfaginning section of the Prose Edda by Snorri Sturluson, Bergelmir and his wife alone among the giants were the only survivors of the enormous deluge of blood which flowed from Ymir's wounds when he was killed by Odin and his brothers Vili and Ve. They escaped the sanguinary flood by climbing onto an object and subsequently became the progenitors of a new race of frost giants.
Ægir (Old Norse "sea") is a sea giant, god of the ocean and king of the sea creatures in Norse mythology. He is also known for hosting elaborate parties for the gods. Artowork for Gulveig: Fate of the Norns.
"As angry as he was, his father could not help but laugh. “You’re not my son,” he told Bran when they fetched him down, “you’re a squirrel. So be it. If you must climb, then climb, but try not to let your mother see you.” Bran did his best, although he did not think he ever really fooled her. Since his father would not forbid it, she turned to others. Old Nan told him a story about a bad little boy who climbed too high and was struck down by lightning, and how afterward the crows came to peck out his eyes. Bran was not impressed. There were crows’ nests atop the broken tower, where no one ever went but him, and sometimes he filled his pockets with corn before he climbed up there and the crows ate it right out of his hand. None of them had ever shown the slightest bit of interest in pecking out his eyes."
A quick doodle about my favourite character from A song of Ice and Fire. Watercolour and PS.
Baldr, the White god, son of Frigg and Odin. "The second son of Odin is Baldur, and good things are to be said of him. He is best, and all praise him; he is so fair of feature, and so bright, that light shines from him. A certain herb is so white that it is likened to Baldr's brow; of all grasses it is whitest, and by it thou mayest judge his fairness, both in hair and in body. He is the wisest of the Æsir, and the fairest-spoken and most gracious; and that quality attends him, that none may gainsay his judgments. He dwells in the place called Breidablik, which is in heaven; in that place may nothing unclean be." Gylfaginning, Prose Edda.