Norse mythology seems to have been developed more recently than Greek mythology, and some of its entities apparently reflect this. For example, the Norns bear certain similarities to the three Fates. The Norns are also female spirits, a trio of sisters whose names exhibit wide variations in spelling, depending on the source. I will use the names from the glossary at the back of my copy of the Poetic Edda: Skuld, Urth, and Verthandi. These three were said to determine the fates of gods and men. They spun these fates by Urd, the well of destiny at the base of Yggdrasil, the tree which connects the nine worlds. Those of you who have seen The Avengers: Age of Ultron might recall a scene which alludes to the Norns and Urd without explaining them.
For my story, The Fear of a Farmer (copyrighted but not yet published), I took some artistic license and moved them out to sea. There, they utter false prophecies to dissuade the hero from his appointed task.
Here is a portrait of one of the Norns. I wanted to show more facial detail to develop her visual character.
After I had done this, I looked up some paintings by more regarded artists. I was interested to compare my black and white renderings to theirs. This one is supposedly titled The Norns and was allegedly done by Arthur Rackham. I can verify neither the title nor the artist. I have my suspicions since the style of this one is so different than that of another one attributed to him.
Here is an eerie depiction of the Norns over a cradle.
The Norns in this picture are shown at the base of Yggdrasil. Well, technically, Yggdrasil was an ash tree, not an oak.
Another black and white….
… and a couple in color. Both are titled (guess what?) The Norns. I’m fairly confident that the first of these actually is by Arthur Rackham. The second was also attributed to him, but I am not as confident of this. It is, however, an interesting abstraction that plays on the imagination.
In both of these examples, I like the ethereal use of color. Additionally, the utilization of silhouettes in this last illustration adds to its effectiveness.
One more portrayal…
… and out.
Next week: another mythological being.
4 thoughts on “Mythological Beasts And Spirits: Norns”
I continue to be educated. Thanks and have a great week professor.
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I’ve been away from my computer this week. Thanks, as usual, for your kind comment, and have a great weekend.
Thank you for including the image sources. I’ve been searching the net for hours trying to track down a couple. Though I didn’t find what I was looking for in your post, I did run across a book illustrated by Arthur Rackham. You are correct in your three guesses. Have a look at Sigfried & the Twilight of the Gods, illustrated by Arthur Rackham: frontispiece and pages 108 and 104, respective to the order in your post.
You can check out the book for an hour on Archive.org:
And thank you for the reference. Take care.