Mythological Beasts And Spirits: Norns

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.

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Norns from The Fear of a Farmer (Copyright: Robert Lambert Jones III).

Here is a portrait of one of the Norns. I wanted to show more facial detail to develop her visual character.

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A Norn from The Fear of a Farmer (copyright: Robert Lambert Jones III).

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.

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Here is an eerie depiction of the Norns over a cradle.

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The Norns (1889) by Johannes Gerts.

The Norns in this picture are shown at the base of Yggdrasil. Well, technically, Yggdrasil was an ash tree, not an oak.

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The Norns Uror, Veroandi, and Skul under the world oak Yggdrasil (1882) by Ludwig Burger.

Another black and white….

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Die Helden Und Gotter Des Nordens, Oder: Das Buch Der Sagen (1832) by Amalia Schoppe.

… 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.

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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…

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The Norns by C. E. Brock.

… and out.

Next week: another mythological being.

 

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