25 May 2010

Drawing Norse Myth, Or The Animals, Anyway

So for my latest set of illustrations, I've been drawing cards for a Norse myth swap. I'm fascinated by the pairs of animals associated with the various gods in Norse myth.

Huginn and Muninn

Huginn and Muninn are Odin's ravens, whose names translate as "Thought" and "Memory." They fly out into the world and bring back news, so if you find yourself under observation by a raven or two, you might want to think about whether you've done anything to anger the gods.

Geri and Freki

Odin's wolves Geri and Freki both have names that translate as "Greedy," though the root of "freki" is "ravenous," so I like to call them Greedy and Ravenous.

Bygul and Trjgul

Norse literature has this very cool device called a "kenning" which is a sort of synonym or poetic word or phrase. "Ken" means something like "knowledge" or "understanding," so kennings are about naming some aspect of a thing. An example is "whale road," referring to the sea. Well, the cats that pull Frejya's chariot have names that are kennings. Bygul or "Bee-gold" and Trjgul or "Tree-gold" are kennings for "honey" and "amber." Coolest cat names ever.

Tanngrisnir and Tanngnjostr

Tanngrisnir and Tanngnjostr (Tooth-grinder and Tooth-gnasher) are Thor's chariot-pulling goats (Norse gods seems to enjoy the grandeur of chariots, or maybe it's a military power thing). I wanted to make them look a little crazy, like their names.

At some point I'm going to have to stop avoiding drawing people. Drawing people is not one of my strengths, which means I should be drawing *more* people to improve my skills.

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