Fingers of Fate Picture

This piece is full of complex symbolism. I wanted to depict the Norns the way that I see them (perhaps perceive would be a better word), and the only way to do that was to use a lot of symbolism. The key theme in this is the idea that the Norns, and the Valkyries are intimately linked. It is the Norns who weave the fabric of wyrd, reality, and the very universe. Their fingers upon the loom manifest as the Valkyries. This is the way I see it, but the idea itself isn't mine alone. Jacob Grimm draws some correlations between them in Teutonic Mythology, and even goes further to discuss their relation to the Dis', Vala and wise women of Germanic myths and stories. This piece was drawn to be my altar centerpiece.

Depicted here, left to right, are Skuld, Verdandi and Urd..the Norns. Skuld's sphere of influence is the future, and the possibilities to come, so she is looking forward 'into the future'. Cradled in her arm is a distaff full of flax fibers, in which can be seen a distinctly fetal shape, representing the thread spun for us at birth. She is the youngest of the Norns, and as such is often 'overlooked' by people in tales of the Norns. As a result she has a bit of a reputation for being vengeful, and capricious. A perfect example of this is the tale of Nornagesta (wiki it). For this reason I chose to make one of her 'fingertips' a wolf, since the wolf is an agressive animal (the valkyries were said to come to Midgard in the forms of wolves, ravens and swans). Part of her youthful capriciousness is also reflected by the fact that she's standing on the edge of the loom, throwing the pattern a bit askew there, and thereby sort of inadvertantly 'throwing a monkey-wrench into the works'. She is the only Norn also specifically mentioned as appearing as a Valkyrie as well.
Verdandi governs the present, so she is looking straight out, into the here and now. Her tool is the needle/shuttle in the form of a bird's skull. As birds are often thought to be portents of good or bad events, I felt the symbolism here was fitting. Both the Raven and swan stem from her fingertips, representing valkyries traveling to midgard. Urd represents the future, and those events still to come, she is 'looking within', in a similar way that the wise-women practiced Seid. Her tool is a pair of shears, which is trimming a thread. As the eldest Norn she is thought to be the wisest, and it is she who cuts the thread of our lives (similar to the Greek Moirae). One of her fingers can be seen illuminating a wise-woman, or shaman within the tapestry, reflecting her role as keeper of the unknown future. The three of them are all in different positions, Skuld is kind of leaning over in anticipation, Verdandi is standing (in the Moment), and Urd is seated, awaiting the inevitable, deep in reflection. I feel it worth mentioning that only their fingers (not their thumbs) are depicted as crossing into the reality of the tapestry, the three of them together have 24 fingers, the same number of runes in the Elder Futhark, which is broken up into three Aetts of 8 runes each..just food for thought..I'm not going to get into it any further, except to point out that the runes on their jewelry each come from a different Aett (and are traditionally associated with them).

The tapestry itself is bordered by knotwork made of a symbol associated with the Norns, the 'Web of Wyrd'. At the bottom are several skulls being used as loom weights. Their inclusion (as well as the femurs) was inspired by one of the darker descriptions from traditional lore, of a trio of valkyries weaving entrails on a loom of bone, with heads as weights. This dark side of the Norns and valkyr is seldom depicted nowadays, so I felt it important to maintain a bit of their dark nature, as a reminder. The picture on the tapestry is that of a valkyrie reaching out to a newly deceased man. His Fylgja is helping him up. I did the background in very muted sepia-like colors to illustrate that our mundane reality seems colorless and bland in comparison to that which lies in the next world, the realm of the Gods. It is also meant to not look specifically like anything, it could be a city, battleground, lonely desert highway, etc. that way its interpretation is more open. The valkyrie has blood on her tunic, and the tip of her spear..she could have been protecting him, or could have been the vehicle of his death, two functions which valkries serve, and also open to personal interpretation. The mans fylgja is cradling him, and helping him into the next world, into the grasp of the valkyrie. A fylgja is a part of the soul (in the heathen tradition), kind of like a guardian angel, and actually has quite a bit in common with valkyries as well. They are capable of changing shapes, and usually appear to be the opposite sex as the person. They stay with a person until death, looking after them, warning them of danger and such, though will abandon those whose deeds are evil. They are also said to speak for a persons character when judged in Niflheim, as they know what is truly in the persons heart. The man is coming into the afterlife with his tattoos intact, which reflects my own personal belief that tattoos are a mark not only on the skin, but also the soul. I'm sure I'm not alone in this belief, but I felt that it needed mentioning
6172013 Red
The World Tree
Fingers of Fate
The Youngest