Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Thor vs. Odin in the Hárbarðsljóð

Thor threatens Greybeard
Thor is so cute when he shakes his hammer.
In this poem, Odin has disguised himself as a ferryman on the opposite shore from Thor, freshly returned from slaying yon Jotuns in the mysterious East. Thor just wants a lift to the other side of the sound, but Odin is determined to put Thor through his paces in a battle of um. well. insult and wit, I guess. (No one should really be surprised by this.)

But my question is this: if, as is a common conception, Thor is so "simple" and "dimwitted" why is Odin bothering to challenge him at all? It seems like it would be too easy a mark. And really, some of Thor's replies are pretty great. Some of them typically Hammer-smash, too, but you have to give credit where credit is due!

An example:
Harbarth spake:
24. [...];
The noble who fall | in the fight hath Othin,
And Thor hath the race of the thralls."
Thor spake:
25. "Unequal gifts | of men wouldst thou give to the gods,
If might too much thou shouldst have."
Harbarth spake:
26. "Thor has might enough, | but never a heart;
For cowardly fear | in a glove wast thou fain to crawl,
And there forgot thou wast Thor;
Afraid there thou wast, | thy fear was such,
To fart or sneeze | lest Fjalar should hear."
Thor spake:
27. "Thou womanish Harbarth, | to hell would I smite thee straight,
Could mine arm reach over the sound."

In this back and forth, Harbarth (Odin in disguise) is saying that Thor only receives the souls of Thralls and Peasants into his hall-of-the-dead* and Odin is better because he gets all the REAL, NOBLE warriors to fight for him. Thor replies easily, implying Harbarth knows not of what he speaks, but either way it isn't up to Harbarth who goes where, so NYAH.** And Harbarth responds in turn by calling Thor a big fat coward (a natural progression, I guess) which of course provokes Thor (short-tempered at the best of times) to reply with the Hammer-Smash argument.

Odin gets serious points for saying that Thor was too terrified even to fart in stanza 26, I'm not going to lie. But Thor's "Womanish" response is pretty weak, even before we reach the Hammer-Smash. I feel like this is some kind of test by Odin -- to see if his son has the CHOPS for flyting. I don't think Thor is going to be taking home an A+ on this exam, but he proves he can think on his feet at least a little bit.

...until he loses his temper.

(Part TWO!)

*This supposed hall of the dead belonging to Thor, strictly for the spirits of Thralls and Peasants, isn't referenced anywhere else, according to the note attached -- but I'll tell you what, if Thor DID have such a hall, it just makes him that much AWESOMER in my book.

**I think  he's also implying that he doesn't care or need to care about getting warriors, personally, because he's so powerful already, and this is a pretty good comeback! I mean -- it is kind of true. The Aesir are always calling Thor up to do their dirty work when it comes to defeating giants. Odin has all this power -- can see the future and turn peoples minds and blah blah blah rune magic, but does he USE it to save the gods some trouble? Case in point: that whole wall-building episode, with the builder who wanted Freyja, the sun, and the moon for payment, and the gods setting him up to fail and then uh -- well, he is clearly going to not fail, so they make Loki stack the deck even further, not that they ever had any intention of keeping their word to begin with, but to add insult to injury after totally jerking the builder around, they just go ahead and call Thor in to kill him so they don't have to arrange for any alternate compensation. Guys, I would not advise making any DEALS with the Aesir if Loki is around. Just a word to the wise.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Affairs of the Gods: Heimdall as Rig

Freya and Heimdall by Blommer
Heimdall chatting up Freyja
Falling loosely under the category of AFFAIRS OF THE GODS, in the Rigsthula, Heimdall masquerades in the guise of Rig, visiting three different families on his journey along the shore, and fathers three sons, one by each family: Thræll, the first of all the thralls; Karl, the ancestor of all the peasants or yeomen; and finally Jarl, who is the ancestor of all kings, as you can imagine, but also the only son Heimdall claims as his own, and the only son Heimdall teaches about the runes.*

Reading the myth put me in mind of the Old Testament and the book of Genesis, where it says:
Lamech took two wives; the name of one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah. Adah bore Jabal; he was the ancestor of those who live in tents and have livestock. His brother’s name was Jubal; he was the ancestor of all those who play the lyre and pipe (4:19-21).**

Of course the Rigsthula is a much less dry accounting of this kind of ancestry-assignment (say what you will about the myths, but the Norsemen know how to tell a story of who begat whom with a lot more zest). Heimdall essentially sweet talks his way into bed with his hosts (married couples in each instance, of better and better means as the story unfolds) and then, not just into bed, but into the middle of the bed, so he has the husband on one side of him and the wife on the other. Heimdall sure didn't lack gumption to impregnate these ladies while they were in bed with their husbands. Of course, he's a god -- and gods have a reputation for letting nothing stand in the way of a little bit of boot-knocking -- but after accepting their hospitality, it does seem a little bit... questionable, on Heimdall's part.

Then again, hospitality wasn't nearly the binding contract among the Norse that it was for the Greeks. We see in the Sagas how often the guise of offering hospitality is used to betray someone utterly. The Volsung family, for example, suffers this kind of deception and betrayal, resulting in the deaths of everyone but Sigmund and Sigyn, who are then left to take revenge upon Sigyn's husband (who invited the entire family to visit and then slaughtered them). However, we also see, by the behavior of the Volsungs, that betraying one's guests is absolutely dishonorable and deviant behavior.*** I'm not certain if that holds true the other way around -- if the guests themselves are bound by some rule in their treatment of the host, I haven't yet come across an example of it (and there is plenty of stuff out there I haven't read, for the record).

All that said, each son finds a wife, and they all are said to have lived happily ever after, making plenty of babies with specialized skill-sets for their particular roles as Thralls, Peasants, or Kings. How much Heimdall had to do with that, I don't know, but I'd LIKE to believe that he at least went so far as ensuring a semi-prosperous future for the other two sons he fathered and abandoned. I find myself wondering if the cuckolded husbands realized who fathered their strapping boys, but how do you miss someone having sex in the bed right next to you?

I think these affairs of Heimdall's give Zeus a run for the money in the BRASH department, personally.

*To me, this looks like Jarl is the only child who is given the TOOLS to rule (it is not possible to overvalue literacy.. or um, magic). He comes from the most well off of the families Heimdall stays with (judging by the food offered to their guest and what the husband is busying himself with in the evening hours), and is described as the most beautiful of the three boys born, too. Basically, Jarl is given every advantage. The American in me is saying "but! BUT! Wouldn't the line of kings be even more impressive if they had come from a situation of adversity from birth, rather than getting the silver-spoon treatment?!" I suppose this is proof positive that not all sons of gods are created equal. Or something.

**I always found this passage interesting, because it comes before the flood, wherein everyone but Noah's family is wiped out, which makes it kind of impossible for Jabal and Jubal to be the ancestors of anyone TODAY, as Noah was a descendant of one of Adam's other sons, and Jubal and Jabal are descended from Cain.

***Sigyn's father refuses to believe her husband would do such a thing, but even if he didn't refuse to believe it, he wouldn't dishonor of his family name himself by turning tail and running, anyway. Such was the importance of honor and reputation, it was better to die fighting -- as we all remember from that post about Hel.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Runic Superpowers of Odin: Part II

Odin and Gunnlöð by Frølich
Odin using his SUPERFLIRT powers
When last we left our hero-king-Allfather, he had learned the first 9 of 18 runic spells of power and magic while hanging himself from the world-tree, Yggdrasil. In this post, I present you with the back nine, pulled from the Hávamál:

     10. Odin has the power to ward off witches and send them back home confused -- and it's kind of interesting to note, also, that most of those who use magic in the sagas are women. Males, as a rule, did not engage in such things, with the exception of Odin the Allfather, of course.

     11. Odin can protect his people if he leads them to war. By singing beneath his shield, he can bring them safely through the battle and home again.

     12. With runes and spells, Odin can speak to a hanged man. More precisely, he can bring them down to speak to HIM. I bet the dead have some interesting stories to tell. Gruesome, too.

     13. If Odin sprinkles a new baby with water, they'll never fall in battle. (Kind of sounds like a baptism to me.)

     14. I'm not sure how to interpret this one, exactly, so I'll feed you the quote: "I know all the nature of gods and of elves" (stanza 158).*

     15. With a song, Odin can give extra strength to the gods (I am envisioning little +1s or +5s floating over their heads), bonus SKILL to the elves, and uh -- well, more wisdom to himself, I guess. I wonder if this is temporary or continual. Either way, I wonder why he doesn't bonus-wisdom himself constantly. Maybe he does. WHO CAN SAY.

     16. Odin can win the affection and love of any woman he wants. Ladies man SUPREME, to say the least. No question at all in my mind that Odin got plenty of use out of this one.

     17. Even the SHYEST of ladies will be charmed and reluctant to leave him.**

     18. I'm tempted to believe this one is something to do with professing his own feelings, but it's kind of another riddle -- I guess it could just be that he is withholding the final spell, but I don't know. Odin gets with a lot of ladies, so if he's telling all of them what this one is, he's kind of contradicting himself. I'll give you the quote, here, too (stanza 163):
An eighteenth I know: which I ne'er shall tell
to maiden or wife of man
save alone to my sister, or haply to her
who folds me fast in her arms;
most safe are secrets known to but one-
the songs are sung to an end.

As you can see, Odin is a pretty talented god. And this is just the tip of the iceberg -- he also won a LOT of wisdom and information from Mimir's well, at the cost of his eye. I'm betting Odin has no regrets about that trade, especially since his spear is magicked to hit whatever he aims for, anyway. And I guess you don't really need depth perception when you have two ravens to see everything in the world for you in advance.

*The Norse Myths by Crossley-Holland interprets this as being able to name all the gods and elves, but that seems pretty weak to me. And also, not really something to do with the runes, so much as just being some extra knowledge picked up along the way. I'd be much more impressed if he saw into the hearts of said elves and gods, and KNEW them with a glance instead. 

**I kind of feel like this is a cheat. This is totally just 16 part two, but whatever, Odin, I will give you the pass.

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Runic Superpowers of Odin: Part I

Odin, Sleipnir, Geri, Freki, Huginn and Muninn by Frølich
Odin riding Sleipnir
In the Hávamál, Odin describes the 18 magic rune spells he discovers during his hanging.* I'm not sure he ever made use of some of them, with all the trouble that the giants made for the Aesir, but they're pretty impressive all the same. I always read it in the poem, but I've never really thought about them before, and the language kind of gets in the way for me -- besides which, I don't commit things to memory until I've written them down again in my own words. So, without further ado, A LIST:

  1. Odin knows a spell called Help, which (as you can probably guess) brings help in times of "sorrow and strife."
  2. Odin can heal the sick, and I would imagine it comes in handy for a king of a warrior pantheon, to say nothing of all those worshipers who go off a-viking...ing.
  3. Odin learns a spell to blunt swords and stop weapons from doing harm. Again, quite practical, all things considered. 
  4. Odin cannot be bound by fetters or chains or rope or anything, because he has a spell to break any binding. I bet he got use out of that right off, to spring the noose from his neck. At least, I'd have used it for that, just to you know-- see if it worked.
  5. Apparently all Odin has to do is glimpse an arrow as it flies and he can "stay its flight." I think I'd like to consider this KUNG FU AWESOME.
  6. Odin is rubber and his foes are glue, because any curse made against him bounces off of him and sticks to... you? Anyway, a spell that turns curses back on their inventors. Not YOU. Unless you happen to be the one carving runic curses against Odin. 
  7. Odin is also a one-man Fire Brigade, putting out fires with a song/spell.
  8. The All-father can soothe the savage beast, so to speak, by calming their hate. It sounds like this particular spell is one that anyone could use -- I'm almost wondering if its something like poetry or some kind of bardic wordsmithery, really. 
  9. Odin can calm the seas and the wind to protect his vessel.

And I think we're going to take a breather here, because it feels like it is getting kind of long. Part II with the last nine will be forthcoming! Probably the next blog post. I don't know about you, but I am never going to forget the curse reversal thing, now that I applied the rubber and glue expression.

*Odin sacrificed himself to himself by hanging himself from what is usually considered to be Yggdrasil, the world-tree. (There are a lot of himselfs in that sentence.) It's one of the many ways he accrued wisdom and, it seems to me, the primary source of his magical skills, such as they were.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Fairy Ring Flash Fiction Contest: A Norse Lullaby

A Norse Lullaby

Thor (1907) by Lorenz FrølichThe first time I met Thor, I was drugged up to my ears on allergy medicine, and wired rather than tired. My eyes ached, dry and scratchy, and instead of sleeping off the itch in my throat, I stared at the ceiling and cursed the entire state and all its flora and fauna. The Chinese elms especially.

So when the springs creaked and the mattress tilted, I wasn’t exactly in my right mind. I just assumed it was one of the cats. A couple of them were pretty big, after all, so I threw my arm across my face and groaned.

“Please,” I said, mostly to myself. “I just want to sleep.”

Thor chuckled. Thundergods are fond of chuckling. Hearty, deep stomach laughter that makes you smile along with them. I cracked open one of my eyes, lifting my arm up to look at him. He was much, much larger than a cat, to say the least, and sitting on the edge of the bed, blue eyes sparkling with amusement at my expense. It was at that point I started having serious concerns about the bed frame supporting our weight.

He stroked my hair, his huge, calloused hand causing the roots to tingle. “I’ll sing you to sleep,” he promised. “Just close your eyes.”

I knew him, of course, so I didn’t argue. Thundergods are hard to mistake, even if you’ve never met before.

I closed my eyes and thunder rolled, the patter of rain against the window with it. My eyes flew back open, and I laughed. “You call that singing?”

But I was already half-asleep before he answered, and in the morning, he was gone. Thundergods always come back, though, once you learn to ask.

Needless to say, I never had trouble sleeping again.


Other entries can be found on Anna Meade's blog, Yearning for Wonderland. 300 words is not a lot to work with, that's for sure, but it's an interesting challenge. The contest runs until the February 20th, so head over to Anna's blog for the details!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Hel: Person and Place

The children of Loki by Willy Pogany
Hel looks particularly sickly beside her brothers.
One of the monstrous children of Loki, according to Snorri in the Prose Edda, Hel is "half black and half flesh-colored." She was given the rulership of Niflheim and all those who die of sickness or old age -- meaning pretty much everyone who didn't die in battle and land in the promised land, with the possible exception of those who were lost at sea. The ideal death was in battle, to be swept up by the Valkyries, or perhaps Freyja and brought to Asgard to live on drinking and battling for funsies in Valhalla (with Odin) or Folkvangr (with Freyja) until Ragnarok. It was only the second class deaths that went to Hel* which was by most accounts a pretty dismal place, in particular this stanza in the Voluspa describing part of Nifleheim is pretty bleak**:

38. A hall I saw, | far from the sun,
On Nastrond it stands, | and the doors face north,
Venom drops | through the smoke-vent down,
For around the walls | do serpents wind.

I don't know about you, but with that as my other option, I'd be running myself into someone else's sword, too. Especially if the woman who greeted and embraced me was only half human flesh. Half-alive, even. But what if her appearance is more than just the indication of her monstrous birth -- the child of Loki and the Giantess, Angrboða -- and potential threat to gods? What if it signifies the grief of loss? Of the women who were left behind when their husbands went out as Vikings and never came home again?

Sure, the men went to Valhalla to be waited on by Valkyries, or got to dance their nights away with the goddess Freyja (by all accounts, very beautiful and some kind of addiction to the frost giants, who are obsessed with marrying her) but those women, who did not or would not die in battle had lost their men and sons for eternity. There was no hope of reunion when the dead were divided so absolutely in the afterlife. What if Hel is the representation of their heartbreak, their suffering, their grief, in knowing they will never embrace their loved ones again? For that matter, it could be the representation of all loss of that nature. The husband's loss of his beloved wife and child in childbirth -- when just hours earlier the world had been full of life and promise, now cruelly stripped away, there is only a half life left, while stumbling through grief.

It seems likely to me that  Hel, responsible for those kinds of deaths, would embody their suffering physically as well. But what a miserable existence, taking charge of so many forsaken spirits. And having been forsaken by the Aesir, to rot with Hel in Niflheim, is it any wonder that they rise up against the gods in Ragnarok? I can't really blame them, personally.

*In those days, a good many of those who would have died of sickness were probably women and children, most especially in childbirth. Norse women could and did go off to plunder and fight as vikings, with new evidence suggesting they were more prevalent in those parties than we previously thought, but childbirth was dangerous then, and there was no telling what was on the other end of a pregnancy -- life or death. The idea of Hel as half alive and half dead, then, is rather fitting. It almost seems to me as though every woman had one foot in the grave in those days, especially if she was married and bearing children. 

** This sounds to me like the place where Loki is bound, what with the venom dripping down into his face and eyes and the presence of the serpents. But there isn't any real specific information on where Loki was imprisoned, and since when he writhes against his bonds he causes earthquakes, it seems to me that implies he's trapped beneath Midgard somewhere. Maybe that's where Nifleheim is, though. It's hard to say how it all maps out.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Thor and Loki (No Footnotes, Just Gut)

A long time ago I posted about The Essential Thor -- that is the Thor I had come to know through reading the myths and researching him half to death (or possibly half to life) -- and today I want to kind of continue that thought.

So much of how I judge Thor is related to how he interacts with others, his relationships with the other gods, his loyalty to the people he loves. His relationship with Loki, of course, is at the center of a lot of this in the myths. Thor and Loki are always traveling together, always getting into mischief and bailing each other out of it, and until recently, I didn't really understand the dynamic between them. It is so easy for me to see Loki as the villain, the deceiver and the troublemaker, and so hard for me to see what Thor does in the myths: a companion and friend, someone worth seeking out for adventures, someone to keep at your back or turn to in a crisis.

Then it occurred to me that Loki was sometimes considered a blood brother to Odin, Thor's father. And Odin was king of the gods, king of Asgard, ruler and warrior. No doubt he was a very busy god. What if Loki stepped in where Odin did not have the time to spend? What if Thor had been raised from a young age to consider Loki as his uncle? What if that was the foundation of their relationship? It explains everything so perfectly, fits everything together like matching pieces in a puzzle.

Loki was the cool uncle who let Thor do all the fun stuff. Loki was the person who took him on adventures and rescued Thor from trouble at the last minute. We see it in the myths, too, that when Thor is in trouble, he goes to Loki first, not Odin. Just consider the cross-dressing Thor, incident. When the Mjollnir disappears, Thor doesn't race to his father, the man with the seat that allows him to see everything in the nine worlds, Thor goes to Loki. Thor goes to Loki because Loki has always gotten him out of scrapes in the past, and Loki isn't going to judge him, or give him a hard time, or punish him, the way a father might, for getting into the scrape to begin with. Even though Odin could have discerned the location of Mjollnir faster and more easily, Thor appeals to a different power for help.

We see in the myths that it is most often Loki leading Thor on these trips which always end in some kind of disastrous fix -- but why is Thor following along so blithely? Why is it so hard for Thor to see what's coming when he gets involved in these adventures? Even Thor isn't that dumb. I mean, sure, he isn't the brightest of the gods, but that's a whole different level of blind naivety. But if Thor was raised to trust him, raised looking up to him as his fun uncle, raised to trust that Loki will take care of him from childhood, it all makes so much more sense.

And it also explains how difficult it is for Thor to finally face the facts of Loki's nature, and just why Thor has given him forgiveness after forgiveness. It makes sense that in the Lokasenna, Thor blows a gasket even to see the uncle who betrayed him, betrayed his whole family, by engineering Balder's death. The first words out of his mouth are shut up, or I'll hammer your mouth shut -- and  after all the trouble Loki has gotten Thor into before now, after all the times Thor has just laughed and forgiven him, that kind of immediate response seems like a break in character. But Loki has finally crossed the line. His sins are too great to overlook.

Thor responds to Loki like a child who suddenly realizes the truth about his parent. Balder's death, his brother's murder, shatters Thor's ideal of who Loki is in a way nothing else could have. Suddenly, Thor is able to see clearly, man to man, god to god, giant to giant. Thor should have expected some kind of betrayal from Loki -- but he didn't. He couldn't see around the idea of the Uncle he had looked up to all his life to recognize the truth of his character. He couldn't see that the mischief hid malice, because he was a boy who saw the best in the uncle who had half-raised him.

Loki and Thor's relationship is tragic. It ends the way so many of Loki's adventures did -- in disaster. And when it really mattered, when it might have made all the difference, Loki went out of his way to be sure it couldn't be fixed.*

*Hermod went all the way to Hel and bargained to bring Balder back to life, and Hel promised Balder could return if everything in the world wept for him. Everything did, but for Loki, disguised as a Giantess who refused to mourn, and so Hel  refused to release Balder. Loki could have fixed everything, they all could have had a laugh over their mead and Loki would have been redeemed. 

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Affairs of the Gods: Hades and Persephone

Hi, Followers-of-Amalia! I’m thrilled to be guest blogging here today. For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Diana Paz, longtime friend of the spectacularly talented and adorably wonderful, Amalia. [Note From Amalia: Part One, which discusses Hades and Persephone individually, is over yonder on Diana's blog!]

I’m here today to discuss the topic of my current work-in-progress, the Greek myth most commonly known as The Rape of Persephone. I’m excited to share some of my FINDINGS, and indulge in the glorious research that, in part, makes writing such a joy for me. Onward we go, into the Underworld!

Hades and Persephone: A Match Made in the Underworld
Persephone krater Antikensammlung Berlin 1984.40
NFA: Hades and Persephone are in the HORSE drawn chariot.
I'd guess that's Dionysus above them with the leopards.

In my mind, there could hardly be a more opposite goddess for the harsh and austere Hades than Persephone, goddess of innocence and springtime. Maybe that’s part of what makes this match so appealing to me. Whoever Hades married would be elevated to the status of queen, and the sheltered Persephone seemed hardly prepared to rule. Her life had been spent doing little more than growing flowers and creating beauty. But maybe that’s all Hades really needed.

So. How did this match come about? There are a few variations explaining how she was whisked off. Sometimes Eros shoots Hades with an arrow when he notices him near Persephone, just for kicks. Sometimes Aphrodite was the mastermind behind this, because Persephone was following in Athena’s and Artemis’ footsteps in becoming another virgin goddess, and Aphrodite wasn’t too pleased about having any more mortals taking vows of chastity. But sometimes Hades is the one who asks Zeus about finding a bride, feeling in need of companionship down in the Underworld. And sometimes it’s Zeus who is depicted as orchestrating the whole affair, because he believes his big brother could use a queen.

Whatever the case, Persephone is usually shown gathering flowers when she wanders away from the protection of the nymphs. She’s often out of earshot, which indicates she’s ventured rather far. Most sources tell of an earthquake, which caused a chasm to open up. Again, whether this happened naturally or because of some kind of planning is unclear, but Hades noticed the chasm, and “left his dark domains to and fro, drawn in his chariot and sable steeds, inspected the foundations of the isle. His survey done, and no point found to fail, he put his fears aside” (Ovid, METAMORPHOSES).  The details of what happened next are arguable, but whether by arrow or design, one thing is certain: the sheltered Persephone’s life would never be the same.

Here’s where my curiosity again takes over. A god like Hades, who is foremost about fulfilling his duties and making sure the rules are obeyed, doesn’t seem like the type who would up and decide to abduct Persephone. He could have courted any goddess, and certainly found someone interested in becoming a queen. So perhaps it was Eros’ arrow after all, and Hades was overcome with ARDOR and kidnapped Persephone after all, but considering what I know about Persephone, what exactly led her to stray so far? There are stories of her curious nature, particularly in opening the golden box sent to her by Aphrodite. Could she have been curious about the chasm that opened up? Most likely it was completely different than anything she’d known. 

In my research, I can’t help noticing that the primary focus is often on Demeter’s distress about losing her daughter, not so much on Persephone’s dismay at being carried off by a king among gods. Little is said about her time in the Underworld, with Demeter’s year-long search taking center stage. Add to this the ambiguity about how, exactly, Persephone ate the pomegranate seeds before leaving the Underworld—was it trickery? After an entire year, Hades tricks her? According to the Homeric Hymns, yes:
…but he secretly put in my mouth sweet food, a pomegranate seed, and forced me to taste against my will. (Third Homeric Hymn).
But, why didn’t he trick her into eating the seeds sooner than this? And trickery seems pointedly out of character for a god who is so adamant about RULES. Not to mention, some sources show Persephone eating the seeds herself, without realizing:
…for the girl had broken her fast and wandering, childlike, through the orchard trees from a low branch had picked a pomegranate and peeled the yellow rind and found the seeds and nibbled seven. (Ovid, METAMORPHOSES, Book 5).
There are versions in which Hades offers her the seeds without trickery, and she takes them, supposedly not knowing what they’ll do (Apollodorus, for example), but… what if Persephone took the seeds of her own free will? Persephone, having spent an entire year in the Underworld without eating the food of the dead, might have known that something would happen if she did. It seems possible that when Hermes came to deliver her to the sunlit world, maybe she did something rash. She might have missed her mother, but she didn’t mind her life as queen, either. The Underworld could have been a kind of freedom for Persephone from her mother’s overprotectiveness. I can’t help but wonder if she hoped to return.

Like most mythology, there is a lot of room for speculation. I feel like I’ve covered the bases, but maybe I’m way off. Is this simply the abduction of an unwilling goddess and nothing more? Was she a woeful victim sent to the Underworld each winter, longing for the light, or did she return the unlikely affection of a god who wanted nothing more than to make her his divine queen?
~ ~ ~
Diana Paz is a web content writer and aspiring author. She was born in Costa Rica, grew up on Miami Beach, moved to Los Angeles in high school, and went to college in San Diego. Basically, she's a beach bum, but she did graduate from California State University, San Marcos with a Bachelor's Degree in Liberal Arts. She loves old movies, epic fantasy, all kinds of music, and heading to the beach with a good book. Preferably sipping a caramel frappuccino. Find her at her blog:dianapazwrites.blogspot.com or on Twitter @dianapazwrites

Friday, February 03, 2012

Orc Romance Sketch Party!

Okay, not really. But the other night my fingers itched so I sat down and gave sketching Bolthorn a shot! Those of you who know me might know that I am notoriously unable to envision faces, but it came out not so bad, if I do say so myself.

In my wip, BLOOD OF THE KING, the Hrimthursar are a clan of orcs who live on the coldest of the northern mountains which divide the human lands from those which belong to the elves and the dragons. Bolthorn is Gothi (chief/leader/first speaker) of the Hrimthursar.

I'm not entirely happy with the tattoos -- they should be a lot more complex than they are in this sketch -- but I didn't want to ruin the sketch mucking about with them any further. Generally, the tattoos on the forehead mark the clan, and then on the cheek and chin is the family/bloodline/occupation information. Hrimthursar are always tattooed on the right side of their face, Vidthursar are tattooed on the left. Bolthorn has another set of tattoos which climb from his left shoulder blade over his shoulder and down across his breast to his heart, which mark him as Gothi. There are also two tattoos which indicate marriage, and those are placed over the pulse of the throat and the inside of the left wrist.

And now that you know more than you ever needed to know about how orc tattoos work in my manuscript, I'm sure you're really thrilled that I'm back to blogging! ha. Needless to say, the move went very well and we are in the process of settling in still. So! Tuesday I have a guest post to offer you from the fabulous Diana Paz, in the category of AFFAIRS OF THE GODS! I hope you'll enjoy it!