The sun cuts low through winter trees, woodsmoke hangs in the air. Walking through the forest one day I find what’s left of a raven dance, the steps clear in the snow. I can see where a raven has scratched it’s beak back and forth drawing concentric lines.
As part of a project I have been drawing too, exploring Viking Age ornamentation with pencil and paint, I interpret the knotwork that was inlayed long ago on the blade of an axe that was found in a place called Mammen in Denmark.
If you look closely you can see that this is a beast tangled in it’s own horns and body, head thrown back. Viking Age ornamentation is expressive with a narrative purpose that forcefully shines from the arcane lines. Strange and beautiful, what must a Viking artist’s dreams have looked like. These were the shapes of their fierce spirit allies; the heath monsters that they drew on their weapons to frighten their enemies. Perhaps they believed that by tying them up in this way they where harnessing their power.
I have been exploring Mammen ornamentation for a sword I have recently completed. I’ve shown many of the steps of it’s creation on this blog. Here is the finished product – Galdrgrimm.
“Galdrgrimm” is a combination of the old Norse word ‘galdr’ which was a sung incantation and the word ‘grimm’ which comes from an Indo-European root word that is cognate with the word thunder. Therefore “Galdrgrimm” roughly translates to “thunder-song”.