Siege Diaries 2/15/2021

Today’s Daily Stoic writing prompt:  Do these strong emotions even make sense?

Sometimes they don’t.  The question is what you do with those emotions.  Emotions, by themselves, are not bad or good–it’s how we take them and go forward with them.

In Toastmasters, we often talk about “getting the butterflies in your stomach to fly in formation.”  That is, to transform the very real emotions of anxiety and fear that come with public speaking into to useful energy to carry forward.  I’ve certainly been transforming my many fears about the future into a kind of creative imperative for today–because while I don’t control the future, I certainly feel much more in control of my ability to create.  Sometimes, incredible things have emerged.  At other times, I’ve just found a way to sit with those emotions and acknowledge them for what they are–meaning I start to gain power over them.

I woke up around 3 am last night.  After tossing and turning a bit, I moved downstairs and decided to check whether the results for the scribal challenge had been posted yet–and they had been, at least for the participants, and I was stunned and thrilled to find out that I’d placed second in the Advanced category, the only out-of-kingdom entrant to place.  Later, the results were posted publicly, so I can finally share.

Pelican scroll for Thora i Guldvik

When consulting with the recipient for this project, she mentioned she particularly loved images of the World Tree, specifically mentioning the Norns and Ratatoskr the squirrel, so I decided to make this imagery the focus of the scroll.   She also mentioned that your Pelican was for work as a scribe, an officer, and events.    Looking at her Roll of Arms entry, I saw that she was also the first Princess of Tir Righ, a fact that I also wanted to mention in the wording.  

I usually compose about 85% of my own scroll texts (we do not have a formal approval process here in Ealdormere.)   I briefly considered giving drottkvaet a try, but in the limited time we had I decided not to try a poetic form I was not experienced with and instead decided to go with a narrative text that had some of the same flavour of Norse poetry with kennings and alliteration.  I phrased it as a discussion between the three Norns on the thread of Thora’s life—including the ten-year delay in getting the scroll.

The text:

Said Urðr: this thread has passed through my fingers.  She, the lady who first sat the high seats of Tir Righ, once served, now serves, she who saw and scribed great deeds, who wrote our warp and weft, who took up chains of office and offered the hospitality of the hall.

Said Verðandi: and thus I take up the thread today, and so spin words to pen by Royal command, by writ of  Skeggi Basileus and Taisiia Basilissa it must be done, that she who has served with her life’s blood must be raised high, and so we proclaim that Thora i Guldvik is to be numbered as a Companion of our Order of the Pelican from this,  the twenty first day of May of the year 7519, anno Societatis XLVI. Let her arms now be patent: Gules on a plate a falcon volant to sinister base sable, in chief a pearled coronet argent. A new branch upon the World Tree, a gift to Our kingdom.

Said Skuld: and her thread passes to me, and I scrye that she shall take up her rights and duties, but winters shall pass thrice three and one, before the pen and brush shall record what was done, and signatures and seal affixed.

The illumination (on pergamenata) is based on the earliest extant image of the World Tree, which appears in the 17th-century Icelandic manuscript AM 738 (the Poetic Edda), housed at the Árni Magnússon Institute in Iceland.   Although this is out of our period, I decided to use it as my model as it’s not only closer to our period than most depictions of the Tree, it’s also part of a manuscript tradition dating back to Snorri Sturlison’s composition/compilation of the Eddas in the 13th century.  I’ve done a number of scrolls for Norse personae based on runestones, along with several actual runestones (an idea I discarded for this time due to 1) lack of an appropriate stone, 2) shipping costs) but this is the first where I could actually do something related to the actual manuscript tradition.  

I made a number of changes to the original.  First, I tweaked the four stags a bit to remove their curvy tails.  Poor Ratatoskr (the squirrel) looked more like a goat or a unicorn, so I made him a little more squirrel-like.  And I changed the eagle with the hawk sitting on his head to the Pelican to match the award the recipient was receiving.  Other than the recipient’s arms, the only use of red on the scroll is in the four drops of blood.

I wanted to include the three Norns as they are directly mentioned in my text, but are not in the illumination, so I turned to some of the small metal “Valkyrie” figurines as a model.  I was able to adapt their hand positions to depict the passing of the thread between the three.  Note that the thread is the only use of gold in the entire scroll.

The most significant change I made from the original is to the colour palette, which I changed from the original summer-like colours to the “hazy shades of winter” related to the contest themes—so colours including a mint green, a deeper hunter green, blue-green, blue, greys, and silver.  All colours are Windsor and Newton designer gouaches; all colours were mixed by me.  I also changed the colour of the Norns from the original solid golden colour to silver with a few light highlights of blues, greens, and greys.  The scroll text also references the fact that the scroll was completed “thrice three and one” (ten) winters after the bestowal of the award.

Source file for drawing:

The two female figurines I used for the Norns.  The triquetra on the side-facing figure forms a subtle reference to my home kingdom of Ealdormere.   The first figure dates to about 800 (as per  The figure on the right is thought to be the goddess Freya and is in the Danish National Museum.


Song of the day.  Gods, I love the sound of the Mongolian language in this.