The next piece in my “Sculpting Myth” series (available in my Jivotica gallery store and limited to 150 signed/numbered castings) explores another symbol from my Norse heritage, the pair of ravens who served none other than Odin, the All Father, himself. Their names are Hugin and Munin and they were sent out each day to fly around Midgard (Earth) and report back on the events of the world (it is in this way that Odin achieved something like Omniscience.)
The ravens are shown intertwined in knotwork to symbolize their interconnectedness – not only to each other, but also to Odin, the physical world and the knowledge they seek. They are perched on a rune stone upon which is carved a sampling of Futhark (the Norse alphabet) and a depiction of Odin astride his eight-legged horse, Sleipnir.
This piece is fashioned from four separate reliefs using cold-cast bronze, nickel silver and stone-infused resin. Next, patinas, inks and paints are applied and the pieces are buffed to bring out highlights. They are then assembled, covered with a clear coat and mounted in a beautiful black shadowbox frame.
Because they are closely associated with the seeking of knowledge and the king archetype, people often display images of Hugin and munin in their library, study, office or wherever they do their most profound thinking or make their biggest decisions.
Digging deeper into the story of Hugin and Munin…
The Eddic poem Grímnismál mentions Odin’s thoughts on Hugin and Munin:
Hugin and Munin
Fly every day
Over all the world;
I worry for Hugin
That he might not return,
But I worry for Munin more.
The names Hugin and Munin are commonly translated as “thought” and “memory” respectively. While it is widely accepted that the name Hugin does indeed mean “thought” (derived from the Old Norse “hugr”), given that the Old Norse word for memory is “minni,” it is more likely that Munin is derived from the Old Norse word “munr” meaning “desire.”
So, with this alternate translation in mind, Odin seems then to be saying that he is worried about losing his mental faculties (thought), but is more worried about losing his zest for life (desire). I think this expresses the importance placed on a raw passion for life that is fundamental to the Viking world view.
For additional information on Hugin and Munin (and other tales of Norse mythology), I strongly recommend the site Norse-Mythology.org