Saturday, November 12, 2016

Art Contest – Midwinter 2016


The theme for The Norse Mythology Blog's seventh art contest is different than it has been in the past. Be sure to carefully read the entire Contest Theme section so that you understand the assignment.

During the winter solstice on December 21, those of us in the northern hemisphere will experience the shortest day and longest night of the year. This may seem early in the season, but it’s really the middle. From this point on, days will get longer as we slowly move back towards summer.

Throughout Northern Europe, there are local traditions that celebrate midwinter. Some of these practices preserve very old rituals. Your original piece of visual art should capture the midwinter spirit.

I strongly suggest doing some reading and research on myth and folklore before you begin your artwork. What characters and concepts can you discover? Can you think of a way to relate them to the contest theme?

If you need some ideas about mythology, browse The Norse Mythology Blog Archive. You can also click here to check out the past Midwinter Art Contest winners in the three categories: kid, teen, and adult. Most importantly – be creative!


Your artwork entry must somehow relate to the character and legends of the goddess Freyja and the celebration of midwinter.

This complex goddess has many aspects. Your job is to find something about Freyja that speaks to you and inspires you, then combine it with some aspect of midwinter and create your own original work of art.

Freyja and Loki ride down the Rainbow Bridge
Art by Katharine Pyle (1930)

Freyja has connections to battle, cats, love, travel, sadness, jewelry, ritual, magic, flight, death, and women. There certainly is a lot to draw on for your entry!

To get you started on your art project, here is how the Icelandic author Snorri Sturluson describes Freyja in his Edda (c. 1220).

Freyja [Lady] is the most glorious of the goddesses. She has a dwelling in heaven called Folkvangr [Field of the Folk], and wherever she rides to battle she gets half the slain, and Odin gets the other half.

Sessrumnir [Seat-Room], her hall, is large and beautiful. And when she travels she drives two cats and sits in a chariot.

She is the most approachable one for people to pray to, and from her name is derived the honorific title by which noble ladies are called frovur.

She was very fond of love songs. It is good to pray to her concerning love affairs.

She was married to someone called Od. Hnoss [Treasure] is the name of their daughter. She is so beautiful that from her name whatever is beautiful and precious is called hnossir.

Od went on long travels, and Freyja stayed behind weeping, and her tears are red gold.

Freyja has many names, and the reason for this is that she adopted various names when she was traveling among strange peoples looking for Od.

She owned the necklace Brisingamen.

[adapted from translation by Anthony Faulkes]

Snorri also writes about Freyja in Saga of the Ynglings, and says that she taught the gods known as the Æsir how to use the magic of the Vanir, the tribe of gods from which she came.

Njord's daughter was Freyja. She was a priestess, and she first taught wizardry to the Æsir, which was in use with the Vanir.

[adapted from translation by Erling Monsen]

In Þrymskviða (Lay of Thrym), Thor's hammer is stolen. Loki and the god of thunder ask Freyja for help finding it, and we learn of her wonderful cloak of falcon feathers that enables her to fly through the air.

They went to the beautiful courts of Freyja
and these were the very first words Thor spoke:
"Will you lend me, Freyja, your feather cloak,
to see if I can find my hammer?"

Freyja said:

"I'd give it to you even if it were made of gold,
I'd lend it to you even if it were made of silver."

Then Loki flew off, the feather cloak whistled…

[adapted from translation by Carolyne Larrington]

Jacob Grimm wrote about Freyja in his classic work on Teutonic Mythology (1835). He sums up information about the goddess from a variety of sources, provides parallels from later folklore, and offers his own own theories about her and her attributes.

Freyja's tears were golden, gold is named after them, and she herself is called "fair in weeping." In our nursery tales, pearls and flowers are wept or laughed out, and Frau Holle bestows the gift of weeping such tears.

But the oldest authorities make Freyja warlike also. In a wagon drawn by two cats (as Thor drives two goats), she rides to the battlefield and shares with Odin in the slain. Freyja has a wagon like Nerthus, like Holda and Freyr, Wotan [Odin] and Donar [Thor]. The kingly wagon is proper only to great exalted deities.

She is called mistress of the chosen and of the Valkyries in general.

Freyja's dwelling is named Folkvangr, the plains on which the (dead?) folk troop together. Freyja's hall is Sessrumnir, the seat-roomy, capacious of much folk.

Dying women expect to find themselves in her company after death. Thorgerdr in Egil's Saga refuses earthly nourishment; she thinks to feast with Freyja soon.

That the cat was sacred to Freyja, as the wolf to Wotan [Odin], will perhaps explain why this creature is given to night-hags and witches. When a bride goes to a wedding in fine weather, they say "she has fed the cat well," not offended the favorite of the love goddess.

In so far as such comparisons are allowable, Freyja would stand on a line with Venus, but also with Isis who seeks Osiris.

The Edda makes Freyja the owner of a costly necklace named Brisingamen. How she acquired this jewel from the dwarfs, how it was cunningly stolen from her by Loki, is fully narrated in a tale by itself. A lost lay of the Edda related how Heimdall fought with Loki for this ornament.

[adapted from translation by James Steven Stallybrass]

You can do any of these things:

1. Illustrate some version of Freyja and some aspect of midwinter
2. Illustrate the feeling of Freyja and midwinter
4. Create something inspired by Freyja and midwinter
5. Draw something connecting Freyja and midwinter to other characters or concepts from Norse myth and Germanic folklore

You must do this one thing:

Include a short explanation with your entry detailing how your work relates to Freyja and midwinter


In this contest, Marvel Comics characters are NOT considered part of Norse mythology or folklore. Art with imagery from comic books or movies will NOT be accepted. Do some reading and research on myth and folklore, then base your imagery on what you learn.


I am extremely proud to announce the judges for this year's Midwinter Art Contest. I greatly respect both of these incredibly talented people, and I'm very happy that they agreed to participate this year. The three of us will judge the entries together.

Rufus Dayglo
I've been a fan of Rufus Dayglo's art for nearly twenty years. His work for the legendary UK weekly comic 2000 AD and its monthly partner Judge Dredd Megazine is deeply creative, utterly unique, and instantly recognizable.

Echoes of the old goddesses in Solid Gold Death Mask

Rufus somehow manages to bring together chaotic energy with careful craftsmanship to forge a powerfully personal style that makes equal impact in both color and black and white.

For 2000 AD and Judge Dredd Megazine, he's drawn memorable series featuring Strontium Dog's Johnny Alpha, the disturbed soldiers of Bad Company, the awesomely scuzzy characters of Low Life, future lawman Judge Dredd, and new creation Counterfeit Girl.

In 2008, Rufus helped relaunch Tank Girl with character co-creator Alan C. Martin. He continued across six series that are now available in various collections.

Rufus is the artist for several titles published by DC Vertigo: Ghosts, Last Gang in Town, and The Unwritten. He also draws Solid Gold Death Mask for 3A.

Rufus is one of the most consistently creative artists working today. I'm very happy that he's a judge this year, and I look forward to his thoughtful comments on the entries.

Diana L. Paxson
After earning degrees in English Literature (Mills College) and Comparative Literature (University of California at Berkeley), Diana L. Paxson was one of the founders of the Society for Creative Anachronism.

Diana L. Paxson's Taking Up the Runes

She was co-author with Marion Zimmer Bradley on three books in the Avalon series that followed Bradley's The Mists of Avalon, then wrote three further installments as sole author. Her own extensive series of fantasy novels include the Chronicles of Westria and "a series of historical fantasy novels based on legends such as the stories of Tristan and Iseult, King Lear, Siegfried, and King Arthur."

From the late 1970s on, Diana has been a key figure in American Paganism and Heathenry. In 1986, she founded the Fellowship of the Spiral Path, an association of Californian groups that practice "reconstructed European traditions, Earth religion, and Goddess religion."

Her classes on runes in 1988 evolved into Hrafnar Kindred, a group "celebrating a round of feasts and other rituals based on Germanic traditions." Since joining the Troth in 1992, she has served the international Heathen organization as Steerswoman, Rede (Board) member, Clergy Program coordinator, and editor for the journal Idunna.

In addition to her fiction work, Diana has written widely read works on modern Paganism and Heathenry including Taking Up the Runes: A Complete Guide to Using Runes in Spells, Rituals, Divination, and Magic and Essential Ásatrú: Walking the Path of Northern Paganism.

I'm thankful that Diana agreed to serve as one of the judges, and I think she will have great insights as she reviews the entries we receive.


For the first time since the art contests began in 2013, there will be prizes for the first-place winners in each of the three age categories.

Rufus Dayglo has kindly agreed to provide a double prize for each individual winner:

• Personalized and signed original sketch

• Choice of Judge Dredd or Tank Girl print

Tank Girl on the cover of Judge Dredd Megazine
Art by Rufus Dayglo

Rufus is not only a fantastic artist, he's a solid fellow across the board. I'm really grateful for his offer to provide these wonderful prizes out of the kindness of his heart.


There will be three winners in each of the following categories:

Kids: Age 12 and under
Teens: Age 13-19
Adults: Age 20 and up


1. Art must be done with crayon, marker, paint, pen, pencil or digital materials.
2. Original art only; no photos or collage.
3. Art must be kid-friendly; no nudity or violence.
4. No copyrighted characters. Let’s leave the Marvel Comics to the professionals!
5. One entry per person, please.


Send an email to that includes the following:

1. Your full name (kids can give first name and last initial)
2. Your age (as of December 18, 2016)
3. Your location (city, state/province, country)
4. A short description of your artwork explaining how it relates to Freyja and midwinter
5. Your artwork (as an attachment)

Seriously, don’t forget to include your art as an attachment!


11:59 p.m. (Chicago time) on December 18, 2016


Rufus, Diana and I will be judging the entries based on creativity and relation to Norse mythology. Do some reading, do some thinking and make something original!

Contest winners will be featured on sites
and pages of Norse Mythology Online

The three winners in each age group will be featured on the many sites and pages of Norse Mythology Online:

The Norse Mythology Blog

The Norse Mythology Facebook Page

The Norse Mythology Google+ Page

The Norse Mythology Pinterest Page

The Norse Mythology Twitter Page

Your art and your description of it will be posted on all of the above outlets and will remain permanently in the The Norse Mythology Blog Archive.

December 21: Kid winners announced
December 22: Teen winners announced
December 23: Adult winners announced

Good luck to everyone!

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