The wood-burned patterns that I use in my work are inspired by traditional tablet weaving and textile patterns. Instead of thread, I “weave” lines with pyrography, an ancient method of decorating wood with burned images. Each pattern is named for a tribe, group, or race from Norse Pagan mythologies.
The simplest of the patterns that I use is meant to feel austere, powerful, and familiar. Named for the Norns who wove the fates of mortals, it resembles a braided line of destiny.
The Alfar eventually became the elves of Victorian legends and stories, but originally the Alfar were the ancestors of the human race. Folklore says they live “beneath the mounds” built to honour them, and they were venerated even above the gods. The pattern evokes the sun rising between the peaks of the old hills where the ancestors reside.
The most familiar family of the Norse gods, the Æsir are made up of several different clans of gods, giants, and beings with unknown origins. They represent unity and diversity, and are the care-takers of the world we inhabit. Óðin, Frigga, and Thor are well known Æsir. Their pattern combines elements of other patterns, woven harmoniously into a single balanced band.
The Vanir are a tribe of gods who represent abundance, fertility, and the helpful aspects of the natural world. Freyr, Freya, and Njörðr are counted among their number. The Vanir pattern symbolizes tilled agricultural fields – a bountiful treasure.
Also called giants or Ettin, the Jötnar are the wild gods – the chaotic forces of nature – and they rule the inhospitable lands outside human settlements. Skaði, Gerð, and Jörð are familiar Jötnar. The pattern of the giants juts out sharply, symbolic of both fractured sheets of ice and harsh mountain peaks.
You may know the Dvergar by the name dwarfs, or dark elves, and they inhabit the vast caves and crevices deep within the earth. They are renowned blacksmiths and craft wondrous gifts for the gods – when they aren’t greedily hording their treasures for themselves. Their pattern is reminiscent of intricate chain and masterfully woven precious metals.
The heroic and terrifying Valkyrjar, or Valkyries, of the Norse myths can be goddesses, humans, or sometimes even Norns. They can appear as beautiful, inspiring angels, or arrive screaming and frenzied to pick through a blood-soaked battlefield. Their pattern is alternating feathered wings and sharp spear points.
The Slavic gods are very closely related to the Norse, with a richly populated pantheon, generally led by omnipresent Rod, or by Perun, a Thor-like figure who wields an axe and thunderbolts. Slavic patterns often contain cartwheeling X’s and interlocking geometric shapes.
Like the Alfar, the Celtic gods were slowly converted into the elves and fairies we know today. They were originally called the Tuatha dé Danann (the “People of Dana”) and were led by the goddess Dana and the god Dagda. The Tuatha were ancestors of the Irish people, and their pantheon was also very similar to the Norse. Their pattern is a classic Celtic woven strand.