Oil on canvas, 18″ x 30″
HUGINN & MUNINN
Huginn (“memory”) and Muninn (“thought”) are two Raven helpers of the Norse god Odin. He sends them out from Valhalla every morning to travel the world, returning to him at the end of every day to sit on his shoulders and tell to him all the news from far and wide.
I greet this lively character every day — I call him “Curly Pine”— as he stands at the entrance to the forest where I walk. There is a great scraggly majesty about him and his wonderful curliness that delights me.
Those magnificent swirls of his far reaching lower branches — one dead and frilled with lichen, the other old but still green with needles — winging out from the mysterious pools of darkness under and behind, are what have me so entranced.
One day I stopped to contemplate him, and got to musing …what if I were to paint him …how might I convey what I am seeing in him …and just what is it anyway that I do see in him?
And that’s when the Ravens came to me. In my mind’s eye out they came swooshing, with all the considerable drama they can muster, out from the deep dark depths under those great swooping low-flying boughs. Out into the world to gather up all the goings-on and report back at the end of the day.
I have painted a subtle hint of Viking Knot-work within the wings of the Ravens as a nod to Odin. Knot-work represents the unending journey of life and the interconnectedness of all existence.
The symbolism of Ravens is complicated and diverse. In Norse mythology they are prophetic messengers representing wisdom, transformation, and far sight. To North American First Nations peoples they are tricksters associated with the origins of all life.
Lodgepole Pine is a medium-sized, relatively short-lived conifer, widespread here in the Inland Temperate Rainforest of British Columbia, Canada. Important for re-populating areas burnt by wildfires; its cones only open and release their seeds after being burned. Its timber is valuable for building and furniture-making. The inner bark was a significant food for indigenous people, and they used its sap as a cough remedy.