Door Number 15: The World Tree and the Norns
Happy Chinese New Year and Happy New Moon in Aquarius! In honor of the end of the old and birth of the new, I just finished my fifteenth painted portal “door” — my first since November 2010. After a long hiatus of partially completing other doors, then injuring my back so that door painting became very cumbersome and uncomfortable, then moving and running out of room for doors, I finally began and finished a new portal project, which can rightly take its place as Door Number 15.
Those readers unfamiliar with my portal painting projects can find links to the fourteen previous doors by clicking here. This canvas painting features the World Tree from Norse mythology, along with a faery portal door on the tree, the Rune Realm and a triple Moon sequence symbolizing the Norns, or the sister goddess weavers of Fate. Yggdrasill, the world tree, is a giant ash supporting the Nine Worlds. For this project, I focused mostly on the Norns and then embedded Runes in texture and along the bottom as a gesture towards the unseen worlds.
Triple goddesses in the Norse tradition, the Norns loosely correspond to the Greek “Fates.” The concept is a bit more sophisticated than simple Fate (Past, Present and Future), though.The Rune Primer gives some additional insights into the Norns, which I will share here:
“If we look at the etymology of the names of the three Norns (Urd, Skuld, and Verdandi), we can go a long way toward grasping the concepts they embody.
“‘Urd’ is cognate with ‘Wyrd’, the Anglo-Saxon word for the unseen influences behind events. It also suggests the primal or ancient. ‘Wyrd’ has come down to us as ‘weird’ with only a small part of its original meaning. Urd is depicted as being the guardian of a bottomless well. Urd’s well is the primal source and Urd represents the unmanifest potential, everything arises from the unmanifest, and returns to it. All possibilities exist therein.
“‘Skuld’ translates directly as ‘should’. This is because Skuld represents that which can be inferred. Given the present indications we can predict what should happen, but we can take steps to avert the outcome. If there is free will, no system of prediction can be foolproof. Hence we have ‘Should’ and not ‘Shall’.
“‘Verdandi’ denotes that which is becoming or manifesting, the present moment. Verdandi represents the dynamic process of “coming into being” which we perceive as the manifest world.
“In our system Skuld can also include ‘that which should have been’, so that the manifest decays back through Skuld to return to the unmanifest. We can see that rather than simply having a representation of linear time, we have a concept of all things being in a state of change.
“To our perception, there are three realms of Wyrd: That which we cannot perceive, Urd. That which we perceive directly, Verdandi. And that which we can infer by logic or by divination, Skuld. All things exist within the Wyrd and are interconnected by it, hence the symbolism of a web or woven strands. Everything has its effect on everything else. Our Wyrd is a web of interconnections within a larger web. Working our True Will requires the ability to move with freedom within the constraints of our Wyrd, bearing in mind that our every action changes our Wyrd. By understanding the Norns, we can come to understand our Wyrd.
“This concept is a vital part of our system, and it comes into play in all of our work from Rune Magick to martial training. In our system, we relate Urd to meditation. In meditation we look deep into the well of the unmanifest within, when thought stops we can perceive our connection with the Wyrd, this is the source of our True Will, our individuality and real power.” (More information here.)
I paint portals to effect and direct desired change, both in myself and in the conditions of our world. I had heard that “you can’t petition the Norns,” but I figured a painting honoring the process of manifestation couldn’t hurt! I create all my portals, whether actual doors or canvases containing thresholds, as multi-layered, living prayers. The World Tree traditionally contains nine realms of being, with the Norns at the roots, near the Well of Mimir. I decided to use the triple goddess symbol of multiple Moon phases, because I liked how the Full Moon could double as a well.
The tree itself morphed out of the Wildwood Tarot’s World Tree card, but quickly developed its own power and energy. I added Faery Runes to the doorway to spell out “Payuurt-Eel,” i.e. “portal,” along with a heart.
The word Payuurteel ties Door Number 15 back to Door Number 1, the painting that began the portal door series, and the heart amplifies the mysteries of Love associated with the Payuurt Rune, more commonly known as “Perth.” Shaped like a dice cup, this Rune adds an element of chance and Divine revelation. It evokes the energy of secrets coming to light, or something hidden revealing itself. The Eel Rune is known in other traditions as “Man” or “Algiz.” The meaning varies with each tradition, but all of the Runic traditions I know emphasize a sense of Divine inspiration and protection with this Rune. In the Runes of Elfland, this Rune represents the sword that holds peace so long as it’s never used. The door on the World Tree holds all of these energies and more as a prayer for peace, love and transmutation of our world. It also ties into Door Number 3, “The Tree of Life, aka the Daphne Door.”
I included the four seasons on the single tree, along with the three phases of the moon as overt reminders that “this, too, shall pass.” The solid strength of the World Tree shows signs of moment by moment change, just as Time passes and yet the Universe and we with it exist in the ever-present-Now, eternity. The Runes across the bottom represent a sacred system of Runes known as the FUTHORK, not to be confused with the more common “FUTHARK” Runes. Most commonly known for divination, certain systems of Runes serve as the building blocks of creation. Like quantum energy packets from the All That Is, their energies can mold and shape Reality in major ways. I included this particular system of Runes as a way of evoking “the infinite” in a finite painting.
Many cosmic winks from the Universe occurred as I made this portal, but they all held a similar theme of creating something beautiful from what appears to be a “mistake.” For the first time ever, I “forgot” to prime the canvas. I realized it when I began painting the tree and noticed how the canvas just “sucked up all my paint.” I used lots and lots of acrylic paint on this canvas, but in person it almost looks like water color. After the first application, I opted to go with the flow because I liked the shape of the tree. As I painted more, I noticed that the tree began to glow due to the white of the canvas showing through the strokes. “OK,” I thought, “the tree knows better than I did in planning it: the World Tree glows with life.”
Then, I was painting the red/orange leaves and a splash of red dripped on the trunk. If I had gone with thicker coats of paint, I could easily have camouflaged the drip, but doing so in this case would have required me darkening the entire tree. Instead, I painted a little cardinal, which smiles from the branch with a Rune as his wing.
According to animalspirits.com,
Cardinal/Redbird’s Wisdom Includes:
Understanding the power of the wind
Finding your soul song
I especially love how “Courtship” and “Finding your soul song” tie into the Payuurt Rune, and this “accidental bird” ties Door Number 15 into Door Number 4, “The Four of Wands/Karuna,” which just happens to be about marriage and “the end of suffering.” Because these doors connect with energies beyond, the ways they play with each others’ energies amplify their effects, not unlike how Tarot cards shift meaning depending on the other cards in a spread. In this case, the dove at the top of the Four of Wands panel resulted from a “total mistake.” I dropped some black paint on the yellow background of that door, and for the life of me, I couldn’t match the yellows again! The area turned out so much lighter and so noticeable that I could think of no other option than to “put a bird on it.” I ended up liking the way that dove amplifies the peace and harmony of the traditional Four of Wands reading.
Other “mistakes” on Door Number 15 included some of the gloppier regions of background color, again due to “forgetting” to prime the canvas. I initially felt frustrated that some parts of the canvas seemed to eat color. Once I finished each area, though, I noticed that the alternating dense and light patches of color contributed to the overall glow effect, as well as adding extra dimensionality to the painting as a whole.
The photo doesn’t really capture the shimmer of metallic paint on the door and moon, but in person, this large piece dances in the light. I painted it to go above the toilet in our upstairs bathroom, which sits against the wall behind my desk. I have my desk feng-shui’d, but I wanted a more powerful, positive energy on the other side of that wall. I wanted to feel and experience some portal power instead of facing a Chi trap. When David heard where this portal would go, he laughed and said, “Oh, good! Now we’ll have a Portal Potty.” Humor aside, I designed this portal as a physical symbol of the idea that we can, with intention, shift challenges into emblems of beauty and power. In permaculture, people would say, “The problem is the solution,” recognizing how any challenge that arises usually winds up solving a bunch of other issues, or at the very least making the entire system more efficient and elegant. By creating a portal to balance the chi going down various bathroom drains, I wound up strengthening my desk, business and energy in the office on the other side.
Given that I had begun painting this portal as a plea to the Norns, the Universe, the World Tree, and the All That Is to shift some of the intenser aspects of life on this planet right now — in addition to the toilet/desk issue — the continual shifting of mistakes into light and depth seemed like an answer repeated until I got the message:
“Your requests for peace, a return to Natural Law and the bringing of hidden secrets into Light have been heard and duly noted … But, Laura, look with new eyes. Reconsider those parts of the unfolding that you find wrong, draining or haphazard. When creating from the infinite well of inspiration, remember that beauty, light and Nature can and will surprise you. Just because your process takes a different path than you planned or expected doesn’t mean you won’t receive the essence of your request. In fact, the essence of your request may outshine the intended details of what you thought you wanted. We hear you, and we honor the deepest longings of creation. Relax and enjoy!” I hope you, do, too.