Huginn and Muninn Go on Vacation!

Once upon a time, Huginn and Muninn decided that they were all too worn out from accompanying Odin everywhere and requested a break. To their surprise, the One-Eyed Wiseman was actually quite understanding, granting them an entire week off.

So they left the snow-peaked Scandinavian mountains and headed to sunny Japan for a brief, but deserved vacation. Landing in Ueno Park and causing a bit of ruckus, disrupting the local Zoo's resident herons and geese, the pair interpreted having a relaxing time in an onsen rather loosely.

It's as if they were drunk on...wait for it...mead.

P.S. Crows, not ravens? Corvids! Close enough.


Alexander Ostrovsky's Snow Maiden (1873) reads:

Свет и сила,
Бог Ярило.
Красное Солнце наше!
Нет тебя в мире краше.

*  *  * 

Light and power,
Jarilo the god.
Our Red Sun!
None more beautiful than you.

Yes, this is the story that inspired both Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov  and Pyotr Tchaikovsky. 

Пятнадцать лет не кажется Ярило
На наш призыв, когда, встречая Солнце,
В великий день Ярилин, мы напрасно
Тьмотысячной толпой к нему взываем
И песнями его величье славим.
Сердит на нас Ярило.

*  *  * 

For fifteen years, Jarilo does not appear
To answer our call, when meeting the Sun
On Jarilo's great day, in vain we
As a countless crowd call onto him
And praise him with songs of his greatness.
Jarilo is displeased with us.

The Veins

Herein lies the paradox.

Winter is the season when Nature is--if not dead--then asleep. In hibernation. Yet it is precisely this time that reveals the forest to be a single living organism with countless naked branch-veins touching, entwining, growing into each other, and not letting go.

This is my favorite photograph of the week. :)

Gaze of the Snow Gorgon (Mobile)

Bundled up in an Orenburg shawl for warmth and as a secret Russian fear tactic, my ever-present coffee and dog leash in hand, I somehow ended up at the lake.

Let's try that again.

I somehow ended up at the lake:

And by "somehow" I mean that I followed a dapper basset hound, sporting a blue waterproof jumpsuit and booties, tracking deer scent.

The temperature drop must have been sudden and drastic, because the waves of an incoming tide looked like they were frozen mid-motion, then peppered over with snow. Indeed, it is as if they were instantly petrified by a Gorgon. 

At least, that is how I imagined the great Medusa's powers when I took art classes at the famous Pushkin Museum in Moscow as a child.

Although it also seemed like Medusa left a part of herself in these sculptured waters: snakes-turned-icicles. 

But not the entire lake was frozen: only the first few feet at the shore. In fact, some of the ice, more fragile than elsewhere, had cracked, and water seeped through. It was there that warmer smoky air--this glacial giant's breath--endlessly rose toward the sky. 


Unlike my previous blogging experiments, I've made a conscious effort to limit nunc aut nunquam to my creative pursuits, both personal and professional. Of course, I don't exist in a vacuum, which means that I occasionally mention music that inspires me, present a bit of pertinent theory (philosophy), or record personal observations on Nature and travel, as long as the latter directly relates to the blog's objectives.

Initially, I assumed that doing so would be difficult for someone like me who is used to political commentary and historic debate. Yet as weeks, then months flew by, I realized that I was wrong. In fact, I began to consider the possibility of consistently choosing metaphor over rational argument, embracing aesthetics over politics, finding the eternal in the everyday. This will be my small contribution to reinstating the archaic--which has been suppressed far too long--to its rightful place.

Raven Ravenson and the Crescent Moon

My purpose here was to create a simple, heavily stylized illustration in the realm of Slavic mythology--as if for a children's book--using natural materials, in this case, wood, golden buttons (tansy), and tea leaves. 

This illustration features, you guessed it!, two of my favorite characters  as part of a recurrent motif.

Raven Ravenson and the Crescent Moon--they meet again! 

Slightly modifying a particular tale from Slavic folklore, we have:

Simargl, having lost his first-born, died of grief, his heart aching like that of a wounded bird. And he turned into a black Raven Ravenson known as the Iron Beak. And he took off and landed atop the Crescent Moon made of copper. And he began to oversee human affairs, becoming a god.


Whenever I create images out of natural materials, photography is as important as the original. You can see the difference between the pictures above and below: the latter was shot outside, with sunbeams lighting the tansy Moon as if it were its real equivalent up above.  


Getting some corn from a local organic farm the other day, I--once again--realized just how anthropomorphic this grain is.

So I used photography with a few digital effects, splicing gaming or comic-book imagery and Slavic folklore. 

The modernized result is this illustration of a domovoi, a Russian (Slavic) house spirit. This bearded creature is sometimes helpful, yet also quite the trickster.

Don't anger it.